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December 2, 2003

Open thread 3. It’s not like we’re Making Light, but once in a while some of you seem to comment on the sidebar links. Or, alternately, those darn milk cartons. [08:16 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Open thread 3.:

Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2003, 09:32 PM:

Hey. Don't knock the milk cartons.

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 01:28 AM:

In re "Words fail me"

For his part, Mr. Scully said, "I'm not the most popular guy in the world, but nobody has ever accused me of being other than honest."

Let me be the first, Mr. Scully . . .

Suw ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 02:28 AM:

There's always those darn orange cartons, just for a bit of a change.

Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 03:19 AM:

Total tangent! I'm hoping one or more Electrolite readers can spot me a clue...

I'm currently reading Fritz Leiber's The Wanderer, and a character has just made an allusion to a folk tale or a fairy tale of some sort in which a prince must sprint down a corridor no wider than his elbows, the walls of which have been poisoned.

Leiber has made this reference before (I read Conjure Wife a few weeks ago), and it's just not ringing any bells for me.

Does anyone know what story/tale/legend he's referring to?

Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 03:31 AM:

It sounds vaguely like a Norwegian folk tale collected by Asbjf8rnsen and Moe which I believe is called The Green Knight in which a princess is locked inside a vault encircled with various poisons, and can call her paramour, known as 'the green knight' by opening a book she has been given. When she opens the book, the knight gets poisoned. I don't remember the rest, as it has been a while since I read it. It may be a variant of the tale you mention, although I am not sure it has been translated to a language accessible to Leiber.

Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 04:00 AM:

Here's a link to an English translation.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 06:08 AM:

The Carl Hiaasen "Operation Sitting Duck" piece was really good. Thanks, Patrick.

Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 06:38 AM:

Scott, I'm reminded obliquely of an EC story, except there it's, um, razor blades, and "then, some idiot turned the lights off."

Moving on to Tintin, a while back I searched and found a whole universe of Tintin parodies and such, including two reverentially completed versions of the last Herge book and several tales of Tintin's evil twin, Zinzin. (Warning: sex & violence)

I don't give a link because they were gone the next time I went to look for them. Someone might search again, I suppose, using such keywords as "Zinzin" and "Ramo Nash."

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 11:35 AM:

Apropos the Two Towers extended version and the LOTR films in general—I can't help this creeping sense that, for all the technological prowess and finesse involved in these movies, about 10 years from now, if not sooner, more and more fans are going to wish that Jackson just cast an exceptional actor as Gollum rather than doing it in CGI.

I know they're making history, etc. But already with just repeated viewings of the second movie, to me the seams are showing on the Gollum CGI.

I wonder whether it was actually considered in Wellington whether to just find an excellent British or other character actor to play the part.

At the risk of outraging Tolkien fans, one actor who comes to mind for me is Gary Oldman. He's short, wiry, and an equal mix of the Method and classical English theater tradition. He'd have to drop 20 lbs or so, but I think he could've made it an Oscar caliber performance. And consider Ian Holm 25 years ago. Clearly, based on the DVD interviews with Andy Serkis, he was dying to play the part outright.

Anyway, just wondering what others think about this...

Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 12:06 PM:

If we still had investigative journalism in this country, we might have found out that Scully was selling his influence to the highest bidder before the Medicare bill was passed, not after.

But we don't have investigative journalism in this country anymore.

Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 12:07 PM:

Funny, my reaction is amazement at how good the CGI on Gollum is--especially when listening to commentary tracks, so the sound isn't matching the dialogue and I can really focus on the visuals (especially the face!) while Sean Astin natters on endlessly.

Mind you, the Frodo-Sam-Gollum dynamic was about the only thing I *didn't* hate about the movie _TTT_, so I may be biased. YMMV.

(It'll be interesting to see how the opening of the movie _RotK_ affects people's opinions on this.)

Trent Goulding ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 12:41 PM:

Re: Gollum; I have to say that I think the realization of Gollum in the film was pretty easily the most successful part of the movie. I don't quite go as far as Kate in saying that it was the only thing about the movie that I didn't hate. On the other hand, I seem to be swimming against the general tide of opinion in saying that the Extended Edition, although nice and all, mostly confirmed for me the changes that I think the filmmakers got wrong and the ways in which they went astray. But Gollum is a shining exception...they really did a nice job with him.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 01:05 PM:

I think they did a great job, too. My concern is whether as the technology and skill improves, it no longer seems so, or worse, over time, it detracts from the film's overall power because CGI Gollum starts to pale vs. the better and better simulations the movies exploit. (Example--Yoda looks pretty fake to me now in Empire Strikes Back.)

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 02:35 PM:

In re: Chicago cuisine, because that Other Thread contains too much politics for the stomach:

A Chicago hot dog is actually very easy to make, even if you're not in Chicago. Of course, ultimately, the best Chicago 'dogs use Vienna Beef franks, which can be hard to find outside the area, but any all-beef frank will do -- kosher hot dogs work well for this; I tend to use Best Kosher where I can't get Vienna.

Franks should be submerged in hot but not boiling water for best results; something about a slow simmer is better, as it's less likely to burst the dog. Optionally, you may grill/char-broil, but this is a point of Great Debate (most of us save the char-broiling for true sausages).

Buns should be soft, very much "white bread", and by preference have poppy seeds, unless you hate poppy seeds. By preference they should be steamed, but you can get away with wrapping in a wet paper towel and microwaving briefly, or even slightly warming in an oven -- but do not toast.

Toppings: mustard, chopped onions, tomato wedges, green relish, pickle wedges, sport peppers, celery salt. Put down mustard, relish, and onions(in that order) first, balance several tomato wedges (plum tomatoes work well for this) along one side, the pickle along the other, and sprinkle with celery salt; the sport peppers are optional -- one or two of these.

The other Great Debate is "should a hot dog have ketchup on it?" Most people agree a Chicago 'dog does not, but some heathens (I've dipped into apostasy myself here) put a line of ketchup on next to the mustard.

A Chicago 'dog is best consumed with a heap 'o fries, crinkle cut preferred, which is where the ketchup properly goes.

Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 02:50 PM:

John--I see what you mean now, but ultimately I think it can't be helped--I don't think you could do either Yoda or Gollum just with an actor, so you do the best you can.

Interesting comparison, btw--it's the voice I immediately think of when I think of Yoda, and I'd bet that's true for most people. Same for Gollum--which I think shows that it's ultimately the acting behind the effects that matters.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 04:34 PM:

Of course, the sentence "Franks should be submerged in hot but not boiling water for best results" could also appear in one of those political threads, for instance one discussing Army generals and Iraq.

Then again, it could also appear in one of Making Light's periodic discussions of matters medieval.

Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 04:59 PM:

Crinkle-cut fries? Not at any of my favorite spots, but it's not the heresy that ketchup on the dog would be.

While it may be some sort of Wisconsin variant I do like the cheese fries at Muskie's quite a bit (the cheddar-guacamole fries are even more more).

My current favorite spot for cased meats is Hot Doug's on Roscoe near Western. On Saturdays he does fries in duck fat which are insanely good, and well worth the extra waiting time. Also, you've got to love a place with a smoked Thuringer called the Len O'Connor, and a tofu/meatless dog called the Howard Devoto.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 05:24 PM:

Fritz: Well, really, this varies. If you're getting a hot dog at a place where they serve fries in a basket, they must be crinkle-cut, or it's just all wrong. If they're served in a bag, they should be the flat kind. But I'll accept variations on this one; the crinkly ones are just something I seem to find most often in Chicago and rarely elsewhere.

Patrick: You know, I really should proof my posts here and Making Light not just for sense but for what sense someone else could make out of them if they were of a mind to, shouldn't I? *holds head in hands, mutters 'boiling Franks'*

Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 08:27 PM:

Here's a link to an English translation.

Very interesting, Stephen (and thanks for the link), but it just doesn't feel right-- a narrow corridor with walls that must not be touched is one of the prime elements of the allusion, and trying various combinations of "prince," "corridor," "narrow," "poisoned," "fairy tale," etc. on Google is proving highly amusing but totally unenlightening.

