LINGUIST List 9.647

Mon May 4 1998

Qs: Frisian,Approximants,Lexicography,Adjectives

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate.


  1. Erik Lennestal, Northern Frisian
  2. Wilbur Streett, Approximant in the IPA Feature Descriptions
  3. TJGluckman, lexicographers' news groups
  4. Hans-Ingo Radatz, Languages with both AdjN and NAdj

Message 1: Northern Frisian

Date: Sat, 2 May 1998 18:30:03 +0200
From: Erik Lennestal <>
Subject: Northern Frisian

First of all I'd like to thank everyone for their extensive and very
helpful feedback on the Alsatian language. I'll post a summary later,
after having investigated other languages appearing near border

I'd also like to know if there still are any speakers of (Northern)
Frisian in Denmark as I've heard that the language is seriously
endangered and may even be extinct.

Furthermore I'd like to get in contact with anyone who has information
about Norn, the Norse language once spoken on the Shetland Islands.

Erik Lennestal
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Message 2: Approximant in the IPA Feature Descriptions

Date: Sat, 02 May 1998 14:23:11 -0400
From: Wilbur Streett <>
Subject: Approximant in the IPA Feature Descriptions

I've been working my way through the various symbols used in the IPA
Feature definitions and don't seem to be able to come to a firm
understanding of the use of the apr symbol. While I have found the
"approximant" definitions on the IPA ASCII FAQ page, the only
definition of "approximant" that I can find at the dictionary search engine is

which is out of the Websters 1928 version, with a definition
"approaching" and a statement that it is not used. So trying to
figure out the usage of apr in the IPA ASCII FAQ at:

with the following letters:

h {glt,apr} U+0068 LATIN SMALL LETTER H
j {pal,apr}/{vcd,pal,frc} U+006A LATIN SMALL LETTER J
w {lbv,apr}/{vcd,lbv,frc} U+0077 LATIN SMALL LETTER W

Leaves me with the feeling that I have an approximate understanding of
approximant's use in conjunction with glottal, palatal, alveolar, and
labio-velar. In particular I'm trying to parameterize a model with
position of the tongue, jaw, etc. and I would like to use the feature
definitions as the basis for that model.

Can anyone clear up the specific intent of the usage of approximant
for me?

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Message 3: lexicographers' news groups

Date: Sun, 3 May 1998 04:08:14 EDT
From: TJGluckman <>
Subject: lexicographers' news groups

Does anybody know of a lexicographers' news group please? A helpful
collection of lexicographic information is to be found at the site run
by the University of Exeter (England):

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Jacob Gluckman
(Cologne, Germany)
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Message 4: Languages with both AdjN and NAdj

Date: Sun, 03 May 1998 14:46:21 +0200
From: Hans-Ingo Radatz <>
Subject: Languages with both AdjN and NAdj

I'm doing a PhD-dissertation on the placement of the attributive
adjective in the Romance languages, where adjectives may in principle
appear either after (los soldados valientes "the courageous
soldiers") or before the noun they modify (los valientes soldados 
"the courageous soldiers"). On the whole, postposition appears to
be the unmarked term in this system whereas anteposition seems to
convey that the adjective is not meant to contribute to the process of
establishing the NPs reference, and that the compound concept of N and
Adj is not a simple intersection of both. This produces a corollary of
secondary interpretations for anteposition, which is thereby
associated with emotional or literary style.
 Although the question is a real classic of Romance linguistics
I'm not aware of any systematic attempt to relate the Romance
phenomenon to some comparable positional variation outside of
Romance. As I'm interested in attributive adjectives only, i.e. the
phenomena withinthe NP, all examples of languages in which adjective
placement is used only to mark off the predicative from the
attributive use, fail to make the point (Russian, Lithuanian, Amharic
etc.). In order to guarantee a minimum of comparability I would like
to limit my query to languages with:
 an open class of adjectives
 nouny rather than verby adjectives
 "postnominal" as the unmarked position of the adjective

So I worked myself through Campbell's "Compendium of the World's
Languages" hoping to find parallel cases but I had to realise that the
information provided could hardly be any more than a hint. Anyway, the
following seem to exhibit some degree of positional variation:

Blackfoot, Burushaski, Chibcha, Egyptian, Kachin, Lahnd, Mam,
Nicobarese, Pali, Pehlevi, Sango, Tagalog,Tigre, Tigrinya, Tongan,
Yoruba, Ute

But which factors govern the choice of adjective position in these
languages? Are there cases where the language-user has a choice? And
if so, in which way does adjective position influence the
interpretation of the NP? If you have relevant information on one of
the above languages or if you happen to know any other language with a
similiar behaviour of attributive adjectives, please let me know!
Thanks in advance.

Hans-Ingo Radatz (TU-Chemnitz, Romanische Sprachwissenschaft,
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