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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: December ::
Re: Language and Syntax
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1337  Sunday, 27 December 1998.

[1]     From:   David Klappholz <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Dec 1998 12:20:54 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1328  Re: Language and Syntax

[2]     From:   Billy Houck <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Dec 1998 12:37:06 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1328  Re: Language and Syntax

[3]     From:   C. David Frankel <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Dec 1998 13:29:57 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.1328  Re: Language and Syntax

[4]     From:   Abdul Bangura <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Dec 1998 03:02:38 -0500
        Subj:   Language and Syntax

[5]     From:   Abigail Quart <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Dec 1998 04:34:26 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1328 Re: Language and Syntax

[6]     From:   Barbara R. Hume <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Dec 1998 16:29:12 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1328 Re: Language and Syntax


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Klappholz <
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Date:           Tuesday, 22 Dec 1998 12:20:54 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.1328  Re: Language and Syntax
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1328  Re: Language and Syntax

My background, both undergraduate and graduate, is half linguistics and
half other-mathematics undergrad and computer science graduate.  My only
reason for being on this list is that I'm working on a biography of a
good friend of the Horace Howard Furnesses, Sr. and Jr., and have been
planning, eventually, to ask the list about the contributions of the two
to Shakespere scholarship, both their contemporaneous contributions and
their lasting contributions. (I guess I just did.)

While my background is in *descriptive*, not prescriptive, linguistics,
I had my early-high school-training in grammar and literature from a
wonderful teacher who spoke impeccable English.  As a result, I
understand and accept the fact that every language changes, but I am
still bothered by neologisms like "they" for "he" or ""she" and the use
of the nominative, rather that the genitive before a gerund, as in:

"I ask them to identify what is dislocating about me, a man, saying 'we
must protect our ovaries from cancer'."

as opposed to

"I ask them to identify what is dislocating about *my*, a *man's*,
saying 'we must protect our ovaries from cancer'."

I will forever hate Justice Ginsburg (sp?) for introducing the use of
the word "gender" as a synonym for "sex."  (A person is of one sex or
another; a Latin or French or Russian or Hebrew or ... noun is of one
gender or another.)

I do have one serious bone to pick with a previous poster and a
terminological question for a number of posters.

>>Today's English is the lingua franca of the world because it
>>has always opted for elasticity and accommodation over
>>grammar and syntax.

I wonder if Ms. Hughes can explain what she means by "elasticity and
accommodation."  All languages evolve to suit the changing situations of
their speakers-even languages which, like French, have (almost
universally) ignored  Academies ... and even so called "primitive"
languages, which, it turns out, have grammars as complex as those of
English or French or German or ...

Finally, When I was a student of linguistics-my research since grad
school has been mostly in computer science rather than in linguistics-
"grammar" was a synonym for "syntax."  What exactly do posters mean when
they refer to "grammar *and* syntax, as a few have done.

David Klappholz

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Billy Houck <
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Date:           Tuesday, 22 Dec 1998 12:37:06 EST
Subject: 9.1328  Re: Language and Syntax
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1328  Re: Language and Syntax

>The answer is: TRUE!  In 50 years or so, the pronoun they will have
>taken over for he, she, maybe even it!  So what's the fuss about? It's
>like discussing whether "different than" is more proper than "different
>from." Who cares?

I seem to remember a book called "The Liberated Male", written in the
early to mid 70's that suggested we should he AND she and use "te",
"Tis", etc.  It was widely ignored.

Billy Houck

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel <
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Date:           Tuesday, 22 Dec 1998 13:29:57 -0500
Subject: 9.1328  Re: Language and Syntax
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.1328  Re: Language and Syntax

> My own modest proposal:
>
> Students can far outshine their own works, but only if they practice
> diligently at the craft of writing.
>
> Mike Sarzo

That works fine for plural constructions, but as others have pointed
out, sometimes the singular is more-well-singular, and more powerful or
evocative.

cdf

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abdul Bangura <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Dec 1998 03:02:38 -0500
Subject:        Language and Syntax

Good Greetings SHAKSPERIANS:

This is an addendum to Mike Sarzo's epistle on the passive voice. While
morphologists admire Strunk and White's bold call to "Use the active
voice...The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the
passive," morphologists also insist that we must use the passive for the
following reasons:

1. Redundant agent: Cocoa is grown in Sierra Leone.
2. Emphasize receiver of action: Eight men were assassinated yesterday.
3. To sound objective (source remains hidden): It is believed/assumed
that he will run for the residency.
4. Tact (avoid agent): The President denied his own guilt. It appears an
error was made during his testimony.
5. Retain flow of topic: Chomsky replaced much of Sassure, but he is
rapidly being replaced by other linguistics.


In Peace,
Abdul Karim Bangura

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Dec 1998 04:34:26 -0500
Subject: 9.1328 Re: Language and Syntax
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1328 Re: Language and Syntax

There is no question that recognizing an equal status for women has
caught the English language flatfooted. The example I use to explain it
to my students is a television quote from commentary on the Starr grand
jury: "No mother should be forced to testify against their child."

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Barbara R. Hume <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Dec 1998 16:29:12 -0700
Subject: 9.1328 Re: Language and Syntax
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1328 Re: Language and Syntax

>I definitely don't like the use of the passive voice to distance
>yourself from responsibility, but there are times when it should be
>used.

Yes. For example, I writer once asked my opinion of a book of his I had
edited. I said, "It was fine, except that you used too much passive
voice." He replied, "Don't worry; that's a mistake that will never again
be made by me."

barbara hume
 

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