LINGUIST List 3.711

Mon 21 Sep 1992

Qs: English Dialect Syntax, Paradoxes, Norman fix

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Directory

  1. David Denison, English dialect syntax
  2. Jacques Guy, The barber's paradox: a linguistic illusion?
  3. Cathy Ball, Name of the letter 'y' in Norman

Message 1: English dialect syntax

Date: Mon, 21 Sep 92 08:33:32 BSEnglish dialect syntax
From: David Denison <MFCEPDDCMS.MCC.AC.UK>
Subject: English dialect syntax

On behalf of a student I'm trying to locate material relevant to a study
of syntactic change in urban dialects of British English. "Relevant"
includes corpora, recordings, publications in the secondary literature -
whether to do with current speech or with dialects of earlier times.
All help appreciated. Replies may be sent direct to me at the address
 d.denisonuk.ac.man (JANET users) or
 d.denisonman.ac.uk (from outside UK)
Many thanks.
 David Denison
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Message 2: The barber's paradox: a linguistic illusion?

Date: Sun, 20 Sep 92 07:54:59 ESThe barber's paradox: a linguistic illusion?
From: Jacques Guy <j.guytrl.oz.au>
Subject: The barber's paradox: a linguistic illusion?

A long time ago, somewhere (I thought it was in Hofstadter's "Goedel,
Escher, Bach", but I can't find it there), some years ago then, in some
book riddled with mathematical brain-teasers, I read about the Spanish
barber. The story goes like this:

 There is a small Spanish town where every man who does not shave
 himself is shaved by the barber. Does the barber shave himself?

and the discussion, roughly:

 Either the barber shaves himself or he doesn't. If he does not
 shave himself, then he is shaved by the barber; therefore he shaves
 himself. But if he shaves himself, he is not shaved by the barber,
 so...

... and so on ad nauseam. The conclusion reached, after invoking the manes
of Bertrand Russell and whispering in awe of the mysteries of set theory,
was that there can exist no such town. The Spanish barber paradox has
always seemed vacuous to me. The argument makes sense if, and only if,
you subscribe to the hidden assumption that the barber is not himself.
That is nothing but a sleight of words in the use of the reflexive pronoun.
Avoid the use of pronouns and the paradox disappears. Let every man in
the village have a distinctive name, and let's call the barber Pablo.

For any man there can be only two cases:

1. He shaves himself, viz Pepe shaves Pepe.
2. Pablo shaves him, viz Pablo shaves Pepe.

What about Pablo? Those two cases are one and the same:

1. He shaves himself, i.e. Pablo shaves Pablo.
2. Pablo shaves him, i.e. Pablo shaves Pablo.

Isn't that what we may call a linguistic illusion, or sleight of
hand?

Has anyone encountered other cases of sleight of words in
scientific works? Or is it me who has gone soft in the brain?
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Message 3: Name of the letter 'y' in Norman

Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1992 15:19 EDTName of the letter 'y' in Norman
From: Cathy Ball <CBALLguvax.acc.georgetown.edu>
Subject: Name of the letter 'y' in Norman

Can anyone suggest an answer (or a list on which I might get an
answer) to the following question: how is it that the name of the
letter 'y' in Norman French [as attested by a 12th century MS] was
'fix'?

 -- Cathy Ball (Georgetown)
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