Banchoff on JK, Chapter 4

Dear Jeremy,

Thanks for the three different responses to this chapter. Probably you will want to put the Pascal part into the discussion group on theorems, if you haven't already done so? I wouldn't want people to miss your input on this problem.

The Cave

With respect to the cave, it isn't so clear that the olfactory and heat-sensitive information would be unavailable to the cave dwellers. After all, they do hear sounds bouncing off the cave wall that they interpret as emanating from the shadows. Might they not be disoriented enough to imagine the scent of aromatic balm as arising from the shadows of passing amphorae? Perhaps not since the molecules would not likely be perceived as bouncing off the wall, or wouldn't they? There isn't often that much directional information provided by scents, for most human beings anyway. Insects and canines and leporids might disagree.


Isoglosses are every bit as dramatic as prarie-forest boundaries. Professor Meskill, who used to teach here in linguistics, lived sixteen miles from me, in Lambertville, somewhat to the north of Trenton. We went to the same high school, and he remarked to me later that there was an isogloss separating us. It had to do with the pronunciation of the flat "a" as in "had" versus "mad", two very different vowels for him and quite the same for me, and a penchant for suppression of the first vowel sound in words like "collapse", "police", and "parade", all of which I grew up pronouncing as monosyllables. So, do you have an isogloss diagram to contribute? And to what extent is it possible to see how various factors erode the definition of the isogloss over time, due for example to the levelling influence of national television news broadcasts, or the experience of going away to college and finding that not everyone distinguishes the second person plural from the second person singular pronoun.

More later on the hyperPascal business. It will be nice to include some diagrams?

Prof. B.

back to jk's Ch. 4 comments