Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 31 04:40:34 UTC 2007

I'm watching the Travel Channel, which is featuring the life of
Melanesian-looking people - the guys are wearing only penile sheaths -
on an island named "Tanna." As they speak the usual random babble of
phones, pitches, and tones that you hear when you have no training in
linguistic fieldwork, I suddenly hear what appear to be English
strings like "two hundred" and "last night." And sho nuff, the
subtitles read, "two hundred [pigs]" and "[had a good time] last

The program features both traditional and modern (called
"clothes-wearers" by the traditionals) tribes. It's startling to see
that the moderns generally stand head-and-shoulders taller than the

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
                                              -Sam'l Clemens

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list