CAPITALS, glossaries, "like"

Diana Ben-Aaron benaaron at CC.HELSINKI.FI
Thu Nov 11 11:10:25 UTC 1999

Concatenating replies to save header space; sorry if it inconveniences

1. CAPITAL LETTERS.  Everything that has been said so far jibes with what
I've heard. Two devil's advocate questions:

a) If capital letters are harder to read, why was the old typewriter font
called Orator, designed for typing speeches in big letters, an all-caps
font?  OK, there were large caps and small caps, but they were all caps.

b) If letters without ascenders and descenders are harder to read, how has
e.g. the Cyrillic alphabet survived without significant modification?
One of the reasons I've had a hard time learning to read Russian, Hebrew,
Chinese, etc. is that these require making fine discriminations about
features in the interior of a character, rather than just recognizing the
overall shape of a word.

2. GLOSSARIES.  Some volumes that I have liked are: the Oxford Dictionary
of Literary Terms (very spotty coverage, but good as far as it goes),
the Larousse Mathematical Dictionary, and Barron's Dictionary of Computer
Terms (from the 1980s, pocket sized and bound in green vinyl).  There is a
book called Understanding Wall Street that has an excellent brief
financial glossary in the back.

3. "LIKE."  Pragmatic particles and discourse particles are studied mainly
in the subfields of linguistics called pragmatics and conversation
analysis.  My supervisor here, Jan-Ola Östman, wrote an early monograph on
"you know" (You Know: A Discourse-Functional Approach, Benjamins 1981),
and a great deal of research has been done since then. To find the latest
work on "like," I suggest you look in linguistics bibliographies using the
search terms "pragmatic particles" and "discourse particles."

Diana ben-Aaron
University of Helsinki

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