Re: [xmca] FW: Language and Culture

From: Carol Macdonald <carolmacdon who-is-at>
Date: Tue Apr 17 2007 - 07:33:14 PDT

Hi Peter

I looked at the pictures and they were great. (I was raher hoping that that
little puppy was going to grow to be a dog.)

However, I must pour a few drops of water on this conversation. The guys to
talk to are th great phoneticians PeterLadefoged (Brit at UCLA) and Tony
Traill (one of my past lecturers tragically suffering from a brain tumour.)
who are the world experts. Peter has a formidable library of extinct or
nearly extinct languages, and whistling is nothing. Male language which
women are not meant to understand is there. Actually, if a perfectly
thoughtful person considered tom-toms--they are tones to send "faxes" to the
tribe in the next valley.

As for complexity, Mandarin has 7 levels of tones, and they are not absolute
but floating. That's why they have so few consonants. The !ung Bushmen in
the north of Botswana, have 5 clicks and *11* modifications of each, which
yields a system of 55 possiblities, of which they exploit 45.

I have more, irritating stories, but what I want to do instead, is to offer
my deepest condolences to Virg Tech--looked at their pics. There is nothing
which freaks us out as much the needless loss of our youth, notwitstanding
what it does to *them* when their mates are killed needlessly. I am sure
that many of us XMCA-ers are traumatised by the pictures of police arriving
too late, and a row of ambulances for those lucky enough to need to go to
hospital. Bless those who remain, that they can live through this.


On 16/04/07, Peter Smagorinsky <> wrote:
> a colleague reports:
> Dear Colleagues,
> I recommend to you a recent article in The New Yorker about peoples living
> in the Amazon whose language seems to defy Chomsky's ideas that all
> languages follow certain structural features (universal grammar). A
> linguist Dan Everett who has lived with the Piraha off and on for many
> years
> writes that their language which is described as sounding like "a
> profusion
> of exotic birds, a melodic chattering scarcely discernible, to the
> uninitiated, as human speech" does not follow Chomsky's universal grammar.
> The article is very engaging and might be useful in stimulating student
> discussion of the relationship between language and culture.
> Look for "The Interpreter" by John Colapinto in the April 16th New Yorker
> magazine.
> --
> Professor Michelle Commeyras
> Department of Language and Literacy Education
> University of Georgia
> 706-542-2718
> (currently being forwarded to
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

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Received on Tue Apr 17 08:35 PDT 2007

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