LINGUIST List 2.711

Fri 25 Oct 1991

Misc: Pragmatics, Possessive, ASL, Anymore

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  1. Larry Horn, Re: 2.698 Queries
  2. John Cowan, Re: 2.691 Possessive
  3. Stavros Macrakis, ASL Literature
  4. Joyce Tang, double modals, anymore

Message 1: Re: 2.698 Queries

Date: Wed, 23 Oct 91 11:21:24 EDT
From: Larry Horn <LHORNYALEVM.YCC.Yale.Edu>
Subject: Re: 2.698 Queries
Re Michael Covington's search for the first pragmatics course: I'm pretty
sure I taught such a course during or (just) before the spring of 1978 at the
University of Wisconsin, but I also have a distinct memory of consulting a
bibliography in preparing that course for a course called something like
Pragmatics and Speech Acts that was taught at the University of Cambridge
(like the Levinson course Michael mentions) sometime in the MID-seventies by
(I'm almost positive) Elinor Ochs (then-)Keenan. Sorry not to have done a
better job on the record-keeping.
 As for Alan Dench's problem with Nyungar idiophonic nomenclature, I can
only suggest "vasculo-congestive".
 Larry Horn
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Message 2: Re: 2.691 Possessive

Date: Wed, 23 Oct 91 10:39:48 EDT
From: John Cowan <cowanuunet.UU.NET>
Subject: Re: 2.691 Possessive
Steve Harlow <> writes:
> If you produce a
> coordinate possessive structure, of which the last item is a pronoun, you get
> by analogy with non-pronominal NPs and pronominal possessives (for example)
> the following (increasingly desperate) range of possibilities:
> John's and my car
[other forms omitted]
> None of these is any good for me (nor for many British English speakers I have
> asked about the topic). The only grammatical way for us to express this is by
> paraphrase - eg. 'the car belonging to John and me'.
For me (white, American, middle-class, Northern dialect), this is the only
possible form of those listed. (Of course, I can use the paraphrase too.)
It is entirely natural for me.
--		...!uunet!cbmvax!snark!cowan
		e'osai ko sarji la lojban
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Message 3: ASL Literature

Date: Tue, 22 Oct 91 17:46:44 EDT
From: Stavros Macrakis <>
Subject: ASL Literature
Christie asks me not to `hide my feelings'. I don't see why I should
be exposing my feelings to the Linguist list. If my `New Logic' squib
wasn't explicit enough, I'll rephrase: calling something `oppressive'
is not a reasoned argument, but an appeal to goodthink.
As for substance, my original posting claimed that a permanent record
(written, audiotaped, videotaped, ...) of important cultural artifacts
(often called `literature') is one good motivation for studying a
language. I also pointed out that there are others. Where's the
oppression in that?
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Message 4: double modals, anymore

Date: Tue, 22 Oct 91 19:27:04 -0700
From: Joyce Tang <jtangcogsci.Berkeley.EDU>
Subject: double modals, anymore
Some comments, questions 1) on double modals and 2) on 'anymore':
1. When 'might'+modal is used, it seems to me that that 'might'
might be being used as an adverb of unconfidence or politeness like 'maybe';
in my idiolect, I can use 'maybe' in all the same contexts as
'might could'-speakers use 'might':
eg, "We maybe should go to the store now"
 "But she maybe couldn't have done anything better".
Another utterance I've heard was
 "[that's something] which you may have might not [thought of]";
I can say,
 "that's something which you may have maybe not thought of".
Admittedly, I use 'maybe' in a lot more contexts than 'might' can occur
(I realize that 'might' doesn't have *all* the hallmarks of adverbs),
but would it help to think of 'might' as an adverb rather than as a modal?
2. I share Scott DeLancey's intuition
that some people have come to learn the meaning of 'anymore' as
something like 'as of recently', rather than as 'still'.
When one negates 'still', the negation is of continuation-into-the-present;
when one negates 'as of recently', the negation is of
a just-begun-present-state.
I don't speak this dialect, but it does make sense to me,
given the input contexts of 'anymore':
 "Katie doesn't like me anymore" "K likes me anymore"
 a) K does not continue to like me => "K still likes me"
 b) K does not, as of recently, like me => "Katie now likes me"
 "Can't you skate anymore?"
 a) You do not continue to be able to skate
 b) You are not, as of recently, able to skate
Given such input patterns, it would be just as reasonable for a learner
to infer that 'anymore' means 'these days' as it would be
to infer that it means 'still'.
Back to Ron Smyth's query to acquisition people. What can be said about
children's learning of semantics when the input is ambiguous like this?
Joyce T.
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