LINGUIST List 8.932

Thu Jun 26 1997

Qs: Spanish in US, Bantu, "pigtails"

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>

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  1. mcastro, Re: The Future of Spanish in the USA
  2. Debra Spitulnik, Bantu language names
  3. JPKIRCHNER, Q: "pigtails"

Message 1: Re: The Future of Spanish in the USA

Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 12:07:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: mcastro <>
Subject: Re: The Future of Spanish in the USA

I want to thank Jim Crawford and the numerous people that responded to
my original query (see below). I also want to solicit the thoughts of
those who might not have had the time to write back.
There seems to be a consensus among the many people that sent me
eloquent responses that Spanish will not follow the traditional route,
yet some of the key research in the area, such as Veltman's, seems to
point squarely in the opposite direction. Any thoughts about the
apparent contradiction? Also, is Veltman is still around and active
in the field, and where? I haven't seen any papers by him dated more
recently than 1990. I realize his data is from 1976. Anything more
recent that contradicts or nuances his findings?


Max J. Castro
North-South Center 

On Sat, 31 May 1997, James W. Crawford wrote:

> Dear Friends:
> 	I am forwarding a query from Dr. Max Castro, a Miami-based sociologist
> and language rights activist. Any help you can provide him would be most
> appreciated.
> Jim Crawford
> >Dear Jim:
> >
> >I am writing an article that will be published in VISTA
> >magazine on the fate of the Spanish language in the US in the 21st Century.
> >My central question is: Will Spanish, like German, flourish for
> >quite a while and then fade? Or will it break the pattern followed by so
> >many immigrant languages and become established in some fashion, say as
> >enduring second language?
> >
> >For possible quotation, I would like to know your views on this as well as
> >those of the distinguished group of experts and advocates on your email
> >mailing list. I wonder if you could forward my request to your list. I
> >am anxious to know what people think on this subject. They can respond
> >directly to me at 
> >
> > 
> >
> >Thanks,
> >Max
> >
> >Max J. Castro, Ph.D.
> >Senior Research Associate
> >North-South Center
> >University of Miami
> >
> >VISTA magazine is a Hispanic-oriented publication issued monthly. Over
> >a million copies are distributed as newspaper inserts or by mail in areas
> >with high Hispanic concentration. It is a kind of Hispanic analog of
> >Parade magazine. 
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Message 2: Bantu language names

Date: Tue, 17 Jun 1997 15:41:30 EST5EDT
From: Debra Spitulnik <>
Subject: Bantu language names

For those of you who work on Bantu languages,
I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the spelling of 
language names. 

 I work on the Bemba language, and there are over 5 alternate
spellings for the name: Bemba, Icibemba, iciBemba, ciBemba, and
ChiBemba. [There's also Wemba, when turn of century linguists thought
it was better to use w for the bilabial affricate.]
 Icibemba is the most correct linguistically, and is correct
according to the approved orthography in Zambia, where the language is
spoken. It is not the greatest for a wider audience, however.
 I have used ChiBemba in past publications, because it indicates the
pronunciation of c as an affricate, and it also typographically
indicates that Bemba is a proper name (Givon's choice as well).
 Problems abound for indexing issues, of course. 
 It appears that world-wide (e.g. in country profiles, other
reference manuals, and outside of the narrow circles of icibemba
linguists) the usage is "Bemba" or "Bemba language." Bantuists who
study other languages run the whole gamut from using no perfixes to
including pre-prefixes.
 Other Bantuists, any thoughts on this?

Debra Spitulnik 
Department of Anthropology 
Emory University 
1557 Pierce Dr.
Atlanta, GA 30322
 tel: 404-727-3651 fax: 404-727-2860 email:
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Message 3: Q: "pigtails"

Date: Sat, 14 Jun 1997 23:20:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Q: "pigtails"

I've just had an interesting exchange with some students I teach in
the Detroit area, who insist that the term "pigtail" cannot refer to
hair that is braided, so I'd like to find out if anyone knows of a
regional or generational variation pattern. Here is their conception
of various hair arrangements as contrasted with mine:

College students:

PONYTAIL - hair tied and hanging at the back of the head; not braided

BRAID - hair that is plaited, no matter where on the head or on whose

PIGTAILS - same as ponytail, but two on both sides of the head "like
Cindy Brady", *cannot* be braided

CUE - not familiar with this term

Me (age 42, native of Detroit area, mother from Chicago):

PONYTAIL- same as students' definition

BRAID - any plaited hair, except at the back of a man's head

CUE - a braid at the back of a man's head (formal)

PIGTAIL - any plait that hangs; must indicate braided hair (informally
also on a man's head, e.g., George Washington's)

DOGGIE TAILS - ponytails on the side of the head; cannot be braided

As I said, my students insist that "pigtails" cannot be braided,
although one dictionary defines "pigtail" as "a tight braid". They
have never heard of "doggie tails". For my 12-year-old niece, from
Ann Arbor, Michigan, a "braid" designates only a single plait at the
back of the head, "pigtails" refers to either ponytails at the side of
the head or two plaits hanging to the side (she distinguishes between
"braided pigtails" and "unbraided pigtails"). She also has never
heard of "doggie tails". Like a 43-year-old friend of mine, my niece
uses the word "braid" for George Washington's cue (impossible for me),
and thinks "pigtail" would be impossible to use in that sense, even in
an informal register (this is possible for me).

Any enlightenment on these items would be appreciated.

James Kirchner
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