4.1213 Qs: Specialization; Tops; Giradeaux; Words (4/138)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 8 Apr 91 18:47:10 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 1213. Monday, 8 Apr 1991.

(1) Date: Mon, 8 Apr 91 00:35 EST (34 lines)
Subject: Specialization

(2) Date: Sun, 07 Apr 91 23:45:42 EDT (47 lines)
From: Elli Mylonas <ELLI@BROWNVM>
Subject: Whipping Tops

(3) Date: Fri, 5 Apr 91 17:13 EST (36 lines)
From: CALLEGRE@umtlvr.bitnet

(4) Date: Wed, 03 Apr 91 18:24:33 +0100 (21 lines)
From: iwml@ukc.ac.uk
Subject: Masculine and feminine words

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Mon, 8 Apr 91 00:35 EST
Subject: Specialization

I'm sure many of you read Loren Graham's review of "The Truth About
Chernobyl" by Grigori Medvedev, which appeared in The New York Times
Book Review (Apr. 7). This book contains a foreword by Andrei
Sakharov, which apparently seeks to provide a context for Medvedev's
account of the Chernobyl disaster. In talking about the viability of
nuclear power, Sakharov is quoted as follows:

"These issues are so crucial that they cannot be left to technical
experts, and still less to bureaucrats, whose approach is too
narrowly technical, too tendentious and sometimes prejudiced, as
it is paralyzed by a network of mutual solidarity."

No doubt I'm overly sensitive, but upon digesting this statement, I
couldn't help but draw the implication for academics--indeed, any
specialist--that we are all viewed cynically by those who can (or think
they can) seen connections and relationships that may be missed under
our immediate attention. Sure, I see the arguments of the
Interdisciplinarians (exploring the similarities as well as the
differences), and in my field (music) I can think of a good handful of
theorists who would laugh at such a statement--but they were of a
previous generation.

Any thoughts for today's social and intellectual environment?

(If you choose to respond, it's probably better to do it to the list.)

Bob Kosovsky
New York Public Library--Music Division
bitnet: kos@cunyvms1.bitnet
internet: kos@cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------44----
Date: Sun, 07 Apr 91 23:45:42 EDT
From: Elli Mylonas <ELLI@BROWNVM>
Subject: Whipping Tops

I would like to begin by thanking all those who answered my queries
about sources for medical writers and also about old English fonts.
The answers have been passed on and are much appreciated. I now have
a question on my own account.

In Tibullus 1.5, the poet is not able to be firm and leave his
girlfriend. He then goes on to describe how he is in love, and
has no control over himself. (This is a rough summary)

namque agor ut per plana citus sola verbere turben
quem celer adueta versat ab arte puer

for I am driven like a swift top on the flat ground by a whip
which an agile boy spins with accustomed skill.

(rough translation, sorry...)

However, my question is, how does a whipping top work exactly?
I know about spinning tops that have a string wrapped around the
shank, which is pulled to get the top to spin, like a gyroscope.
This top, however, is not only set in motion by the "whip", but appears
to be kept in motion by it.

I looked in the OCD, which only mentions the existence of such toys.
I also looked in the OED, which describes whipping tops, and how
they are kept in motion by a whip.

"The common *whip-* or *whipping-top* is kept spinning by
lashing it with a whip"

It also cites a curious object known as a parish or town top,

"a large top for public use, which two players or parties whipped
in opposite directions.

It seems that if the top were large enough, and had a low enough
center of gravity, then it would be possible to whip it withough knocking
it over.

Does anyone know exactly how this kind of top works? Or where to look?

Thank you,
Elli Mylonas
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------38----
Date: Fri, 5 Apr 91 17:13 EST
From: CALLEGRE@umtlvr.bitnet

I would like to know who is at present working on the french novelist and
playwright JEAN GIRAUDOUX (1882-1944).

I wish to establish a list of all north-american scholars involved in
such studies and network with them. When compiled, I will send this
list to those who answered this call and post it to Humanist for those
interested in it, or in work on Giraudoux. I will send it also to La
Societe des amis de Jean Giraudoux, in Bellac (France) who will be
delighted to see that there is interest for Giraudoux in North America.

I am myself writing my PhD Dissertation on "The Utopian Thought in the
works of Jean Giraudoux". I would like to network with other scholars
with similar int erests, and with anyone enjoying the works of Jean

It is interesting to know that the first Ph.D. Dissertation written on
Giraudoux was by the american scholar Lawrence LeSage in 1941, then at
the University of Pennsylvania.

Please send Name, Address, University, Department, e-mail address
directly to me : CALLEGRE@UMTLVR.BITNET, together with a description of
your research at this moment, your publications (Diss., articles, books,
CR), and your interests.

Christian Allegre
Departement d'Etudes francaises
Universite de Montreal
C.P. 6128, Succ. A
Montreal, Quebec
Canada H3C 3J7

(4) --------------------------------------------------------------31----
Date: Wed, 03 Apr 91 18:24:33 +0100
From: iwml@ukc.ac.uk
Subject: Masculine and feminine words

Does anyone know why non English languages divide their vocabulary into
masculine and feminine words, and then refer to that categorisation as
"gender". I gather that "gender" originally in Greek meant a category,
and meant either A or B, and that it is only relativly recent usage which
associates the word with sexual gender.

But why were *words* perceived as masculine or feminine? While logically
one can deduce that certain functions, actions and associations would
result in some words having masculine or feminine gender, why all, or
those in some languages not defined as "neuter"?

Does Levi-Strauss assist? Is the answer totemic/anthropological?

Ian Mitchell Lambert
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
University of Kent at Canterbury