LINGUIST List 6.395

Mon 20 Mar 1995

Qs: Hyphenation, Phonetic trans., Null objects, Alliteration

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , hyphenation
  2. , Computer-assisted phonetic transcription instruction
  3. Yan Huang, Query: Unidentified/non-agreeing null objects
  4. Richard Dury, Alliterative phrases in English

Message 1: hyphenation

Date: Mon, 13 Mar 95 15:58
From: <>
Subject: hyphenation

I'd be grateful for some information about hyphenation,
as suggested by the problem 'illustrated' below, triggered
by a recent article in an American journal.

Strolling through some prose one day, and feeling smug
the way you know one sometimes does, I tripped - sug-
arcane - it seems strange to say, appeared to me abs-
urd. I began to wonder whether, just perhaps, I'd mi-
slaid my marbles.

But no, I saw that this was only a datum, and the-
rapists would not detain me. I felt sure that my-
thical beasts had been at play - the stuff of leg-
ends. Soon I knew; no datum but, much worse, hyp-
hens drop their turds in words.

I fell to wondering what has become of typ-
esetting skills, and to the hordes of teac-
hers who spent so much time over the dread-
ed dash, revealing its clarity when morpho-
logically placed. Truly, we now suffer nu-
mbskulls to do this once highly skilled wo-

What are the American English rules for hyphenation?
Where are they listed...? If there is more than one set
of guidelines do they agree with each other?

I know there are some guidelines for English English but
where? do they agree with each other? (Obviously I'm not
completely ignorant of these, but I might profit if you
assumed my ignorance; the guidelines you know may
not be those I know.)

What about hyphenation in other languages? What sort of rules
exist? Are 'word processors' creating as much havoc as would
sometimes appear? (e.g. Latex is so unpleasant that if compelled
to use it (and why else would one?) I turn the hyphenation off.)
Is this havoc confined to 'English' or is it more widespread?

All comments gratefully received. If an interesting/instructive
picture emerges I will post a summary.


William Edmondson
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Message 2: Computer-assisted phonetic transcription instruction

Date: Mon, 13 Mar 1995 12:58:34 Computer-assisted phonetic transcription instruction
From: <>
Subject: Computer-assisted phonetic transcription instruction

We would like to be made aware of any computer software that has been
developed specifically for teaching phonetic transcription.

Melvin J. Luthy, Chair
Department of Linguistics, BYU

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Message 3: Query: Unidentified/non-agreeing null objects

Date: Tue, 14 Mar 1995 12:22:07 Query: Unidentified/non-agreeing null objects
From: Yan Huang <>
Subject: Query: Unidentified/non-agreeing null objects

Null objects are allowed in many languages despite the absence of an
object-identifying clitic or verb-object agreement feature. Within the
current framework of generative syntax, unidentified or non-agreeing null
objects have been argued to be of two types; variables and pros (see my
_The Syntax and Pragmatics of Anaphora_, Cambridge University Press 1994,
ch. 2 for further discussion).
 However, in a language like Chinese, a null object can be ambiguous; it
could fit simultaneously in with more than one type of EC in the
Chomskyan sense, as can be seen by a consideration of the following example.

Xiaoming1 yiwei laoshi2 you yao zeguai 01/2/3 le
Xiaoming think teacher again will blame
Xiaoming thinks that the teacher will blame
(me/you/him/her/himself/herself/us/you/them...) again

 As shown by the indexes, the null object could be argued to be a variable
when it has the index 3. It could be argued to be a pro when it has the
index 1. It could even be argued to be an empty anaphor/reflexive when it
has the index 2. Are there any other languages in which the null object
behaves like this? Can anyone enlighten me? I'll post a summary if there
is sufficient interest. Please send your comments directly to me at my
Reading e-mail address.
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Message 4: Alliterative phrases in English

Date: Tue, 14 Mar 1995 15:18:24 Alliterative phrases in English
From: Richard Dury <ERASMUSUNIBG.IT>
Subject: Alliterative phrases in English


What historical connotations do the following alliterative phrases have for
you? Without thinking too much about it, put one of the following numbers
against them for when you think they might be first attested in the OED and
send back to me. No clues as to whether all three categories are used, or
whether there are equal numbers in each category etc. I'm interested in
your (informed) instinctive feelings, not knowledge of language-history.
Results will be posted:

1 = from the origins to c1300
2 = from c1300 to c1650
3 = from c1650 to the present

as good as gold -
house and home -
to have and to hold -
hearth and home -
blind as a bat -
bed and board -
might and main -
forgive and forget -
to bear the brunt -
the law of the land -
life and limb -
hale and hearty -
hearth and home -

Richard Dury, University of Bergamo (I), ERASMUS at UNIBG.IT
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