LINGUIST List 2.808

Thu 21 Nov 1991

Disc: Focus, Grammar Checkers, Do What

Editor for this issue: <>


Directory

  1. , Focus
  2. Ellen Prince, Re: 2.803 Queries: Focus
  3. Henry Kucera, Re: 2.806 Grammar Checkers
  4. Bill Schipper, RE: 2.796 Queries: Do What
  5. Mike Hammond, Do What
  6. , Re: 2.790 Do what?

Message 1: Focus

Date: Wed, 20 Nov 91 15:27:16 EST
From: <Alexis_Manaster_RamerMTS.cc.Wayne.edu>
Subject: Focus
The term focus was used in Philippine linguistics by several
SIL linguists in the late 50's to mean essentially what
traditional grammars of Philippine languages had called subject.
At roughly the same time two other terms were introduced, topic
and highlight. Of these three, topic is the one which has
survived and thrived in this sense, highlight died aborning, while
focus gradually acquired a related but different sense, equivalent
to what was traditionally called voice. But perhaps there were
even earlier uses of the term focus somewhere else.
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Message 2: Re: 2.803 Queries: Focus

Date: Wed, 20 Nov 91 23:15:05 EST
From: Ellen Prince <ellencentral.cis.upenn.edu>
Subject: Re: 2.803 Queries: Focus
>From: HASPELMATHphilologie.fu-berlin.dbp.de
>Subject: query: origin of FOCUS
>
>
>I am trying to find out how the term FOCUS came to be used in its current
>sense. A large part of its popularity seems to be due to the discussion
>of focus phenomena in Jackendoff 1972 (Semantic interpretation in generative
>grammar), and the term focus is also used in Chomsky 1970 (Deep structure,
>surface structure, and semantic interpretation).
...
> I have not found a use of FOCUS before 1970 (as late as 1966 a book was
>published on "emphasis" in Hungarian, a phenomenon that is now universally
>called focus), so I suspect that it is due to Chomsky.
halliday (1967) definitely uses the term, actually 'information focus', in the
sense you mean. of course, he may have used it earlier than 1967 and others
may have used it before him. (i would check out the czechs and also
bolinger.) anyway, here's the reference:
halliday, m.a.k. 1967. notes on transitivity and theme in english. part ii.
	journal of linguistics 3.199-244.
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Message 3: Re: 2.806 Grammar Checkers

Date: Thu, 21 Nov 91 00:25:34 EST
From: Henry Kucera <HENRYbrownvm.brown.edu>
Subject: Re: 2.806 Grammar Checkers
 Just a footnote to Lau Kim Teng posting about his experience with grammar
checkers. The newer versions of the commercial products that I described here
previously now allow the user to turn off certain features (such as flagging
of the passive voice), adjust the maximum sentence length and, in the more
advanced products, even control specific syntactic and stylistic
features (e.g. the number of words between "to" and verb before the system
considers the construction to be a "split infinitive.")
 It is also true, however, that all commercial products make some effort at
judging the "difficulty" of the text, using the old educationalist procedures
(all of them linguistically quite primitive) of so-called "readability."
(There must be about a dozen variations on this theme.) One reason for this is
that some agencies of the US government apparently require that a document
submitted or published by them does not exceed a particular grade level. (This
is based on the optimistic assumption that government employees have mastered
at least fifth-grade reading skills, or something like that).
 Speed has also improved. Correct Grammar, for example, analyzes a sentence
(including a full parse, not always correct, however) in less than 1/2 second
on an 8 Mhz machine. (Aver. sentence length considered to be about 18 words).
 Finally, it is indeed true that all of these commercial products are
intended for speakers/writers of English and are not good learning tools (as
yet, anyway).
 I would be interested in any further comments or experiences.
Henry Kucera, e-mail: henrybrownvm.bitnet
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Message 4: RE: 2.796 Queries: Do What

Date: Sun, 17 Nov 1991 12:13:53 -0500
From: Bill Schipper <schipperkean.ucs.mun.ca>
Subject: RE: 2.796 Queries: Do What
To add to the wrinkles on this question, are you aware of the phrase
"Say what" for std. "What?" used as interrogative requesting that the
listener has not heard the previous statement.
 - Bill Schipper (schipperkean.ucs.mun.ca)
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Message 5: Do What

Date: Fri, 15 Nov 91 09:25 MST
From: Mike Hammond <HAMMONDccit.arizona.edu>
Subject: Do What
On the subject of "do what" as a substitute for "what", I have "say what"
as a real colloquial substitute as well.
mike hammond
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Message 6: Re: 2.790 Do what?

Date: Fri, 15 Nov 91 10:47:50 GMT
From: <amcstr.edinburgh.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: 2.790 Do what?
The use of "Do what?" as an alternative to "What?" or "I beg your pardon?" is
certainly well-known in British English, particularly South London speech,
and was made famous by that catchy Monty Python song, "Do What, John?":
	Do what, John? Do what, John?
	Come again? Do what?
	Do what, John? Do what, John?
	Do what? Do what? Do what?
	Do what, John? Do what, John?
	Do what, with whom, and when?
	T'rific, really t'rific:
	Pardon? Come again?
*In this dialect, "John" can be used to refer to any male, familiar or not,
 and is equivalent to "mate", "fella", etc: if i really wanted to get a
 lengthy discussion going here, i could ask if anyone knows of a technical
 term for such items ... but i won't do that. (Do what?)
								alex monaghan
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