LINGUIST List 9.735

Mon May 18 1998

Disc: Recent Change in English

Editor for this issue: Brett Churchill <brettlinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Dr. Joel M. Hoffman, 9.733, Disc: Recent Change in English
  2. Peter T. Daniels, Re: 9.733, Disc: Recent Change in English
  3. Nancy Stenson, Re: 9.733, Disc: Recent Change in English
  4. Mark Mandel, Disc: Recent Change in English
  5. Gerald B Mathias, Re: 9.716, Disc: Recent Change in English

Message 1: 9.733, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Sun, 17 May 98 22:20 EDT
From: Dr. Joel M. Hoffman <joelexc.com>
Subject: 9.733, Disc: Recent Change in English

[Re recent changes in English]

I came across this by accident, and haven't tested it too widely, but
it seems that the word "fun" used to be solely a noun (and it's only
listed as such in the EOD), but it is now becoming an adjective. 

-This game is fun. - How fun is it?

The second part is accepted only by younger speakers, or so it seems.

-Joel Hoffman
(joelexc.com)
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Re: 9.733, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 06:59:35 -0400
From: Peter T. Daniels <grammatimworldnet.att.net>
Subject: Re: 9.733, Disc: Recent Change in English

Joe Foster writes:

> The move to get Americans to stop saying "the Ukraine" and
> start saying "Ukraine" is largely, I suggest, the spawn of a misguided
> political correctness and leads to the absurdity of trying to make
> article usage in a language that has one conform to imagined usage in
> a language that doesnt. It is claimed that somehow the use of the
> article relegates Ukrainia (why isnt anybody trying to prescribe
> that?) i.e. the Ukraine to subordinate status. Nobody accuses those of
> us who say "the Argentine" of therewith deprecating the Independence
> and Sovereignty of that country.
> 
> Me, Im going to keep right on saying "the Ukraine" and "the
> Argentine" -- Oh by the way -- I'll keep saying "the Gambia" too.

The Gambia is the name of a river; The Argentine has not been the name
of a country within living memory, since Argentina has been independent
since 1816.

English-speakers do not have trouble with the English name of the
country Lebanon, even though the Arabic name includes the article and
even though The Lebanon is the former name of the region and is still
the name of the mountain, so the "imitating article usage in another
language" argument won't wash.

There is no such expression at all for The Czech Republic (*Czechia,
*Czechland), though Slovakia is obvious.

***
In order to avoid multiplying messages in this thread (which seems to be
degenerating into a branch of alt.usage.english), I append a curious
items from last week's Newsweek (5/18/98):

"... Smudging cleanses negative energy built up by former tenants ...
some real-estate brokers use the ritual to help sell homes.

 'We've never smudged anything that didn't sell well,'

says NN ..." (p. 8)

where the sequence of tenses seems all topsy turvy; can it be connected
to the may/might loss of distinction?
- 
Peter T. Daniels					grammatimworldnet.att.net
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: Re: 9.733, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 09:45:54 -0500
From: Nancy Stenson <stensonmaroon.tc.umn.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.733, Disc: Recent Change in English



>[yosmayt] and [yosEmYti] for _Yosemite_ seem both to be forms I can
>recall having heard, although the former seems more "American" to my
>ear, and the latter more "TV announcer".

Having grown up in California, a couple hours away from Yosemite, in the
1950s, I never heard any pronunciation except [yusEmIti]. Note the first
vowel.
Nancy Stenson

Nancy Stenson
Institute of Linguistics and Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures
190 Klaeber Court
320 SE 16th Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Phone: (612) 624-2529
email: stensonmaroon.tc.umn.edu
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 4: Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 11:38:06 -0500
From: Mark Mandel <Markdragonsys.com>
Subject: Disc: Recent Change in English

In 9.720, Kevin Caldwell (kdcaldwinterserv.com) asks 
<<<<<<
And who thirty years ago would have known what a "focus group" is?
 >>>>>>

I would have, and I did, IIRC. ;-)\ 

My father had spent much of his career in advertising, and I had learned the term from him. Your point, of course, is that
such a direct contact was the only way for someone to pick up this term without using it professionally, and on that I
agree.

- Mark

 Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist : markdragonsys.com 
 Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 796-0267
 320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02160, USA : http://www.dragonsys.com/
 Personal home page: http://world.std.com/~mam/
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 5: Re: 9.716, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 09:19:47 -1000
From: Gerald B Mathias <mathiashawaii.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.716, Disc: Recent Change in English

> LINGUIST List: Vol-9-716. Thu May 14 1998. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Ralf Vollmann and Michael Newman both seem to charge certain others of us
who have contributed to this list with prescriptivism. Vollman (whose
post is repeated in 9.726) also elaborates on one way that language
changes, but denies that we can observe it.

I have trashed my first two attempts to respond because they were getting
too long; this third try is less needed after Marc Hamann's mention of
Labov's work on this frint, and meanwhile Peter J. Daniels has made an
observation that makes me doubt my own data, but anyway: 

I don't think I have ever heard an American say one thing is "different
to" another thing. There may be pockets of people who talk that
way--there may be American dialects that I have never heard of that use
that expression--but it is not *American* English.

Conceivably, the influence of Crocodile Dundee or the internet could
result in some Americans thinking "different to" is kewl, and if so in a
few years it might show up frequently on NPR and in _Newsweek_, etc. At
that point there would have been a change in American English, trivial
though it might be. Nothing to do with prescriptionism.

If the rhyming of "beg" and "vague" was restricted to the dialects of
certain areas (for all I can tell, it might as well have always been a
feature of world English), but is now common on national TV, in American
movies, etc., especially among younger people, that too is a change in
American English. Nothing to do with prescriptionism; or at least none of
my teachers ever told me I should stop rhyming such words.

I thought perhaps people who noticed these things happening might agree on
when they reached a stage where we could say English had changed in that
respect. Maybe people over 55 would have noticed that "persuade" had lost
out to "convince" in about 1960, that it was only in the late 1980s or
early 1990s that "[between] he and I" became favored over "... him and
me." I was motivated to try the experiment by a feeling that the rate of
such changes in English (and Japanese) had been accelerating in the last
few decades.

Peter Daniels (9.726) apparently has just noticed for the first time
someone saying "convince [someone] to [do something]," after being
sensitized to it 40 years later by my original suggestion about when the
"change" had taken place. This certainly casts doubt on whether such
changes can be dated by consensus instead of rigorous textual examination
(for which we now have the technology in OCR) or, perhaps, Labov's
methodology. People must still be using "persuade" frequently, contrary
to my impression that it is rare. 

Bart Mathias
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue