LINGUIST List 6.1023

Sat Jul 29 1995

Misc: Verner's Law, He/She, Bilingualism, German lg ban

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <dizdartam2000.tamu.edu>


Directory

  1. Alexis Manaster Ramer, Re: 6.1005, Sum: Japanese historical linguistics
  2. , Disc.He/She
  3. Alexis Manaster Ramer, Re: 6.1007, Misc: He/She, English only (bilingualism), German lg ban
  4. , German Language (banned) in USA

Message 1: Re: 6.1005, Sum: Japanese historical linguistics

Date: Tue, 25 Jul 1995 21:17:26 Re: 6.1005, Sum: Japanese historical linguistics
From: Alexis Manaster Ramer <amrCS.Wayne.EDU>
Subject: Re: 6.1005, Sum: Japanese historical linguistics

Not to be difficult, but something in the comment by
Chris Brockett on the excellent paper by Whitman on
Japaense and Korean caught my eye: CB seems to be saying
that Whitman's work, which he compares to Verner's Law
in Indo-European, is what proves that Japanese and Korean
are related.

BUT -- Verner's Law is NOT what proved the relatedness
of the various IE languages. The existence of IE as
a family had been established and was universally accepted
long before Verner's Law.

The point is that we run the risk here of buying into
a increasingly widespread fallacy about the basis of
language classification.

And, one might add, there is no indication that those
who reject the relatedness of Japanese or Korean to
each other or to the rest of Altaic, notably Janhunen and
Doerfer, both of whom have written on this subject recently,
are willing to accept Whitman's Law as proof of this relationship
anyway (unfortunately!).

Alexis Manaster Ramer
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Message 2: Disc.He/She

Date: Thu, 27 Jul 1995 01:20:21 Disc.He/She
From: <Jefwebaol.com>
Subject: Disc.He/She

Alexis Manaster Ramer writes:
I don't understand how anyone can deal with the
problem of the generic or default masculine pronouns in English
by ignoring the fact that the same phenomenon is found in just
about any other language you can name, including languages
where no pronoun as such is used in such cases but where the
verb forms indicate gender.

Jeffrey Weber replies:
1) My own approach to the "generic he" problem is based on my observation of
the late survival of the h-stem feminine in historical English, in many cases
the form being identical to the masculine. This observation is counter to
modern writers such as Pyles/Algeo, Strang, Penelope (e-mail me for
citations) -- writers who have kept alive and academically popular the idea
that the h-stem feminine had disappeared before 1300. English speakers were
by these writers said to have been driven by a need for distinct pronouns.
Lesbian scholar Penelope has even posited homophobia as a motivating force in
early Middle English for sex-distinct pronouns.
 If there was a late survival as I maintain, in many cases "he" having been
also a feminine pronoun, than instead of the current interpretation of the
"he" rule in academia as gendrist inspired, the rule must be reconsidered to
reflect a historical feminine association as well.
 As you may know, I have also challenged the "worthiness" doctrine -- the
supposed basis for the prescribing of "he" by male grammarians in centuries
past who said the masculine gender was more "worthy". On a sociolinguistic
note, and with unintended humor, my instinct tells me that their wives would
never have let them get away with that. For the worthiness doctrine, I'm
suggesting a closer look at the distinctions between the TWO Old English
roots for Middle English "worthy", one of which has no "superior"
connotations to it, and is as neutral as the modern use of "appropriate" or
"correct".
 And as a final note in this connection, I have suggested that the
"generic-he" can not be properly understood from the perspective solely of
the modern pronoun paradigm, what I call a "chronocentric" interpretation.
Understanding must take into account the Old English word-root relations,
inherited through ProtoGermanic, which on the one hand associated the
feminine with the all-genders plural and on the other, the masculine with the
singular and neuter. I have lines of text from the 15th century -- some of
which I have already posted -- available to anybody who asks -- that I
interpret as suggesting a radical notion: that the "proverbial he" and the
"generic he" were in some significant way influenced by FEMININE morphology.

2) It's not that I haven't thought about the problem of the generic or
default nature of the masculine pronoun as it is found in many -- or I'll
accept your conclusion here, all -- languages. But a solution involves
(doesn't it?) defining the nature of the evidence that would satisfy
requirements for a solution. Consensus might be hard to come by. BUT, can YOU
present an idea or some outlines regarding why this quasi-universal exists?,
since you seem to be presenting what I take to be a friendly challenge saying
that my discussion of "he" requires a prior grounding in an answer to the
wider question, i.e.,"why generic"?

Best Regards
Jeffrey Weber
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Message 3: Re: 6.1007, Misc: He/She, English only (bilingualism), German lg ban

Date: Tue, 25 Jul 1995 20:55:21 Re: 6.1007, Misc: He/She, English only (bilingualism), German lg ban
From: Alexis Manaster Ramer <amrCS.Wayne.EDU>
Subject: Re: 6.1007, Misc: He/She, English only (bilingualism), German lg ban

Is it really documented that the Russian authorities did not seek to
impose knowledge of Russian on the population of Finland in the 19th
century? They certainly did in other conquered countries, so this
would be a very important datum and one in need of explanation.
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Message 4: German Language (banned) in USA

Date: Thu, 27 Jul 1995 23:18:45 German Language (banned) in USA
From: <uticunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu>
Subject: German Language (banned) in USA

On Thu, 20 Jul 1995 jjeepmiamiu.acs.muohio.edu (John M. Jeep) wrote:


>The Cincinnati City Council has received a recommendation from the Public
>Works Department (Committee of Names) that the city display informational
>signs on twelve area streets which had lost their earlier German names.
>English Street would thus receive a sign (12 by 18 inch) reading "Formerly
>German Street, renamed April 9, 1918 because of the anti-German hysteria
>during WW I."
>
>The others named (with earlier name in parenthesis):
>Woodrow (Berlin) St
>Republic (Bremen) St
>Edgecliff Road (Brunswick Pl)
>Connecticut (Frankfort) Av
>Stonewall (Hamburg) St
>Yukon (Hanover [sic]) St
>Merrimac (Hapsburg) St
>Taft Road (Humboldt Av)
>Beredith Pl (Schumann St)
>Panama (Vienna) St
>Orion Av (Wilhelm St).
>
>The German American Citizens League had requested the names of a number >of
>streets be changed back to their original ones."
>
>Source": Cincinnati Enquirer, 19 July 1995, Metro B1
>
>With the change from Vienna to Panama we see that indeed the hysteria was
>not only aimed at Germany. Whether each 'German' street name was 'original'
>would need to be ascertained.
>
>
>
>
>John M. Jeep
>jjeepmiamiu.muohio.edu
>Department of German, Russian, and East Asian Languages
>Miami University
>Oxford, Ohio 45056
>(Tel.) 513 529-1821 - (Fax.) 513 529-1807

In this age of brotherhood and reconciliation, it certainly would be a
nice gesture on the part of the U.S. to change the names back to
German, and it would say a lot about how far we've come since the
world wars.

Paul J. Perry
New York
uticunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu
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