LINGUIST List 6.576

Mon 17 Apr 1995

Misc: Lang in Scince Fiction, Lang & Religion, Kind-of

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , Language in Science Fiction and Contemporary Fiction
  2. , Re: 6.551 Language and Religion
  3. , RE: 6.518 Sum: Kind of, sort of

Message 1: Language in Science Fiction and Contemporary Fiction

Date: Wed, 12 Apr 1995 16:56:07 Language in Science Fiction and Contemporary Fiction
From: <>
Subject: Language in Science Fiction and Contemporary Fiction

I don't believe anyone mentioned Orson Scott Card's Wyrms, which tells
the story of humans living on an alien planet amidst three different
species of what we later discover are beings descended from humans
although they don't know it. ONe of these species has a long thin
tongue with two tips. Because of this, certain double articulations
can be formed which make it near impossible for a human to speak with
a native accent. (It would seem to me impossible, however Card
maintains that the protagonist, a human princess who is heir to the
world throne and was raised among these creatures, can actually speak
well enough to fool the creatures into thinking she is one of them -
only, of course, when she's not in view.) Anyway, I bring this up
because I think it's interesting that most SciFi writers haven't
exploited the idea of various physical make-ups and the ramifications
they would have on language types. Think of how strange a
double-articulation involving an alveolar trill with a simultaneous
/l/ /t/ /s/ or any of a dozen other sounds would be! Klingon wouldn't
even come close! (Of course, it seems to me that one would need two
tongues to pronounce the medial consonant in the name of a prominent
19th century Czech composer, Dvor^ak. Yet they do it all the same.)
 Speaking of language and fiction, I'd like to express my surprise
that a prominent author like John Irving who has had several books
made into movies could get away with the huge gaffs involving the
phonetics of the feminist crazies in his The World According to Garp.
These women call themselves Ellen Jamesians after a little girl who
was raped and had her tongue cut out by a non-too-astute guy who
figured she couldn't tell anyone who did it if he cut out her tongue.
They all cut out their own tongues to express their feeling of having
no voice in a male-based society. Yet no one bothered to check out
what sounds it was possible to utter if you had not tongue and which
would still be pronounceable, so that the entire book and movie are
filled with silly quotes like the following:
 'ucking 'ig!
where the [p] and the [f] could easily be pronounced without a tongue
and the [ng] and [g] may or may not be easily pronounceable. I'd be
curious to know if this has ever come up before, or if anyone has ever
approached JI about it. Quite an embarrassing mistake, actually,m
since it by no means takes a linguist to figure something like that
David Harris, Arabic Department, Georgetown University
e-mail: phone: 202/687-5744
 )*( /^\\ //|\ ]\ \|//
 \ // \ / \\// [// /|\\
 ] [ ( /\\ ~'~ * \// ~` [ {(']}))'`
 * % [ *) ^ { * ] & ~ : } * [ % ( $ ] *

 "Gott hat sich verlaufen. Jetzt rufen sie ihn von allen Seiten
 Elias Canetti

 * % [ *) ^ { * ] & ~ : } * [ % ( $ ] )
 ] [ ( /\\ ~'~ * \// ~` [ {(']}))'`
 \\ / \ //\\ ]\\ \|//
 //|) (|\) |\ |/ |
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Re: 6.551 Language and Religion

Date: Thu, 13 Apr 1995 13:14:46 Re: 6.551 Language and Religion
From: <>
Subject: Re: 6.551 Language and Religion

Content-Length: 2144

P.K.W. Tan wrote:
) The Christian view is that Jesus Christ, the `Word of God'
)reveals God fully. Scripture is `inspired' or `God-breathed'
)rather than revealed verbatim to humankind, and therefore a
)knowledge of Hebrew and New Testament Greek is not absolutely

There is a range of views held among Christians, extending from a
moslem-like view that God dictated the Bible, held among many
fundamentalists, to the sort of inspiration Tan describes, to the view
that the Bible is a work of literature with strong spiritual content
but not otherwise different from such works as the Iliad or the

)In the continent of Europe, the language of the
)church was Latin, and therefore many of the words pertaining
)to Christianity would have come from Latin - e.g. `angel'
)or `apostle' in English.

Many theological terms come from Latin, thanks to the rich medieval
theological traditions. However, both "angel" and "apostle" are
derived from Greek.

) I think therefore the difference in attitude between
)Muslims to the Q'uran and Christians to the Bible explains
)the phenomenon described above.

I've learned from Moslem colleagues that there is some variation in
views held among Moslems, albeit not as openly as among Christians.
There is the difficult fact that no original autograph exists for the
Qur'an and that the oldest copies do show some textual differences. I
know little about Islamic paleography, however, and wouldn't attempt
to comment further. However, the situation in both Islam and
Christianity is more complex than Tan suggests.


+ Herbert Stahlke, Ph.D. || Email: 00HFSTAHLKEBSU.EDU +
+ Associate Director || or HSTAHLKEBSU.EDU +
+ University Computing Services || +
+ Professor of English || Phone: 317-285-1843 +
+ Ball State University || Fax: 317-285-1797 +
+ Muncie, IN 47306 || +
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: RE: 6.518 Sum: Kind of, sort of

Date: Thu, 13 Apr 1995 11:26:15 RE: 6.518 Sum: Kind of, sort of
Subject: RE: 6.518 Sum: Kind of, sort of

As a native of Newark, NJ, I have the feeling "kind of a horse" is
like saying it is almost a horse, something like it; while "a kind of
horse" is more like saying it a type of horse, just like coke is a
kind of soft drink, but not "coke is kind of a soft drink" because it
is a soft drink, it is not just similar to a soft drink.

Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue