LINGUIST List 2.759

Wed 06 Nov 1991

Misc: Like; The Four Tones of Chinese

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  1. , Introducing "direct quotes" with "like", "kinda", "be", etc.
  2. Marjorie K M Chan, Re: The four tones
  3. Larry Horn, Re: 2.727 Queries

Message 1: Introducing "direct quotes" with "like", "kinda", "be", etc.

Date: Tue, 5 Nov 1991 20:17 EDT
From: <BELMOREVax2.Concordia.CA>
Subject: Introducing "direct quotes" with "like", "kinda", "be", etc.
Concerning Alice Freed's examples of "possible ways of introducing direct
quotes", viz.,:
He was like 'That's disgusting.'
She was kinda 'well, I don't know if I should.'
I'm sort of 'well, maybe I will.'
They were all 'how could you eat that?'
She was 'Leave me alone.'
I tried out her examples on my graduate students in a seminar I am currently
offering on varieties of English in which our basic text is Douglas Biber's
excellent Variation across speech and writing. I would guess their average age
to be about 30. They were unanimous in saying that the supposed direct quotes
are not direct quotes. They function predicatively, according to them, i.e.,
they describe the subject, usually indicating the subject's attitude. In a
different variety of English, an adjective or adjective phrase would replace
the so-called "quote". They explained that the remarks would be accompanied by
appropriate gestures and prosodic features and gave some convincing
illustrations. When I asked if such "introducers" could occur in telephone
conversations where, obviously, the gestures couldn't be seen, they said
'yes', but then the special prosodic features become all important . We then
had quite a discussion about the part-of-speech classification of 'like',
'kinda', 'sort of', and 'be' in such contexts. Didn't resolve that issue but
agreed with the analysts of the London-Lund corpus that a number of varieties
of spoken English require new part-of-speech categories.
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Message 2: Re: The four tones

Date: Tue, 5 Nov 91 10:53:40 EST
From: Marjorie K M Chan <>
Subject: Re: The four tones
This is in response to John Cowan, whom I have not been able to e-mail
directly re his inquiry on the four tones.
 The four tones refer to the historical tonal categories, Ping 'even',
 Shang 'ascending', Qu 'departing', and Ru 'entering'. The recognition
 that the Chinese language has four _sheng_ (translated into English as
 'tones') is attributed to Shen Yue (A.D. 441-513). Each of the four
 words -- Ping, Shang, Qu, and Ru -- are members of the respective four
 tonal categories. In the biography of Shen Yue, the emperor asked a scholar
 what was meant by the 'four _sheng_', and the reply he received were the
 the four words: "tian zi sheng zhe"
 tian-zi sheng zhe
 (Son-of-Heaven saint, holy wise)
 Each character (given above in Pinyin romanization above) is a member of
 the four respective tonal categories:
 tian Ping tone
 zi Shang tone
 sheng Qu tone
 zhe Ru tone (historically ending in a stop, as in the
 modern Cantonese pronunciation of the word as [tsi:t])
 Marjorie Chan
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Message 3: Re: 2.727 Queries

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 91 15:48:40 EDT
From: Larry Horn <LHORNYALEVM.YCC.Yale.Edu>
Subject: Re: 2.727 Queries
Re John Cowan's query in 2.727 on the legend of the Chinese emperor and the
four tones:
 According to the Liang Shu, the official history of the Liang Dynasty
(p. 243 in the most current Zhong Hua version), the reigning Emperor asks Zhou
She "What are the four tones?", to which Zhou She replies
 Tian-1/1 zi-2/3 shang-3/5 jieat-4/7
 'heaven' 'son' 'august' 'wise'
 i.e. 'The Son of Heaven (= Emperor) is august and wise',
where a/b represents the tone according to the schema of ancient/modern Chinese
"But", the narrative continues, "the Emperor never would follow them",
evidently signifying he didn't get the metalinguistic pun. This transpired in
the early 6th century.
 I am indebted to Hugh Stimson (Professor of Chinese Linguistics here at
Yale) for the reference. --Larry Horn
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