Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info


New from Oxford University Press!

ad

Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing

By Melissa Mohr

Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing "contains original research into the history of swearing, and is scrupulous in analyzing the claims of other scholars."


New from Cambridge University Press!

ad

A New Manual of French Composition

By R. L. Graeme Ritchie

A New Manual of French Composition "provides a guide to French composition aimed at university students and the higher classes in schools. "


The LINGUIST List is dedicated to providing information on language and language analysis, and to providing the discipline of linguistics with the infrastructure necessary to function in the digital world. LINGUIST is a free resource, run by linguistics students and faculty, and supported primarily by your donations. Please support LINGUIST List during the 2016 Fund Drive.

Academic Paper


Title: 'You could say that': the generic second-person pronoun in modern English
Author: Roger Berry
Email: click here TO access email
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: Chinese, Yue
English
Abstract: 'An examination of a function of the second person pronoun frequently forgotten in pedagogical grammars of English.
A lawyer friend told me the following story about a court case in Hong Kong that he had taken part in. His client was in the witness box and was answering questions in Cantonese while an interpreter relayed his words in English to a judge who was not Chinese. At one point the opposing counsel put a point that was detrimental to the client's case and asked if he agreed with it. The translation of the reply was 'you could say that', which was understood by the court as indicating agreement. Of course, what he actually meant was 'you (the counsel) could say that' (i.e. 'not me'), but it was understood as 'you (people in general) "could" say that' (i.e. 'it is acceptable to say that'). In standard spoken English stress (as shown by the bold type above) and weak forms would normally disambiguate, but it seems the interpreter (a native speaker of Cantonese) gave each word equal stress, thus allowing for the unintended interpretation. I am pleased to report that this misunderstanding had no bearing on the outcome of the case, which was won by my friend's client.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN English Today Vol. 25, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



Add a new paper
Return to Academic Papers main page
Return to Directory of Linguists main page