LINGUIST List 8.1601

Fri Nov 7 1997

Qs: Romance, Broadcasted Eng, Japanese Reading

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  1. Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy, Romance Verb Stress
  2. Alan Smith, Diachronic Variation in Broadcasted English
  3. Julienne Chan, Japanese Reading Proficiency Tests

Message 1: Romance Verb Stress

Date: Fri, 07 Nov 1997 16:14:06 +1300
From: Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy <>
Subject: Romance Verb Stress

I am interested in the relationship, if any, between two facts about
Romance verbs, which I will call Fact A and Fact B.

Fact A: In some Romance languages, some verbs have root extensions whose
distribution is correlated with stress: the extension appears precisely
where, if it were absent, the stress would go on the verb root. An example
is the -isc- of Italian _finire_ 'finish': _fin-isc-o, fin-isc-i_ have the
extension, thereby protecting the root _fin-_ from receiving stress,
whereas _fin-iamo, fin-ite_ lack the extension, because stress goes on the
desinence in these forms.

Fact B: In some Romance languages (e.g. Spanish), only the last syllable
of the verb root may be stressed, whereas in others (e.g. Italian) the
stress 'window' extends to two syllables. Thus there is a stress contrast
between Spanish _continUa_ and Italian _contInua_ '(s)he continues', even
though both languages have penultimate stress in the adjective _contInuo_

My hunch is that there is a connection, as follows: all the languages with
strictly stress-correlated root extensions, like Italian and (?) Romanian,
have a two-syllable stress 'window' on verb roots, and all the languages in
which only the last syllable of the verb root can be stressed, like Spanish
and Portuguese, lack stress-correlated root extensions.

Is this hunch correct? I am particularly interested in Catalan, which
differs from Spanish and Portuguese in having a root extension (-eix-).
Does it also differ from them in having a two-syllable verbal stress
window, like Italian? And if my hunch *is* correct, why should it be so?

I will post a summary.

Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy
Department of Linguistics, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800,
Christchurch, New Zealand
phone (work) +64-3-364 2211; (home) +64-3-355 5108
fax +64-3-364 2969
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Message 2: Diachronic Variation in Broadcasted English

Date: Fri, 7 Nov 1997 11:59:47 GMT0BST
From: Alan Smith <>
Subject: Diachronic Variation in Broadcasted English

I am interested in linguistic changes that have taken place since the 
beginning of the 1960s in the English spoken on the media, more 
precisely in interviews, debates and news broadcasts. 

I am interested not only in pronunciation changes such as, for
example, an increased incidence of glottal stops and a decline in
'back a', but also changes in the way speakers organize the
information in their speech. 

An example of the latter would be an increased number of contractions
('don't' instead of 'do not'), an increase in subordinator 'that'
deletion (I think (that) he went), stranded prepositions (the person
I am thinking of), or split infinitives. In short, an increase in
reduced forms and 'dispreferred' structures in media speech. 

I would be very grateful if you could give me the references of any
research that has been done on this topic. I am mainly concerned
with British English, but would also welcome references to research
in American English. 

Naturally I will present a summary of any replies I receive.

Many thanks.

Alan Smith,
School of Modern Languages, Dept of French
University of Newcastle upon Tyne
U.K. E-mail:
Fax: (0191)2225442
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Message 3: Japanese Reading Proficiency Tests

Date: Fri, 07 Nov 1997 20:00:09 +0800
From: Julienne Chan <>
Subject: Japanese Reading Proficiency Tests

I am a PhD student at the University of Western Australia, and am doing
crosslinguistic research in the area of second language (L2)reading. I have
been trying (in vain) to locate a reading proficiency test for adult native
readers of Japanese. I am looking for a rough discriminator - basically I
am trying to determine less proficient from more proficient first language
(L1)readers,rather than identify reading disorders. I then want to use this
information in order to establish whether L1 reading proficiency may be
impacting on L2 reading proficiency in my study (my participants are ESL

I would appreciate any advice about who to contact or where I might be able
to obtain such tests. Thank you for your help,

Julienne Chan
Graduate School of Education
University of Western Australia
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