LINGUIST List 2.869

Tue 17 Dec 1991

Qs: Brown/LOB Corpus, Pronoun Usage, Opaque Rules

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Vera Horvath, query
  2. Zvi Gilbert, More Pronoun Usage Queries
  3. "ALICE FREED", seeking e-mail address
  4. Wayles Browne, a ... and a half
  5. , Opaque rule orders

Message 1: query

Date: Sun, 15 Dec 1991 16:29 EST
From: Vera Horvath <00V0HORVATHBSUVAX1.bitnet>
Subject: query
 I would like to ask you about your
experiences using the Brown or the LOB corpus. If you use the pure text
format, what programs did you use with it? If you used the KWIC or the
WordCruncher formats, how did you like it? Do you know of any program
available on VAX which can be used with the corpora? We are trying to figure
out which version could we use the best. Thanks.
Vera Horvath
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Message 2: More Pronoun Usage Queries

Date: Sun, 15 Dec 1991 16:51:37 -0500
From: Zvi Gilbert <>
Subject: More Pronoun Usage Queries
All this talk about pronoun usage has made me remember an odd but
interesting construction from my youthful days. I was good friends
with a guy whose parents were from England, and they (and he)
consistantly used the expression "Give it me," when asking someone to
give them something. As a Canadian, I had never heard this without
the preposition (I'd say "Give it TO me.")
What's the distribution of this construction? England? Parts of?
Does it occur in N.America?
I picked up on it, and still say it occasionally.
(What shall we call it? Dative pronoun usage?)
--Zvi Gilbert
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Message 3: seeking e-mail address

Date: 16 Dec 91 14:34:00 EST
From: "ALICE FREED" <>
Subject: seeking e-mail address
Does anyone on this list know whether Janet Holmes (Victoria
University in New Zealand) has an e-mail address? The post
office address that I have for her is:
 Department of Linguistics
 Victoria University.
 P.O. Box 600
 Wellington, New Zealand.
Please send responses directly to me. Thanks.
Alice F. Freed (
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Message 4: a ... and a half

Date: Tue, 17 Dec 91 00:09:17 EST
From: Wayles Browne <>
Subject: a ... and a half
There is an expression schema in Serbo-Croatian "... i po", for instance
"djevojka i po". I means "and", po means "half". "A girl and a half"
signifies "an excellent girl", similarly we get "a student and a half",
"a man and a half", etc. Rudolf de Rijk (University of Leiden, NL) has
pointed out to me that the same expression exists in Egyptian Arabic,
and even in English, judging by attestations in the works of C.P.Snow:
"Ah. That was a terrible weapon", said Gay. "That was an axe and a half."
(_The_Masters_, Chapter 36).
De Rijk asks, and I ask my fellow list members whatever languages they
may represent: What do you think of this idiom? Does it sound foreign
to you, or only outdated? Could I use it in writing or speech? Could it
conceivably be of Celtic origin?
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Message 5: Opaque rule orders

Date: Tue, 17 Dec 91 12:53:56 EDT
From: <>
Subject: Opaque rule orders
I'm working on a phonological/ morphological parser that
implements (for reasons I won't go into here) a slightly
restricted form of generative phonology of a 1968 (SPE)
vintage. Undoing phonological rules seems to be a
computationally intensive task; it would seem that for
every possible feature a rule changes, undoing the rule
would require you to instantiate that feature to each of
its possible values. In fact that is not necessary, since
those feature values are only needed in the case of two
rules that apply in opaque ordering (and even then you can
ignore it if you use a generate-and-test algorithm).
I've asked several phonologists how prevalent opaque rule
orders are, and no one seems to know. Opaque rule orders
are talked about in the (older) literature a fair amount,
but perhaps just because they are (were) of interest. (As
a phonologist friend of mine pointed out, lexical phonology
doesn't talk much about the issue, although reformulating
extrinsic rule orders as stratal orders in no way gets
around the issue.)
Kiparsky suggested that opaque rule orders tend to get
eliminated in language change, which might suggest that
they are rarer than nonopaque orders. But if opaque rule
orderings enter the language often enough, they still might
be common. (A bathtub can get quite full with the drain
open, provided the faucet is on hard enough.)
So does anyone on the net have a feel for the prevalence of
opaque rule orders (counterfeeding and counterbleeding) in
natural languages? And given that some language has two
rules ordered opaquely, how often do those rules actually
apply in words in an opaque manner? (One can imagine a
language with two rules that potentially would apply in an
opaque manner, but which never do so in actual words.)
Mike Maxwell Phone: (704) 843-6369
Box 248
Waxhaw, NC 28173
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