Archive for the ‘Prosody’ Category

Annals of research queries

August 21, 2021

(Or, Cheers: Does anybody know some work?)

A comment from me yesterday on my 8/7  posting “Melecio / Biaggi”, in which I noted the lifelong social stigma for sexworkers (Melecio / Biaggi being one such),

which I posted baffled comments on in my posting: there’s a moral question here, lying in the nexus between matters of sexual morality and matters of economic morality. So I thought to appeal to a moral philosopher [Tim Scanlon of Harvard] to ask if the question had been considered in the literature in that field.

… I keep posing queries (arising from my postings) to academics who are old friends (Tim; the phonetician John Wells [at University College London] on “difference illusions”, illusions that certain homophones are actually distinct in pronunciation [in my 8/9 posting “The khan con”]; and the [Stanford] linguist Paul Kiparsky on the metrics of chants [in my 7/18 posting “Between the glutes”])

Tim and John were intrigued by my queries, but had no literature to offer. Paul’s response was more complicated: over brunch, he and I together were able to recall a few items, so that I could write to their authors for assistance, and our conversation led me to realize that the topic was a great deal more complex than I had thought when I posed the query.

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The mirror of the manatee

August 5, 2021

In today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro — Wayno’s title: “The Mammal in the Mirror” (a play on the song title “Man in the Mirror”) — a manatee primps at his vanity, yielding the vanity + manatee portmanteau vanatee, and crossing genders as well as words (masculine manatee — “Man in the Mirror”, addressing himself as handsome, bristly body — at a conventionally highly feminine item of furniture, a vanity table, for applying makeup in the bedroom):


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

I’ll start with the two contributors to the portmanteau and follow them where they lead, which is many surprising places.

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Between the glutes

July 18, 2021

(Some male body parts, depicted and discussed in plain, but not raunchy, terms. So not squarely in the Sex Zone, but not tasteful either. Caution advised for kids and the sexually modest.)

For me, it all started with a recent ad on Facebook for suit sets (sleeveless tank tops with bikini underpants) from the Fabmens company in a variety of intriguing patterns, including a (more or less) rainbow “color block” pattern seen here from the rear:


(#1) The design of the underpants strikingly accentuates the wearer’s ass / butt / bum  cleft / crack / cleavage, in a way that in my queer fashion I (at least) find decidedly hot

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Deacccenting

March 26, 2018

Coming past me every so often on tv, a commercial for the Car Gurus company, in which the pronunciation of the company name varies from a clear car gurus, [ˈkarˌguruz], with a secondary accent on the first syllable of gurus, to something like cargaroos, [ˈkargəruz], with this syllable unaccented and its vowel reduced to schwa — indeed, including the intermediate variant [ˈkargʊruz], with that syllable deaccented and its vowel laxed but not reduced to schwa.

My ears perked up at the pronunciations with deaccented second element, because they sounded so odd — because they effaced the identity of the guru component of the name, which is surely semantically important to the image of the company, which proposes to offer gurus, in this sense from NOAD:

noun guru: an influential teacher or popular expert

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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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100 years of independence

December 6, 2017

Though today is one of the dark days of early December alluded to in my recent posting — it’s Mozart’s death day, a sad occasion indeed — it’s also St. Nicholas’s day (gifts!), and Chris Waigl’s birthday (eggcorns, remote sensing of wildfires in the Arctic, Python, knitting, and more, in three languages!), and Independence Day in Finland. As Riitta Välimaa-Blum reminds me, this year’s Independence Day is something spectacular: the centenary of Finland’s declaration of independence from Russia.

(#1) The Finnish flag

So raise a glass of Lakka (Finnish cloudberry liqueur) or Finlandia vodka, neat, to honor that difficult moment in 1917 — the year should call to your mind both World War I (still underway then) and the Russian revolution, and these enormous upheavals were in fact crucial to Finland’s wresting its independence from Russia.

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Which witch?

July 9, 2015

Today’s Bizarro:

Two phonological issues here: the initial consonants in witch and which, which are identical for the bulk of current English speakers (as a voiced approximant [w]), but are distinguished (as voiced [w] vs. the corresponding voiceless [ʍ]) for some; and the prosody associated with the questions

(a) Witch one stole your broom?  VS.  (b) Which one stole your broom?

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Ruthie’s classic

October 29, 2014

Yesterday’s One Big Happy, with Ruthie treating the word classic (which she had surely heard before but clearly had not figured out what it meant) as a phrase:

Prosodically, classic and class sick are quite different: the first has an accented syllable followed by an unaccented one, the second has two accented syllables, with the first heavier than the second. Segmentally, they are very similar; although in a careful pronunciation, there are two occurrences of /s/ in class sick, one from each word (but only one occurrence in classic), in ordinary connected speech the first /s/ is suppressed, so that the two expressions are segmentally identical.

On the portmanteau beat

October 7, 2014

Today’s Zippy:

A complex portmanteau in the last panel: marshmallegro has all of marshmallow and all of allegro in it (thus combining the otherwise disparate marshmallow-toasting and musical-tempo themes), but the shared material — /ælo/ — is discontinuous, first /æl/ in the middle of the portmanteau, then /o/ at the end. (The portmanteau is also prosodically pleasing: a double trochee, S W / S W, which could easily be set to music.) (more…)

Female archetypes in the movies

October 2, 2014

The first, summary, paragraph of the abstract for a Qualifying Paper in the Stanford Ph.D. program — by Sunwoo Jeong — on “Iconicity in Suprasegmental Variables:
The Case of Archetypal Hollywood Characters of the 1940s-50s”:

Films are potent vehicles that not only reflect common linguistic practices, but also create new social meanings for linguistic variables and actively shape dominant language ideologies of the era. This was especially the case for films made during the Golden Age of Hollywood in which several distinctive film genres, featuring highly stylized female characters, emerged as important cultural phenomena: femme fatales in film noir, independent brunettes in screwball comedies, and dumb blondes in musical comedies. This paper argues that systematic variation in suprasegmental linguistic cues like pitch, prosody, and voice quality was employed by the actresses to index the three prominent archetypes mentioned above, and more importantly, that the realizations of these variables were not arbitrary in that they created an iconic tie with the archetype that they indexed. Combined with other cinematic devices that fortified this iconic relation, the underlying ideologies behind these linguistic variables were more easily naturalized, resulting in wider dissemination.

(I’m way behind in posting on Neat Stuff by Stanford Students, but this one came in this morning and I thought I’d seize it before it fell into the To Do pit.)

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