LINGUIST List 6.1719

Fri Dec 8 1995

Qs: Numerals, Consonants, Humour, r/l

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. Almerindo E. Ojeda, Collective numerals
  2. Lee, English consonants
  3. , Gender and humour
  4. , Query:r/l

Message 1: Collective numerals

Date: Thu, 07 Dec 1995 15:48:52 +0300
From: Almerindo E. Ojeda <>
Subject: Collective numerals

Some languages have, alongside a series of cardinal numerals, a series
of collective numerals. While cardinal numerals are used to count ind-
ividuals, collective numerals are used to count either individuals in
a group, or else groups of individuals (including the groups denoted by
pluralia tantum). One language which had both cardinals and collectives
was Latin (cf. tres boves 'three oxen' but trinos boves 'group of three
oxen' or 'three yokes or pairs of oxen'). Outside Latin, collective num-
erals are found in Balto-Slavic, Old Icelandic, Irish, Finnish, Mongol-
ian, and Greenlandic.

I would appreciate help in identifying other languages with collective
numerals (and reliable descriptions of their uses).

Please send replies to <>. I will post a summary.
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Message 2: English consonants

Date: Tue, 05 Dec 1995 09:59:02 GMT
From: Lee <>
Subject: English consonants

Does anyone know of any empirical work on the confusaibility of the
consonants in English?

M W Lee
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Message 3: Gender and humour

Date: Thu, 07 Dec 1995 14:40:41 GMT
From: <>
Subject: Gender and humour

I'm a final year undergraduate doing a dissertation on humour and gendered
differences (in type of humour used and linguistic differences).

Is there anyone out there who has researched gender differences within
humour? Don Nilsen's bit on the Taxonomies of Linguistic Humor was helpful
in expanding traditional theories of humour, but doesn't shed any light on
possible differences in use and structure of women's humour/comedy. Are
there any differences???? Or am I barking up the wrong leg?

E-mails please to HowellssCardiff.AC.UK.

I thank you in advance for any imput.
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Message 4: Query:r/l

Date: Thu, 07 Dec 1995 08:53:43 +1030
From: <>
Subject: Query:r/l

Discussion recently on FUNKNET raised the question of
alternation between r and l in Spanish and r>l changes. This
was in the context of the general relationship between
historical change and child language/slips etc. I would like
to focus a query on r/l alternation and historical change

Mary Laughren and I have been working on a paper discussing an
innovation r>rl in a particular subgroup of Pama-Nyungan
(Australian). (r is a retroflex glide distinct from rr an
alveolar tap also found in most Australian languages; rl is a
retroflex lateral). We have found the same change happening in
other (only distantly related) Australian families, and also
the opposite change rl>r.

It seems that this may be a rather common type of change in
languages, and we would appreciate references to work
discussing it as a general phenomenon, or regionally.

Secondly, as far as the Australian data goes there seem to be
some generalisations emerging about where one or other (the
rhotic or lateral) is more likely to occur. An rl>r change in
Lardil affects initial and intervocalic segments, but rl is
retained where it is a preconsonantal coda; this seems to
parallel the observation that r>l in Spanish dialects occurs
most freely in codas.

Another tendency in the Australian data for which we have
neither parallels nor a phonetic explanation at present is
that r>rl apparently does not occur, and rl>r occurs more
consistently, in the environment of preceding i. Other
examples or explanations of this apparent affinity or i and r
as opposed to i and a lateral would be welcomed.

[This query has been posted on FUNKNET, LINGUIST and
AUSTRALIAN-LINGUISTICS-L; apologies for duplication] ~Z
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