LINGUIST List 7.188

Tue Feb 6 1996

Qs: Speech in written texts, Verb particles, Lg acquisition

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate.


  1. Birgit Kellner, Question: How to detect oral transmission in written texts
  2. DEIRDRE QUINN, references
  3. Brian McMahon, First or Second Language Acquisition

Message 1: Question: How to detect oral transmission in written texts

Date: Wed, 07 Feb 1996 00:29:16 +0900
From: Birgit Kellner <>
Subject: Question: How to detect oral transmission in written texts
Dealing with traditions of Indian philosophy which, allegedly, were
transmitted orally a long time before they were written down, I was
wondering whether anybody would know of studies pertaining to how to
detect evidence of preceding oral transmission in a written texts,
without having any knowledge whatsoever on how/when/why the text was
written down (and by whom).

For example, I am currently working on a manuscript of a text whose
author quotes from another text, both in verse and prose. The
verse-quotes perfectly correspond to the original, but the
prose-quotes are significantly different - they correspond in meaning,
but not in wording. I would be inclined to consider this as evidence
that the text was written down rather late (presupposing that verse is
easier to memorize than prose), although this detail, in itself, is by
no means conclusive.

What evidence, now, would the average trained linguist consider as
admissible? Stylistic simplicity? Rhythmic composition? Prosody?
Repetitiveness? And, what genres or other traditions (presumably
non-Indic ones) would qualify as comparable?
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: references

Date: Tue, 06 Feb 1996 11:36:54 -0400
Subject: references
Looking for references on second language acquisition of verb-particle
constructions in English. Thanks!

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

Message 3: First or Second Language Acquisition

Date: Tue, 06 Feb 1996 13:46:37 PST
From: Brian McMahon <>
Subject: First or Second Language Acquisition

I teach English conversation to adults on a private basis.

One of my students asked me for advice on a problem. The couple has
two children, 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 years of age. They are living in
Cordoba, a large but, nevertheless, monocultural and monolingual city
of one million in central Argentina. They are with their American
father all weekend, every weekend but they have no other contact with
the English language.

The couple's goal is that both children reach native levels of
proficiency in both English and Spanish. However, they delayed the
introduction of English to the 3 1/2 year old child to English due to
the opinion of experts that simultaneously speaking both languages can
delay by up to one year a child's ability to form full sentences in
one of them.

The elder child has been speaking Spanish in full sentences for over
one year. The couple is now concerned that if he does not receive
English instruction on an accelerated basis, he may never achieve
truly native or first language proficiency.

Since Cordoba has no large expatriate communities, there are no
international schools where they can learn English alongside other
children who are native speakers. The city does have a few "bilingual"
schools where English is taught as a second language. Obviously, these
schools would be their only educational option. The teachers in these
schools are almost exclusively "locals" whose pronunciation leaves
much to be desired.

The couple has also found that the lack of English greatly inhibits
certain activities such as reading to the older child, storytelling,
songs and many other areas. With regard to long term concerns, the
lack of first language proficiency would have an unfavorable effect on
standardized test scores, such as the SATs.

1. Given the situation, would it be advisable to hire a private
teacher to accelerate his acquisition of English? If so, for how many
hours per week?

2. Given his environmental situation (contact with English only on
weekends, monocultural/monolingual location and home environment), is
the situation becoming urgent (i.e. that his exposure to English must
be accelerated immediately or he will never obtain native
proficiency)? Is there an age limit by which he must have attained a
native level of English or his acquisition of it will only be as a
second language? 3. Undoubtedly, the best way for a small child to
acquire a language is through play. Would it be advisable to
supplement "play English" with the use of structured materials
contained in a text. Are there any texts that could be helpful? Are
there any other sources of information on this topic? 4. In the case
of the younger child, who has begun to speak, would it be better to
introduce English now rather than wait? Is there general agreement
with the opinion that speaking English to her will delay her ability
to speak Spanish in full sentences?

Thanks for your help. I am greatly looking forward to the replies.

Brian McMahon, Consultant
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue