LINGUIST List 6.525

Fri 07 Apr 1995

Disc: Social Aspects of Orthography, Ling in Science Fiction

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  1. Alexis Manaster Ramer, Re: 6.489 Sum: Social Aspects of Orthography
  2. , RE: 6.501 Linguistics in science fiction

Message 1: Re: 6.489 Sum: Social Aspects of Orthography

Date: Mon, 3 Apr 1995 09:48:17 -Re: 6.489 Sum: Social Aspects of Orthography
From: Alexis Manaster Ramer <amrCS.Wayne.EDU>
Subject: Re: 6.489 Sum: Social Aspects of Orthography

An anecdote about orthography: I know a Polish speaker who
in his late teens or early twenties, as he recalls, eliminated
a phonological contrast from his speeech because it is not
reflected in the standard Polish orthography. The problem is
that in some parts of Poland, speakers contrast palatalized
labials and labials + yod, before a vowel, but both sequences
are written BiV (where B is any labial, V any vowel), and this
speaker eliminated the contrast in all such cases.

Alexis MR
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Message 2: RE: 6.501 Linguistics in science fiction

Date: Tue, 04 Apr 1995 22:51 +01RE: 6.501 Linguistics in science fiction
From: <WERTHALF.LET.UVA.NL>
Subject: RE: 6.501 Linguistics in science fiction

Another thread from this sleeve of care. When I worked in Hull, we used to set
our 1st year linguistics students as required reading a short SF story by one
Daniel Masson (I think - I've never heard of this author before or since in a
lifetime of reading SF) from a collection called The Caltraps of Time (no, I
don't know what a caltrap is, either). This particular story, I seem to
remember, explained the phoneme principle very well, so was very popular with
my colleague Erik Fudge. Other additions to what has already been listed:
there's a story by Robert Silverberg which takes place in a society which has
so suppressed the individual instinct that 1st person pronouns no longer exist.
The hero is a born-again individualist who rediscovers the 1st person. (I seem
to remember a short story by Ayn Rand founded on a similar premise). Something
more of psychological rather than linguistic interest, perhaps: Philip K.Dick's
Clans of the Alphane Moon. The Alphane Moon is a former penal colony for the
criminally insane, which was divided up into categories of insanity. When the
system breaks down, the different "wards" fend for themselves, and evolve into
"clans": the Schizos, the Hebefreenies etc. Great fun!

Incidentally, does anyone else agree with me that SF is going through a real
doldrums currently, and for about 10 years now? Personally, I blame it on the
swords and sorcerers stuff, which it seems to me lacks the discipline which
even pseudo-science imposes on a story. I find maybe one good SF story a year
now.

Regards to all,
Paul Werth
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