LINGUIST List 7.769

Mon May 27 1996

Qs: Umlauts, Case, Chinese, grammatical, etymology

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  1. Larry Horn, Danger: umlauts ahead!
  2. "Kuo-ming Liu", Query: abstract Case in Korean
  3. "Kuo-ming Liu", Query: Reading sources on Chinese Passivization
  4. Guy Modica, ungrammaticality vs. semantic anomaly
  5. Nikos Sarantakos, Query: ruckwanderers - etymology

Message 1: Danger: umlauts ahead!

Date: Sun, 26 May 1996 21:57:31 EDT
From: Larry Horn <>
Subject: Danger: umlauts ahead!
I was wondering if anyone could either confirm or disconfirm my suspicion that
this line of research is unvarnished poppycock. From today's (5/26/96) N. Y.
Times News of the Week in Review, p. 6, an article excerpting a study by 'the
psychologist Robert B. Zajonc, the former head of the Institute for Social
Research, who is now at Stanford University' in connection with a more general
discussion of race, war, genocide, and national character:

 Certain expressions, he found, affect blood flow, and thus temperature,
 in different parts of the brain...Perhaps, then, Mr. Zajonc speculated,
 the characteristic expressions required to make the sounds of French and
 German and Swahili affect speakers in the same way, thus accounting for
 their group traits.
 "I never pursued it very far", Mr. Zajonc siad. "I did do some research
 on how language sound effects perception. We told two groups of volunteers
 the same story in German. One used words with a lot of umlauts, which is a
 sound [sic] that constricts air flow to the brain, which prevents cooling
 of the brain. For the other story, we used synonyms that had none of these
 sounds. And the subjects consistently responded better to the story without
 the constricting sounds--they liked the protagonist better, the called the
 story more enjoyable."

So what I want to know, inter alia, is whether these results have been
replicated and how they extend to other languages: do we find similarly
dramatic effects in Turkish, but not in French or Finnish where front rounded
vowels are not umlauts and thus don't similarly deoxygenate the brain? Do
high front, high umlauts overheat the brain more than mid or low
umlauts? And can we perhaps study the use of high back unrounded vowels for
their possible effect as natural cerebral air conditioners? And is there
grant money out there to help us find out?
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Message 2: Query: abstract Case in Korean

Date: Mon, 27 May 1996 00:11:20 -0000
From: "Kuo-ming Liu" <>
Subject: Query: abstract Case in Korean
Dear Netters on Linguist:

A friend of mine, who is not on the Linguist list, is trying to do 
research on abstract Case in Korean. He is wondering what resources 
he is supposed to seek for more access to this topic.

Thanks a lot for your help. 

(Please mail any related materials directly to
 Mr. Eunsung Do at:
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Message 3: Query: Reading sources on Chinese Passivization

Date: Mon, 27 May 1996 00:11:20 -0000
From: "Kuo-ming Liu" <>
Subject: Query: Reading sources on Chinese Passivization
Dear Netters on Linguist:

 I am going to do research on Passivizaion in Chinese. 

 Can anyone kindly tell me what are some materials that I should not 
miss reading?

 Thank you so much.
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Message 4: ungrammaticality vs. semantic anomaly

Date: Mon, 27 May 1996 13:33:54 +0900
From: Guy Modica <>
Subject: ungrammaticality vs. semantic anomaly
The summary of MUST posted back in March has kept me thinking. Perhaps I am
a nitwit picking nits, but there seems an important difference between the
terms in the title of my post. The data that provoked the MUST discussion:

the book sells well to raise money

now, is that ungrammatical? It is beating a dead donkey to raise 'colorless
green ideas...' from its resting place, but wasn't the point of that
example to separate clearly grammatical formedness from semantic
formedness? Almost to a person we have been guilty of applying asterisks to
strings that violate no grammatical constraint, and this sentence above
seems one of those. The exacting discussion in the summary brought out the
anomaly of a purpose clause with a non-intentional subject in the main
clause. Is there something GRAMMATICALLY illicit in such a structure?
Finally, I think not.

Asterisks are attached to strings which sometimes require the additional
explanation to students - "in the intended reading". Now in a discussion of
crossover, the ambiguousness of possible antecedent relations might
occasion the "intended reading" caveat, and we do consider the indices to
represent a SYNTACTIC feature (however weakly and tentatively coreference
is ensconced in syntax). Yet we have generally resisted incorporating
semantic features in syntax (outside of subcategorization frames), and as
long as that remains the case I'd like to campaign for a more conscious
discrimination between ungrammaticality and semantic anomaly, and a
curtailment of the use of asterisks to identify semantically anomalous
strings. Perhaps the same hacker/artist that bestowed :-) can find a crisp
diacritic to represent semantic anomaly.

In sum, I pose these questions: Is ungrammaticality a different beast than
semantic anomaly? How, and why care? Should we be more perspicacious (and
perspicuous) in our discussion and identification of strings?

Guy Modica, Associate Professor
Department of English and American Literature
Seikei University
3-3-1 Kichijoji-kitamachi
Musashino, Tokyo 180 Japan
Office telephone: +81-422-37-3608
Home fax: +81-425-23-5437
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Message 5: Query: ruckwanderers - etymology

Date: Mon, 27 May 1996 14:50:35 PDT
From: Nikos Sarantakos <>
Subject: Query: ruckwanderers - etymology
I am interested in ruckwanderers, a special category of loanwords. Could
anyone please help me as to literature about this subject?

As an aside, I am searching for the etymology of the Turkish word
_kelepir_ 'chance bargain'. Modern Greek has borrowed the word
(_kelepouri_, same meaning). According to the New Redhouse dictionary,
the Tk. eord is of Gk. origin, but no further details are given. If that
is exact, then Gk. _kelepouri_ is a ruckwanderer.

Many thanks in advance,

Nikos Sarantakos
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