LINGUIST List 3.257

Tue 17 Mar 1992

Disc: Spanish el/la, Teaching Linguistics, OVS

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , Spanish <el/la>
  2. , Re: 3.241 Linguistics In The Press
  3. "FRANK R. BRANDON", Teaching
  4. , OVS

Message 1: Spanish <el/la>

Date: Tue, 10 Mar 92 09:53:45 EST
From: <jharrisAthena.MIT.EDU>
Subject: Spanish <el/la>

The 1 Mar posting on Spanish <el/la> by Alexis Manaster Ramer (AMR) is a
good informative introduction for readers unfamiliar with the topic, but as
far as I can detect it contributes no new insight to careful discussions
in the literature. In particular:
 1. Coverage of dialect variation is incomplete (it was not intended to be
otherwise). Perhaps the most interesting case not mentioned is that of <el
buen hada aquella>, discussed at the LSA meeting in Chicago, 1991.
 2. The other side of the variation coin is that there are millions of
speakers of dialects in which the facts are clear and stable -- e.g.
<avestruz> is invariably masculine and regular in every way, <azucar> is
invariably feminine but takes <el> despite unstressed initial <a>, compounds
like <aguanieve> and diminutives like <ag"uita> are invariably feminine but
predictably take <el>, speakers unhesitatingly pick <el arba> for AMR's
hypothetical feminine carriage or gazelle, and so forth and so on.
 AMR's posting suggests that "to the extent that there are speakers who
say [...]" something different, theoretical claims based on such clear and
invariable data "would appear to be on shaky ground". But since the
theoretical claims in question (at least the ones I know about) in no way
exclude the possibility of dialect variation, it is rather AMR's suggestion
that appears to lack firm foundation. (Of course, the claims could easily be
wrong for countless other reasons -- that's not at issue).
 Jim Harris
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Message 2: Re: 3.241 Linguistics In The Press

Date: Wed, 11 Mar 1992 13:34 MST
Subject: Re: 3.241 Linguistics In The Press

There's no other way to redeem the place of linguistics in American
education than through the education system. So I agree (with what
I and others have already said in this medium) that it's termendously
important what we teach in intro courses, and what we say to our
colleagues in other disciplines. And it's also important that more
linguists get on the band wagon to teach linguistics in the high
schools. I'm involved in teaching such, in programs like those for
gifted, and/or college-track, high school kids, and I'm sure there
are many high schools with such programs that are crying for college
professors to teach such courses. This summer I'll be teaching a
field methods course, and am really looking forward to it!

Carol Georgopoulos
Linguistics Program
University of Utah
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Message 3: Teaching

Date: Sun, 15 Mar 92 22:29 CST
Subject: Teaching

Yeah, I saw a Klingon-English phrase book down at the book store -- interesting
aglutinations. There are quite a few OVS and OSV languages in the Amazon area:
Hixkaryana is OVS (COrrect me, Des Darbyshire) and I think Satere is OSV. There
is a Handbook of Amazonian Languages out there somewhere that you could find.
Maybe someone can send you a concrete reference.

As to getting linguistics into the elementary and middle schools, let me not
speak of sentence diagramming, but rather light a candle: My daughter did a
science fair project in 5th grade with phonetic symbolism contrasting the
influence of consonants with vowels (vowels win) and a science fair this year
also on phonetic symbolism trying to determine the influence of syllable stress
(didn't make a difference). The first science fair really enthused her teachers
and the second won best of show and is going to regional sci. fair. Obviously
we're talking of psycholinguistics, but at least some people have heard of
Sapir, Greenberg, and others and the idea has been gotten across that language
has some interesting facets. Some aspects of linguistics are hard to explain,
but there are accessible facets. For example, I betyou could do a good sci.
fair project on quantifier dialects (scope of negation with universal quanti-
fiers) or on acquisition of some syntactic structure. If you've got kids and
you're going to have to help them think of a project anyway, maybe you can
do something with linguistics even if it isn't what you'd really like best.

Finally, I'd say that Deborah Tannen's (sp?) two books on sociolinguistics of
male and female discourse are definitely out in the popular realm and selling
well while being the results of serious work. I only glanced through them but
they left me with a favorable impression.
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Message 4: OVS

Date: Thu, 12 Mar 92 23:59:54 EST
From: <>
Subject: OVS

There are some OVS languages in the Carib family, all in the Amazon Basin,
namely: Hixkaryana, Apalai, Bacairi, and Makusi.
-from the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language.
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