LINGUIST List 2.610

Mon 07 Oct 1991

Misc: Washing, Whorf and Whenever

Editor for this issue: <>


  • David E Newton, RE: Washing, etc
  • AHARRIS - Alan Harris, re: needs washing and anymore/SouthernCA.
  • Pamela Munro, Re: 2.555 It needs washed
  • Catrin Sian Rhys, Re: 2.596 Whenever
  • Logical Language Group, Re: 2.603 Whorf and Plurals

    Message 1: RE: Washing, etc

    Date: Tue, 1 Oct 91 18:41 BST
    From: David E Newton <>
    Subject: RE: Washing, etc
    To add a further dialect where the "washed"form is used, I heard the following last night, from a speaker who comes from a village in Cumbria, England: [talking about a bubbling coffee machine] "Does that want turned off then?" Cumbria, as some of you will know, is in NorthWest England. Interestingly, as previously posted by Richard Ogden, this form does not occur in other parts of this region (for example, Manchester, and also Liverpool, which is where I come from). Cumbria is further North than either of these two areas. David E Newton

    Message 2: re: needs washing and anymore/SouthernCA.

    Date: Thu, 03 Oct 1991 07:17:42 EDT
    From: AHARRIS - Alan Harris <vcspc005VAX.CSUN.EDU>
    Subject: re: needs washing and anymore/SouthernCA.
    I have heard "needs washing" and similar constructions in Southern CA and the "anymore"=nowadays is quite frequent here anymore. . .

    Message 3: Re: 2.555 It needs washed

    Date: Fri, 04 Oct 91 13:44 PDT
    From: Pamela Munro <IBENAJYMVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU>
    Subject: Re: 2.555 It needs washed
    RE: Needs Washed and SWNY In response to Susan Fischer's comment about "Southwestern New York", I'm from the Hudson Valley and would never say "needs washed". I thought the thing about New York was that it didn't have a southwest! Pam Munro

    Message 4: Re: 2.596 Whenever

    Date: Tue, 01 Oct 91 15:05:53 BST
    From: Catrin Sian Rhys <>
    Subject: Re: 2.596 Whenever
    The "whenever" for standard "when" is also common in some Scottish dialects, eg. in Kirkcaldy, Fife. catrin

    Message 5: Re: 2.603 Whorf and Plurals

    Date: Wed, 2 Oct 91 00:43:27 -0400
    From: Logical Language Group <>
    Subject: Re: 2.603 Whorf and Plurals
    >Subject: Whorf and linguistic relativism Michael Kac says: >On the basis of unsystematic observation and impressionistic >judgements which are confirmed by all other linguists I've consulted, it >would appear that the view that one's world view is determined by the >language one speaks is nearly universally accepted by educated people >who aren't linguists. I'll concur, as well, and my primary interaction is with such people. The exceptions to this are correlated with politics, with some people (usually 'left') considering linguistic relativism to be racist. However, even these people are inconsistent, since the arguments about gender and pronouns/language-gender (including the recent one on Linguist) inherently assume some form of language effect on world-view, or it wouldn't make any difference. Note that the occasionally emotive arguments in this latter discussion shows that even linguists may to some extent assume what they claim they don't. Factors in the continuing belief include: a) what people mean by 'world view' and 'determined' is different. Sapir-Whorf is generally understood to have strong and weak versions, with the strongest form almost certainly false because translation IS possible, and the weakest form true to the point of triteness. b) the field of semiotics is heavily dependent on assuming linguistic relativism, and most educated people are more exposed to literary criticism than linguistic theory. c) the continuing identification of political issues with the linguistic relativity assumption. As such, people are continually exposed to the assumption in daily life without it being explicitly identified as a hidden assumption. d) I believe certain areas of anthropological linguistics still accepts Sapir-Whorf to some extent, especially where the researcher is in the anthropology department rather than the linguistics dept. My source of this is Reed Riner at U. of No. Arizona, but I think I heard something similar from John Atkins who was at U. of Washington. I've used the phrase 'linguistic relativity' because when actually pinned down, many people will say that they aren't sure whether language determines world-view or vice versa, but that there is obviously a relation. > I guess I don't find that particularly strange (a >lot of my friends, however, consider ME extremely strange for being >skeptical on this point); The Loglan (artificial language) project has the goal (among others) of testing the 'Sapir-Whorf hypothesis'. Those of us working on the project, linguists or not, are assumed by many to 'believe in' the SWH, though we are predominantly agnostic or skeptical like you. I think it is again an unquestioning assumption that the concept holds, with little analysis of the implications, that leads to this assumption. >I DO find it somewhat odd that people who >accept this view seem to think that it is (a) obviously correct, and (b) >profound, a contradiction in terms. I welcome further data and >insights. Again, I think people assume the concept to be obviously correct in some 'weak' form and also intuitively realize that it breaks down in some stronger form. The profundity is due to the never-ending political and philosophical implications of the assumed-true concept. That the hypothesis isn't even well stated means that none of the tests conducted in the 50s truly settled the issue. Supporters of the hypothesis seem to think that linguists abandoned the issue either because they could not prove it one way or the other, or because the idea became unfashionable or even non-P.C. with the rise of Chomsky's ideas. If unambiguously true, the hypothesis itself is uninteresting. Until the bounds of its truth are explored, the philosophical implications will continue to be profound. I think there is some considerable correlation in attitude on linguistic relativity and language prescriptivism. In the latter area as well, linguists tend to have a considerable disagreement with the educated-populace-at-large, who consider it a truism that there is a right way to speak and use a language and other usages are wrong. This assumption is also considered 'obvious', and when its fallacies and philosophical implications are pointed out, also considered profound. ---- lojbab = Bob LeChevalier, President, The Logical Language Group, Inc. 2904 Beau Lane, Fairfax VA 22031-1303 USA 703-385-0273