LINGUIST List 7.662

Mon May 6 1996

Disc: "terrible" emphasis, Thou and You, Lg-Movies

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. John Konopak, Re: 7.654, Sum: "terrible" emphasis
  2. Dag Gundersen, Re: 7.654, Sum: "terrible" emphasis
  3. Alan Firth, Thou and You; Quakers
  4. Paul Woods, Re: 7.648, Disc: Language and Movies - Small Correction

Message 1: Re: 7.654, Sum: "terrible" emphasis

Date: Sat, 04 May 1996 12:05:53 CDT
From: John Konopak <>
Subject: Re: 7.654, Sum: "terrible" emphasis
 Just a thought: I wonder if the pervasiveness of the formulation
doesn't have something to do with permeability of local, subjected speech
forms to what might be considered linguistic "colonization." Is there some
way to determine the "authenticity" of the trope? Is there any kind of
"etymotropology" (what a terribly interesting neologism?) that might yield a
source for these examples in languages/speech outside the dominant,
first-world syntagm? Just wondering?
		John Konopak
		The University of Oklahoma
		820 VanVleet Oval
		Norman OK 73019
		Ph: 405-325-1498
		FX: 405-325-4061			
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Message 2: Re: 7.654, Sum: "terrible" emphasis

Date: Mon, 06 May 1996 09:54:02 BST
From: Dag Gundersen <>
Subject: Re: 7.654, Sum: "terrible" emphasis
I notice that you don't have any examples from Scandinavian languages, but
the "terrible" practice is widespread there also. To use Norwegian as
example language "terribly" corresponds to "fryktelig" (fearfully),
"forferdelig"(terribly), "grusomt" (cruelly), and several others, some of
them marked as dialect and perhaps humorous such as "ille vakkert" (badly
beautiful). The others above may be coupled with adjectives such as "glad"
(pleased, happy), "vakker, pen" (beautiful), "god(t)" (good, nice), etc. -
There are other adverbs in similar use, such as "j=E6vlig" (=E6=3D ae)
(devilishly, considered not quite nice, rather like "bloody" in British
English). Such combinations of bad and good denoting something positive is
called "contradictio in adjecto", as I am sure you know already. One of our
best known (Norwegian) authors, B. Bj=F8rnson (1832-1910), in a novel called
Absalons h=E5r (Absalom's Hair) from 1893 mentions examples of this, e.g.,
"knakende god punsj" (literally creakingly good punch - a popular beverage
in older days), which he felt was to combine something dry and something
wet. He called it an example of "sl=E6ng", by which he may have meant
"slang", and if so he is the first to mention this phenomenon in Norway,
but he may also have meant "sleng" =3D turn of phrase. He called it "sproget=
nedtraadte sko" (the worn-out shoes of the language), but also "sprogets
yderste piskesnert" (the very whiplash of the language), so it seems he was
undecided as to whether to call it good or bad usage.
 I seem to remember an old (American) article by George T. Flom from
before 1920 about combinations of adverbs of degree + adjective, but god
knows where. Good luck to your hunt!
Dag Gundersen
(Prof. of Scandinavian linguistics, Oslo)
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Message 3: Thou and You; Quakers

Date: Mon, 29 Apr 1996 10:56:42 BST
From: Alan Firth <>
Subject: Thou and You; Quakers
As a addendum to my recent summary of the 'thou & you' issue in English and
the Quakers' involvement in it, Paul Hopkins (, a Canadian
Quaker, has kindly sent me an informative response, part of which is
reproduced below:

... [T]he suggestion that Quakers might have adopted use of 'thee' to make
themselves distinct is quite ahistoric. Quakers did not _adopt_ the use of
'thee', they simply rejected the use of 'you' and thus _retained_ the use
of 'thee'. Of course, the Quakers were not successful in persuading English
society to use this plain speech, and 'you' became the general term of
second person address (i agree with Trask and Darnell's explanation for
this). The Quakers then fell into a stockade mentality throughout the 18th
and 19th centuries, leading them to retain a number of characteristics in
clothing and speech which, originally common to all poor people of northern
England, came to be distinct markers of Quakers. In the late 19th century,
Quaker society was forced to open up and reexamine its practises, partly
due to the challenge of evangelism, partly because of plummetting
membership numbers: this led to the abandonment of the superficial marks of
Quakerism ... such as the use of 'thee'.

Alan Firth
Dept. of Language & Intercultural Studies
Aalborg University, Havrevangen 1, DK-9000 Aalborg
Tel: +45 98158522, 6211; Fax: +45 98138086; E-mail:
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Message 4: Re: 7.648, Disc: Language and Movies - Small Correction

Date: Thu, 02 May 1996 15:27:39 -0000
From: Paul Woods <>
Subject: Re: 7.648, Disc: Language and Movies - Small Correction
I read with interest the comments on language and the movies.
May I just make one small observation? The accent/variety of
English spoken in Sheffield is most certainly different and
distinct from that heard in Birmingham. To most of us here
(I'm not from here, BTW) Sheffield is seen as an outpost of
Yorkshire (with a little Derbyshire in there somewhere), 
and not of the Midlands. This applies for food, political 
views, popular culture and so on. If Sheffield had an elder
brother, it would be Leeds, rather than Birmingham.
Those around me have a good, canny Yorkshire twang, rather than
the somewhat nasal sound of Brum.

'Appen am raat, but then thaa'd better ask some others.

Best wishes,

Paul Woods
Computer Science

PS There's an excellent book on Sheffield English which a native friend
bought for my American-English speaking (Chinese) wife. That book
contains many definite northernisms and yorkshirisms.

PPS Being taken for an Aussie...Fair dinkum, no worries for me, mate.
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