LINGUIST List 7.402

Sun Mar 17 1996

Qs: Theatrical accents, Economy & Minimalism, Advertising

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: Theatrical accents
  2. Esa Matti Itkonen, economy & minimalism
  3. "ANNE BARRON (GERMAN) PG", Rhetorical figures in advertising slogans

Message 1: Q: Theatrical accents

Date: Wed, 13 Mar 1996 22:20:16 EST
From: <>
Subject: Q: Theatrical accents
Last night I was watching an old Hollywood film that was supposed to
take place in Renaissance Italy, when suddenly I realized it displayed
a pattern I'd seen in many other films: Despite the Italian setting,
only elderly characters had Italian accents. Anyone under 60 had an
American or faintly British accent.

I also realized that this pattern reflected my own underlying
presumptions about a "typical" American family. Unrealistic as it may
be, I tend to assume the "usual" situation to be that the older
members of an extended family will speak English with a foreign accent
(or one from a different region). I began wondering if this might not
reflect stereotypes once held by US film directors as well, and
whether a similar pattern appears in films made in other parts of the

So my question: In films made outside the US (including those not in
English) do certain character types tend to have foreign accents while
others do not, even when they are portrayed as being of the same
nationality? I'm not asking about stereotyping of ethnic groups here,
but about the distribution of any accent among various characters
meant to be compatriots.

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

Message 2: economy & minimalism

Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 13:13:52 +0200
From: Esa Matti Itkonen <>
Subject: economy & minimalism

Frank Jaret reports (LINGUIST, 29 FEB) that in response to his query
about minimalism, Charles Yang from MIT gave an answer which included
the following: "The principle of economy is part of UG, presumably the
innate endowment." Let it be added that minimalism is generally taken
to represent the 'formalist' position in linguistics.
 It is of some interest to note that as long as there have been
'functional' (or 'functionalist') explanations of human behavior in
general and of linguistic behavior in particular, they have invariably
appealed to one or another type of ECONOMY. This notion of economy has
been understood primarily in psychological (or cognitive) terms, but
it has been self-evident that it must ultimately be grounded in
biology. Put differently, the striving after economy must be innate in
(or inherent to) humans. This is the reason why functional
explanations are needed in the study of human nature, and more
generally in the study of animate nature, but not in the study of
inanimate nature.
 Considering the role played by economy in minimalism and in
functionalism, one cannot help raising the following questions: Is it
still correct to characterize minimalism as a type of formalism? Or
has the formalist position become indistinguishable from
functionalism? That is, has it been abanndoned (in deeds, if not in
words)? Is there one type of economy for language, another for music,
still another for spatial perception, and so on? That is, is economy a
modular notion. Or is ti rather the case that (the striving afte)
economy is a general or 'horizontal' capacity, i.e. a capacity
demonstrating the basic non-modularity of mind (just like [the
capacity for] analogy)?

Esa Itkonen
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: Rhetorical figures in advertising slogans

Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 14:56:18 GMT
Subject: Rhetorical figures in advertising slogans
I am currently doing research into the use of rhetorical figures in
advertising. I was wondering if anyone knows if there is relevant
information available on the Internet or elsewhere.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue