LINGUIST List 7.28

Sun Jan 7 1996

Qs: Generic Personal Names, Ergativity & Minimalism, Retroflexes

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., Q: generic personal names
  2. Falk Yehuda, Query: Ergativity & Minimalism
  3. paul manansala, Retroflexes

Message 1: Q: generic personal names

Date: Fri, 05 Jan 1996 23:00:11 EST
From: <>
Subject: Q: generic personal names
There've been a couple of postings on naming conventions recently,
which have revived a question that has gnawed at me for some time. We
know a lot about how societies name people who exist, but what about
people who don't exist?

 How do they name people who are generic non-existent examples in
advertising or on sample forms?

The name for a nonexistent man in the United States has traditionally
been "John Doe" with his female counterpart "Jane Doe". From what I
understand, the fact that there really are people who have these and
other generic names now arouses fear of frivolous lawsuits (not a new
or exclusively American problem; Gogol complained about it in Dead
Souls). For this reason, if the generic personal name is to be seen
in an advertisement, agencies now tend to use a staff member's name
and have that person sign a release. About five years ago, marketing
companies I worked with used the name "John A. Sample" (Cf. German
"Erika Mustermann" lit. "Erika Sample-man"). There must also be John
Samples running around, though, because now I see they're using
"Sample A. Sample". (In materials not to be seen by the public,
however, they play, using names of superheros' alter egos, etc.)

How do other cultures handle this matter of generic names for the
existence-impaired individuals?

James Kirchner
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Query: Ergativity & Minimalism

Date: Sun, 07 Jan 1996 09:56:00 PST
From: Falk Yehuda <falkHUM.HUJI.AC.IL>
Subject: Query: Ergativity & Minimalism
Dear netters,

I am interested in references to discussions of ergative Case and
related phenomena in the Minimalist framework, and in comments or
information about how Minimalism handles such phenomena. Please
respond directly to me; if there is enough of a response, I'll post a
summary to the list.

Thank you.

 --Yehuda N. Falk
 The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: Retroflexes

Date: Sun, 07 Jan 1996 11:57:34 PST
From: paul manansala <>
Subject: Retroflexes

I'm interested in finding examples of retroflex sounds in Southeast
Asia and Oceania. I'm already aware of their presence in Indonesia,
the Flores Islands, the Santa Cruz Islands and Formosa. Does anyone
know of other examples? I'll post a summary if there are enough
responses. Please forgive any crossposting, as I've posted the same
request on other areas of the net.

Paul Kekai Manansala
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue