Archive for the ‘Morphophonology’ Category

Annals of naming

July 23, 2012

From OUT magazine for August (pp. 13-4), a feature on the music world (“On a Mi(ssion): Cody Critcheloe has a high-concept queer art project with a beat” by Adam Rathe):

The name, copped from Boston post-punk pioneers Mission of Burma, sounds like shun, but bewilderment regarding how exactly to talk about the group – and people are talking — is just part of Critcheloe’s plan.

“I love the name, how it looks, and how it’s confusing for people,” he says. “I love that people can’t pronounce it or that they think it’s my name.”

Of course it’s confusing; it makes a name out of an unaccented syllable that isn’t in itself meaningful — but sounds like an existing English word. And it’s weirdly spelled.

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Nucular postings

April 19, 2011

Over on Facebook, Kathryn Burlingham asks of the linguists in the crowd:

Have you ever heard anyone say that the proper pronunciation of “nuclear” as nookleear, is in part a way to distinguish the energy from the cell part, which is properly pronounced nookyoolar? A friend dumbfounded me with this explanation recently.

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Undoing morphophonology

April 6, 2011

Ian Preston commenting on my “attriting” posting yesterday:

I have come across “attrit” quite often in statistical contexts, usually spelt without a final “e”, where it is used intransitively to denote what a respondent does who drops out of a longitudinal sample.

Ah, another back-formation from attrition, with the ‘drop out’ meaning of the first sense of back-formed attrite. The second, accented, syllable of attrite has the vowel /aj/, indicating an analysis in which the accented /ɪ/ of attrition is treated as a lax version of the vowel of the base verb (as in ignition, based on ignite); this bit of morphophonology is “undone” in the process of back-formation. However, the spelling ATTRIT strongly suggests a pronunciation with /ɪ/, taken directly from attrition (as in exhibition, based on exhibit).

The evidence of the dictionaries is not entirely clear, however.

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Arf

December 28, 2010

From Rhymes With Orange, playing with morphophonology:

Some English nouns ending in voiceless fricatives (especially in /f/) voice these fricatives in the plural. There are three classes of cases:

(1) voicing obligatory in standard English: wife – wives, shelf – shelves;

(2) voicing variable in standard English: wharf – wharves/wharfs, dwarf – dwarves/dwarfs (see the Language Log posting here and the posting in this blog here on the plural of dwarf );

(3) no voicing in standard English: fife – fifes, oaf – oafs.

Nouns in class (1) are subject to regularization; there’s some pressure to move them into class (2). Nouns in class (3) are subject to playful irregularization — yielding things like arves.

 

limericist

August 30, 2010

Heard on NPR’s “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” on Morning Edition Saturday yesterday: a re-play of a Listener Limerick Challenge in which the program’s limericist was referred to.

Since 2000 (and at least until last year) this position has been filled by Philipp [correct spelling] Goedicke. My focus here is not on the arrangements of this radio program but in the innovation limericist ‘someone who devises limericks’ (which seems to have a modest representation on the web, as on the website Here-Be-Limerick-Poems, with its page “Examples of Limerick Poems: The Work of Limericist Edward Lear”.)
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