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Vol. 38, no. 4 (Winter 1996)



Glass Houses: Greenberg, Ringe, and the Mathematics of Comparative Linguistics Alexis Manaster Ramer and Christopher Hitchcock 601
Coahuiltecan: A Closer Look Lyle Campbell 620
Proto-Algonquian *na:tawe:wa 'massasauga': Some False Etymologies and Alleged Iroquoian Loanwords Frank T. Siebert, Jr. 635
Schema and Superposition in Spatial Deixis Asif Agha 643
Drummed Transactions: Calling the Church in Cameroon Paul Neeley 683

Review Essay

The Dawn of Slavic: An Introduction to Slavic Philology (Alexander M. Schenker) Ronald F. Feldstein 718

Book Reviews

Romani in Contact: The History, Structure and Sociology of a Language (Yaron Matras, editor) Alaina Lemon 727
The Early Stages of Creolization (Jacques Arends, editor) Ian Hancock 729
The Syntax of the Celtic Languages: A Comparative Perspective (Robert D. Borsley and Ian Roberts, editors) H. Paul Manning 732
Deixis in Narrative: A Cognitive Science Approach (Judith F. Duchan, Gail A. Bruder, and Lynne E. Hewitt, editors) David B. Kronenfeld 735
Language and the Cognitive Construal of the World (John R. Taylor and Robert E. MacLaury, editors) F. K. Lehman 737
Making It Their Own: Severn Ojibwe Communicative Practices (Lisa Philips Valentine) Ofelia Zepeda 739
The Lexical Field of Taste: A Semantic Study of Japanese Taste Terms (A. E. Backhouse) Joel Kuipers 742
A Grammar of Nigerian Arabic (Jonathan Owens) Salman Al-Ani 743
The Psychology of Culture: A Course of Lectures (Edward Sapir. Judith T. Irvine, editor) Philip K. Bock 745
Word's Out: Gay Men's English (William L. Leap) Stephen O. Murray 747

Publications Received751


Glass Houses: Greenberg, Ringe, and the Mathematics of Comparative Linguistics

Alexis Manaster Ramer
Wayne State University

Christopher Hitchcock
Rice University

Abstract. In a recent exchange, Ringe accused Greenberg of innumeracy on the basis of a mathematical illustration that Greenberg has used repeatedly. Ringe then argued that mathematical considerations show the method of binary comparison between languages to be superior to the method of multilateral comparison favored by Greenberg. We show that Ringe's charge of innumeracy rests on an elementary mathematical misunderstanding, and that the mathematics cited by Ringe undermines his own methodological conclusions. However, although Ringe's arguments are fallacious, his conclusions are not completely off the mark: Greenberg's attempts to justify his methodology mathematically are subject to some serious difficulties.

Coahuiltecan: A Closer Look

Lyle Campbell
University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Abstract. Alexis Manaster Ramer, in a recent issue of Anthropological Linguistics, presented what seemed to be very reasonable arguments in favor of a genetic relationship among the so-called Coahuiltecan languages. Here this evidence is reassessed and the various hypotheses of relationship are evaluated. This closer scrutiny shows that the evidence is not sufficiently robust to support the hypotheses. In particular, the known loans among languages of the area require that the role of borrowing be given serious attention in investigations of linguistic kinship involving these languages. This reevaluation of the hypotheses has considerable implications for attempts to establish distant genetic relationships in general.

Proto-Algonquian *na:tawe:wa 'massasauga': Some False Etymologies and Alleged Iroquoian Loanwords

Frank T. Siebert, Jr.
Old Town, Maine

Abstract. Several synonomies in the Northeast volume of the Handbook of North American Indians present a reconstruction of Proto-Algonquian *na:tawe:wa. This reconstruction is in error, partly because of the primary data used. Originally the word *na:tawe:wa was applied by Algonquian speakers to both the massasauga, a pit viper, and to Northern Iroquoians. It has been assumed that 'Iroquoian person' was the primary meaning, and that the reference to the snake was secondary. I show that the reverse is true and cite more extensive primary information.

Schema and Superposition in Spatial Deixis

Asif Agha
University of California, Los Angeles

Abstract. The paper argues that the use and interpretation of spatial deictics involves two rather distinct components: the inherent or "schematic" effects of deictic categories, and the "superposed" effects of accompanying signs. The discussion is organized around detailed analyses of the structure and use of spatial deictics in a single language, Lhasa Tibetan. The paper shows that, although deictic forms conventionally schematize spatial effects to a high degree, deictic spatialization is not a coding relationship between linguistic forms and preexisting spatial realities. Rather, spatial deictics impose a further interpretive structure on the spatial (and other) effects of co-occurring signs, including linguistic and gestural devices. The total "spatial" effect of any deictic utterance depends, in this sense, on the interplay between the deictically schematized and contextually superposed effects in use.

Drummed Transactions: Calling the Church in Cameroon

Paul Neeley
University of Ghana and Summer Institute of Linguistics

Abstract. An Ewondo church leader in rural Cameroon uses a speech surrogate ("talking drum") to summon his congregation to meetings held twice a week. The speech surrogate is produced on a two-tone hollow log drum. The drummed summonses to church are analyzed as tripartite transactions with social, communicative, and aesthetic aspects. In addition, they are analyzed as a community-based "enactment" and as a specialized form of "reality construction."

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