LINGUIST List 9.1575

Mon Nov 9 1998

Qs: Subject/topic, Cdrom, Semantics, Semilingualism

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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. K. K. Grohmann, Subject/topic-prominent languages
  2. Treffers-Daller, Jeanine, CD rom Linguistics
  3. Nick Bibis, Semantic features
  4. Debra M. Hardison, "Semilingualism"

Message 1: Subject/topic-prominent languages

Date: Thu, 5 Nov 1998 08:03:26 -0500 (EST)
From: K. K. Grohmann <>
Subject: Subject/topic-prominent languages

I'm wondering about Keenan's and Li & Thompson's categorization of
subject-prominent languages, topic-prominent languages, mix of both
languages and lack of both languages (as L&T propose in their paper in
C. Li (ed.), 1996, _Subject and Topic_, New York: Academic Press,

First of all, what is the current status of this distinction (across
theories)? Is is--at least roughly--correct, or is it completely flawed
due to apparent misanalyses of subjects as topics in certain languages?

My second question concerns L&T's categorization of languages. So on p.
460 they give us the following picture:

(i) subject-prominent languages: Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Finno-Ugric,
 Semitic, Dyirbal, Indonesian, Malagasy...
(ii) topic-prominent languages: Chinese, Lahu, Lisu...
(iii) both-prominent languages: Japanese, Korean...
(iv) neither-prominent languages: Tagalog, Illocano...

If the two-way (or even four-way) distinction holds, or has some merit,
has anything changed with respect to the status of the languages cited,
i.e. have people continued to work on this topic and either found that
some language(s) better be placed in a different rubric or added new
languages to the list(s)?

I would appreciate any replies, and I get enough responses I will 
post a summary.

Thanks to everyone in advance,

	 Department of Linguistics, University of Maryland 
	 1401 Marie Mount Hall, College Park, MD 20742 
	 Phone: (301) 405-4936 - Fax: (301) 405-7104 (dept) 
	 Phone: (202) 483-8113 - Fax: (202) 483-4439 (home) 
  Email: OR 
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Message 2: CD rom Linguistics

Date: Thu, 5 Nov 1998 12:20:45 -0500 (EST)
From: Treffers-Daller, Jeanine <>
Subject: CD rom Linguistics

I have seen references to a CD rom in Linguistics but have 
lost track of the details. Could any of the colleagues give 
me info about existing CD rom(s) in Linguistics?
thanks a lot. 

Jeanine Treffers-Daller

Treffers-Daller, Jeanine
"University of the West of England"
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Message 3: Semantic features

Date: Mon, 09 Nov 1998 09:52:21 -0500
From: Nick Bibis <>
Subject: Semantic features

Is any linguist aware of any data of a language (or languages) whose
nouns are marked overtly (with affixes) for "experiencer" AND "animate"
semantic features?

References regarding this matter are more than welcome.

Thank you very much,

Nick Bibis
Dept. of French,
University of Toronto
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Message 4: "Semilingualism"

Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 15:59:58 +0400
From: Debra M. Hardison <>
Subject: "Semilingualism"

One of my graduate students in linguistics is interested in any
references that readers may be able to suggest on a topic referred to
by some as "semilingualism".

The student is familiar with numerous examples of children who have
moved from one language environment (e.g., U.S.) to another (e.g.,
Japan) and then returned to the original environment, but are not
fluent in either language. For some of these children, ESL instruction
has been insufficient to improve their skills to age-appropriate
levels. As a result, they are being assessed for special education.

A preliminary search of various databases and back issues of LINGUIST
has been done; however, given time constraints on the project, we are
hoping LINGUIST readers may be able to provide information on specific
references, especially recent ones, which may be helpful. Replies
should be sent to <> 

Thank you.

Debra M. Hardison, Ph.D.
Program in Linguistics/ESL
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
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