LINGUIST List 9.868

Fri Jun 12 1998

Disc: Recent Change in English

Editor for this issue: John H. Remmers <>


  1. Jakob Dempsey, RE : prnc. of "foreign" names
  2. bingfu, recent change in English
  3. Larry Horn, Re: 9.860, Disc: Recent Change in English

Message 1: RE : prnc. of "foreign" names

Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 18:46:55 +0800
From: Jakob Dempsey <>
Subject: RE : prnc. of "foreign" names

The mega-topic "Recent Change in English" has taken a turn into
"pronunciation of foreign names" in England, Spain, Poland etc. Here's
some data from Taiwan:

The Chinese script is really a kind of barrier when it comes to
Chinese needing to transcribe or deal with foreign names, places etc.
Chinese schoolchildren are probably the only ones in the world who
never learn names like "Hiroshima" in their history classes. This is
because the Japanese write most such native names with Chinese
charcters, but for the Japanese the characters represent native
Japanese syllables. The Chinese, however, don't care about that, the
attitude seems to be: "It's *our * script, so we'll just read it the
Chinese way", but unfortunately that may have nothing to do with the
Japanese words, e.g. Chinese instead know the bomb was dropped on
"Guang-dao", but when communicating with non-Chinese this causes
confusion since both sides think their term is something which
"everybody knows".
 There are a lot of such cases. - Another type of confusion I recall
is when I brought up the name Rock Hudson to a Chinese, saw
uncertainty, so I added, "You know, like the Hudson River in New
York." It finally turned out that the Chinese use two unrelated sets
of characters to refer to these two Hudsons, so my "hint" was no help.
In general, Mandarin has such a limited set of options in its
syllabary (no final consonants except -n and -ng , no
consonant-clusters in the initials ) that foreign names become very
distorted. "Brad" becomes (in pseudo- English:) boo-lye-duh . Many
terms are simply dismissed as being "too long": Brazil becomes
Bah-shee, Arnold Schwarzeneggar is known simply as Ah-no. Written
Chinese lacks even a common character to represent the sound / ka /,
so all foreign names with that syllable are pronounced / chia / .
Although there is a set of Chinese phonetic symbols used to teach
children pronunciation, when I suggested they could be used in
newspapers etc. to spell out foreign names, I was told "That would not
look attractive." The Japanese and Koreans don't seem to have such
aesthetic scruples when transcribing foreign names. ---Jakob Dempsey
 Yuan-ze University
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Message 2: recent change in English

Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 11:22:55 -0700 (PDT)
From: bingfu <>
Subject: recent change in English

How about
	You did good!

	Bingfu Lu

in response to:

>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
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Message 3: Re: 9.860, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 15:06:38 -0400 (EDT)
From: Larry Horn <>
Subject: Re: 9.860, Disc: Recent Change in English

Ronald Cosper <Ronald.CosperSTMARYS.CA> writes in Linguist 9.860:

>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 wall. 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.

Unless you're assuming an idiosyncratic and entirely ad hoc notion of
lexicalization, this won't work at all. Nor can the questions of
compositionality or transparency be decisive. Take your last example:
The point is surely that not just "apple sauce" but also the much more
transparent "soy sauce" and "plum sauce" are equally assigned initial
stress. (This even applies to Adj-N combinations like "hot sauce" and
"hard sauce".) Are these all single lexemes whose meanings are
learned separately from the meaning of "X" and "sauce"? Note that
EVERY compound of the form "X sauce", no matter how novel and
transparent, receives initial stress. And what of the head-stressed
"apple pie"? Is this less transparent, less lexicalized than "apple
cake", which in many idiolects receives initial ("compound") stress?
Isn't "apple cake" similarly 'just one kind of [cake]', as contrasted
with chocolate cake, etc.?
 Then there are the classic minimal pairs of "Third Street"
vs. "Third Avenue", or "Elm Street" vs. "Elm Road". These seem to
involve the issue of markedness or informativeness (as touched on in
Benji's post) rather than degree of lexicalization. There are many,
many lexicalized compounds that are at least partially opaque or
non-compositional in meaning but not initial-stressed, including (in
my idiolect) child prodigy, atom bomb, class reunion, surface tension,
shotgun wedding. Some would probably pronounce some of these with
initial (compound) stress, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find
any difference in degrees of transparency or lexicalization that
pattern with this.
 Actually, I believe there's a considerable literature on this issue;
I trust that someone who's more of a compound specialist will post a

Larry Horn
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