LINGUIST List 9.675

Sat May 9 1998

Disc: Recent Change in English

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <martylinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Johanna Rubba, Recent changes in English
  2. Paul Johnston, Re: 9.668, Disc: Recent Change in English
  3. George Elgin, Suzette Haden Elgin, Disc: Recent change in English

Message 1: Recent changes in English

Date: Fri, 8 May 1998 09:26:39 -0700 (PDT)
From: Johanna Rubba <jrubbapolymail.cpunix.calpoly.edu>
Subject: Recent changes in English


Re Marie-Lucie Tarpent's recent posting, I too have noticed the
increased use of 'object-incorporating' verbs such as fund-raise -- I
have even seen 'stone-throw' in reference to Palestinian 'youths' of
the Intifada. As English isn't supposed to have object incorporation,
I have taken special note of these usages. They are clearly
back-formed from gerunds and participles like fundraising and
stone-throwing. This causes me to wonder if object incorporation got
started in other languages as backformation from similar deverbals,
and then became a productive process for any verb-object pair.

Another thing that seems to be experiencing a surge of popularity is
the use of the '-ster' and '-meister' suffixes, as in 'spinmeister'
and 'the Trumpster' (Donald Trump). A lot of this seems to be
spreading through the electronic media (TV, movies, radio). Is anyone
out there keeping track of all this?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Johanna Rubba	Assistant Professor, Linguistics ~
English Department, California Polytechnic State University ~
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 ~
Tel. (805)-756-2184 E-mail: jrubbapolymail.calpoly.edu ~ 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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Message 2: Re: 9.668, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Fri, 08 May 1998 11:10:34 -0400 (EDT)
From: Paul Johnston <JOHNSTONPwmich.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.668, Disc: Recent Change in English

The lowering of /E/ that Marie-Lucie Tarpent mentions is certainly
widespread in the Great Lakes States; it seems to be fostered by
preceding labials of all kinds--I don't know, but it could be part of
a chain shift involving a parellel (and more widespread) lowering of
/I/ after labials, as in milk. Certainly, among my Western Michigan
students, all the students that lower /E/ also lower /I/ (and possibly
/ae/!).,

/u/-fronting, once restricted to Ulster, Mid and Southwest Scotland
(where it applies to the OUT class of words), large swatches of the
Midlands of England, Norfolk, and Devon/East Cornwall, the Southern
Hemisphere dialects and the American South, seems to be becoming close
to a universal in English. Can anyone think of American dialects that
are resisting it? In Britain, Northeastern Scots, Orkney and
Shetland, Northeastern English dialects and Welsh English are the only
ones I can think of.
					Paul Johnston
					Western Michigan U.
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Message 3: Disc: Recent change in English

Date: Fri, 8 May 1998 16:43:00 -0500
From: George Elgin, Suzette Haden Elgin <oclsipa.net>
Subject: Disc: Recent change in English

Within my lifetime (62 years), I've observed the following changes in
English; I realize how old I am by the way they continue to startle
me, especially when they come from "prestitious" journalists and the
like.

1. "May" has almost taken over completely for "might". Instead of "If
he had been taller, he might have been able to join the circus" --
obligatory still for me -- people say and write, "If he had been
taller, he may have been able to join the circus."

2. The entire system for the English comparative, with the exception
of the bare "tall/taller/tallest" set, seems to be in a state of
either flux or collapse, I'm not sure which. I keep hearing
newscasters talking about something being "as expensive than" and
"more expensive as" and so on.

3. The scope of "just" seems to have changed dramatically. What once
required "You can't just rely on your intuitions" -- meaning "You have
to rely on something more than your intuitions" -- has become "You
just can't rely on your intuitions," which used to mean something else
entirely, closer to "Shucks, you can't rely on your intutions."

Suzette Haden Elgin
oclsipa.net
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