LINGUIST List 3.219

Fri 06 Mar 1992

Qs: Russian, Vocabulary, Eggs

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Directory

  1. , Queries about Russian
  2. , Vocabulary size (query)
  3. Carstairs-McCarthy, French 'eggs' after numerals

Message 1: Queries about Russian

Date: Mon, 2 Mar 92 17:25:26 ESTQueries about Russian
From: <Alexis_Manaster_RamerMTS.cc.Wayne.edu>
Subject: Queries about Russian

Generative phonologists have at various times accepted

 (a) Trubetzkoy's claim that the word 'solnce' ('sun')
 has a higher [o] vowel than normal and this reflects
 the underlying (and orthographic) /l/,

 (b) Jakobson's claim that /f/ does not undergo voicinh=g
 assimilation before a voiced obstruent, and/or

 (c) Reformatskij's claim that in sequences of voiced
 obstruent plus /v/, when the /v/ devoices, the preceding
 voiced obstruent stays voiced, e.g., 'trezv' ('sober')
 is supposed to be pronounced [trezf].

All these claims seem to be weakly supported, and I would
appreciate any helpful comments (one way or the other) from
linguists who are native speakers and/or experts on Russian.

Please direct responses to me. I will post a summary.
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Message 2: Vocabulary size (query)

Date: Thu, 5 Mar 92 15:27-0500
From: <DONALDMQUCDN.bitnet>
Subject: Vocabulary size (query)

 Subject: Vocabulary size (query)
 How can you measure the number of words in a language with any reliability? An
d
 secondarily, how can you measure the number of words in the vocabulary of an
i
 ndividual speaker? Simply listing every word you hear would obviously not suf
f
 ice; and in languages without writing, there would be no dictionaries to consu
l
 t. Sampling discourse would only approximate the real number of words in use.
 I ask this because I have read claims that "neolithic" vocabularies contain on
l
 y a few hundred, or at most a few thousand words (a related claim is that the
c
 ore vocabulary of IndoEuropean is only a few hundred words); but are such clai
m
 s based on a really reliable estimate?

 Estimating the vocabulary size of an individual speaker or writer is even more
 difficult (Shakespeare used more words than Hemingway in writing, for stylisti
c
 reasons; this does not imply that his actual working vocabulary was less than
 Shakespeare's). Presumably we might employ the word-frequency counts of Engli
s
 h to roughly estimate vocabulary size; on this strategy a person's vocabulary
w
 ould bear a lawful relationship to the number of "rare" words inhis or her wor
k
 ing vocabulary. Estimating the "average" vocabulary size of a modern English-
s
 peaker thus appears to be largely a guessing game, and estimating the size of
v
 ocabularies in preliterate cultures a very rough guessing game. Am I right?
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Message 3: French 'eggs' after numerals

Date: 6 Mar 1992 11:13:29 +1300 French 'eggs' after numerals
From: Carstairs-McCarthy <engl023cantna.canterbury.ac.nz>
Subject: French 'eggs' after numerals

How do French native speakers pronounce 'quatre oeufs'? Is it [...o]
or [...oef]? The standard pronunciation of 'oeufs' is said to be [o],
but Swiggers in Folia Linguistica 19 (1985) 63-66 claims that [oef]
is used when the preceding word does not end in [z]. Opinion among
the few native speakers I have consulted is divided.

Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy
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