- A warm and friendly `thank you' to all of the many readers
(including Lev himself) who pointed out that last week's rag
misidentified our dear alum Lev Blumenfeld, UCSC Colloquist
extraordinaire, as Lev Blumenthal. Humility runs rampant in the
Sesquipeditor's office, as it never has before. He grovels with
But there's an apparent explanation for this mistake, since, according to Google:
Results 1 - 10 of about 6,010,000 for blumenthal
Results 1 - 10 of about 1,590,000 for blumenfeld
Where's Dan or Joan when you need them?...
- Proofreaders Wanted. Interested parties, whose social life must
not involve Thursday night soirees, should respond to email@example.com.
- The latest issue of English Language & Linguistics (10.2,
November 2006) includes (pp. 345-70) "The lady was al demonyak:
historical aspects of Adverb all", by Isabelle Buchstaller and
Elizabeth Closs Traugott. Another product of the Stanford ALL
- Stanford PhD alumna Martina Faller was an invited speaker at University of
Michigan 2006 Fall Workshop on Linguistics and Philosophy, which
included a lineup of heavy-hitters in formal semantics.
- A Note from the Sesuipeditor: This week, our Senior
Reporter suggested that we
include this cartoon in
our Caught in the Act section. Needless to say, the
Sesquipedalian is outraged and the appropriate disciplinary action has
been taken. The employee in question has been demoted to the rank of
`Reporter', as dictated by elementary standards of decency and
Stanford Blood Center: Shortage of
O-, A, B-, and AB-. For an appointment:
http://bloodcenter.stanford.edu/ or call 650-723-7831. It only takes
an hour of your time and you get free cookies.
Newsletter Committee Meeting at Last Friday's Social
After hours of debate, the newly formed Newsletter Committee finally
resolved its ideological differences and agreed not to discontinue
the weekly rag, or to protest at the Student-Faculty meeting, or to submit
plagiarized abstracts to CLS, or to
burn down the department office, or to phone in bomb scares to the Anaheim
LSA Meeting, etc. A resolution was also adopted not to promote Baal worship
in department publications, the latter passing by a slim majority (1-0, with
Labels aside, the more general issue is the relevance of the cultural
context to linguistic research. There is of course a danger of
creating exaggerated stereotypes of one's informants. Equally
dangerous, however, is imposing one's own linguistic and cultural
categories on the data. What is troubling about the "Eskimo Hoax" bit
is that it seems to ridicule the idea that language can be, at least
to some degree, adapted to meet speakers' needs, according to their
lifestyle and cultural attitudes--an idea which is also called
"functionalism". A caricature of bad functionalism is created through
a combination of trivializing the cultural context (Arabs own camels;
the Inuit live where it snows a lot), and at the same time
exaggerating it to the point of absurdity (*6000* words for camels,
was it?), with the implication that these are causally related,
i.e. "these questions are so trivial that those misguided
functionalists were forced to grossly inflate their claims to make
This is a far cry from what dedicated fieldworkers actually look at. As
Mithun notes, "The vocabulary of Yup'ik, like that of most languages, bears
clear witness to the natural and social contexts in which the language has
evolved, as can be seen in such verbs as payu- 'to have one's legs so
cramped by cold that one cannot move', pukug- 'to eat bits of meat clinging
to a bone after most of the meat has been removed, to pick berries carefully
from scattered sites because they are few in number', and tunrir- 'to feel
embarrassed because one is imposing on someone; to feel beholden because of
an inability to reciprocate for things someone has done for one; to feel
embarrassed by the actions of someone (such as a child) for whom one feels
responsible'..." (2001: 37). Such issues are irrelevant in a Chomskyan
framework because the categories which make up competence are universal,
and performance is not interesting. On the other hand, a Bloomfieldian
framework comes without prior commitments to what categories should be,
thus in principle (though this is an ideal, seldom lived up to) we can let
the language tell its own story.
