LINGUIST List 8.1310

Tue Sep 16 1997

FYI: Language Areas, Re 8.1289, Bantu

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>


  1. George Elgin, Suzette Haden Elgin, language "locations" in the brain, continued
  2. David Solnit, Re 8.1289: Edmondson & Solnit
  3. Jeff Marck, Bantu kin terms

Message 1: language "locations" in the brain, continued

Date: Tue, 9 Sep 1997 09:18:07 -0500
From: George Elgin, Suzette Haden Elgin <>
Subject: language "locations" in the brain, continued

I asked yesterday for reactions to the recently announced MRI research
on language "locations" in the brain (allegedly a single location for
all languages acquired in infancy, but separate ones for languages
acquired as an adult) and have been getting responses asking for a
proper reference. I apologize; I assumed that all of you would be way
ahead of me on the curve with this article. It's by Hirsch and Kim,
and appears in the July 10, 1997 issue of Nature. I have only read the
newspaper articles reporting on the research, plus a lengthy news
release about it from Memorial Sloan-Kettering (which you can get with
a Net search using "language location in the brain," if you want to
see it and it hasn't been removed from their page yet.) I remain
extremely interested in linguist reactions; I'm getting a lot of
questions about the work and would like to be able to answer them with
reasonable accuracy. I'll be glad to post a summary of responses.

Suzette Haden Elgin
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Message 2: Re 8.1289: Edmondson & Solnit

Date: Sat, 13 Sep 1997 13:14:51 +0000
From: David Solnit <>
Subject: Re 8.1289: Edmondson & Solnit

Thanks to Patrick Ryan for his review of _Comparative Kadai: The Tai
Branch_. I would just like to correct two errors, one minor and one

The minor error is the misspelling of my co-editor's name: Jerold
A. Edmondson, not "Emondson" as in the title of the post (but correct
in the body of the review).

Secondly, Mr Ryan is in error in his statement, "proto-Tai Tone B is
identified as a result of earlier voiced initials while proto-Tai Tone
C reflects earlier non-voiced initials". The proto-tones ABCD occur
with all initial types and are fully contrastive at the proto-Tai
stage. *After* that stage, initial laryngeal features (including
glottalization and aspiration as well as voicing) condition splits and
sometimes mergers of the proto-tones. I would also quibble with Mr
Ryan's wording in "very early forms that are semantically
distinguished phonemically rather than tonally", if "phonemic" means
contrastive. Perhaps he means "distinguished segmentally rather than

It is of course possible for a non-tonal language to become tonal
under the conditioning influence of laryngeal features of segments.
Haudricourt's proposal of final consonant types as the origin of
Vietnamese tones has been transferred to Chinese and is generally
accepted. Evidence for a similar origin of Tai tones is presented in
William Gedney's "Speculations on Early Tai Tones," in _Selected
Papers on Comparative Tai Studies_," ed. Bickner, Hartmann, Hudak, and
Peyasantiwong, U of Michigan Center for South and Southeast Asian
Studies, 1989. -- David B Solnit 729 Elm St El Cerrito CA 94530
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Message 3: Bantu kin terms

Date: Sat, 13 Sep 1997 15:04:38 +1100
From: Jeff Marck <>
Subject: Bantu kin terms

I shall be arguing the history of the Bantu kin terms on the "ArcLing"
list from time to time over the next two years. This will be in the
context of work from the office and work from the field. I shall be
grateful for comments on my reconstructions, responses to requests for
published sources or contacts in the field, and so on. If you or any
of your colleages would like to follow or participate in the
discussion, subscription to ArcLing is accomplished with the following
email message:


subscribe arcling Your Name

Thank you,
Jeff Marck 
Health Transition Centre-NCEPH Australian National Univ. and
Linguistics-RSPAS Australian National University
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