LINGUIST List 4.670

Thu 09 Sep 1993

Qs: Conversation, Phonetics, OK, Wolf

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Simon Williams, Conversation
  2. Bob Hvitfeldt, RE: Phonetics hard- and software
  3. BEN PETRE, Origin of O.K.
  4. , selling wolf tickets

Message 1: Conversation

Date: Wed, 8 Sep 93 10:49:24 BSTConversation
From: Simon Williams <>
Subject: Conversation

Hello. May I introduce myself as a new member of the Linguist list? I'm a
research student at the University of Southampton, UK, in the final year of
my project which concerns linguistic, personal and social factors in the
construction of native speaker / non-native speaker conversation. (If you get
bored during what follows, please go to end of message, where I have a
request.) During data collection in the second year of the project I used
Personal Construct Theory repertory grids as a measure of interpersonal affect
between participants (after experiments on interpersonal attraction and
friendship formation reported by Duck, 1973). Although affect turned out not
to be a central issue, it is one mentioned by a number of NNSs in self-
reflections, and there appears to be an inverse association between the degree
of positive affect (as indicated, additionally, by participants in self-
reflection sheets and interviews) and amount of pedagogic activity in the
conversation meetings. In addition, on the basis of pilot tests, I created a
revised version of a pragmatic oral test (Hendricks et al 1980) which was
administered periodically to the NNSs. The results were inconclusive, ie there
were no consistent changes in scores up or down over time over time.
Fortunately, the results of a topic-based analysis of speech events, and
analyses of a selection of linguistic and paralinguistic cohesion markers of
the meetings of 8 dyads (3-4 meetings each), were more interesting. Having
done all the creative stuff, I am now in the painful process of producing a
first draft, which brings me to my request.

Although the conversation scheme which supplied the data is not of interest in
itself, I would like to refer interested readers to one or two references in
the literature describing the organisation and running of such schemes, perhaps
in a procedure section. I have tried a number of on-line searches, the latest
of ERIC this afternoon, as well as some (brief) manual searches of CIJE and
TESOL Quarterly, with no success. I don't know how applied the Linguist list
is, or how many readers are out there in what is left of the summer vacation.
Anyway, I would be most grateful for any leads. Thanks.

Duck, Stephen W (1973) Personal Relationships and Personal Constructs, London:
John Wiley & Sons

Hendricks, Debby, George Scholz, Randon Spurling, Marianne Johnson and Lela
Vandenburg (1980), "Oral proficiency testing in an intensive English language
program," in John W Oller Jr and Kyle Perkins (eds) Research in Language
Testing, Rowley, MA: Newbury House, pp 77-90

Simon Williams
School of Education
University of Southampton
Southampton SO9 5NH
United Kingdom

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Message 2: RE: Phonetics hard- and software

Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1993 14:52 +080RE: Phonetics hard- and software
From: Bob Hvitfeldt <>
Subject: RE: Phonetics hard- and software

Can anyone help us here in Singapore? We are interested in (possibly)
 obtaining DARPA's
TIMIT CD-ROM phonetic database for our Phonetics Laboratory but have no
 information other
than the name. In addition, we understand there is a new PC version of the
 sound analysis
package from ILS. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Robert Hvitfeldt
Asian Languages and Applied Linguistics
National Institute of Education
Nanyang Technological University
1025 Singapore

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Message 3: Origin of O.K.

Date: Sat, 04 Sep 1993 21:40:02 Origin of O.K.
From: BEN PETRE <>
Subject: Origin of O.K.

Does anyone know of a plausible explanation for the origin of "O.K."?
I've just read a message from another mailing list claiming that it
was coined by Greek migrants in America as an acronym for "Ola kala"
("Everything's fine").
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Message 4: selling wolf tickets

Date: Sun, 05 Sep 1993 19:50:43 selling wolf tickets
From: <>
Subject: selling wolf tickets

A couple of weeks ago, I asked if anyone knew the origin of the
phrase "selling wolf tickets." I only knew it meant telling a fantastic
story. Several people wrote to say that they had never heard the
phrase, but they thought it might be a reference to the story of the boy who
cried wolf.

At last, David Johns has written with what sounds like the actual origin:

"At least 25 years ago, there was a verb "to woof" or "to wolf" (the
pronunciation would have been the same) among black kids in Chicago.
It meant to bluff or challenge. It could be transitive ("Stop woofin'
me, man") or intransitive ("She just woofin'").

"I'm sure I've also heard the "sell X tickets" expression used with
other verbs. I doubt that it has much meaning other than to frame the
verb and emphasize it."

Now I'm wondering if "wolf" is not actually a reanalysis of "woof,"
which, of course, is an English word that refers to a particular noise.
Any suggestions?

Joan C. Cook
Department of Linguistics
Georgetown University
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