For what it's worth, the prince is supposedly "enchanted--" I get the impression the condition is temporary, but I may be wrong.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2003, 11:10 PM:

My current favorite spot for cased meats is Hot Doug's on Roscoe near Western. On Saturdays he does fries in duck fat which are insanely good, and well worth the extra waiting time.

Urgent question! I'm leaving in the morning for Chicago (okay, Rosemont) and must have more info to locate this. Is that address downtown or where?

MKK--in eager anticipation of fries in duck fat

Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2003, 09:31 AM:

Not downtown I'm afraid. Near(ish) northwest side: 2314 W. Roscoe. Roscoe is three blocks north of Belmont Ave, around 3300 N. Nice neighborhood, relatively easy parking, or near CTA bus lines.


Search "hot doug's" at this site for more info on times and directions.

Figure on waiting at least a half hour for the duck fries unless you are in line before they open; also he tends to run out of them before 3pm.

julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2003, 10:42 AM:

Since I married out (my husband is from the midwest) I have discovered the potato hotdog roll, which has the requisite cottonwooliness of the kind I grew up with, but tastes (faintly) of something.

Other 'gander frank wierdness: huge meaty not-very-spicy polish hotdogs (sometimes with raw onions on top) are called coney islands. There are multiple sit-down restaurants selling them in the same mall, sometimes.

Needless to say, etc.

In the break room at my old job, there was a far side cartoon with a room full of mutants sitting on folding chairs, with the caption "Management meets with the Parmalat drinkers union" (had to squeeze the milk thing in)

julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2003, 10:44 AM:

oh, and an "all the way" dog in the town in NC I lived in had mustard, ketchup, saurkraut, relish, onions and cole slaw.

I wasn't brave enough to do it more than once or twice at the urging of locals. It tasted like a hotdog sundae. Something about the cole slaw, I guess.

Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2003, 12:18 PM:

I recommend to all and sundry Smitty's, in Hampton, VA, USA. Drive in and sit in the car, and the carhop skates out to you. She calls you Hon, takes your order and brings it out and hangs it on the car window. And what an order!

The place has the biggest menu I've seen on a drive-in. All the decades they've been open, I think they just added stuff, instead of taking anything off. Pork chops. Gizzards. Other things I've never tried... because of the Twirly Dog.

Remember rubber/plastic snakes with segmented bodies (held together with flat areas that act as hinges)? A few deft cuts make a hot dog look like one of these, and it just naturally curls up. A hamburger bun fits two dogs. Have them spoon on some chili. It's a meal -- a twirly dog.

Then you turn your lights on and they come out and take the tray away.

Monty's Penguin in Newport News had curb service at least into the 80s, and maybe the 90s. The first time I ate there, they had a phone on the outside of the building you could still pick up to get service (gone now). My office partner used to work there around 1980. They don't have Twirly Dogs, but I'll wholeheartedly recommend the Chuck Wagon Platter: breaded, fried mystery meat fit for at least a President. Best of all is their macaroni and cheese, which seems to be deep fried somehow. Bewitching stuff.

Must go now. Lunchtime.

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2003, 05:51 PM:

A couple of years ago, a Sonic opened here in Merced. I tried it once, seeking the innocent joys of my carefree youth. Well, we all make mistakes. You know, George W. Bush isn't the only product of Texas (and Andover and Yale, in his case) that should be sent back postage due.

The only real drive-in left around here is H&W's (an old A&W's, of course) that I remember from our first tour here, back in 1960. It's down on 16th Street, which is the old CA Highway 99 route through town. There is this simply ancient tree right at the front that shades the front of the drive-in along with a couple of beat up tables. The tree predates everything built around it -- my guess is that it was planted when they first built 99 in the 20's and 30's. I doubt that it predates the SP rail line across the street.

It's gone through a half dozen owners but the food stays the same -- everything fried with the option of chili, cheese and onions on top and served in those rectangular paper baskets. I eat there annually to remind my arteries of the good old days.

Thanks for the review of RotK, Patrick -- we are already scheduling it for next weekend. And according to the UPS website, my copy of the TTT Platinum DVD is waiting at home . . .

