LINGUIST List 9.860

Wed Jun 10 1998

Disc: Recent Change in English

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>


  1. Johanna Laakso, Re: 9.848, Disc: Recent Change in English
  2. Wendy Burnett, Recent changes in English
  3. Ronald Cosper, Re: 9.806, Disc: Recent Change in English

Message 1: Re: 9.848, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 17:45:48 +0300 (EET DST)
From: Johanna Laakso <>
Subject: Re: 9.848, Disc: Recent Change in English

In Finland, the all-European tradition of "translating" foreign
Christian names obviously started to dwindle sometime in the end of
the 19th century and is now practically dead. I still remember reading
an old children's history book where even Finnicized names of
historical persons like "Yrj Washington" appeared - for today's
Finns, this sounds completely absurd. The names of more ancient
European royalty, saints and other (especially religious) celebrities
are still known in a Finnicized form: the kings of France are always
called "Ludvig", never "Louis", and "Martti Luther" has long
traditions, but I don't remember ever having seen "Juhana Sebastian
Bach" or "Kaarle Marx".

Royalty is an exception in Finnish, too, although there seem to be
many competing practices. Scandinavian monarchs' names are (almost)
always translated: the King of Sweden is "Kaarle Kustaa"
(occasionally, "Carl Gustav" is also used). For rulers of more distant
countries, there seems to be more variation: the Queen of England is
sometimes "Elisabet", sometimes "Elizabeth" (strange in-between
spellings also appear...).

If I remember it right, a few years ago the Finnish Language Board
decided that the names of contemporary kings and queens (outside
Scandinavia, at least) should still be Finnicized in case there have
been historically known rulers of the same name. Thus, the present
King of Spain is Juan Carlos (not "Juhana Kaarle"), but if Prince
Charles becomes King of England, he will be called "Kaarle" like his
predecessors of the same name. Note that this concerns only ruling
monarchs; I have never seen Prince Charles being called "prinssi
Kaarle". And, of course, even the overwhelmingly Lutheran (or
secularized) Finns know the Pope only as "Johannes Paavali".

More research would be needed to clarify why (the common people's
increasing command of foreign languages?), in what kind of cases
(royalty? rulers? religion with its connections to Biblical names?)
and when the practice of translating Christian names is given up. An
all-European comparison would be extremely interesting. I have a
feeling that in Hungary the tradition of translating Christian names
lived a little longer than in Finland: in addition to "Luther Mrton"
they also have - or used to have - "Marx Kroly". (Note that also the
order of the Christian name and the surname had to be reversed, like
in native Hungarian names.)

- - Johanna Laakso <Johanna.LaaksoHelsinki.FI> ----------------
- - Helsingin yliopisto, Suomalais-ugrilainen laitos ------------
- - University of Helsinki, Dept. of Finno-Ugrian Studies ---------
- ----------- -------------------
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Message 2: Recent changes in English

Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 10:03:40 -0300 (ADT)
From: Wendy Burnett <>
Subject: Recent changes in English

Re: Julia Fernandez Cuesta's question about 'It looks good'.

'Look' is followed by an adjective because it is a copula verb, like
the verbs ' be, become, get' and 'taste'. The object of a copula is
always a noun phrase, and the predicative is typically an adjective

Wendy Burnett
Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
Mount Allison University
Sackville New Brunswick Canada
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Message 3: Re: 9.806, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Tue, 09 Jun 1998 17:20:07 -0400
From: Ronald Cosper <Ronald.CosperSTMARYS.CA>
Subject: Re: 9.806, Disc: Recent Change in English

In regard to Benji Wald's discussion of the placement of stress in
nominals such as stone wall (vs. stonewall) or apple pie (vs. apple
sauce), the question can be neatly resolved, it seems to me, by
recourse to the theory of lexicalization. That is, when a noun phrase
becomes lexicalized, it takes on the traditional initial syllable
stress pattern of English nouns.
 That is, stone wall consists of two lexemes, the meaning of which is
deducible from the meanings of the two constituent lexemes, stone and
 However, the verb "to stonewall" has been lexicalized, i.e., has
become one lexeme with a non-obvious meaning that must be learned as a
unit. Similarly, apple pie is just one kind of fruit pie, similar to
cherry pie, peach pie, etc., and is thus a noun phrase, a construction
consisting of two lexemes. Apple sauce is not merely one kind of
sauce. It is something which, in our house, is eaten with pancakes or
porkchops, and has nothing to do with, say, soy sauce or plum sauce.
Apple sauce has therefor been lexicalized and must be analyzed as a
single lexeme with a meaning that must be learned separately from the
independent meanings of apple and sauce.

Dr. Ronald Cosper
Linguistics Program 
Department of Sociology
Saint Mary's University Phone: (902)420-5874
923 Robie Street Fax: (902) 420-5121 
Halifax, NS B3H 3C3 Internet:
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