LINGUIST List 7.1562

Tue Nov 5 1996

Qs: Rate of lg change, Language Awareness, Ling. intro courses

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  1. Peter Daniels, Query: rate of language change
  2. Ingibjvrg Frmmannsdsttir, Re: LANGUAGE AWARENESS
  3. Hoskuldur Thrainsson, Ling. intro courses

Message 1: Query: rate of language change

Date: Sun, 03 Nov 1996 13:42:42 CST
From: Peter Daniels <>
Subject: Query: rate of language change

In *Lectures on the Science of Language* (1861), Max Muller says:

The historical changes of language may be more or less rapid, but
they take place at all times and in all countries.... We have
reason to believe that the same changes take place with even
greater violence and rapidity in the dialects of savage tribes,
although, in the absence of a written litera- ture, it is
extrememly difficult to obtain trustworthy information. But in
the few instances were careful observations have been made on
this interest- ing subject, it has been found that among the wild
and illiterate tribes of Siberia, Africa, and Siam, two or three
generations are sufficient to change the whole aspect of their
dialects. [I cite the New York: Scribner, 1862 edition (from the
2d London ed., revised), pp. 44-45.]

Does anyone know what "observations" he is referring to?

Some years ago, the late Wolfram von Soden, dean of
Assyriologists, made a similar remark about written vs. unwritten
languages, and I wonder whether anyone has thought of a way to
investigate/test the hypothesis? (It is of course closely tied to
the validity of glottochronology, which was "calibrated" via
several literary traditions but then applied to unwritten
languages around the world.)
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Date: Mon, 04 Nov 1996 13:17:50 GMT
From: Ingibjvrg Frmmannsdsttir <>
Dear linguists

I am a linguistic teacher at the University Collage of Education,
in Iceland. I am going to write an article about language
awareness, in a book published by the Icelandic Reading
Associations. I have been looking in books and libraries but can
not find much about that concept, if it exist at all. I am not
willing to give up so easily is there anyone that can help me and
give me some ideas of books or articles about that issue.

Many thanks for any help

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Message 3: Ling. intro courses

Date: Mon, 04 Nov 1996 11:08:02 GMT
From: Hoskuldur Thrainsson <>
Subject: Ling. intro courses

- -------- Forwarded message ----------

[To subscribers to the LinguistList.]

At some universities there is a relatively close cooperation between
the Linguistics Department and the various language departments. In
particular, it is common (although perhaps not as common as we linguists
would like it to be) that language students are required to take at
least one general intro course in linguistics, which is then taught
in (or at least administered by) the relevant Ling. Dept. This is the
way it was here at the University of Iceland some time ago and we are
now looking into the possibility of returning to that kind of system.
Hence I would appreciate any information that would be relevant for
us in this respect. I will, of course, redistribute a summary of the
information collected. - The questions I am most interested in
having answered include the following:
 1. Is the general ling. intro course a required course for
 students in all or some language departments?
 2. How big do the classes get and how are problems of large
 enrollments dealt with (e.g. by lectures to large audiences
 plus section meetings...)?
 3. Are any special arrangements made to accommodate students
 of different languages (e.g. special sections for students
 of German, Spanish, whatever)?
 4. What kind of material is covered? Which textbooks have
 been used? Any particular recommendations?
Thanks in advance for your cooperation and time.
 Hoskuldur Thrainsson
 Univ. of Iceland
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