LINGUIST List 3.307

Tue 31 Mar 1992

FYI: All, Media, Reviewers

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , ALL to preface reported speech
  2. Dr M Sebba, linguistics in the media
  3. , book reviewers for Romance Philology

Message 1: ALL to preface reported speech

Date: Mon, 30 Mar 92 17:16 CST
From: <TB0NRN1NIU.bitnet>
Subject: ALL to preface reported speech

The Chicago Tribune from last Sunday ran a piece by Alice Kahn
of the San Francisco Chronicle about the use of ALL to introduce
reported speech as in: So she's all, "For sure." And I'm all,
"Wow." She quotes both George Lakoff and Geoff Nunberg and
manages to edify linguistically while entertaining, so I bring
the piece to LINGUIST subscribers' attention as an example of
positive press on matters linguistic as well as a query into
the use of ALL where we've come to expect LIKE.
 Neal R. Norrick tb0nrn1niu.bitnet
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: linguistics in the media

Date: Mon, 30 Mar 92 18:16:00 +0linguistics in the media
From: Dr M Sebba <>
Subject: linguistics in the media

Subscribers to Linguist might be interested in the following newspaper
item in which the role of linguistics comes across clearly although not
in a particularly comprehensible way. At least it makes a change from
dialectology, and might make linguists appear to be doing something useful!


>From _the Guardian_ 21st March 1992:

'Language flaws' in document that led to hanging

Police 'concocted Bentley statement'

John Mullin

Detectives concocted the statement which helped send Derek Bentley to
the gallows for the murder of a police constable almost 40 years ago,
according to new tests on the document.

Up to four people put together the incriminating statement after the
killing of PC Sidney Miles at a warehouse in Croydon in November 1952,
language expert Andrew Morton said last night.

Mr Bentley, aged 19 but with a mental age of 11, was under arrest when
PC Miles was shot, but was hanged at Wandsworth Prison in London in
January 1953. The prosecution argued successfully that he had known
Christopher Craig, aged 16, had a gun when they had gone to raid the
warehouse. Police claimed he shouted "Let him have it, Chris" before Mr
Craig shot PC Miles.

Mr Morton, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, uses a system of
textual analysis distinct from other techniques like electro-static
document analysis. He compared Mr Bentley's last letter to his mother
and father, written 12 hours before he was executed, with the statement
police said he made to them a few hours after the killing. ... Mr
Morton said: "The statement simply cannot be accepted as Bentley's.
There is no doubt that it is the work of more than one person, and
possibly as many as four." The Court of Appeal last July freed Thomas
McCrossen, serving 11 years for robbery, after Mr Morton said his tests
indicated police had fabricated his confession.

Mr Morton, whose statistical method plotting unusual deviations from an
individual's normal language use, [sic] outlined his findings at
Birmingham Unviersity where academics are meeting this weekend to
discuss setting up an Institute of Forensic Linguistics.

His findings on the Bentley statement back up those of Malcolm
Coulthard, a senior lecturer in English at Birmingham University , who
organised this weekend's meeting. Dr Coulthard said: "There are a
number of interesting anomalies about the Bentley text which convince me
the statement was the work of police officers. Adverbs like 'then', for
example, appear immediately after the sentence subject - a clear
indication of policespeak.

Iris Bentley, aged 60, Mr Bentley's ssister, said last night: "The
statement was full of words Derek wouldn't know how to use. What Mr
Morton's work does is to back up what we have been saying for 40 years -
the police made it up."

Mark Sebba
Dept of Linguistics
Lancaster University
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: book reviewers for Romance Philology

Date: Sun, 29 Mar 92 14:37:52 -0book reviewers for Romance Philology
From: <>
Subject: book reviewers for Romance Philology

Apologies for the error in my e-mail address that appeared in my last
posting soliciting reviewers for RPh. For those who tried to contact me
and had messages sent back, the correct addresses are:

Suzanne Fleischman
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue