5.0214 Intonation; Foreign Plurals; Spy Programs (3/79)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Thu, 4 Jul 91 16:09:08 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0214. Thursday, 4 Jul 1991.

(1) Date: 28 Jun 91 16:28:00 EDT (26 lines)
From: "Mary Dee Harris" <mdharris@guvax.georgetown.edu>
Subject: Intonation

(2) Date: Fri, 28 Jun 91 15:04:02 EST (20 lines)
From: "Don W." <UOG12005@vm.uoguelph.ca>
Subject: Spy programs

(3) Date: Thu, 27 Jun 1991 14:10:26 -0500 (33 lines)
From: Dennis Baron <baron@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: foreign plurals

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 28 Jun 91 16:28:00 EDT
From: "Mary Dee Harris" <mdharris@guvax.georgetown.edu>
Subject: Intonation

With regard to the notion that the rising tone of the end of an utterance
expressing uncertainty, I have noticed in recent years that many young
people of both genders do that. I notice it when women do it as well, but
that's partly because it is no longer very common among women (if it ever was).

With regard to Tannen's book, I was recently in conversation with
a male friend of mine (who is a physicist, by the way) discussing Tannen's
book when I realized that, according to her observations, I speak more like
a man and he speaks more like a woman. I agree with much of Tannen's
premise, but one must remember that she is a socio-linguist and not a
psychologist. Her research is done by observation and then generalization
about the observations. I think it's important to remember that any
generalization will distort the "facts" -- by definition. That doesn't
challenge the validity of the generalization, though. (I also think that
one should keep this notion in mind when using statistical techniques of
any kind. Too often I hear people say that something is valid because it's
based on statistics -- how naive can people be???) All of us are exceptions
to generalizations -- just try buying clothes. How many of us fit perfectly
into those generalized sizes?

Mary Dee

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------31----
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 91 15:04:02 EST
From: "Don W." <UOG12005@vm.uoguelph.ca>
Subject: Spy programs

In 5.0911 on Thu 27 June John E. Koontz mentions "Topic" as a program for
scanning e-mail text streams and speculates that similar tools may make it
possible sooner or later to do the same with audio transmissions. It's my
understanding that U.S. intelligence agencies have been doing precisely that
for years now, in monitoring telephone communications. Equipment also exists
to monitor conversations at a distance as well as what you type on your
computer. Apparently, the conversation- and computer-monitoring equipment is
very complex and expensive, and it's also relatively easy to foil if you
suspect electronic eavesdropping.

Are platform-independent encryption programs available for those who are
concerned about e-mail privacy?

Don Webb

(also DonWebb@CSUS.EDU)

(3) --------------------------------------------------------------44----
Date: Thu, 27 Jun 1991 14:10:26 -0500
From: Dennis Baron <baron@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: foreign plurals

The phrase "I am no purist but..." starts many a linguistic
complaint that must indeed be purist because there is no
other word to adequately (sic) describe it. For some very
sensible information on foreign plurals see _Webster's
Dictionary of English Usage_ (esp. the entries for data,
prolegomena, Latin plurals). Usage in English varies.
_Data_ as a sg. is the equivalent of the mass noun
_information_ (the politically correct _Random House
Webster's_ agrees). _Prolegomena_ frequently occurs in an
unmarked or in a singular context (here Random House is
silent). And what about _vitae_ instead of _vita_,
influenced no doubt by _curriculum vitae_? I've seen many
job application letters from Humanists with the phrase "My
vitae is enclosed...." And how many accents in the English
version of _resume_ (as in vita)--RHWCD gives: resume,
re'sume', and resume' (by the way, what is the e-mail
convention for indicating accents?). When a word is
borrowed all sorts of liberties are taken not just with
morphology but with spelling, pronunciation, and, of course,
meaning. Americans find this out quickly when they try to
order from the entree section of a menu in Paris and get not
a main course but an appetizer (you may wonder how I know).
But all borrowing languages do this with all target
languages. It's virtually impossible to attach strings to
linguistic borrowing. It's hard enough to regulate how
native speakers use unborrowed forms! Maybe Polonius was

Dennis Baron, usageaster