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2003, 05:53 PM:

I wish I could remember the name of the hotdog place in the Bay Area -- I think it only had a couple of branches -- that was run by a mildly nutty libertarian type who pasted news stories and political rants on the walls. The text wasn't all that noteworthy, nothing to rank alongside Dr. Bronner, but the hotdogs were as good as anything I've had outside Chicago. I couldn't count the times I've tried to figure out what to cook for lunch or dinner, and found myself yearning for their andouille on a roll with sweet hot mustard and a little chopped onion.

Damn. I want one right now. Must stop this.

PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2003, 12:17 AM:

Random aside: The only time I like to drink milk is after eating pancakes/waffles with syrup OR after eating microwaved convenience store hot dogs. I have no explanation for this.

Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2003, 02:02 PM:

After reading the beginnings of this thread yesterday, I went and had 2 Nathan's hot dogs and waffle fries for lunch. I like wiffle-ball fries better, but these were piping hot and agreeably mashed-potatoey on the inside. The dogs were perfect, with a real snap when you bit into them and a spurt of hot liquid. Totally yummy with just a little mustard (when I get a street dog, I always have sauerkraut, because so few street dogs are kosher these days. But if you can find a kosher dog, or Nathan's mustard is all that's needed, IMO).

To those who are wondering how I got to Coney Island from the Flatiron Building for lunch, I didn't--there's a Nathan's stand in the new food court in the vertical mall on 32nd street and 6th. I was shocked and very pleased.

I highly recommend to everyone the PBS program called something like "The Hot Dog Program," all about the supposed best dogs in the US. It's a few years old now, but it comes around several times a year, at least in NYC, and is worth watching. The same production people have done an equally good program on ice cream.

David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2003, 03:55 AM:

Teresa: That's "Top Dog". It's still around, still has two or three branches all within a block or two of the Cal Berkeley campus. Not being a big hot dog fan myself, I don't know if it still has the political stuff posted. I could go check if you really want to know. :-)

Josh ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2003, 01:07 PM:

Top Dog still has the political cartoons. The density's highest at the ones closest to campus, but I'm pretty sure that even the one in Montclair (one of the richer neighborhoods in Oakland) has at least a couple. There are actually at least five Top Dogs now.

I don't know what they used to serve, but ever since I've been going there they've served Saag's sausages. Looking at their site, I don't think they do mail-order, but you could probably find a way of getting their stuff one way or another.

Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2003, 01:25 PM:

Re: Five Geek Social Fallacies -- BLESS YOU.

Now if only unnamed individuals will take the hint when I forward it to the mailing list...

Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2003, 03:16 PM:

Boy, I sure am glad that -I- never practiced any of those Geek Social Fallacies....

Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2003, 08:17 PM:

Scott, sorry my link wasn't more helpful. I did discover it wasn't the right version. The one I remember was the Norwegian, not the Danish one (which was translated in the link I found). The Norwegian one has a hole in the ground, and a wall full of poison which makes it deadly to pass through it. No corridors, though. Curiously, the Green Knight is transported by magic to the princess. I'll leave you a link to the version I am thinking of, although it will very likely be unhelpful, as it is Norwegian only. (Courtesy of Project Runeberg)

Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2003, 08:40 PM:

Re: pnh and tnh's being national security assets:
I'm sure that Teresa's dsmvwlmnt lgrthm must be on the US munitions list and can only be exported abroad with a license from the State Department Office of Munitions Control...

Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 12:07 AM:

Weirdly, I didn't recognize myself or any of my social circles in the Geek Social Fallacies, or certainly not to the extreme presented there. I suppose it's possible I'm not the geek I thought I was, but not terribly likely.

In any case, it leaves off the single thing that should be written in mile-high letters of fire, and every geek, nerd, dork and self-proclaimed misfit made to gaze upon until burned into the brain: A Preference Is Not The Same As A Virtue. If more took this to heart, the number of geek flamewars would plummet by a power of ten, at least.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 10:27 AM:

Yeah, you would say that. Typical vi user.

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 12:51 PM:

Stephan Brun: I'm sure that Teresa's dsmvwlmnt lgrthm must be on the US munitions list and can only be exported abroad with a license from the State Department Office of Munitions Control...

