LINGUIST List 8.1690

Tue Nov 25 1997

Qs: Textbooks, Secret Langs, LSA Outreach, Polish

Editor for this issue: James German <>

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. Birgit Kellner, Q: foreign-language textbooks for exam-preparation
  2. Muhammed Suleiman, Re: SECRET LANGUAGES
  3. Nancy De Pas, Help the LSA Outreach Program

Message 1: Q: foreign-language textbooks for exam-preparation

Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 22:16:49 +0900
From: Birgit Kellner <>
Subject: Q: foreign-language textbooks for exam-preparation

Dear Linguist-members, 

I am currently busy studying for the Japanese Language Proficiency
Test. For those who don't know it, this is the officially recognized
test for Japanese language ability, a written exam which texts
knowledge of grammar, Kanji, vocabulary and reading skills. As with
all these tests, a number of publishing firms release learning
materials, amongst which volumes and volumes containing short texts,
followed up by questions in order to test comprehension skills. Upon
going over those texts, I have noticed that probably 95% of them
reproduce, in a manner almost too straightforward to be true, pretty
much every imaginable clichee about (a) Japan, (b) foreigners in
Japan, (c) Japanese people and, in particular, (d) the uniqueness of
Japanese "culture". The most outstanding example I came across dealt
with court trials. The text goes roughly like this: "Japanese people
generally refrain from taking problematic issues to court, because
they fear that a court trial will damage human relations. European and
Americans, on the other hand, go to court quite often, basically
thinking that war is war. This difference in culture can be explained
through a difference in customs and behaviour, which, in turn, can be
explained through a difference in climate." I hope this illustrates
why I have come up with the following question:

Are there any - presumably socio-linguistic - studies on the way in
which countries or cultures are represented in textbooks addressed to
foreigners learning the respective language in order to pass an
officially recognized exam? In particular, I would be interested in
comparative studies, say, a comparison between textbooks for TOEFL and
textbooks for the German "Zertifikat fuer Deutsch als Fremdsprache",
or similar tests. It seems to me that such textbooks are much more
telling for the official take a country has on the way in which
foreigners are supposed to learn its language than just textbooks in
general, because, being instrumental in the preparation for OFFICIAL
exams, they are presumably subject to tighter government control - or
are they?

Any hints or comments (including illustrative examples like the one
quoted above) will be appreciated, I shall post a summary in due

Birgit Kellner
Department for Indian Philosophy
Hiroshima University
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Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 13:18:30 -0000
From: Muhammed Suleiman <>

Dear Linguists,

I would like to reintroduce a thread which has already found its way
onto the Linguist List more than one, but which has hopefull not yet
been fully exhausted.

The topic is that of 'Secret' languages of the Pig Latin/ Back Slang
variety. I call them 'secret' rather then 'play' languages or
'language games' since i have encountered one or two examples which
don't exactly fit those classifications.

To clarify what I mean I would like to offer two samples from my own
experience.One is from Venezuela and is called Cuti' , this consists
of prefixing each syllable of the word with the two syllables cuti' :
thus : cuti'-yo cuti'-pue cti'-do cuti'-ha cuti'-blar cuti'-cuti' [yo
peuedo hablar Cuti'].

I recall seeing an advertisement in a Venezuelan periodical, probably
for a kind of rum (Cutty sark ?). Above a picture of an old schooner
were the words : 'Hablemos en Cutty ?' (Shall we speak Cutty ?)

A second instance is in the Urdu-speaking areas of India and Pakistan,
where I have often come across the <fe kii bolii> or
'F-language'. This involves the insertion of the sound /f/ after
syllables, while mirroring the second part of the syllable. This
sounds compliacted in words, but an example would be : < meyN-feyN
jaa-faa naa-faa caah-faah taa-faa huuN-fuuN > for <meyN jaanaa caahtaa
huuN> [I want to go].

Can any of you provide me with other examples of 'languages' such as
this involving the insertion of syllables and or the inversion

I look forward to some interesting replies, and will naturally post a
summary of the results.


Dr M. Suleiman

e-mail :
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Message 3: Help the LSA Outreach Program

Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 11:53:36 -0500 (EST)
From: Nancy De Pas <>
Subject: Help the LSA Outreach Program

Subject: Help the LSA Outreach Program

Friends, Family) HAVE ASKED YOU.

Dear Linguists,

I'm Nancy De Pas, a Linguistics Ph.D. student at CUNY. The Linguistic
Society of America has a project as part of their outreach initiative
to make known to the general public what linguistics is and how it can
be useful to people in business and their daily lives (see below for
more details).

WE NEED TO FIND OUT: What people want to know about language.

THEN: We will ask appropriate linguists to supply the answers (insofar
as they are known) in a simple and concise form.

PLEASE SEND: Any and all questions about language (not about
linguistics)that you have been asked by your students, colleagues,
friends, and family.

DISTRIBUTION: In brochures, in doctors offices, schools, computer
fairs, and community centers available from the LSA.

Your help is greatly appreciated.

Nancy De Pas

ADDENDUM The LSA's web page <>; has a link to a
document called "The Field of Linguistics" which explains how
linguists study language and presents some of the results of recent
research. This is geared more to students of linguistics than to the
general public. We would like to publicize linguistics using a more
direct approach and in the same time be responsive to the needs of
non-linguists without necessarily explaining linguistics to them.

We would like to answer some of those "frequently asked questions" by
non-linguists in a straightforward, simplified but clear manner and
make these responses readily available to them. The LSA envisions
cards, 3 by 7 inches possibly, containing the question with a three
paragraph answer with references and further services on the back.
Packages of language cards would be distributed to schools, doctors
offices and community centers, free of charge I hope.

This is an attempt to demonstrate to the general public the usefulness
and relevance of linguistics in many aspects of life. In the future,
this project hopes to benefit linguists and future linguists by
fostering positive attitudes and public awareness about what our field
is about which will eventually lead to a better public image and
better job opportunities.
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Message 4: Wordlists

Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 21:01:48 -0000
Subject: Wordlists

I'm looking for wordlists in Polish and/or parallel texts and corpora
in English / Polish.
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