LINGUIST List 7.45

Thu Jan 11 1996

Qs: NP Reiteration, Lang at Work, Estimating Vocabulary

Editor for this issue: Annemarie Valdez <>

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. CTDWUHKPV17.POLYU.EDU.HK, Research on NP Reiteration
  2. Jim Miller, Language in the Place of Work
  3. Michael Baker, Query - Estimating Vocabulary of a Language

Message 1: Research on NP Reiteration

Date: Thu, 11 Jan 1996 17:38:44 +0800
Subject: Research on NP Reiteration

I am soliciting information about research on NP reiteration (i.e.,
full NP repetition, partial repetition, synonym, superordinate,
etc.). I am writing a paper on the Use of NP Reiteration in Chinese
News Stories; and would like to be updated in research related to this
topic so that I can give proper acknowledgement and do not have to
repeat what others have said or done.

Thank you for your attention to my request. I'll post a summary if
there is sufficient response to this.

Doreen Dongying WU
CBS, HKPU, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2766-7441
Fax: 852-2334-0185
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Message 2: Language in the Place of Work

Date: Thu, 11 Jan 1996 10:39:05 GMT
From: Jim Miller <>
Subject: Language in the Place of Work

Message actually from: Sylvia Casertano
 Department of Linguistics
 University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Replies please to:

I am a beginning postgraduate student from Naples spending six months
at Edinburgh University. I have become interested in "language at
work"; that is, language spoken in working places, communication and
communicative roles in private companies, agencies, factories, but,
most of all, in public offices like Post Offices, University offices,
telecommunications offices (British Telecom, etc.) and so on. These
are places where formal conversation takes place, but we can find
different levels of formality in each of them, according to situation
and participants. I would like to investigate both routine and
exceptional situations and compare them across languages and cultures.

I intend to analyse sentence structure at different levels of formal
conversation in order to find out which are the most frequent forms
and which syntactic structures are preferred in which situation. I
intend to take both syntax and pragmatics into account.

I have searched for relevant literature and found general works on
genre and register but few articles on the specific topic I am
interested in. I have read

Biber: Variation across speech and writing 
Swales: Genre analysis
Merrit: On questions following questions in service encounters. 
Lg in Society 5
Ventola: Contrasting schematic structures in service
encounters App. Ling. 4

I have an extensive list of books and papers in German but I would be
grateful for any further references to works in English (or indeed
Italian or French).

I will post a combined list of any replies.

Silvia Casertano
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Message 3: Query - Estimating Vocabulary of a Language

Date: Thu, 11 Jan 1996 13:53:44 +0100
From: Michael Baker <>
Subject: Query - Estimating Vocabulary of a Language

Dear Linguist List,

Could anyone help me (and my colleague) with the following query
please ?

We recently read the following in a book on the history of the English
language :

"Of the world's languages [English] is arguably the richest
in vocabulary. The compendious Oxford English Dictionary
lists about 500000 words; and a further half-million technical
and scientific words remain uncatalogued. According to traditional
estimates, neighbouring German has a vocabulary of about 185000
words and French fewer than 100000 ..."

My colleague disputed the veracity of this, as well as the validity of
making such estimations - e.g. doesn't this just reflect those
cultures who have been most efficient in producing dictionaries ?, ...

So our queries are :
1. are these estimations approximately correct ?
2. is it meaningful to make such estimates ?
3. on what criteria are such estimations generally made ? 
what are the bases for the "traditional estimates" ?

Neither of us are linguists (physicist and computer scientist) so
please excuse us if the query is too elementary for the specialists on
this list !

Best wishes,
Michael Baker

Dr. Michael Baker
CNRS-Universite Lyon 2
ENS de Lyon, 46 allee d'Italie,
69364 Lyon cedex 07, France
Tel: (++33)72 72 85 38
Fax: (++33)72 72 80 80
email :
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