I'm going to CafePress right now so I can sell to defiant cypherpunk geeks T-shirts that read s/[aeiouAEIOU]//. (I advise you all not to wear them when attempting to pass through airport security.)

Dan Layman-Kennedy and PNH: One of the reasons Macintoshes running OS X are ineffably superior to WIntel machines is that OS X ships with both vi and emacs, making it easier for partisans on either side of the Great Divide to use Macintoshes to carry out their crusades and jihads, leaving pathetic Windows boxes behind.

OS X also ships with both perl and python, enabling fighters in that holy war to use Macs, although tcl is left out in the cold. (You should hear the way some python advocates trash it as if it were even worse than their archenemy perl. Poor tcl: the Ralph Nader of scripting languages.)

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 12:55 PM:

In the phrase "Unusually well-done Quizillla quiz", the word "Unusually" is redundant. All well-done Quizilla quizes are unusual. (I won't go so far as to say "all three of them.")

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 12:55 PM:

That MAD Magazine action figure ad was . . . pointed, to say the least. I kind of wrote that zine off when they went slick and started advertising, but DANG, looks like they went and grew a second set of conjones.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 01:11 PM:

Alan: I have vim on my Windows box. A real vi user knows how to install things.

(Just doing my part to keep this war alive...)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 01:56 PM:

Alan, not only that, but my actual preferred Unix editor, the svelte and urbane joe, is a snap to install on OS X. (I recommend the fink package-management system for these little Unixy add-ons. If you want a really meaningless food fight, get a bunch of open-source geeks to start arguing the merits of different package-management systems...)

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 01:59 PM:

Alan -

That won't disemvowel but the first vowel of the current line, you'd want


And, you know, I think that would make a truly splendid tshirt.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 02:01 PM:

Now that Tina mentions it, I seem to recall cygwin being no great shakes to install, and from there you can run all the obtuse Unix tools you want on your sad beige Windows box. Sorry, Alan...

("Hey, is this the fire? I'm trying to deliver this can of gasoline...")

cd ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 03:44 PM:

And, of course, there's a Windows "native" port of Emacs, too. (And I use cygwin, too, but not Cygwin/X.)

Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 04:29 AM:

(replace-regexp "[AEIOUYaeiouy]" "") in Emacs Lisp.

I finally got X running on cygwin, and the -multiwindow and -rootless modes are quite nifty, only problem is I can't access fvwm's root menus. I probably have to move it to a window button.
Emacs is running beautifully, though.

And by the way,
"ed is the standard text editor".

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 12:47 PM:

One day I visited Ed. His cousin Joe and their mutt have a big elm tree in the back yard, and this year are planting a pine -- a spruce, I think, actually. The vim and vigor with which they work sometimes makes me stop and gawk.

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 01:42 PM:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, and I had vi (as well as the Korn shell and a whole bunch of UNIX-like commands such as ls, awk, grep, etc.) on my DOS and Windows boxes since 1988, when, to my deep regret, I had to switch to Microsoft from a real OS, and consoled myself with Mortice Kern Systems' MKS Toolkit.

Graydon: Thanks for the correction ... but you don't want to take out all instances of 'y', only the vowels. (It would be one hell of a regexp parser that could cope with "and sometimes Y".

Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 02:18 PM:

I wonder if the use of consonantal 'y' is as predictable in English as the use of consonantal 'i' (commonly rendered 'j') is regarded as being in Latin? Has anyone researched this, anywhere?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 01:04 PM:

Tina: Nice. Less talk; more tidy. Dig?

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 06:20 PM:

Patrick, less is more.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 07:54 PM:

Quite the contrary, Alan; less is better than more.

adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 09:05 PM:

Not to quibble or anything, but:


is fewer keystrokes.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 12:01 PM:

P & T NH, high-risk national security assets

We all know why this is, right?

Both Yasser Arafat and Osama bin Laden have engineering degrees. Either of them could try to publish in an American journal under a pseudonym at any time, sending coded messages to their followers worldwide.

And you want to piss off other engineers in the Middle East by denying them the chance to publish in their fields don't you?

