LINGUIST List 7.1246

Sun Sep 8 1996

Disc: Applauding vs. knocking on the table, Multilinguality

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. Peter Daniels, Re: 7.1214, Sum: Applauding vs. knocking on the table
  2. "James L. Fidelholtz", Re: 7.1160, Disc: Multilinguality

Message 1: Re: 7.1214, Sum: Applauding vs. knocking on the table

Date: Tue, 03 Sep 1996 01:03:20 CDT
From: Peter Daniels <>
Subject: Re: 7.1214, Sum: Applauding vs. knocking on the table
Speaking of unconventional forms of applauding, the late Robert
Austerlitz would give one, very loud, clap as soon as humanly
possible--perhaps in order to start the applause. He did this at every
paper we both listened to, over quite a few years. This isn't a
Hungarian practice; perhaps it's Nivkh? (aka Gilyak.)
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Message 2: Re: 7.1160, Disc: Multilinguality

Date: Thu, 05 Sep 1996 09:41:54 MDT
From: "James L. Fidelholtz" <>
Subject: Re: 7.1160, Disc: Multilinguality
Dear list:
	This discussion has been very interesting, with useful
contributions from both professionals and amateurs. As one of each,
depending on your point of view (Ph. D. in Linguistics, long-time
resident and potzer [but near-native] learner of Spanish in Mexico),
I'd like to give some more anecdotal evidence.
	I also lived 3 years in Poland, where I could converse
fluently near the end, although I have to point out that my
understanding ability was way behind my speaking ability (after all, I
could pick my own vocabulary). (Of course, my wife would claim that
this is also true for English.)
	When I first began hanging around with my future wife, a
native Spanish speaker, we always spoke English, another of her native
languages. One day she took me home to meet her family, where they
were mostly speaking in Spanish. Unusually for me, I just sat there
listening, and was able to detect how to use the hesitation marker
'este', despite having virtually no knowledge of Spanish at that time.
So I tried to answer one of her parents in Spanish, which was of
course in typically atrocious language-learner-beginner form, except
for the communicatively adequate use of 'este', which amazed and
delighted all. The point here is that Waruno, I believe, was right--a
little intonation and a couple of well-chosen polite phrases (eg,
'prosze, pani/u' in Polish) can go a long way, if not toward an
impression of native-speakerhood, then toward an acceptance of your
	I first began using Spanish on a daily basis in Argentina, so
I deliberately modified my incipient pronunciation to the Argentine
Spanish model, thinking that, when someday my Spanish became a little
less nonnative, I would be mistaken for a native Argentine, rather
than simply a nonnative speaker. When we later moved to Mexico, I
continued this strategy, which colors my Spanish to this day.
Unfortunately, I did not realize until it was too late that, although
(especially academic) Mexicans have a lot against 'gringos',
Argentines suffer an even worse reputation among Mexicans, so that my
prescient strategy has gone for naught, or rather has had the opposite
of the intended effect.
	The moral, at least if you're like me and not a particularly
outstanding language learner (_very_ different, as has been pointed
out, from being an outstanding 'student' in general) is that it helps
a lot to be outgoing and to try to be perceptive of language use. I
suspect that this latter factor is the basis for the relative success
of the so-called 'communicative approaches' in 2nd lg learning.

James L. Fidelholtz				e-mail:
A'rea de Ciencias del Lenguaje			or:
Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades
Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla, Me'xico
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