LINGUIST List 7.724

Tue May 21 1996

Qs: Terms, Regional, Hungarian, French, -lects

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  1. Craige Roberts, Typological terminology, references
  2., Regionalisms
  3. Craige Roberts, Query about Hungarian focus
  4. "Grace A. Randa", Qs: Norman French diphthongs
  5. Birgit Kellner, [Q:] Acrolect/Basilect

Message 1: Typological terminology, references

Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 09:01:43 EDT
From: Craige Roberts <>
Subject: Typological terminology, references

I am interested in the characterization of certain languages as
discourse-prominent or discourse configurational, vs. non-. I'm
trying to track the relevant literature, determine who uses what
terminology and where this terminology originated, and, especially,
compare the criteria offered for classification. I am interested in
both functionalist and generative work on the subject.

Thanks for any help you can offer.

Craige Roberts
The Ohio State University
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Message 2: Regionalisms

Date: Thu, 16 May 1996 21:26:00 CDT
From: <>
Subject: Regionalisms
In LINGUIST 7.691, Matthew Dryer wrote:

> More specifically, SOV order seems to be much more common than
> SVO order in language groups involving small populations and relative
> genetic isolatedness. Does this reflect a linguistic preference for
> SOV or does it reflect some statistical association between culture
> type and word order?

This reminds me of a fact (or factoid?) that I once heard: there are no
native American languages with front rounded vowels, while front round
vowels are not uncommon in Europe and (northern) Asia.

(1) Is this true? I certainly know of no Amerindian languages with front
rounded vowels, but I lack omniscience...

(2) Are front rounded vowels found in other parts of the world, e.g.
Africa, Southeast Asia, Polynesia, Austronesia etc.?

(3) Is the fact that front rounded vowels are found in a number of
semi-unrelated languages of Europe due to language contact, and if so, to
contact with what languages? For instance, French and German both have
front round vowels, but clearly did not inherit them from
proto-Indoeuropean. I would guess that French developed such vowels in
early medieval times, and Germanic languages somewhat earlier. Did one
language get them from the other, or did both borrow them from some other
language(s)? If on the other hand front rounded vowels in one or both of
these languages were an independent development, not due to language
contact, what explanation is there for why none of the thousands of
Amerindian languages have such vowels? (Assuming that is a fact!) (I'm
aware that the front rounded vowels in German arose through a phonological
process of umlauting--but if this wasn't helped along somehow by contact
with other languages with front rounded vowels, why did this umlauting
happen only in Germanic? Why not in Amerindian languages?)
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Message 3: Query about Hungarian focus

Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 10:21:14 EDT
From: Craige Roberts <>
Subject: Query about Hungarian focus
I'm writing with some questions about Hungarian stress.

In an undated (but I think 1995) ms., entitled "Focus is a non-
uniform phenomenon", Katalin Kiss says that "whereas a WH phrase is
always in the preverbal Focus Operator position, it can be answered by
either a Focus Operator [i.e., appear in pre-verbal position] or an
Information Focus [i.e., in situ following the verb, but marked
somehow by stress], depending on whether the answer is intended to be
exhaustive or not." I'm trying to figure out a bit more clearly what
the focus possibilities are in Hungarian, and would appreciate it if
anyone can give me some examples (along the lines suggested below)
and/or point me to relevant literature that will discuss the
distinction. It isn't described in the material on Hungarian focus
that I have, though there's been quite a lot written about the
pre-verbal focus position in Hungarian and its exhaustive semantics.

I'm assuming that the distinction would be reflected in the two kinds
of contexts in which a Hungarian translation of (b) would be given as
an answer to the Hungarian translation of (a):

(a) Which of the kids went to see the concert last night?
(b) John and Andrea went.

In English, we could indicate that (b) is only a partial answer, hence
not exhaustive, by using a low rising boundary tone at the end of the
phrase (L- H% in Pierrehumbert terms). If we don't, this might be
taken to implicate that no one else went. The latter case is
presumably the type in which the Hungarian translation of (b) would
have Janos es Marit in pre-verbal focus position, while I assume that
the former case would be translated with them in situ. Is that
correct? Can someone give me the translations, please? Is it clear
in the in situ case that Janos es Marit are stressed or in some other
way prosodically more prominent? More prominent than the verb?

If this is correct, I would expect that in Hungarian the in situ
focus, Kiss' "information focus", would not be uncommon or highly
marked, as partial answers are quite common in English. Is that

Finally, it's been my understanding that when there are multiple foci
in a Hungarian utterance, the first occurs pre-verbally, the rest
immediately after the verb (and this latter is not in situ, according
to what I've read. But this exhaustive/non-exhaustive distinction
suggests a motive for sometimes placing one or more foci periverbally,
while one or more others occurs in situ. Do such cases ever occur?
If so, can you please give me an example and try to describe the
stress pattern?

Thanks for any help or pointers you can give.

Craige Roberts
The Ohio State University
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Message 4: Qs: Norman French diphthongs

Date: Sun, 19 May 1996 10:48:15 MDT
From: "Grace A. Randa" <>
Subject: Qs: Norman French diphthongs
I am attempting a research project-- a comparison study of Norman
French and (Continental) French diphthongal developments, late 11th C.
I would be very grateful for direction re: resource information,
references. Many thanks.

Grace Randa
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Message 5: [Q:] Acrolect/Basilect

Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 23:58:33 +0900
From: Birgit Kellner <>
Subject: [Q:] Acrolect/Basilect
In the recently posted conference announcement for "English as an Asian
Language" (7.694), the authors referred to the distinction between
"acrolect" and "basilect". I would like to know where these concepts
originated, and whether their application and separation is undisputed
(without knowing much about the background, I would immediately question the
specification of the basilect as "usually existing only in spoken form"). 

I would also like to ask whether the "iconic" usage of English in Asian
commercials, advertisements etc. (example from my modest Japanese "iconic
English"-T-shirt collection: "Athletic Dept. for the Finest Quality
Products. Our many years of experience enable us to built (sic) extra value
into life riders. Use finest & tough material. We propose the nice & smart
looking life for every maidens. Use fine materials & fine design". In Japan,
needless to add, such examples are over-abundant) - whether such language
usage would be counted as acrolect, basilect or simply non-language. I don't
want to initiate another "and now we all get our funny English examples out
of our cupboards"-thread, but would like to know what linguists have to say
on this matter. 

Birgit Kellner
Department for Indian Philosophy
University of Hiroshima
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