LINGUIST List 9.904

Fri Jun 19 1998

Disc: Recent Change in English

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>


  1. bingfu, the distinction between compound noun and NP
  2. Geoffrey Sampson, Re: 9.898, Disc: Recent Change in English
  3. 00hfstahlke, Re: 9.898, Disc: Recent Change in English
  4. Joseph F Foster, Re: 9.898, Disc: Recent Change in English

Message 1: the distinction between compound noun and NP

Date: Sat, 30 May 1998 17:38:59 -0700 (PDT)
From: bingfu <>
Subject: the distinction between compound noun and NP

About the category of 'fun' in 'fun game', which is hotly discussed in
the discussion about recent change of English, in linguist list.

There seems no clear demarcation between compound nouns and [adjecitve
+ noun] NPs in English. However, this demarcation appear formally
clear in Chinese. In Chinese, all [modifier + noun] structures are
compounds while all [modifier + de + noun] structures are noncompound,
either [adjective + noun] NPs or [relative + noun] NPs. In fact, in
Chinese there is no distinction between the above two modification,
which is clearly distinguished in English.

Thus, there seems to be a typology of modification hierarchy as the

 		relative clause	 adjectival one in-compound one,
Chinese: 	________________________________ ________________
English:	_______________ ___________________________________

In other words, Chinese makes clear distinction between relative
clauses/adjectival modifiers vs. in-compound modifiers; while English
makes the distinction mainly between relative clauses
vs. adjectival/in-compound modifiers.

If your native language is not English and Chinese, please tell me
which is is similar to: Chinese or English?

If responses are sufficient, I will make a summary.

Bingfu Lu
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Message 2: Re: 9.898, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 11:07:32 +0100
From: Geoffrey Sampson <>
Subject: Re: 9.898, Disc: Recent Change in English

It seems to me that the changing pattern of behaviour, so far as
translating Christian names such as Charles/Carlos is concerned, is
one relatively recent consequence of a long-term trend whereby the
mediaeval view of western Europe as a rather homogeneous cultural area
unified by a single learned language, Latin, and a single religion,
Catholicism, was replaced by a modern view of Europe as a collection
of culturally and politically independent nation states that happen to
be next-door to one another. Even a few decades ago it was usual for
educated people in Britain and, I'm sure, other European countries to
think of "Charles" and "Carlos" as just the local versions of a single
name whose Latin form was Carolus -- formal public inscriptions
continued, frequently, to be in Latin. If I remember rightly, until
we changed currency in Britain in 1970, the coins in everyone's
pocket, many of which were minted under George VI, labelled him
"Georgius VI", so it was clear to anyone who thought about it that our
"George" was our "distortion" of the "official" version, hence no need
to fret if people in other parts of Europe "distorted" the same name
into Jorge or Georges. What Americans call "first names" are
traditionally in Britain called "Christian names", and this reflects
the fact that normally they are names of saints (who would not have
been native speakers of English, so it would be unreasonable to think
of the English versions of their names as the "real" names); in some
European nations, children were legally required to be named from the
calendar of saints -- in Britain the law left the matter open, but on
the whole parents kept to traditional Christian names, at least for
boys. The American habit of using surnames, such as Brooks, Sheldon,
Creighton, freely as first names seemed very strange when I first
encountered it.

While the earlier cultural/political outlook was fully influential, an
English King Charles and a Spanish King Carlos would both have been
men whose "official" names, for purposes of inscriptions, formal
documentation, etc., was the same -- Carolus; it seems perfectly
natural that members of either nation, speaking their own language,
would have used their own local version of that name to refer to
either king. In a sense it is a translation whether they were talking
about their own king or that of the other country.

In the late 20th century, Latin has ceased to be a required component
of education and indeed knowledge of it has become quite rare, and if
I judge by the British case, knowledge of the modern languages and
cultures of neighbouring European countries is less than it was among
educated people. In this situation, an Englishman referring to a
Spaniard called Carlos could easily not even realize that it is
etymologically the "same name" as Charles. Fifty years ago, someone
who wanted to keep such things straight in his mind would have tended
to encounter only a limited number of names mainly from Western Europe
-- even a Slavonic name like "Yuri" seemed very exotic; nowadays we
are bombarded with information about people from all parts of the
planet, and no-one could hope to enquire into all their name
etymologies. In this situation it seems inevitable that the trend
will be to leave names in the foreign form, though evidently this
trend has progressed at different rates in different countries.

