LINGUIST List 6.1529

Tue Oct 31 1995

Qs: Universal of Ling.,Quantifiers,*suite* pronunciation

Editor for this issue: Annemarie Valdez <>


  1. Richard Hudson, A universal of linguistics?
  2. Qiao Zhang, Compostionality and some quantifiers
  3. , *suite* [sut] proncs from outside the U.S.

Message 1: A universal of linguistics?

Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 10:17:11 A universal of linguistics?
From: Richard Hudson <>
Subject: A universal of linguistics?

In our department, female students always outnumber males by about 2
or 3 to 1. I think this is probably typical of UK linguistics
departments, and I gather (from Anthea Fraser Gupta) that the same is
true in Singapore. Is it the same everywhere? And does anyone have any
ideas as to why it's true where it is true?
Prof Richard Hudson Tel: +44 171 387 7050 ext 3152
Dept. of Phonetics and Linguistics Tel: +44 171 380 7172
 Fax: +44 171 383 4108
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT
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Message 2: Compostionality and some quantifiers

Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 12:20:03 Compostionality and some quantifiers
From: Qiao Zhang <>
Subject: Compostionality and some quantifiers

Are quantifiers like `about X', `many', and `more than X'
compositional? If so, in what way? There are two ways we can go
about it.

1. Those quantifiers are compositional, because they generate the same
shape of curve. For example, `about X' would produce a single peaked
curve, the other two would be a monotonic shape. There are two
problems with this. One is that empirical data (e.g. Wallsten et
al 1986) show that shapes are only reliable on an individual
basis, there is a great diversity among people. The other is that for
`many' and `more than X', they could have a curve with an open-ended
upper limit (i.e. monotonic), for example, 20 to positive infinity for
`more than 20'. However, in a sentence `More than 20 students attended
the lecture', it would be odd to say that `more than 20' means 20 to
positive infinity. We would instead say that it has a single peaked
curve with a range from, say 20 to 30. If this is the case, then `more
than X' does not seem to gurantee the same shape. How would we explain
this? Could we say that the single peaked shape for `more than 20' is
a pragmatic matter, and semantically speaking `more than X' is
monotonic therefore it is compositonal? Is it convicing?

2. Or, we may claim those quantifiers are compositional on the basis
that a quantifier has the same intension or truth condition. The
intension of `many' is `a significant number compared to a norm', this
truth condition would be constant over contexts and individuals. For
`more than X', the intension is a function from X onwards. That is to
say that compositionality is not about the shape of curves, because
the shape may be altered over contexts or individuals. Instead,
compositionality is about the fact that a quantifier generates a
number of extensions, they are all derived from the same intension. No
matter what specific extensional value for `many' is, 10 or 1000, it
has to be in accordance with the common property set by the intension.
This seems pretty reasonal to me, but I would like to hear from you.

I appreciate your comments. Please reply to me by

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Message 3: *suite* [sut] proncs from outside the U.S.

Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 06:22:00 *suite* [sut] proncs from outside the U.S.
Subject: *suite* [sut] proncs from outside the U.S.

Query re: *suite* pronunciations

Tom Murray (KSU) and I want to thank everyone who responded to
our initial query. (We now have more questions than answers.) We
will post a summary of our complete findings.

Right now, we ask for your interest and help a second time. We
would appreciate hearing from anyone in English-speaking areas
outside of the U.S. who uses, or is in a locale where one hears,
[sut] for a collection of furniture.

For example
 living room [sut]
 [sut] of furniture

Thanks very much.

Please respond to

Beth Simon, Assistant Professor
Dept. of English and Linguistics
Indiana University - Purdue University at Fort Wayne
Fort Wayne, IN 46805
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