LINGUIST List 7.861

Mon Jun 10 1996

Qs: Difficulty, Record, Prenasal, Attrition, Maski(n)

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>

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. XU LUOMAI, Lexical difficulty level
  2. Dick Hudson, World record for lingualism
  3. MIKROS GEORGE, Qs: Quantification of prenasalization
  4. T.AmmerlaanMAW.KUN.NL, LINGUIST contribution attrition/loss
  5. AP GRANT, "Maski(n) - Origin and Distribution".

Message 1: Lexical difficulty level

Date: Sat, 08 Jun 1996 21:31:49 +0800
From: XU LUOMAI <>
Subject: Lexical difficulty level
Fellow linguists,

I post this request for some graduate students. A graduate research group of
my department is planning some research on how to determine the difficulty
level of English words in EFL context. They want to isolate some factors
which affect the ease with which an EFL learner learns English words, or
more generally, words of a foreign language. Findings of such research are
useful for textbook compilers or test item writers. They want to know
previous research in this area. Can anyone suggest some related book tiles
or journal articles? Please send your reply to my email address.

Thank you in advance.

Xu Luomai
English Department
Guangdong University of Foreign Studies
Guangzhou 510420
P.R. China
Tel. (0086-20)86656476
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: World record for lingualism

Date: Sun, 09 Jun 1996 09:35:52 BST
From: Dick Hudson <>
Subject: World record for lingualism
Does anybody know who holds the all-time world record for the number of
languages they can speak? (And, of course, the number of languages!) If
anyone has a similar answer for a whole community, that would of course be
interesting as well. Replies to me please, and I'll summarise back to the list.
Richard Hudson
Department of Phonetics and Linguistics,
University College London,
Gower Street,
London WC1E 6BT
work phone +171 419 3152; work fax +171 383 4108
email; web-site
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: Qs: Quantification of prenasalization

Date: Sun, 09 Jun 1996 21:33:05 +0300
Subject: Qs: Quantification of prenasalization
I'm writing my Ph.D. thesis on the sociophonetics of Modern Greek. My
research deals with the variation of prenasalization phenomena,
which occur before voiced-stop environments, e.g.

		['kabos] ~ ['kambos] 	(field)
		['adras] ~ ['andras] (man)

Phonetically prenasalization is not categorical but has gradations.
Fujimura (1962:1874) refers to the spectral properties of nasal murmur
and accepts three important features: a) the existence of a very low first
formant around 300 Hz, which is well-separated from the upper formant
structure, b) relatively high-dumping factors of the formants and
c) high density of the formants in the frequency domain.
Lieberman (1988:226), also states that a nasal murmur which is located
around 250 Hz is sufficient for the perception of a nasal consonant,
irrespective of place of articulation.

By examining the spectrograms of prenasalized voiced-stops, I found out
that there is a prominence in spectral energy around 2800 Hz. I find very
difficult to detect and differentiate frequencies from 200 to 300 Hz
between the preceding vowel and the nasal.

I'm searching a way of quantifying the prenasalization energy, so that
I can compare different levels of prenasalization extracted from my data;
a kind of measuring the amount of prenasalization on each word.

I would be very grateful for any suggestions and advices on this matter.
Please, send your comments at the e-mail below. I will post a summary
of all the answers to the Linguist list.

Thanks in advance,

George K. Mikros
University of Athens
E-Mail :
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 4: LINGUIST contribution attrition/loss

Date: Mon, 10 Jun 1996 08:47:44 -0000
From: T.AmmerlaanMAW.KUN.NL <T.AmmerlaanMAW.KUN.NL>
Subject: LINGUIST contribution attrition/loss

Dear subscribers,

I am currently collecting data on studies on language attrition/loss
worldwide in order to then distribute the information in turn and possibly
set up a databank/clearinghouse in this area available to anyone.
I am interested in collecting research details on both first and second
language attrition, both from pathological as non-pathological perspectives.
I would like information from investigators (and their grad. students) on AT
LEAST the languages/dialects in contact, the project aims (e.g. lexicon,
syntactic, pragmatic, phonological) and methodology (e.g. longitudinal, cross-
sectional, introspective, experimental), the nature of the data and the
transcripts, the names of the investigators and their e-mail addresses.
Suggestions as to other data that need to be included are welcome.

Please send your materials/comments to:

 Dr. T. Ammerlaan
 Thomas v. Aquino st 4
 6500 HE Nijmegen

 fax: .. 31 24 3611881

Thank you very much for your efforts in this matter.

Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 5: "Maski(n) - Origin and Distribution".

Date: Mon, 10 Jun 1996 10:21:31 BST
From: AP GRANT <>
Subject: "Maski(n) - Origin and Distribution".
Dear fellow Linguists:

I'm interested in tracking down the origin, and in determining the spread,
of an adverbial particle which has been recorded in a number of languages
of the Far East and beyond.

The form is /maski/, or /maskin/, with stress on the second syllable, and
the senses given for this word in various languages range from "it doesn't
matter", to "although".

It is most widely attested in pidgin and creole languages which were on
the fringes of the southwestern and western Pacific.

Zamboanguen~o Creole Spanish has maskin 'although', as (apparently) have
Tagalog and Cebuano (and Hiligaynon, I wonder?). This may have entered
Zamb. through Philippine languages but it doesn't seem to be a retention
from Common Central Philippine.

Chinese Pidgin English as maski 'never mind'. So does Tok Pisin. In his
superb article in "The Language game" (Papers in memory of Donald Laycock,
Pacific Linguistics, c-110) Malcolm Ross has
connected this with a form /maadeki-/ in certain languages of New Britain
He also mentions that a similar form has been cited for bengali (I have no
further details on that form). As far as I am aware it doesn't occur in
Solomons Pijin or Bislama.

The term is generally supposed to originate in Portuguese "mas que", an
adversative conjunction, which passed into (Bazaar) Malay as /mski/,
where the  is schwa, although Loreto Todd (Modern Englishes, 1984) has
connected the term with a Malay word /mlpaskan/. This can't be an
original Malay word, since /-sk-/ c;lusters don't occur in Malay words of
Austronesian origin. A Spanish equivalent, 'mas que nada', would mean
'more than nothing'. (There was a popular Brazilian song entitled 'Mas Que
Nada' some years ago.)

In short, a Wanderwort of impressive spread.

If anyone has further instances of its occurrence or any idea of its
origin, would they please share them with me at
and I'll post the final results.

Best wishes

Anthony P. Grant
Department of Modern Languages
University of Bradford
West Yorkshire
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue