LINGUIST List 7.577

Thu Apr 18 1996

Disc: Lang & movies, Ungrammatical sentences

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <dizdartam2000.tamu.edu>


Directory

  1. Peter Daniels, Re: 7.567, Disc: Ungrammatical sentences, Lang & movies
  2. Richard DeArmond, Re: 7.552, Disc: Ungrammatical sentences

Message 1: Re: 7.567, Disc: Ungrammatical sentences, Lang & movies

Date: Tue, 16 Apr 1996 22:11:47 CDT
From: Peter Daniels <pdanielspress-gopher.uchicago.edu>
Subject: Re: 7.567, Disc: Ungrammatical sentences, Lang & movies
Torsten Leuschner's description of early sound films is accurate, but
I think the relevant comparandum is not "real life", but rather the
legitimate theater (i.e., the exaggerated gestures required of stage
actors so that they can communicate to the farthest members of the
audience).

A database with a much shorter timeline would be videos of operas
(opera performances preserved on film are fairly rare and may be
neglected or considred as the basepoint for the analysis). How rapidly
did opera signers [singers] throw off the exaggerations needed for
giant theaters, and take on the behavior of stage/TV actors? The
widespread (in the US, anyway) use of supertitles has also helped
reduce the need for exaggerated gesture to communicate the content of
the drama.

Perhaps there's a dissertaion in such comparisons ...
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Message 2: Re: 7.552, Disc: Ungrammatical sentences

Date: Tue, 16 Apr 1996 20:03:23 PDT
From: Richard DeArmond <dearmondsfu.ca>
Subject: Re: 7.552, Disc: Ungrammatical sentences

 In reference to Sebastian Shaumyan, and to Robert Beard's
response I would like to comment further.
 I really think that 'a' in 'devochka' (girl) does denote the
singular, but only in context, which is of course the stem. After all,
it is the 'i' that marks the plural (and both mark the nominative
Case). Recall that adjectives must agree in 'phi' features that are
marked for agreement. Without it marking the singular, it would be
difficult to get agreement to work. If I may suggest it, Robert Beard
seems to be mixing gender and sex. Gender refers to a classification
system of noun that partially overlaps with natural sex. Gender is a
phi feature, but sex is not. In Russian the word "vrach'" refers to a
physician of either sex, but it is always masculine in gender:

 (1) Ona xorosh+ij vrach'.
 She good+masc/sing/nom doctor-[inherently masculine],
null ending marks nom. singular.
 'She's a good doctor.'

'Ona' marks sex, but 'xoroshij' marks gender. Pronouns typically mark sex,
but when the noun is inanimate the pronoun agrees in gender. Complicated,
but who says natural languages are not?

 The question of agency in words like 'cheat', 'cook', 'chef',
'guide', 'guard' etc. is that agency is lexically marked; that is, it
is incorporated into the lexical stem. The word 'victim' incorporates
patient. Just as 'man' incorporates 'maculine' but 'human' does
not. Zero affixes are no solution here. 'Boy' would have to have two:
one for masculine, and one for non-adult (and another for
non-baby?). In most languages theta roles are not marked by
phi-features. Theta-roles seem to be referential only, but they are
incorporated into the lexical stem either as derivational affixes, or
directly into the root-stem, if they are marked at all. This seems to
go against the notion that morphemes are are referential only are
inflectional (grammatical). I didn't expect to arrive at this
conclusion when I began this discussion, but I have.

Dick.
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