LINGUIST List 8.101

Sat Jan 25 1997

Sum: Spaniolish, odd construction

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. Kate Gladstone & Andrew Haber, Spaniolish, odd construction

Message 1: Spaniolish, odd construction

Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 11:29:26 -0500
From: Kate Gladstone & Andrew Haber <>
Subject: Spaniolish, odd construction

My inquiries (on "Spaniolish" and an odd construction involving
syntactical overlap of 2 consecutive sentences) were both answered by
A LOT of people whom I would like to name, but CAN'T --as my system
recently crashed & wiped much data!

So I will just have to summarize WHAT was said, without summarizing
WHO said it!

SPANIOLISH: some people guessed that this might be a language spoken
on Hispaniola (the island shared by Haiti & the Dominican Republic) --
it turns out it's an old name for Ladino a/k/a Judezmo.
 (One person, interestingly, knew this BUT thought it was unlikely
-- that there must be another language with the same name -- given
that the only text I had seen in the language was a single sentence
typed in a 1930s ad for a USA typewriter firm which, at the time,
produced only Roman-alphabet keyboards; since Ladino is written in the
Hebrew alphabet.
 However, this is no barrier to the correct identification, as 86
other languages (including Russian, Chinese, Hebrew, and Arabic)
supplying short texts used in the ad were typed out in the Roman
alphabet as well.)

ODD CONSTRUCTION: This was re a construction in my husband's idiolect
(i.e., he speaks & accepts this, but nobody else uses it that I knew
of) where, when Sentence 1 of an utterance ends with a noun phrase
identical with that which is to begin Sentence 2, the 2 sentences are
combined into one longer sentence with no internal
structural/morphological change other than deleting one of the
occurrences of that noun-phrase forming the "hinge".
 Many respondents thought I was talking about a dialectal-English
omission of the relative pronoun, and/or asked me to look into this by
asking my husband whether certain sentences were "OK" or "not-OK" to
him -- it turned out that many sentences he thought were "OK" were not
possible in dialects that do this omission, and that sentences
permissible in those dialects were "not-OK" to him.
 Many others gave parallels from a multitude of langauges
including Old English -- so, contrary to what I had thought, this is
NOT a rare construction.
 Of this 2nd group of respondents, Suzette Haden Elgin (and many
others whose names I have, as explained, lost) analyzed this as simply
what she calls "Overlap Deletion": i.e., not relative-pronoun
deletion, though it can be mistaken for it.
 Another respondent noted that this construction, besides being
used in Old English epic poetry, is still used today by many
English-speaking TV reporters narrating sporting events (which have a
simiar amount of consecutive, clear-cut sequences of action):


 "Smith throws the ball to Johnson runs with it to Carter kicks
it just falls short of the goal!" =

 "Smith throws the ball to Johnson -- Johnson runs with it to
Carter - Carter
 kicks it -- it just falls short of the goal!"

So --- maybe my husband DOES just watch too much football on TV.

Thanks to everyone who contributed!!!

Yours for better letters,

Kate Gladstone
Handwriting Repair
325 South Manning Boulevard
Albany, NY 12208-1731

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