A Pair of Fruits

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Feb 28 00:42:25 UTC 2008

At 2:14 PM -0800 2/27/08, Benjamin Lukoff wrote:
>On Wed, 27 Feb 2008, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>  At 1:26 PM -0500 2/27/08, RonButters at AOL.COM wrote:
>>  >This thread seems to me to be based on a fundamental
>>misunderstanding of the
>>  >role of chance in everyday life. I went to 3rd grade with someone named
>>  >"Turnipseed"; what are the "odds" that a "Butters" and a
>>  >"Turnipseed" would be in
>>  >the same neighborhood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1947 (and be the
>>  >same age)? Duke
>>  >hired two guys in the English Department in 1966 named "Clum" and
>>  >"Clubbe"--what are the "odds" that Duke Enlgish in the same year
>>  >would have acquired two
>>  >assistant professors whose last names were separated by only one
>>  >feature? Low, I suppose, but not particularlty interesting.
>>  >
>>  >Coincidence abounds--and is generally so unremarkable as not to bear
>>  >mentioning. Having two fruits on the same reporting staff is
>>  >unlikely, but not much
>>  >more surprising than, say, having a "Badger," a "Wolf," and a "Fox."
>>  Or than a field as small as linguistics was 40 years ago having a
>>  (Herbert) Paper, a (Herbert) Penzl, a Postal, and a Stampe all active
>>  and (of course) writing.
>Or a Lukoff (my father) and two Lakoffs...
I remember being struck by the fortuitous Lukoff/Lakoff ablaut
relation way back when (although it would be hard to match Herbert
Paper and Herbert Penzl both working on Pashto; your father and
either Lakoff would have been in a rather more complementary
distribution, although I suppose Fred might have crossed paths with
George and Robin in Cambridge.  But in any case, we can't really
count "Lakoff" twice--changing your name when you get married isn't
playing fair.


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