LINGUIST List 5.812

Mon 18 Jul 1994

Sum: Language Games

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  1. Trey Jones, Sum: Language Games - Take 2!

Message 1: Sum: Language Games - Take 2!

Date: Fri, 15 Jul 94 18:14:59 EDSum: Language Games - Take 2!
From: Trey Jones <treyBRS.Com>
Subject: Sum: Language Games - Take 2!

After posting my recent summary on language games, I got another round of refer-
ences and descriptions. The volume was not quite so overwhelming this time, so
my summary comes a little more quickly. Also, because of the smaller volume, I
will excerpt from the messages rather than combine them into a single biblio-
graphic/descriptive summary. !!As always, more info is welcome!!
 -Trey Jones
*Don Churma <> sent the following references:*
Churma, Donald G. (1979/85). Arguments from external evidence in phonology.
 Ohio State diss./Garland.
____ ms. Fula consonant gradation as a segmental phonological process.
 Stanford/Ball State.
Manaster-Ramer, Alexis (1981). How abstruse is phonology? U. Chi. diss./IULC.
Noye, Dominique (1971?). L'acquistion de la langue par les jeunes peuls du
 Diamarr'e. Paris: Librairie Orientaliste P. Guenther.

Also, just remembered my 1985 (?) LSA paper, which exists only in the form of
 the handout: On the treatment of length in non-linear phonology.
And a '90 LI squib by Fusa Katada.

***And then he sent MORE references!:***
Ch. 5 of Kenstowicz and Kisseberth's textbook (1979) Generative phonology.
 (Contains further ref's.)
There's also a paper by Lyle Campbell in the Ohala & Jaeger vol. that has
 Hombert (1986) in it.
You might also check Phonology (Yearbook?) 3, guest edited by O&J
A squib (LI, late '80s?) by J. Malone on Turkish rhyme
One on "The Name Game" by Mike Hammond in Phonology 7.
W. Dressler's (1985) Morphonology ought to have something on it.
Arnold Zwicky's (1975) "The strategy of generative phonology in Phonologica
 '72 (ed. Dressler and F. Mare`'s) has passing ref. to it.
Vaguely related is his "Well this rock 'n' roll has gotta stop, Junior's
 head is hard as a rock" in CLS 12 (on imperfect rhymes).

*Jerry Reno <> sent this nifty (electronic!) tidbit:*
The Jargon File (electronic) or The New Hacker's Dictionary (dead trees)
edited by Eric Raymond (215)-296-5718 under 'Computer "Science"'

It's not a linguistic paper by any means, but it has a bit to say about
wordplay. From the introduction:
>Hackers, as a rule, love wordplay and are very conscious and inventive
>in their use of language. [They] regard slang formation and use as a
>game to be played for conscious pleasure. Their inventions thus display
>an almost unique combination of the neotenous enjoyment of language-play
>with the discrimination of educated and powerful intelligence.

*Kathy Mitchell <> remembered this one from a ways back..*
[Jerigonza, (from the previous summary)] is very similar to something I've seen
before here in America. When I was a kid, probably some time in the mid 70's,
Bill Cosby had a television show which was largely animated. The main
characters were a group of black boys, one of which had really huge lips. This
boy inserted "b+V" after every vowel, also duplicating the vowel afterwards.
 I-bai do-bon't kno-bow wha-butt you-bu mea-been.
 I don't know what you mean.
***the show was "Fat Albert"***

*Marion Kee <Marion.KeeA.NL.CS.CMU.EDU> described Egg Latin and others:*
"Egg Latin" or eggegg leggateggin. You just insert the syllable `egg'
before each vowel. I found it pretty difficult to master as an adult
(eggadeggult), but then I found Pig Latin difficult when I was a child.
My parents were much more proficient in the latter than I ever became.

I didn't see any references to Cockney slang on your list. I can
attest that it's fairly incomprehensible to an outsider. More
historically, Britain offers "thieves' cant" (underworld slang of the
18th and 19th centuries) and Anglo-Saxon riddle games.

What about those "semi-dirty" songs that set up a rhyme with some off-color
word, only to pop up with an unexpectedly "clean" word in the designated
spot, instead? Often the "clean" word does not rhyme, to emphasize the
missing word and thus enhance the innuendo. I've heard some songs where it
did rhyme, however. One that I remember a bit of is "Sweet Violet":

A girl met a farmer, a pretty young miss
And out by the barnyard he gave her a
Lecture on cattle and plowing and chickens and eggs,
And he said that she had such beautiful
Manners, which suited a girl of her charms,
A girl that he wanted to take in his
Washing and ironing and mending his clothes . . .

