LINGUIST List 5.486

Wed 27 Apr 1994

Qs: Translating, Ape language, Equative comparison, Videophone

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. David Silva, Inclusive Language Translating
  2. Michael Kac, Ape Language
  3. Martin Haspelmath, equative comparison
  4. , videophone test

Message 1: Inclusive Language Translating

Date: Tue, 26 Apr 94 11:46:35 CDInclusive Language Translating
From: David Silva <>
Subject: Inclusive Language Translating

I've recently been asked to do some simple translations of English-language
materials into Portuguese. The English materials I'm working with have been
written so as to remove gender bias (to the extent possible). In translating
into Portuguese, however, I've run into the problem of inclusifying a language
with overt gender markers at every turn. As a novice translator, I'm looking
for sources that argue for and against possible strategies for handling such a
problem: alternating female/male terms; using "slashed" structures (e.g.,
_delegada/-o_ for 'delegate (f/m)'); etc. I'd also be interested in knowing
the range of strategies and the extent to which speakers/writers of individual
languages (or lang families) are in agreement with regard to which strategies
they might use.

If there's interest, I'll post a summary to the list.

Many thanks.

--David (David Silva:
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Message 2: Ape Language

Date: Tue, 26 Apr 1994 18:16:03 Ape Language
From: Michael Kac <>
Subject: Ape Language

On behalf of someone not on the net I'm writing to inquire about
recent literature (if any) on the question of whether apes can
learn language.

My impression is that since the publication of the article by
Terrace et al. in Science (ca. 1980, if I remember correctly) a
consensus quickly developed to the effect that earlier claims were
exaggerated and that the question is widely considered to have
been settled in the negative. I'd be interested in knowing to what
extent the debate is still alive and, if there's still life in it, what
things to recommend to the person who came to me with the
question. If there's enough to report back on I'll post a summary.

Please reply to me personally at the following address:

Michael Kac
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Message 3: equative comparison

Date: Wed, 27 Apr 1994 13:32:40 equative comparison
From: Martin Haspelmath <>
Subject: equative comparison

A colleague and I are working on the typology of constructions expressing
equative comparison, as in (1)-(3).

(1) Linguistics is as fun as dancing.
(2) He is not so naughty as he was.
(3) She turned pale as a ghost.

For comparison of inequality there exist numerous descriptive and
theoretical studies, including a major typological work (Leon Stassen,
1985, Comparison and universal grammar. Oxford: Blackwell).
 It is much more difficult to find references to studies on equative
comparison. We'd be grateful for any pointers to relevant work, recent or
older. We are interested in syntax, semantics, morphology, diachrony, and
especially in the relation between meaning and form. Some relevant
questions are:

--Why is the marker of the standard of comparison often identical to the
question word 'how'? (e.g. German _wie_, Russian _kak_)
--Why is _so_ allowed only in the negative sentence (2), but not in (1)?
--Under what circumstances can the first _as_ be omitted (cf. 3)?
--What is the relation to similarity expressions such as _She is like her
--What is the relation to role expressions such as _We gave it to you as a

I'll post a summary if there is enough interest.

Martin Haspelmath, Free University of Berlin
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Message 4: videophone test

Date: Wed, 27 Apr 94 11:06:49 WEvideophone test
Subject: videophone test

I want to organise a test of the effectiveness of videophones for lip-
reading deaf people. What I had in mind was a set of english sentences that
would contain some sounds that would be 'ambiguous' for lipreaders such as

Has anyone out there organised such a test and does anyone have any advice
as to how I should set about designing this test?

I'm a bit in the dark about this!

Feargal Murphy,
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