LINGUIST List 3.300

Mon 30 Mar 1992

Disc: Teaching, Discourse, Evolution

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  1. "Wayles Browne, Cornell Univ.", 3.233, teaching quasi-native speakers
  2. , Linguistic Discourse
  3. , Re: 3.288 Responses: Morphophonemics, Slang, Evolution
  4. , When Language First Appeared

Message 1: 3.233, teaching quasi-native speakers

Date: Sun, 22 Mar 92 15:38:53 ES3.233, teaching quasi-native speakers
From: "Wayles Browne, Cornell Univ." <JN5JCORNELLA.bitnet>
Subject: 3.233, teaching quasi-native speakers

Many thanks to Ellen Kaisse (, Ellen Prince
(, Stavros Macrakis (,
George Fowler (gfowleriubacs), and David Powers ( for
reflections and personal experiences. It is clearly possible to have a
native-like knowledge of one part of a language system and be lacking
in another part. One can have native-like phonology and syntax, but have
holes in the vocabulary and very imperfect gender and case morphology,
for example, or satisfactory phonology and morphology but gaps in the
syntax and vocabulary.
It also appears that items heard in early childhood can continue to rattle
around in one's long-term memory and reappear in consciousness only decades
I'm still looking for suggestions about how to teach such part-native,
part-nonnative speakers when they appear in my language classes.
Educational research topic, anyone?
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Message 2: Linguistic Discourse

Date: 23 Mar 92 9:52
From: <>
Subject: Linguistic Discourse

It seems to me that much of the discussion of 'linguistic discourse'
misses the point. On the one hand, it seems quite clear that a nostalgic
view of the good old times is unrealistic. After all, even our revered
ancestors were human. But on the other hand, it is not enough to just say
'Let's have fun and save our energy to fight the evils of this world.'
 To be able to have fun and fight fascism, one needs a job and job
perspectives for one's students. What if differences of opinion on linguistic
questions affect decisions on who gets which job, regardless of the quality
of the person's work?
 A few years ago at an MLA-LSA meeting, I met a literary scholar who had
just graduated from Harvard and was looking for a job. He said his prospects
were rather bleak because most literature departments wanted deconstructionists
and his thesis was rather traditionally oriented (not even anti-deconstruc-
tionist). I don't know whether this was true, but if so, and if similar
things can happen in linguistics, then there is a problem that cannot be
easily dismissed.
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Message 3: Re: 3.288 Responses: Morphophonemics, Slang, Evolution

Date: Tue, 24 Mar 92 09:02 EST
From: <KINGSTONcs.umass.EDU>
Subject: Re: 3.288 Responses: Morphophonemics, Slang, Evolution

re: Alexis Manaster-Ramer's posting on when language could have evolved,
Phil Lieberman has been promoting the idea that the modern human vocal
tract msut have evolved after the split between _H. sapiens sapiens
and _H. sapiens neanderthalis_ about 400,000 years ago. This argument
is based on extensive comparisons of the basicrania of the two sub-species
which show that the long vertical pharynx of _H. sapiens sapiens_ must
evolved after that split, since a much shorter pharynx is reconstructed
for _H. sapiens neanderthalis_. Most of the evidence for this reconstructio
is to be found in various papers by Laitman in the _Am. J. of Physical
Anthroplogy_. Laitman has recently argued that the shape of the vocal
tract in _H. sapiens neanderthalis_ may have been a specialization for
warming cold air, however, so arguing that it is the ancestral state for
that subspecies and _H. sapiens sapiens_ may be mistaken. There have
also been criticisms of the vocla tract reconstruction for _H. sapiens
neanderthalis_, particularly by Falk, who argues that if their pharynges
were that short, they couldn't swallowed, implying a much shorter interval
in the fossil record for that subspecies than it observed. In any case,'
this evidence only applies to the question of when a system of speech
sounds like that foundin modern languages would have become possible,
and not to when the other features of modern languages appeared.
John Kingston
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Message 4: When Language First Appeared

Date: Tue, 24 Mar 92 10:29:47 ESWhen Language First Appeared
From: <ingriaBBN.COM>
Subject: When Language First Appeared

> Date: Mon, 23 Mar 92 15:30:00 EST
> From:

> For whatever amusement value it may have, I have
> published a paper not too long ago which sketches a way of
> reasoning which would make language PREDATE the species,

You mean William S. Burroughs (and his acolyte on these matters,
Laurie Anderson) is right: language IS a virus from outer space? And
homo sapiens has been colonized by it? Heavy.

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