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 04:59 PM:

I wonder if the use of consonantal 'y' is as predictable in English as the use of consonantal 'i' (commonly rendered 'j') is regarded as being in Latin? Has anyone researched this, anywhere?

Do you mean the sound, or the spelling? The sound is not predictable in English, because it is contrastive. I don't know how predictable the orthographic 'j' is considered in Latin, but my initial sense is that orthographic 'y' in English is not predictable either...hmm, minimal pair, minimal pair...got it: 'year', 'ear'. That's also a minimal pair for the sound.

I know some linguists analyze the 'y' glide following "long" vowels as predictable, but they're just not paying attention. Since the glide is needed elsewhere anyway, it makes more sense to analyze it as contrastive, and the difference in vowel quality as predictable. Counter as this is to native-speaker intuition, it's borne out by experiment: the words 'bit' (/bit/) and 'beat' (/biyt/) are readily distinguished with identical vowel quality and difference in glide (absent and present respectively). The other way around doesn't work so well.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 06:35 AM:

BREAKING NEWS: CNN and The Washington Post are reporting that Saddam Hussein has been captured in Tikrit.

Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 06:50 AM:

Xopher: Thanks, that was instructive, and yes, I did mean the sound.

If you are interested, Latin orthography, unlike English, is fairly closely based on the pronunciation, and the Romans didn't really consider '/i/' and '/j/' ('/y/') separate, as they were mutually exclusive. The modern practice of writing '/j/' as 'J' in Latin originated in the Renaissance (Wikipedia names Pierre de la Rame9e as the inventor) (There is more (and better) information in Allen's Vox Latina...)

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2003, 03:18 PM:

Stephan, by "mutually exclusive" you mean in what we call complementary distribution, yes? That is, there is no context where either might appear (thus no minimal pair differing only by 'j' vs 'y', for example)?

Assuming so, where was 'y' used? And is /y/ the fronted u spelled by upsilon in Greek and by U-umlaut in German?

I'm led to understand that English sources didn't consistently distinguish 'i' from 'j' (or 'u' from 'v') until the eighteenth century.

Actually I gave you a minimal pair for 'y' vs '0' (zero, or nothing) when it came to sound. I'm not so sure now about contrastiveness...but even complementary distribution doesn't prove they're allophones (front /l/ and /ng/ in English are the favorite counterexample). Forgive me; it's been 20+ years since I studied this stuff.

Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2003, 03:26 AM:

Complementary distribution, that's the word I was trying to remember. Yes, that's what I meant.

It's been more than a decade since I last did this with any degree of seriousness, too. I took a course in linguistics in 1990.

'y' was apparently borrowed from Greek, it wasn't in the base alphabet. Its value appears to have been that of Greek [hy], which I believe (but can't be certain of) is similar to German 'fc'. According to Wikipedia, it was actually intendeded to represent ypsilon. It later wandered off to merge with [i:]. (Allen p114 and Wikipedia). The obvious application is in words derived from Greek, but a cursory glance though Morwood's Pocket Oxford didn't turn up any examples (curse this inefficient, buggy vgrep). I didn't do an exhaustive search of Perseus's Lewis and Short, either, but picking search results at random seems to confirm the hypothesis.

I did actually notice something off with the [j]/[i] minimal pair, and I should probably have called you on it, but I didn't feel too sure on my feet to speak with any sort of certainty.

I remember [l]/[ŋ]...

Of course being complementarily distributed isn't the only criterium. Don't remember the others at the moment, although I think one was 'common sense', that is, the phones had to at least seem associated. (Phonemes are also falsifiable, that is, they cannot be proven correct, only confirmed and proven wrong.)

Rereading your question, I noticed a possible source of confusion. In standard IPA, the sound represented by the 'y' in young is rendered [j], not [y]. [y] is generally used to render sounds like German 'fc'. I meant to identify the two, sorry.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 12:12 AM:

I'd rather have a John D, MacDonald action figure. Even better would be a Travis McGee with a bottle of gin clutched in one hand. "Busted Flush" sold separately.


Julia Jones finds spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2004, 11:53 AM:

four of them on this thread, and I bet if I go digging through Recent Comments there will be even more vandalised threads.