LINGUIST List 5.817

Tue 19 Jul 1994

Qs: Classical Latin, Ex-Prince, Non-literates, Frequency lists

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Dave Wharton, Topic and Focus in Classical Latin
  2. Larry Horn, ex-Prince
  3. Frederick Newmeyer, Analytical abilities of non-literates
  4. , frequency lists

Message 1: Topic and Focus in Classical Latin

Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 14:39:53 Topic and Focus in Classical Latin
From: Dave Wharton <>
Subject: Topic and Focus in Classical Latin

I have 2 queries regarding Topic and Focus in Classical Latin:

(1) Has any work been done on topicalization and focalization
 in Classical Latin since Harm Pinkster's _Latin Syntax
 and Semantics_, whose approach is that of Functional Grammar,
 or since Dirk Panhuis' _The Communicative Perspective in
 the Sentence: A Study of Latin Word Order_, whose approach
 is that of Functional Sentence Perspective?

(2) I take it as accepted that most (or all) languages distinguish
 Topic and Focus in some way. But I have seen little regarding
 utterances which lack such "informational" or "communicative"
 structuring, or in which the assignment of Topic or Focus
 is ambiguous. To what extent are Topic and Focus obligatory
 elements of utterances?

Of more personal interest to myself: As a lurker on this list for
about a year, I've never seen any mention of either FG or FSP.
Is that because these theories are not well known, or not well

Dave Wharton
Classical Studies
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Message 2: ex-Prince

Date: Mon, 18 Jul 94 21:53:19 EDex-Prince
From: Larry Horn <>
Subject: ex-Prince

This is a rather odd query, I'm afraid. I've read a couple of pop music
reviews lately of performances by the singer who used to be called Prince.
The query regards his name change. A review ("Ex-Prince Firmly Fixed in the
Present") in last Friday's New York Times, for example, begins as follows:

 Since Prince has changed his name to an unpronounceable glyph,
 tickets for his two-night stand at the Palladium were billed as "Art.
 Frmly Knwn as Prince." Calling for encores, the crowd chanted "We
 want" followed by two high whoops.

Now what puzzles me is precisely the nature of this unpronounceable glyph; in
particular, whether it's really unpronounceable (by definition) or just
unfamiliar. (We've all heard various expressions in various languages
labelled as "unpronouncable" because of such minor violations of our morpheme
structure conditions as initial velar nasals, or because of unEnglish phones
such as clicks.) Are the "two high whoops" the closest ex-Prince's fans
can get to rendering the phonetic characteristics of this glyph with the human
vocal apparatus? If so, how did the fans figure this out? And didn't Mr.
High Whoops realize that adopting this unpronounceable glyph leaves reviewers
and headline writers referring to him as if he were abdicated royalty?
Inquiring minds want to know.

--Larry Horn (
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Message 3: Analytical abilities of non-literates

Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 17:08:55 Analytical abilities of non-literates
From: Frederick Newmeyer <>
Subject: Analytical abilities of non-literates

I am interested in references bearing on the abilities of non-literate
adults to identify linguistic units in their native languages, i.e. to
segment speech, to identify phonological units, morphemes, phrases,
clauses, and so on. By 'non-literate' I mean to include speakers of
unwritten languages (who are not literate in some other language) and
illiterate adult speakers of written languages.

My goal is to address claims that have been made that such abilities are
nothing but by-products of having mastered alphabetic script.


Fritz Newmeyer

PS: I also seem to recall a posting citing recent work on language games,
many of which, of course, reveal interesting aspects of their speakers'
grammars. Can anybody provide me with the citation?
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Message 4: frequency lists

Date: 18 Jul 1994 16:17:57 -0500frequency lists
Subject: frequency lists

Does anyone know where I can get a frequency rating
for optionally transitive verbs? I.e. how often
these verbs take direct objects or how often they appear intransitively.

I appreciate any information.

Tatiana Schnur
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