The case of place-names is rather different, I believe. My
understanding, though I'm afraid I can't cite chapter and verse, is
that there was a formal decision some decades ago, perhaps an ISO or
the like, about switching from "translated names" to indigenous forms
of names in contexts like map-making.

Geoffrey Sampson

School of Cognitive & Computing Sciences
University of Sussex
Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QH, GB

tel. +44 1273 678525
fax +44 1273 671320
Web site
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Message 3: Re: 9.898, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 09:02:13 -0500 (EST)
From: 00hfstahlke <>
Subject: Re: 9.898, Disc: Recent Change in English

Bingfu wrote: 

>	BWT, do you accept 'you did good this job' or 'you did this
>job good.'? 

Neither is standard. However the first is simply not English, unless
"this job" is interpreted adverbially, as if the preposition "on" has
been deleted.
The usual explanation for "you did good" is that in non-standard
English dialects and perhaps in informal standard English, "good" is
substituted for "well" in these constructions. What you are
suggesting is that "did" functions more like a linking verb here than
like an intransitive, an interesting suggestion. You may be right,
since your suggestion would then provide a basis for an otherwise
difficult analogic change. The question of why "good" replaces "well"
in "you did this job good" could be answered by saying that it does so
on the analogy of "fast" in "you worked fast". However, modern
English adverbs formed from adjectives regularly take -ly, except for
cases like "fast" that come down that way from Old English. Since
analogy usually follows the productive rules of the language
(dive~dove is an exception), one would expect something like "goodly"
to replace "well". Since it doesn't, your suggestion, if I interpret
you correctly, that "good" feels more like a predicate adjective (or
subject complement) makes sense, and the result of that is that in
this usage "do" is a linking verb.

Herb Stahlke
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Message 4: Re: 9.898, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 10:32:37 -0400
From: Joseph F Foster <>
Subject: Re: 9.898, Disc: Recent Change in English

As this thread has seen fit to have done good in taking a turn toward
identity and anglicization of names, perhaps colleagues would be
interested in the following bit of personal family history and also
from a native speaker of a "You done good." dialect group.

First re names: My mother was baptized in the Methodist Chapel
("Chuch" = the Church of England, i.e. the Episcopal Church) in
Arkansas as Gwelmyth Gwenwyfyr Loyd!

What had happened was that in the early 1900s her family boarded the
ship in Liverpool to come and get black lung disease in American coal
mines rather than Welsh ones, a Liverpudlian Saesoneg recording clerk
arbitrarily changed the surname LLwyd to Loyd. The Christian names he
didnt bother with. So they came over officially with Welsh Christian
names but an Anglicized surname. That remained for a few years --
until my mother went to school. You can guess how long Gwelmyth
Gwenwyfyr lasted in the Ouachita Mountains. The Gwelmyth became
Wilma, no surprise there, but Gwenwyfyr became, not Guinivere, but
Waynne! Not Wayne, but Waynne, probably on analogy with French Jean ~
Jeanne and the like -- there being so many French names in Arkansas
and everybody knows the story of Petit Jean ~ Petite Jeanne Mountain
and River. And at age 87 she is known as Waynne to this day.

 Came the Great War and David Lloyd George to prominence. People
went to high school and some of the girls to Normal School and more or
less deliberately retaliated against Liverpuddle (which is what we
call it to this day), and the Loyd got partially reCambricized as
Lloyd, and later by some in my generation as LLoyd. But nobody has
gone back so far as LLwyd, recognizing the realities of such
regularities as there be in English orthographical phonics. Besides,
Im the only one left in the family who can pronounce it in Welsh,
simply because I hung around Great Grandmother LLoyd and tried to
learn the Old Language. So we have a combination of linguistic
discrimination, emigration into a milieu where Welsh was socially
isolated in the family, acknowledgement of spelling~pronunciation in
the dominant language, reemergence of the social status of the name,
and emergence of curiosity and identity boundary marking.

 "You did good" We always say "You done good." and there is a
twinkle in the eye and the tongue in one cheek. I.e. we know we're
departing from the standard school dialect in two ways -- the past
participle as a simple preterite and the form "good" which was
proscribed as an adverb in school. But the compliment is meant
sincerely and warmly and there is an implication that standard English
is "gekunstelt", "fabricated?", and not necessarily warm and not
necessarily sincere, and not necessarily anybody's "real talk",
i.e. native, language.


Joseph F Foster, Ph D
 Dept of Anthropology
 U of Cincinnati, OH, USA
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