LINGUIST List 3.498

Mon 15 Jun 1992

Qs: Bib. Software, Reality, Etc.

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Vicki Fromkin, bibliography software
  2. , Reality and rules
  3. (icki Fromkin, etc.

Message 1: bibliography software

Date: Sat, 13 Jun 92 09:36 PDT
From: Vicki Fromkin <IYO1VAFUCLAMVS.bitnet>
Subject: bibliography software

Query: Does anyone outthere have a recommendation for bibliography
software that can be used with Word for Windows. I am now using
Notebook/Bibliography and find it in the neanderthal age of software
-- it is unwieldy, unfelicitous, user unfriendly and I will be
eternally grateful for any sggestions.

Vicki Fromkin
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Message 2: Reality and rules

Date: Sat, 13 Jun 92 18:54:12 BSReality and rules
From: <>
Subject: Reality and rules

Concerning the recent cathartic interest in the reality of linguistic rules, my
reading today in Tilkov's discussion of French _schwa_ made me wonder what
colleagues would make of the following (my translation) from 1973:

 "It is therefore appropriate to make precise what
 belongs to physical reality and what is functional
 in linguistic reality."

Are there then two realities for us to contend with (or more)?
 Bill Bennett.
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Message 3: etc.

Date: Mon, 15 Jun 92 11:56:44 CSetc.
From: (icki Fromkin <>
Subject: etc.

I am posting this on 3 lists; please excuse the (re)duplication.

A couple of years ago I noted what I perceived to be a new speech
phenomenon, an equivalent of etcetera, etcetera, etcetera or
blah blah blah. It usually sounds something like this:
da 'dah da dah' da dah' da dah' da dah' (the vowel in the 1st syll
is usu. a schwa) -- that is to say, a set of iambic syllables
used to complete a list, often reporting something
someone said or did.

For example, "And then, she goes, like, `brown'? and I'm like
`Really' and you know, and, da dah da dah da dah.

For want of a better term I called this a completive in a note I published
in _American Speech_. William Safire picked it up in his NYTimes
"On Language" column and termed it a "dribble off" which is certainly

It isn't particularly clear what the origin of this item is. Some
have suggested the Morse code dit dah. Others a slurring of and on and
on and on. Certainly both can be supported from pronunciation evidence
(often the di dahs are nasalized).

Anyway, while I hadn't found any in print at the time, I predicted
it wouldn't be long before this particular completive would appear.
And it has. In Tom Kakonis's novel _Criss Cross_ (shows you what my
summer reading runs to) NY: St. Martin's Press 1990 (paper ed. 1991),
p. 103, we find a sole instance of the phenomenon, clearly influenced
by the Morse Code etymology:

 " . . . so Darlene don't show up and I'm coverin' two stations,
 really bustin' butt, and this old fart flags me down and starts in
 his eggs is runny and his toast is burned and his hash browns cold
 and it's all _my_ fault, if you can swallow that, and he's not
 gonna pay, da-dit, da-dit, da-dit. And I'm like, wow, pardon me
 for bein' on the same planet."

So, now, two questions:
1. Has anyone else dealt with this form in speech or writing, and if so
what do you think is going on?
2. Anyone got any more printed examples?

PS, though Kakonis is of the hard-boiled school of dialogue writing,
the jacket blurb says he has been a professor in several Midwestern
colleges, so perhaps his hint at Morse code is an
over-intellectualization of the speech sounds?

Dennis Baron
Dept. of English office: 217-244-0568
University of Illinois messages: 217-333-2392
608 S. Wright St fax: 217-333-4321
Urbana IL 61801
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