And one that I learned much earlier in life (age 5 or so):

Lily had a steamboat, steamboat had a bell
Lily went to heaven, the steamboat went to
Hello, operator, get me Number 9,
If you disconnect me, I'll kick your big
Behind the 'frigerator, there was a piece of glass,
Lily fell down on it and broke her little
Ask me no more questions, I'll tell you no more lies,
This is how the story ends 'cause little Lily dies.

I guess that these are not quite generative enough to count as "games" per
se, though kids can be pretty creative about producing more verses at times.

*Paul Listen <> described a few games..*
[A] couple of acquaintances of mine from several years ago [...]
frequently conversed in what they called "Bicycle". Why "Bicycle" I
have no idea. I couldn't follow their conversations but the general
rule seemed to be to insert schwa + s after every consonant unless the
consonant is final. (Like I said, I couldn't speak it then, much less
now, but this is what I remember....)
 Msy Nsame is Psaul Lsistsen. (= My Name is Paul Listen)
(Maybe it was 's' after every consonant or consonant cluster?)
 Hse tsold mse thsat hse wsas nsot csomsing.
 (=He told me that he was not coming.)
I don't know of anyone other than the two former acquaintances of mine who
spoke\speak this. Nor do I know where they learned it. Or if they even
made it up, but I thought it might interest you.

*Richard Coates <> added another reference*
I was quite surprised not to see a mention of the famous Damin secret
style of Lardil, described in:
 Dixon, R.M.W. (1980) The languages of Australia. CUP, pp. 66-7. [The
 description is said to be due to Ken Hale originally, but I can't find
 a reference.]

*Ines Shaw <ISHAWVM1.NODAK.EDU> had a wonderful lot to say about*
* Brazilian language games *
In your summary, you report a language called "jeringonza"
from Argentina, which is also said to be used in Spain. In Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil and in some central states, the same language game is used, but it is
called "Lingua do Pe." I will use the same sentence used in the Spanish
example 'I want to eat something' = quero comer algo /kero komex algo/:
 quepe-ropo copo-mepe alpo-gopo
 [kero] [kome] [awgo]

In normal pronunciation: [keru kume awgu] or [keru kumeh awgu]
The [e] is actually a mid-low vowel, close to "e" in English "pet."

 Notice that final -o in Brazilian Portuguese (BP) is pronounced [u]. One might
be tempted to explain the occurrence of -o on the basis of the theory of
underlying phonemes, but notice that the last syllable of 'to eat' = comer is
based on pronunciation, as the final -r is usually weakened to an [h] or as or
more often not pronounced at all. In the "P-lang" final -r is not pronounced.
[...When] I think of words which have a more complicated syllable structure,
such as perspectiva or crepusculo, I am not entirely sure that every speaker
would say the same thing (that is, I think that there may be some variation).
 I never heard of the Lingua do I--it would be interesting to find out
in what part of Brazil it is spoken. I qualified the regions in which I know
the p-lg.from experience, but I think that this p-language must be spoken in
most or great part of the country, especially because, as your summary shows,
it is also spoken in Argentina and Spain, suggesting it's spoken in other
Portuguese-Spanish countries as well. Well, you've got me interested in the
origins and details of the language now, so, I hope you will share info. about
its origin if it comes your way (or comes as a result of your own study).
 Finally, there is one more language game spoken in Brazil, although
I think it might be more localized. I learned it from friends who lived in
Terezopolis, a mountain resort town in the state of Rio de Janeiro. It is
the Cima-language (or Sima-language--since it is not a written language,
either letter works), which works the same way as the p-language:
 quecima-rocima cocima-mecima (or cocima-mercima) alcima-gocima
 [kero] [kome] [komex] [awgo]
 quero comer algo 'I want to eat something'
Although I can't explain, the -r is more natural with -cima than with the
p-syllable. With the p-syllable, as I said, the -r is not going to be
pronounced, unless an attempt is made to enunciate each syllable carefully.

*Will Dowling <> described a game his daughter made up!*
My daughter (age 6) has invented and has become fairly fluent in a language
she calls "La" (in English) or "Za" (in La). The rule is simple: replace
each initial consonant with /z/. When she gets going fast, she can't seem
to help replacing word internal consonants (generally before stressed
syllables) with /z/ as well. It's interesting to me because La is a
homomorphic image of English (not isomorphic) -- the transformation is
information-losing and cannot be undone since for example
{bat, cat, fat, ...} -> zat. It doesn't make too much sense to speak words
in isolation; you need the context of a sentence or more to understand it, so
works very well as a "secret" language.

> What does your daughter do with consonant clusters, like in "train"? "zrain"
> is hard to say, and defies the phonotactics of English. Does La have its own
> phonotactics, or do clusters get replaced?
English phonotactics:
Zu zu zaik zu zaid zE zein < du ju liak tE raid thE trein
"Do you like to ride the train" (E = schwa)

There is some interesting stuff going on here. My impression is that
the unstressed tE "to" here becomes zu in La. Vowel harmony?
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