LINGUIST List 7.1568

Wed Nov 6 1996

Qs: Often, Orthographic syntax, Minimal responses

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  1. Renelb01, often
  2. David Pesetsky, Orthographic morphology and orthographic syntax
  3., minimal responses

Message 1: often

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 14:08:41 GMT
From: Renelb01 <Renelb01TIGGER.STCLOUD.MSUS.EDU>
Subject: often
I'm an undergrad working on a small research paper on the pronunciation
of the word "often". (Whether or not the t is pronounced) So far I've
been unable to locate any studies that have looked specifically at this
feature. Does anyone know of any previous studies or any leads? I can
be reached at if you have any
information that might be helpful.
Suzy Lovestrand
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Message 2: Orthographic morphology and orthographic syntax

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 17:40:16 EST
From: David Pesetsky <pesetskMIT.EDU>
Subject: Orthographic morphology and orthographic syntax

I am wondering about the possible existence of syntactic properties
unique to the written version of a language. What I am after is the
following situation:

1. The written version of the language shows a morphological
distinction that is purely orthographic. An example would be the -ent
of French 3 person plural verbs: "ils parlent" /il parl/. This -ent is
not pronounced in normal speech or reading.

I am interested only in situations of this type, where someone reading
aloud would not pronounce the relevant morpheme. I am not interested
in written norms that deviate from the normal spoken language, but
nonetheless can be spoken -- e.g. the varieties of written Norwegian.

2. Now consider a syntactic property that arguably depends in spoken
languages on morphology. The sort of thing I have in mind is subject
pro drop or verb movement to INFL, which have been argued to depend on
the repertoire of morphological distinctions in the language.

3. Now the question. Does it ever happen in such a situation that the
syntax of the written language responds to the morphology of the
written language? For example, the written language would differ from
the spoken language in showing verb movement and rich morphology, even
though the rich morphology is unpronounced. Or the written language
might differ from the spoken language in showing pro drop -- in
response to unpronounced agreement morphology.

I am also interested in negative cases, e.g. where the written
language has rich but purely orthographic person morphology but
nonetheless forbids pro-drop. One negative case might be written
(Mandarin) Chinese, which (I am told) has a gender distinction in the
pronoun system that does not affect the "similarity condition" on
long-distance binding much discussed in the literature.

I am aware that all examples, positive or negative, are likely to be
messy and uncertain -- both because of difficulties with the
morphology-syntax generalizations and because of historical factors.
That's fine. I'm just looking for places to start.


-David Pesetsky
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Message 3: minimal responses

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 13:09:26 +0200
From: <>
Subject: minimal responses
Dear linguist,

I am about to write my c-essay about gender differences in the use of
minimal responses. I wonder if there is anyone out there who could
give me some tips about good litterature to read?

Thanks in advance,

Annica Berg
c-student in linguistics, Uppsala University, Sweden
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