LINGUIST List 4.276

Wed 14 Apr 1993

Qs: Number & markedness, phonological reversal, Schachter

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  1. Paul T Kershaw, Query: Morphological markedness of number
  2. "RAD232", Linguistic reversal
  3. "Minglang.Zhou", Schachter, Thomas

Message 1: Query: Morphological markedness of number

Date: Tue, 13 Apr 93 18:35:50 EDQuery: Morphological markedness of number
From: Paul T Kershaw <>
Subject: Query: Morphological markedness of number

 One major difference between the analysis in Ojeda's (1993) Linguistic
Individuals and Link's (1983-1984) famous series of papers on the
singular/plural distinction in languages with such a distinction is that Link
treats the singular as the unmarked member of the pair and Ojeda treats the
plural as unmarked. Ojeda's stance is attractive in many ways, but for the
resultant mismatch in English between the semantics (where plurality is
unmarked) and the morphology (where the plurality is marked by virtue of having
an (overt) morpheme). My query is this: for those languages that mark number
morphemically through affixation and the like (that is, excluding Japanese,
Chinese, etc.), are there any out there that have a morpheme for singular and
not for plural, where by plural is meant that number which is left over when
all other numbers, such as singular, paucal, dual, trial, are treated? Are
there any languages that require someovert marker for ALL numbers, singular,
plural, etc.? I'm looking for, for example, a language that behaves such as:
(1) One dogs, two dog, three dog, four dog,...
(2) One dogs, two doga, three dog, four dog,...
(3) One dogi, two doga, three dogs, four dogs, ...
Thanks in advance,
Paul Kershaw (Michigan State University)
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Message 2: Linguistic reversal

Date: 13 Apr 93 16:40:31 GMT
Subject: Linguistic reversal

 Some friends and I were recently discussing the alleged backwards
satanic messages supposed to be in some rock music, and I put forth
the theory that a fairly straightforward reversal of the phonetic
components would have the same result as playing in reverse. That
is, reversing the word "vacation" would give n-(short u)-sh-(long a)-
k-(long a)-v....Nushaycave, more or less. Someone else then countered
with the claim that there is no conservation of syllables when vocal
tracks are reversed: that syllables A-B-C don't necessarily reverse
to syllables C-B-A (even if the phonetic components of each syllable
are reversed as well).
 Since I'm exploring word reversals as a possible informational
conveyance mechanism (a language is struggling to be born in my head
these days), I was wondering if anyone could clarify for me what the
effect of reversing actual vocalisations has with relation to the
phonetic and syllabic structure. For example, if the spelling of a
word in a phonetic alphabet is reversed, how close will that come
to approximating how the word would actually sound in reverse? Does
reversal actually change the number of syllables (it wouldn't seem
so, but I've no experience trying to see and no access to the equip-
ment to find out)? Is it too dependent on individual cases to be
generalised, or are there some fairly standard ways of predicting
the effect of reversal?
 Thanks for any help you can give.
Scott Edgar
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Message 3: Schachter, Thomas

Date: Tue, 13 Apr 93 16:18 EDT
From: "Minglang.Zhou" <>
Subject: Schachter, Thomas

Does anyone know Paul Schachter and David D. Thomas' e-mail addresses? I need
to check some Tagalog and Chrau data with them. It will be nice if any Tagalog
and Chrau speakers can help me. Please contact me directly. Thanks in advance.

Minglang Zhou (
Michigan State university
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