LINGUIST List 5.147

Tue 08 Feb 1994

Disc: Dimensionality, Lingua Franca

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. mark, re 5.118: Manaster-Ramer on Goldsmith and dimensionality
  2. Celso Alvarez-Caccamo, Lingua franca on the Internet

Message 1: re 5.118: Manaster-Ramer on Goldsmith and dimensionality

Date: Thu, 03 Feb 94 16:02:51 ESre 5.118: Manaster-Ramer on Goldsmith and dimensionality
From: mark <>
Subject: re 5.118: Manaster-Ramer on Goldsmith and dimensionality

In issue #5.118 Alexis Manaster-Ramer confuses the dimensionality
of a space with the characteristics of its dimensions. The
Cartesian plane of analytic geometry and high-school algebra has
two dimensions, each of which encompasses the set of real
numbers. The fact that this set is not only infinite but
uncountable doesn't change the number of dimensions. Although I
haven't seen Goldsmith's work that is under discussion here, it
seems clear from Goldsmith's phrasing and Manaster-Ramer's
discussion that the "space of connection weights" is comparable
to the Cartesian plane: a space of n dimensions, each ranging
through the real numbers (or, equivalently!, from 0 continuously
to 1). As long as the *number* of connection weights is finite,
this space, like the Cartesian plane, is of finite

 -- Mark

 Mark A. Mandel
 Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
 320 Nevada St. : Newton, Mass. 02160, USA :
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Lingua franca on the Internet

Date: Thu, 3 Feb 1994 4:13:07 Lingua franca on the Internet
From: Celso Alvarez-Caccamo <>
Subject: Lingua franca on the Internet

 Notes from a Sub-English Sub-Linguist

Marion Kee's witty message about the "lingua franca" (LINGUIST 5.89)
reinforces my verbose and probably useless argument that
"discussants discursively manage locally-bound hegemonic or subaltern
positions" within the Internet and LINGUIST. Her whole argument
rests on (a) a purely structural or formal definition of "language"
(therefore, the communicative code I called "Computer" would simply
be "English"); and (b) the hierarchical arrangement of speech (and
writing) in "languages", "sublanguages", and even "sub-sublanguages".
Being a sub-linguist myself (a sociolinguist), the use of my
sub-subdialect required for her some sort of (machine) translation into
the pure language she calls Linguist. By the same token, Marion Kee would
probably agree that I may have the legitimate need to translate what
I might call the "Formal-Linguist sub-language" (that is, one suited to
talk only about partial aspects of human communication) into a more
general (Socio)Linguist Language. This is also, in part, due to my
ignorance of the Formal-Linguist sub-language.

Be as it may, I suggest instead that we return to a communicative
view of language and codes for this discussion. Marion Kee misses
my point about the socio-interactional scope of "Computer" as a code
in itself when she sees in my usage of the term an "overlap of
terminology". The surface form of Computer ("English") matters less
than the process of its social production and the process by which
select individuals (a fraction of the speaking population) gain access
to and control over Computer language. Second, discourse is more than
language. The degree of one's mastery of the protocols of discussion
and persuasion in LINGUIST is another index of one's figurative position
and alignments within the interactional territory of LINGUIST. In this
socio-interactional sense, I insist, the lingua franca of Internet (or of
LINGUIST at least) is not English: it is Computer, a synonym for
United-Statean -- even when one writes in "Portuguese".

I'm glad that at least one person found my message useful
(that is, literally, "quite humorous"). I did say that the language
I use here isn't English (last time I tried I could write in English,
too). So, if someone else can't understand these words,
just (machine) translate them to your favorite sub-language. That's
what the game is all about. ;-)

Celso Alvarez-Caccamo
Depto. de Linguistica Geral e Teoria da Literatura
Universidade da Corunha, Galiza, Spain
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue