[Fwd: journalist's request]

Lynne Murphy M_Lynne_Murphy at BAYLOR.EDU
Tue Nov 23 04:36:30 UTC 1999

Hi all--

I got the following from this columnist, and told him that I couldn't
help him, but would be happy to ask you-all.  Not really dialectal, but
notice the PS at the bottom, which could be your opportunity to impress
the world with your favorite factoid.  I'd suggest responding to him
directly (and cc'ing the list if you like), as I'm not in much of a
position to act as go-between right now.

Lynne, who's whelmed and on the way to overwhelmed

Bill Sones wrote:

> Dear Dr. Murphy,
> I am coauthor of a weekly newspaper column called "Strange
> But True," now in about 50 papers worldwide (Cleveland Plain
> Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal, Chicago Sun-Times, Portland
> Oregonian, Hartford Courant, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Peoria
> Journal-Star, Ottawa Citizen, Halifax Herald, New Zealand
> Listener, Sur in English, Gulf News--United Arab Emirates,
> Zambia Daily Mail, etc).  We do the column in Q & A format,
> usually with three items per column, focusing on some of the
> ZANIER, MORE STARTLING byways of scientific research, such
> as dreams, voodoo, hypnosis, animal cognition, laws of
> happiness.  It is our belief that verifiable facts and
> information are more fun to read than sensationalistic stuff
> that doesn't stand up to scrutiny, though it may make for
> titillating headlines.  So, we're looking for the strange,
> but true.
> We wonder if you might help us proof the answer to the
> offbeat question below.  Does the answer seem accurate?  Are
> there other key aspects that should be mentioned?
> Thank you much for considering our request.
> By the way, I found your name and e-mail link by searching
> the Internet.
> Cordially,
> Bill Sones
> 2685 Euclid Heights Blvd. #6
> Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44106-2827
> strangetrue at ameritech.net

>      Q.  Why when you repeat your name over and over does it
> begin to sound odd, even unfamiliar?  Something similar
> happens when you stare a while at your face in a mirror.
>      A.  Psychologists talk of "semantic satiation," or
> meaning overload.  Now your name or face seem suddenly
> strange, as if some new aspect or oddness pervaded it.
> These are instances of "jamais vu" (never before seen),
> coined as the opposite of "deja vu" (already seen).
>      Well-known deja vu is the sudden sense of familiarity
> in a strange place, or feeling you've done something before
> when in fact you haven't, says Leonard George, Ph.D., in
> "Alternative Realities."  Jamais vu reverses this, with a
> familiar feature or object seeming suddenly novel.
>      You look at a friend and there's something different
> about her.  New lipstick or hairstyle?  The altered detail
> may elude you, but SOMETHING is different.  "Unrecognition
> may pervade everything you experience at the moment."
>      In the extreme, this becomes the "illusion of doubles":
> A close friend or family member is thought to have been
> replaced.  Modern victims tend to blame extraterrestrial
> aliens or secret government experiments.  In premodern
> times, fairies were believed to have kidnapped the loved one
> and substituted a "changeling."
>      In 1897, in Ireland, Michael Cleary became convinced
> his wife Bridget had been replaced by a changeling, and
> tortured her to death trying to extract a fairy confession.
> Then he set off into the woods, brandishing a knife, looking
> to set his "real" wife free.  "Have you no faith?," he
> defended himself to friends.  "Did you not know that it was
> not my wife, she was too fine to be my wife, she was two
> inches taller than my wife."
>      Cleary got 20 years for manslaughter.

PS  Have any favorite quirky linguistics facts or principles of a
strange but true nature?  E.g., Rich and I did an item about babbling
babies at a certain age running through the phonemes of their soo
language-to-be.  That sort of thing.  Thx!!


M. Lynne Murphy, Assistant Professor in Linguistics
Department of English, Baylor University
PO Box 97404, Waco, TX 76798 USA
Phone:  254-710-6983     Fax:  254-710-3894

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