LINGUIST List 9.932

Tue Jun 23 1998

Qs: Measure phrases, Lunar months, Online speech

Editor for this issue: Elaine Halleck <>

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  1. Lynne Murphy, Measure phrases
  2. Djehuti Sundaka, Names of Lunar Months
  3. Gene Adam, online speech samples

Message 1: Measure phrases

Date: Sat, 20 Jun 1998 18:07:40 +0000
From: Lynne Murphy <>
Subject: Measure phrases

i'm thinking about measurement in english, and about how some units of 
measure have postposed modifiers like:

	(a) 40 degrees _fahrenheit/celsius/kelvin_
 (b) 40 pounds _sterling_ 

these seem a bit different from the adjectives that can go after other 
units of measure:

	(c) 40 inches _long_
	(d) 40 minutes _early_

they are semantically/syntactically different in that "fahrenheit", 
"sterling", etc. are not gradable (*the pounds are very sterling) and 
they comment upon the measure unit (pounds), rather than the whole 
measure phrase (40 pounds)--so that (a)-(b) seem like NPs with a 
postnominal adjective, while (c)-(d) seem like (and are usually 
treated as) AdjPs with an NP as specifier.

my queries are the following:

1.	are there other examples of the degrees-X and pounds-sterling type?

2. are similar examples of (unusually) postnominal measure-unit 
modifiers (a-b) found in other germanic languages?

3.	is there a historical explanation for degrees-X or pounds-sterling? 
e.g., are these calques from a language (such as french) in which 
adjectives are usually postnominal? (looking at the OED, centigrade 
and sterling do seem to have come from french. in the latest (1823) 
example of fahrenheit in the OED1, the example is "23 degrees of 
fahrenheit", so perhaps the postnominal adjective use only came about 
on analogy with the french postnominal use of 'centigrade'. any 
critique of this reasoning or other insights would be greatly 

4. are examples of the (a)-(b) type prosodically different than the 
(c)-(d) ones? (i ask this because i have really bad intuitions on the 
matter. if anyone can give me an objective, but informal, way of 
describing any difference, i'd be very grateful.)

i look forward to your responses.
lynne murphy


M. Lynne Murphy
Assistant Professor in Linguistics
Department of English
Baylor University
PO Box 97404
Waco, TX 76798
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Message 2: Names of Lunar Months

Date: Sun, 21 Jun 1998 17:37:55 -0700
From: Djehuti Sundaka <>
Subject: Names of Lunar Months


I'm working on a project in which I am collecting the indigenous names
of the lunar months of the following ethnicities

Kafa (Galla?)
Kanembu (Kanuri)
Maguzawa (Hausa)
Zarma (Djerma/Songhai)

Would anyone happen to know of any speakers from among any of these
ethnicities who might be able to serve as contacts for the information
I require?

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Djehuti Sundaka
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Message 3: online speech samples

Date: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 13:43:47 +0800
From: Gene Adam <>
Subject: online speech samples

Would anyone be aware of a Web site making available speech sound files
of short English texts, such as "John likes coffee." These
sound files are linked to clickable icons, and when an icon is clicked,
a North American voice is heard uttering the text printed beside the

Sound files for each text are sorted according to meaning,

The site is intended to provide illustration of
how intonation will shift meaning of simple English utterances.

Very useful site, and I'd like to find it again after losing track of
it. Any help finding it much appreciated.


Gene Adam
The Hong Kong Institute of Education
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