LINGUIST List 5.881

Fri 12 Aug 1994

Qs: Before Babel, What about Altaic?, Primate accents, PD parser

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Directory

  1. , Before Babel
  2. , What about Altaic?
  3. Richard Hudson UCL, Primate accents
  4. James Beniger, Public Domain Parser

Message 1: Before Babel

Date: Mon, 8 Aug 1994 08:43:11 +Before Babel
From: <mcconvell_puncl04.ntu.edu.au>
Subject: Before Babel

The TV program "Before Babel: Search for a Mother Tongue" was shown on
SBS TV in Australia on 31 July. I enquired at SBS about availability of the
video because I wanted to show it to some first year linguistics students, and
they told me as far as they knew it is not available for sale or hire in
Australia. Could anyone who knows if it is available and/or details of the
makers/distributors let me know, so that I can enquire further?

Patrick McConvell, Anthropology, Northern Territory University
Darwin, Australia
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Message 2: What about Altaic?

Date: Sun, 7 Aug 94 21:56:48 EDTWhat about Altaic?
From: <amrzeus.cs.wayne.edu>
Subject: What about Altaic?

There has not been a good discussion lately, so I was wondering
if anybody was interested in talking about Altaic?

Alexis Manaster Ramer
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Message 3: Primate accents

Date: Sun, 07 Aug 94 12:40:05 +0Primate accents
From: Richard Hudson UCL <uclyrahucl.ac.uk>
Subject: Primate accents

Do primates have learned dialects for vocal calls? According
to a report in today's "Observer" newspaper, chimpanzees do:

 The accents of chimp populations can, like human accents,
 identify which region and social class a chimp comes
 from. The chimps also learn from their peers, even
 altering their accent to fit in with others. ("Life"
 supplement, p. 60, by Sanjida O'Connell)

But according to A. Whiten, in the Encyclopedia of Lang and
Ling, they don't:

 There is little evidence of imitative learning of
 vocalizations, nor [sic] that vocal dialects found in
 different subpopulations of the same species are learned
 traditions. In these respects, primates have up to the
 time of writing shown less evidence of an important role
 for learning than songbirds. (Vol 6, p. 3331)

Can anyone throw any light on this obvious conflict of views?

This strikes me as an important question for those of us who
are interested in sociolinguistic theories, especially
Accommodation Theory.

Since posting my query, I mentioned the issue to my daughter who told me it
was discussed in an article in the New Scientist (4 June 94) by Meredith
Small, of Cornell Univ. That was obviously the source for the Observer article,
though not acknowledged. Anwhow, I'd still be interested if any Linguist-ers
have any extra light to throw on the matter.



Dick Hudson
Dept of Phonetics and Linguistics,
University College London,
Gower Street,
London WC1E 6BT
(071) 387 7050 ext 3152
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Message 4: Public Domain Parser

Date: Fri, 12 Aug 1994 07:16:12 Public Domain Parser
From: James Beniger <benigeralnitak.usc.edu>
Subject: Public Domain Parser


Do any of you know where I might find a public domain parser? The
user-friendlier, the better, for a non-linguist. A linguist friend tells
me that a Tomita parser is what I might need, but I remain open to any
other suggestions.
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