LINGUIST List 5.1434

Sun 11 Dec 1994

Qs: Phonetics, HPSG slash, Pseudo-explanations

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  1. Judith Seaboyer, Linguist/phonetic request for information
  2. Michal Ephratt, HPSG slash
  3. , Query: Pseudo-explanations

Message 1: Linguist/phonetic request for information

Date: Sat, 10 Dec 1994 11:50:31 Linguist/phonetic request for information
From: Judith Seaboyer <>
Subject: Linguist/phonetic request for information

Dear Linguist,

This is a request for information regarding the kinds of pronunciation
that are possible for a person who has no tongue, for the purpose of
the editing of a novel set in 11th-12th-century Spain. A man has had
his tongue removed at the root, so that he may not speak what he has
seen. What sounds would he be able to make, after the wound has
healed, but before he has practised much?

At the moment he uses a lot of sibilants, which I would imagine to be
impossible, except for some kind of sshhing sound. With my limited
knowledge, I'd have thought he'd have been limited to labials and
fricatives - m, p, b, f, v, w. And h? What about vowels?

The words he presently attempts to articulate are listed below.
Tongueless approximations forthese would be most gratefully received.

Take Velaz
What happened
I am so sorry

Don't think historic pronunciation of the Spanish/Moorish need to be
taken account of.

Could you please reply to

Many thanks,

Jude Seaboyer
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Message 2: HPSG slash

Date: Sat, 10 Dec 94 22:37:24 ISHPSG slash
From: Michal Ephratt <RHLH702UVM.HAIFA.AC.IL>
Subject: HPSG slash

could someone please clarify and exemplify the function (and
definition) of the slash ("/") in HPSG (Head driven grammar).
Many thnaks. Michal Ephratt (RHLH702HAIFAUVM)
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Message 3: Query: Pseudo-explanations

Date: Sun, 11 Dec 94 08:46:09 ESQuery: Pseudo-explanations
From: <>
Subject: Query: Pseudo-explanations

I am trying to collect examples of pseudo-explanations of
linguistic phenomena which invoke supposed beliefs or
customs such as the following:

(a) Hopi pluralizes the word for 'cloud' the way that it
usually pluralizes only animate nouns, so Whorf claimed that
this proves that the Hopis believe clouds to be alive,

(b) Malagasy and some other languages tend to use passive
rather than active voice forms in imperatives, so it is
has often been claimed (I even did this myself once) that
this is a matter of politeness, because by using a passive
you are avoiding actually ordering the addressing around,
while still making it clear what you want done.

(c) One of the languages of the Torres Straits uses the
dual in speaking to a married woman, and this was explained
by saying that a married woman was assumed to have a child
with her!!!

(d) There is even the famous case of a Russian work which
claimed that the adjective *beremennyj* 'pregnant' had no
masculine forms (like the one I just cited) because only
females can get pregnant and then USED this very form, saying
that a "beremennyj muzhchina" (= "pregnant-MASC man") is

These are the kinds of things I would like to collect. And
it would be especially if there were a case where the explanation
was valid and not pseudo, of course,

Please send the examples to me and I will post a summary.
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