Perhaps the intent was not to ridicule any interest in cultural awareness,
but merely particular linguists who were sloppy. But if so, I'd like to
see some bad syntax intuitions... :-)
[Dear Igloo Man: The Sesquipeditor continues to demur... ]
The following piece was first published in the December 10, 1992 issue of the
FINNISH: A WORLD LANGUAGE?
Original text: Richard Lewis. Swedish translation: Gunnel Stenberg.
Translated back from Swedish by Tomas Riad. Post-editing: Kyle
Wohlmut. Additional Finnish consulting: Arto Anttila.
The Direct Object
Most Finnish grammars are particularly easy to understand on this
point. The basic idea is: In Finnish the direct object (commonly
called the accusative object) may occur in the nominative, the
genitive, or the partitive case. In order to make things easier to
understand, nominative and genitive are called accusative. There is
also a real accusative which is not called anything at all. Utmost
care must be applied when interpreting the grammatical terminology.
If you encounter the word `accusative,' it can mean nominative or
genitive, but never the real accusative. The term `nominative' can mean
accusative or, possibly, nominative. `Genitive' can mean accusative
or simply genitive, while partitive is always called partitive,
although it may be accusative.
The best piece of advice is do not use verbs at all. Sometimes you
may find it a little difficult to pursue a meaningful conversation
without one, but with dilligent practice you will become adept at
this. We reduced the number of conversational errors by 20% after
discovering the method of omitting verbs. Another 15% can be
eliminated by omitting all adjectives, adverbs and pronouns, although
at this point conversation tends to sink to an extremely superficial
level, unless you are very good with your hands.
Some difficult sounds:
Part Three of Three
- aeae (a-umlaut a-umlaut): like 'e' in 'expatiatory,' but longer and
more intense. Mouth as open as possible, ears backward and
plastered to head.
aey (a-umlaut y): half palatal, half alveolar, half dental. Look
yoe (y o-umlaut): be very, very careful with this one.
uu: as in Arabic
r: a forceful trill. Loose dentures will be an advantage here.
Conclusion: We hope that this article will be of great help to all
those who wrestle with the question of whether to study Finnish. For
those already studying the language, this method can provide helpful
and easy applications for using conversational Finnish. As to the
question of the prospect of Finnish as a global language, I think I do
not misspeak myself by saying that the work of this article should
settle the matter clearly and finally.
- FRIDAY, 8 DECEMBER
- MONDAY, 11 DECEMBER
It's Exam Week, which will be followed by Christmas Break. Go away!
Do something special! Get out of Palo Alto! No excuses!
Happy Holidays from the Sesquipedalian
- WEDNESDAY, 13 DECEMBER
7pm. MJH 126
Thank You For Smoking
The term is over. Come relax with a great movie and a great fellow audience!
- For local linguistic events, always consult the Department's
event page, available RIGHT HERE
- Got broader interests? The New Sesquiped recommends reading or even
subscribing to the CSLI Calendar, available HERE.
- What's happening at UC Santa Cruz? Find out HERE.
- What's going on at UC Berkeley? Check it out HERE.
Want to contribute information? Want to be a reporter? Want to see
something appear here regularly? Want to be a regular columnist? Want
to take over running the entire operation? Contribute something at the
top of this page or write directly to
December 8, 2006
Vol. 3, Issue 11
IN THIS ISSUE:
Previous Linguistics Department Newsletters:
Vol. 3, Issue 10
Vol. 3, Issue 9
Vol. 3, Issue 8
Vol. 3, Issue 7
Vol. 3, Issue 6
Vol. 3, Issue 5
Vol. 3, Issue 4
Vol. 3, Issue 3
Vol. 3, Issue 2
Vol. 3, Issue 1
Vol. 2, Issue 2
Vol. 2, Issue 1
Vol. 1, Issue 3
Vol. 1, Issue 2
Vol. 1, Issue 1
This Issue's Sesquipedalian Staff
Editor in Chief:
Ivan A. Sag
Design and Production Consultant:
Andrew Koontz-Garboden, Ani Nenkova, Lauren Hall-Lew, Arnold Zwicky
Melanie Levin and