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Query Details

Query Subject:   O'Grady et al, Contemporary Linguistics
Author:   Ahmad R. Lotfi
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Query:   James Kirchner wrote:
Re: Linguist 12.2273
CHAPTER THREE Phonology: The Function and Patterning of Sounds
(Michael Dobrovsky and Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins) It should be noted tha
this chapter contains an error in its discussion of syllable onsets.

Speaking of errors, which are usually inevitable in a textbook as wide
in scope as this, I was reminded of a couple of what I consider errors
in O'Grady's. I didn't include them in my review as I believe the book
is rather carefully edited, and mentioning errors as few as those in
the text might make an exaggerated impression on the reader of the
review. Now James mentions an alleged error you cannot notice unless
you know Czech. This encourages me to add 4 more errors below hoping
that making a list of the possible errors in this text will help the
editors to make their work even better.

(1) On page 271, O'grady writes:

a. the judge denied the prisoner's request because he was
b. The judge denied the prisoner's request because he was

"These two sentences have identical syntactic structures, differing
only in the choice of the adjective in the second clause ... . Ye
most people feel *he* refers to the judge in 40a but to the prisoner
in 40b. ... All other things being equal, we are more likely to
believe that a judge is cautious and a prisoner dangerous than vice

In my judgement, O'Grady's explanation is wrong. Replacing *judge* and
*prisoner* with two neutral names like *John* and *Peter* doesn'
drastically change my preferences (what about your?):

"John denied Peter's request because he was cautious/dangerous."

Apparently, the constraint is still pragmatic but more general than
what O'Grady assumes. It must have sth to do with the semantics of the
predicate denying (requests).

(2) On page 354, Aleksandra Steinbergs writes:

"All languages permit V and CV (where V normally stands for a vowel,
and C for a consonant). These syllable types are unmarked, in the
sense that they are permitted in all languages."

But Persian does not permit V as a single syllable! The onset of the
syllable in Persian is always filled with a consonant. Even if
there's no consonant there in the underlying structure, the speakers
automatically insert a glottal stop to avoid V as a single syllable:
[?ab] "water"(? standing for a glottal stop and NOT a pharyngial).

(3) On page 376, Steinbergs considers Assyrian to be an extinc
language with no native-speakers. As far as I know, we've got some
native-speakers of this language living in Urmia (north-west of
Iran). Iranian Assyrians are a small Christian community, and this
must have helped them to retain their native-language.

(4) On page 664, Judith Klavans writes:

"[A]lthough telephone and email messages are written and are likely to
be read, they are unlikely to contain arguments."

Well, ... telephone messages are not written, I suppose. And the very
e-mail you're reading just now contains arguments, I hope!

I would like to ask the colleagues that have noticed similar cases
in the text to share them with me. If there are more errors found
there, I'll post a summary both to the list and the editors. A tex
as good as this is worthy of that.

Ahmad R. Lotfi.

Ahmad R. Lotfi, Ph. D
Department of the English Language, Chair
Azad University at Khorasgan Esfahan, IRAN.
Mail: lotfi@www.dci.co.ir

LL Issue: 12.2314
Date posted: 19-Sep-2001


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