LINGUIST List 6.805

Mon 12 Jun 1995

Qs: Tenses & time, Buccalization, Compounds, ASL

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Dan Alford, Tenses & Time
  2. "Larry Trask", Query: Buccalization
  3. , Compounds
  4. "Carol S. Goldin", American Sign Language - Foreign Language??

Message 1: Tenses & Time

Date: Fri, 9 Jun 1995 08:18:13 -Tenses & Time
From: Dan Alford <>
Subject: Tenses & Time

Dear LINGUIST-L Colleagues,

I'm puzzled about something, and maybe our Tonguesters can help.

Indo-European languages (generally?) have an actual future tense except
(only?) when you get to the Germanic branch, where we use modals and
other structures to express our notion of future (including such mixings
as present tense + progressive denoting future-time in "I'm leaving
tomorrow," etc.)
 *Questions: 1) Are there IE branches other than Germanic that have
no future tense? 2) Did PIE have a future tense? 2a) If so, when did
Germanic lose it and develop modals instead to express the future, and
why? 2b) If not, when did non-Germanic IE languages develop a future
tense, and why?

A related set of questions refers to the linear "River of Time" cultural
notion that generally (?) accompanies the IE past/present/future-tense
linguistic scheme.
 Our semantic space around time in English places our future "ahead"
or "in front of" us, the direction we are headed toward (floating as if
in a boat, or by a perspective trick the future moving toward us like
scenery, as in "the coming week"), while our past is "behind" or "in back
of" us, the direction we're inexorably leaving forever. The inevitable
Graduation Day speeches this time of year habitually reinforce this image
("Our past is behind us, our future is ahead of us...").
 I once read somewhere that the ancient Greek "River of Time" flowed
exactly the opposite -- circling around the Earth, I seem to remember,
with the future coming up from "behind" us, "back" where we don't have
eyes to see what is coming, then flowing through the body and "ahead" to
the past, "in front of" us such that we can see its effects, both what is
happening now and what happened earlier. If you think about it, this
metaphorical system makes just as much senseas ours!
 **Questions: 3) Are there still European languages where
directionally the past is ahead and the future behind? 4a) Does anyone
have evidence for a "River of Time" image in Sanskrit, and which
direction it flowed? 4b) How about in PIE? 5) Does anyone have evidence
(or even good ideas) concerning when and how this "River of Time" turned
around (or we turned around in it) since the ancient Greek era? And, of
course, it goes almost without saying for this group, 6) Is it possible
I'm just 'going tangential' based on some egregiously wrong notion about
ancient Greek from a source I can't remember, akin to the Great Eskimo
Snow Vocabulary Hoax?!

If there is enough interest by substantive response, I'll post a summary.
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Message 2: Query: Buccalization

Date: Fri, 9 Jun 1995 10:03:16 +Query: Buccalization
From: "Larry Trask" <>
Subject: Query: Buccalization

Debuccalization, the historical development of an oral stop into a
glottal stop, is a fairly well-attested change (Pacific languages,
urban British English, and doubtless elsewhere). But I haven't been
able to find any clear cases of the opposite change: a glottal stop
developing into an oral stop. Does anybody know of any examples of
this, either systematic or sporadic? If it exists, I suppose it
ought to be called `buccalization'.

If anything turns up, I'll summarize the responses.

Larry Trask
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH
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Message 3: Compounds

Date: Fri, 09 Jun 1995 09:48:34 Compounds
From: <>
Subject: Compounds

Content-Length: 333

 Would anyone out there be able to help me? I am looking for languages,
or instances of language usage (such as poetic or technical language), that are
particularly rich in compound words. Is there a language that could claim to be
the most compound-rich?

 Brian Keegan
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Message 4: American Sign Language - Foreign Language??

Date: Fri, 9 Jun 1995 14:48:41 EAmerican Sign Language - Foreign Language??
From: "Carol S. Goldin" <>
Subject: American Sign Language - Foreign Language??

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To Linguist subscribers:

The Office of Institutional Research and Planning at Rutgers
University has been asked to comment on proposed state legislation
urging institutions of higher education and local school districts to
award foreign language credit for the completion of American Sign
Language courses. I would appreciate your input on the following

Does your institution offer courses in American Sign Language (ASL)?

Can ASL be used in fulfillment of foreign language requirements at
your institution?

Does ASL satisfy a foreign language requirement in the public high
schools in your state?

Thanks in advance. Please write to me at:


With appreciation,

Carol Goldin
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