Archive for the ‘Phonology’ Category

Nineveh

June 19, 2014

It started fairly simply, with a BBC radio news report from Iraq (heard from I don’t know which source; BBC news comes to me from several places, including BBC3 more or less directly): a bulletin from the Assyrian city of Nineveh, which the news reader pronounced as

(1) /ˈnajn@vˌe/

instead of what I expected to be

 (2) /ˈnɪn@və/

(where @ in the middle syllable represents a neutral unaccented vowel, ɪ or ə — usually transcribed ɪ, as in Wikipedia, though I sometimes hear ə).

I was, in fact, so astounded by the /aj/ in the first syllable of (1) that I failed to take notes on its source; I’d never heard anything but /ɪ/ in this syllable, and /aj/ is not even remotely like the vowel in the Assyrian pronunciation of the place name. Where would it come from?

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Lateral flash thong

June 16, 2014

(Mostly, but not entirely, about men’s underwear.)

On Facebook, a link passed on by Matthew Melmon  to a June 13th posting on the Metro (U.K.) website, “Amazing news! Now you too can own this delightful swimming ‘sock’ “, showing a lateral flash thong on the ITV2 reality tv show TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex):

(#1)

A remarkable garment indeed: how does it stay up? And who wears something like this in public (outside of outrageous precincts like TOWIE)?

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Language, religion, same-sex desire

June 2, 2014

An abstract for a talk by Erez Levon (Queen Mary, University of London) this coming Friday (1:30-3) at Stanford. I won’t be able to be there, but obviously the topic is of great interest to me.

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Five for Friday

May 18, 2014

Five items, several of which lead to more complex topics: a Harry Bliss cartoon that I caught, reprinted, in the Funny Times for May; a Zippy on art forgery; a One Big Happy with a kid eggcorn; a Zits with alliteration and rhyme (and the sexual marketplace); and a Rhymes With Orange on consonants and vowels.

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More Dingburger bar bat

March 12, 2014

In today’s Zippy, we return to the Poindexter bar bat; see “The Poindexter bar bat, or barbat”, here, with extended discussion, including material from the Zippy archives and an analysis of bar bat. From that posting:

Poindexter bar bats: Poindexter is just one of those names that entertain Bill Griffith because of the sound; but what about bar bat? Like many things in Zippy, this is surely meant to be absurd but suggestive.

(#1)

Now we have the extended plaid Poindexter bar bat, which Muffler Bunyan enjoys because of its sound. A little festival of bilabial plosives ( /p p b b/ ), and tetrameter, the dominant English folk meter.

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Yet another pun

February 15, 2014

Today seems to be pun day. Passed on by Barbara Need on Facebook, this Bizarro from 2009:

 

Groan: phero- vs. pharaoh. These are homonyms for some speakers, near-homonyms for others (who have have [æ] in pharaoh and a higher vowel, [ɛ] or [e], in phero-).

Rising pitch

January 26, 2014

In the Stanford freshman seminar on language in the comics, the topic of rising intonation at the end of intonational units came, with the predictable impression from some (by no means all) of the students that it was associated with asking questions. And then I was pointed to a piece by artist Taylor Mali, “Speak with conviction”, complaining about “invisible quesion marks”. There’s a deep but understandable confusion here.

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Briefly noted: emphatic prenasalization

October 27, 2013

A commercial for Fiat of Burlingame that goes past me with some frequency ends with the name of the firm blared out emphatically — with strongly prenasalized [mb] in Burlingame.

Prenasalized stops do occur sporadically for some American English speakers, most notably in monosyllabic renditions of ‘bye (goodbye), with [mb], and ‘kay (OK), with [ŋk].

Two cartoons

October 21, 2013

Monday morning comics: A Bizarro with word play, A Pearls Before Swine with a slogan reworked:

(#1)

Another kind of hypallage (see here), with a VP adverbial (here, a little) converted to a modifier of a N: play guitar a little > play a little guitar. This particular hypallage has become conventionalized: play some / a lot of / occasional / etc. guitar.

(#2)

KEEP CALM — CARRY ON is an excellent slogan phonologically: good prosody, near rhyme (note calmon). PANIC — AND THROW A FUCKING FIT isn’t quite as compact as the model, but it has its own virtues (includling the alliteration in FUCKING FIT, plus panic – fit).

xx

Yes we can

October 7, 2013

This image came to me via Ann Burlingham on Facebook (I don’t know the ultimate source):

[Added 10/8/13. Arthur Prokosch posted the source on Facebook: Preserving TraditionsPreserving our harvest, our heritage, our community, and our future.]

(#1)

A pun on can ‘be able’ vs. can ‘preserve (food) in a can’ (or, in this case, a Mason jar).

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