Date: Sat, 30 Dec 1995 16:33:35 -0800
From: Dan Moonhawk Alford dalford[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]S1.CSUHAYWARD.EDU
Subject: Re: And The Winners Are...
On Sat, 30 Dec 1995, Bethany Dumas, UTK wrote:
I see a problem this year that I was not aware of last year. When I saw the
list of nominees, I assumed (I realize now) that we were referencing SPOKEN
words --hence my objection to words like "www." I think in the future we
might want to devise some way to recognize both prined words and spoken
words, sometimes in separate categories.
I agree with this completely. We all 'know' that spoken and written
English are two different languages linked by habit. I'm all for
splitting it into TWO different prizes: Spoken WOTY and Written WOTY.
And by the way, it's a real kick to belong to this list and hear its
year-end deliberations solemnly intoned on national news!
I regret that "hello?" did not get some recognition. I heard a great example
of its use this morning in (horse-)jumping lesson. Terry finished her round, and
Deb, the instructor, started giving Sara instructions. It became clear that
Sarah was hlaf asleep and not listening. Deb stopped, then said,
"Sara, it's your round. HELLO???"
I then explained that that was a nominee in the WOTY contest, etc. So we
stopped to define words, then resumed jumping.
Again, if we had a Spoken vs Written WOTY, this might have been better
considered. I'm thinking of Drew Barrymore in "Boys on the Side", for
Of course, this only points to an obvious lack in our own linguistic
terminology, of how to talk about this 'fashion of speaking' that
distinguishes it from other fashions of speaking the same word. What we
know about other languages of the world is that some of them have tones,
or pitch, or pitch-accent systems, where we supposedly only have stress
in various degrees. Really?! Then how does the WOTY nominee differ from
normal statements or questions using that word?
What we seem to be lacking is a 'tunology', right between phonology and
morphology (SUPRA-segmentals?), that can adequately encompass everything
from tone to stress with in a system in which 'tunes' are primary, and
manifested in different ways within different languages.
Of course, this leads to an otherwise unthinkable starting point of SONG
as primary to either speech or music. Some linguists are beginning to
notice that it makes sense to say that song minus music is speech (altho
some speech is closer to song than are European languages) and that song
minus speech is music -- more sense than to say that speech and music
developed independently of each other and put together they form music.
(This argument, of course, depends on notions of monocausal determinism
and disallows any co-bootstrapping explanations outside of Newtonian
At any rate, I guess this is my own working out of a problem I
encountered in my own fieldwork 25 years ago. I had already had training
at UCLA with tone languages of Africa (Luganda, Igbo), and with that
experience I tackled Cheyenne -- saw no tones but saw stress differences
(as in ancient plural formations). Another linguist comes and finds
something else called pitch-stress, which is closer to tone than I found.
So at that point, for me, the spot between phonology and morphology
became 'thicker'. Furthermore, in English the way these phenomena seem to
function concerns the emotional component from the limbic system rather
than the cortex of the brain. These are ancient emotional tunes we play
through our words. Again, I notice this so exquisitely because I have my
students in Intro to Language capture their own 5-minute slice of spoken
reality and then make successive tries in capturing in further forms of
writing (including phonetic) exactly everything contained therein.
I like this LIST because there seems to be a higher percentage of people
who have an instrumental rather than dogmatically theorical point of view
here. Would it HELP teachers of intro linguistics to have another level
of tunology to help put English in a wider category for comparison? Would
it help for explaining the new 'tune' of 'hellOo!'? Are there other
'fashions of speaking' that would be elucidated by this new level?
I'm enjoying being a (sometimes intrusive) fly on the wall for such a
nationally recognized group (i.e., SOMEbody has some media pull!), and I
wish you all a wonderful new year as it becomes manifested from your own
already-always-manifesting! Perhaps you'll think again, sometime, about
this consciously subterranean tunology (and what wasn't until linguistics
pointed it out to us?).