Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Auto-exemplification: The linguistic backstory

In the little post from yesterday, the title was a quick and dirty allusion to one of the great, if wellworn, pieces of linguistic humor out there: Lists of linguistic phenomena that exemplify the phenomenon in question. It's stuff like this (with rough and ready definitions added):
metathesis methatesis (change in the sequence of sounds)
haplology haplogy (loss of one of two identical syllables)
apocope apocop (loss of a final vowel)
syncope syncpe (loss of a medial vowel)
These are of course wonderful for students — you can hardly forget these these concepts after you hear these.

I knew this material first from the 1971 book Studies out in Left Field: Defamatory essays presented to James D. McCawley, ed. by Arnold Zwicky et al. It was originally published (as a joke festschrift for McCawley's "33rd or 34th birthday") by Linguistic Research, then reprinted by the good folks at John Benjamins in 1992. There, it's a "Glossary of Linguistic Terminology" by U. Pani Shad et alii and then "A Supplementary Glossary of Linguistic Terminology" by U Bal Shada Zwel et alii. It's rich in historical material (Krimm's Law, and for insiders Holtzmann's Laggus) and very multilingual.

Somehow I thought one or both of those had a title like "Auto-exemplification", but alas it's in the 1978 Lingua Pranca (available here, thanks to the Speculative Grammarian) where we find "The Linguist’s Self-Definer for Humanistic Greek and Latin Lingo—and other terms" by Robert Rankin, et al., followed immediately by "Autodescriptives" by Leonard Talmy. These are graphically much slicker, with IPA fonts and stuff, plus some nice ones like kpoarticulated stop, maybe more morphology (to back formate, pro clitic).

Other versions are here, here, and here and elsewhere. So, given that: how the heck has this stuff floated around without any crossreferences at all?

1 comment:

Trey Jones said...

There's also "Términos Lingüísticos Autorreferentes" in Spanish. While it covers some common ground, it also covers some Spanish-specific items like θeθeo/θeseo/seseo and ʎeísmo/yeísmo.

And of course, there's the very long list (at least 300 items) in the Appendix to The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics. You can see the first page (~60 items) in the preview (3MB PDF).