Archive for the ‘Phonology’ Category

Non sequiturs meet associative thinking

May 27, 2018

On a larger scale, the war between randomness and organization, in which Zippy fights on both sides. In today’s strip, he’s in his random mode, distributing non sequiturs from a polka-dot van:

(#1)

One thing doesn’t lead to another. Instead, things just pop up from out of nowhere, without rationale.

But at other times in Zippy’s world, everything leads to something else, in steps. On paths that might go in surprising directions, the way conversations tend to wander.

Either way, linearity bites.

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When is Doris Day?

February 6, 2018

It starts with a recent (January 4th) One Big Happy and will end with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention in 1967. In the cartoon, Ruthie and Joe are unfamiliar with Doris Day the person and take Doris Day to refer to a holiday (like Flag Day):

(#1)

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Puns and metatheses

January 10, 2018

Two recent cartoons: a Rhymes With Orange from the 8th, with a hall / howl pun; and a One Big Happy from December 13th in which Ruthie struggles with the word permanent:

(#1)

(#2)

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poach egg

December 9, 2017

A photo from real life, passed on to Bert Vaux and me on Facebook by Mike Pope, who got it from Bill Pinti:

(#1) huevos pochados ( = huevos poché): Poch Eggs

Sign pretty clearly by a Spanish speaker, showing final t/d-deletion in its spelling, representing [poč] instead of  [počt] (also interference of Spanish spelling with O instead of OA).

So-called t/d-deletion is widespread for native English speakers in final consonant clusters and has been lexicalized in some phrases (like ice cream) — see the discussion in the posts listed in the Page linked to above — but it hasn’t been reported (so far as I know) for poached egg, in either pronunciation or spelling, at least for native speakers.

The natural hypothesis is that this cluster simplification is especially favored by speakers of languages that lack final consonant clusters, especially obstruent clusters. Some of these languages lack final obstruents in general, but obstruent clusters present even greater articulatory challenges, so that cluster simplification at least eases the burden: if you aim for a final obstruent you might delete it, but if you aim for something even harder, like an obstruent cluster, you might achieve a single obstruent instead. (A well-known phenomenon in children’s acquisition of phonology.)

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Follow-ups: t/d-deletion

November 16, 2017

Following up on my posting on the 14th, “toss salad, fry shrimp, and other t/d ~ ∅”, two complex cases: dark fire tobacco, from Clai Rice’s recent fieldwork, as he reported on ADS-L yesterday; and t/d-deletion as a contributor to eggcorning.

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Revisiting 12: chop salad

November 16, 2017

In the previous installment, on the 14th, there was “toss salad, fry shrimp, and other t/d ~ ∅”; on Facebook, John Lawler noted that toss salad (< tossed salad) sounds like chop salad (< chopped salad). So it does, both in meaning and in form.

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toss salad, fry shrimp, and other t/d ~ ∅

November 14, 2017

Mike Pope on Facebook 9/29/17 (yes, I am many hundreds of postings behind), with this menu photo:

toss salad, like grill cheese, old-fashion, whip cream, ice tea, etc. Final t/d ~ ∅, aka t/d-deletion. In honor of Mike’s example, I have created a t/d-deletion Page on this blog, inventorying Language Log and AZBlog postings on the topic, with extensive quotations from the postings.

Then a bonus: though the menu listings above have fried shrimp, the shorter fry shrimp is also attested, as on this site of stock drawings, including doodles of fried shrimp, some labeled fried shrimp, but a number labeled fry shrimp.

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The silence of the H’s and the nastiness of the narg

November 9, 2017

Two recent One Big Happy strips on linguistic themes, one phonological / orthographic, the other semantic / pragmatic:

(#1)

(#2)

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Wild Asia in Sonoma

September 14, 2017

Tuesday morning on KRCB (NPR station in Sonoma CA), a brief piece about the Quarryhill Botanical Garden there and a forthcoming Quarryhill lecture by Andrea Wulf, author of a recent book on Alexander von Humboldt. The garden was new to me, as was the book, and both are fascinating, but what mostly got my attention was the reporter’s pronunciation of quarry — with accented æ, to rhyme (in my variety of English) with Larry, Harry, carry, and marry.

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Words. words, words

May 7, 2017

From a King Features Comics Kingdom posting on the 3rd, “Ask a Cartoonist: Words to Live By” (by tea), three cartoons on words in comics: a Dustin on adolescent sniggering over potential double entendres and two Zippys about repeating words for sheer pleasure.

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