LINGUIST List 7.41

Wed Jan 10 1996

Qs: Focus positions, Stanford Workshop, Comparative Ling

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. Steven Schaufele, Focus positions
  2. Alexis Manaster Ramer, Query: Stanford Workshop
  3. Alexis Manaster Ramer, What's Happening to Comparative Linguistics

Message 1: Focus positions

Date: Tue, 09 Jan 1996 21:08:18 CST
From: Steven Schaufele <>
Subject: Focus positions

I am soliciting a cross-linguistic information on the relative
positioning of `focussed' constituents, by which i mean constituents
that are highlighted because they represent `new', rhematic or
contrastic information, as in the following examples:

1. I introduced her to LESLIE = It was LESLIE i introduced her to (i.e.,
 not to Morgan)

2. Ewan is nervous aobut EARTHQUAKES = It's EARTHQUAKES that Ewan is
 nervous about (i.e., not fires)

3. You must be home by SUNRISE = It's at SUNRISE that you must be home
 (i.e., i don't care where you are at midnight)

For instance, Hungarian has a specific, clearly-defined position for
such constituents: immediately to the left of the verb. I would be
interested in hearing about any languages that also have a clear
preference for plac- ing such constituents in a specific position
(pre-verbal? post-verbal? clause-initial? clause-final?) within a
simple declarative clause. Clear, well-glossed examples will be
especially welcome.

I'll post a summary if there's sufficient interest.

- -------------------
Dr. Steven Schaufele
712 West Washington
Urbana, IL 61801

**** O syntagmata linguarum liberemini humanarum! ***
*** Nihil vestris privari nisi obicibus potestis! ***
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Query: Stanford Workshop

Date: Wed, 10 Jan 1996 07:54:51 EST
From: Alexis Manaster Ramer <amrCS.Wayne.EDU>
Subject: Query: Stanford Workshop
There was a workshop on comparative linguistics at Stanford in 1987
which featured a panel on the Altaic question, but two of the most
important contributions to it were not published and I can find no
concrete information about them either from the organizers of the
panel or from the author of one of them (the other one is dead), so I
am asking anybody who might have attended, to see if they can find any
notes, handouts, or any texts that might have been distributed either
for the Clark or the Austerlitz talks at that workshop. Any material
I might obtain will be used in preparing the final draft of a paper to
appear this year in Journal of Linguistics, entitled "Telling general
linguists about Altaic".
Alexis Manaster Ramer
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: What's Happening to Comparative Linguistics

Date: Wed, 10 Jan 1996 09:28:56 EST
From: Alexis Manaster Ramer <amrCS.Wayne.EDU>
Subject: What's Happening to Comparative Linguistics
Is it only me, or is comparative linguistics disappearing from
American and European universities? I recently looked over the list
of departments put out by the LSA and lots of departments simply have
NO comparative linguist at all. Moreover, both in the US and in
Europe I hear of more and more cases where retiring or dead
comparative linguists are not replaced, and the posts go to other
kinds of linguistics. I fully understand that there was a need in the
60's and 70's to shift some resources from diachronic to synchronic
work, as a result of the Chomskyan revolution, but the 90s seem a bit
late for that, don't they? ((And of course now even the term
'comparative linguistics' is increasingly being appropriated for work
in what used to be known as 'contrastive linguistics' instead. Is
there a connection between the two trends?))
Alexis Manaster Ramer
Professor of Computer Science
Wayne State University
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue