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Query Details

Query Subject:   Taboo Words
Author:   Christian Kjaer Nelson
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  General Linguistics

Query:   Some time ago, on one of these lists (Linguist List,Language Use
List,Linguistic Anthropology List), I read of the phenomenon of
avoiding words or even syllables of words just because they *sounded*
like taboo words. I even seem to recall the poster reported an
instance in which Pat Robertson pardoned himself for using a word that
had a syllable sounding like ''damn'' or ''hell'' or whatever in it even
though that syllable did not at all derive from a taboo word. Anybody
save that post, or have any information to share about this that is
more specific than what I can (not) remember? Thanks in advance for
any help, Christian Nelson

Dr. Christian K. Nelson
Communication Department, Machmer Hall
Box 34815
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003-4815 USA

Mon, 17 Aug 1998 18:28:24 +0800 (CST)
Karen S. Chung
International Words

The other day my 12-year-old daughter suggested that
'chocolate' seems to be a truly 'international word' - and offhand I
couldn't think of any language I'd studied in which the word for
'chocolate' was anything but a phonetic loan of some kind. Does
anybody know of a language with a non-'chocolate'-sounding word for

And I wonder if there are any other such words, e.g. tea?
Coffee? Curry? Are there any 'international' non-food words, I

Please respond to me privately and I'll post a summary if
there is enough interest.

Karen Steffen Chung
National Taiwan University

Mon, 17 Aug 1998 15:20:02 +0300 (EET DST)
Jan K Lindstrom
Diminutive / Plural

I have been studying different uses of reduplication and diminution,
and I have come across a source that is indefinite about a linguistic
example. It is probable that the laguage belongs to a Polynesian (or
Melanyi) group, but can there be more precision about it? The example
I am referring to is following KAPIR 'stone' KAPIR-KAPIR 'small

The interesting thing about this example is that it shows a connection
between plural and diminutive meanings. If there are further examples
of such an interplay in any language, I would be grateful to hear
about them!

Jan K. Lindstrom
Scandinavian Languages and Literature
University of Helsinki

Fri, 14 Aug 1998 19:49:55 +0200 (MET DST)
Maria Grazia Busa
Cji- / Ci- contrasts


I would very much appreciate any examples of languages which contrast
-i- and -ji- after initial consonants. (English has such a contrast
only word-initially, e.g. 'ear' vs. 'year'.)

I'm interested in contemporary spoken languages, not textual or
reconstructed languages. (Written Tibetan has such a contrast, but
its actual articulation is unknown.)

If anyone has more general information on how prevalent such contrasts
are in the world's languages, and what types of consonants they are
more likely to occur after, that would be great, too. (Ladefoged and
Maddieson's Sounds of the World's Languages has no info on this.)

I'm borrowing a friend's account to post this query since I'm not on
the list, so I'd appreciate it if you could send replies to me
directly at:


Zev Handel
LL Issue: 9.1151
Date posted: 17-Aug-1998


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