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Ryan's linguistics blog
Updated : Sun, 19 Apr 2015 13:36:47 +0000

some, or all?
I ran into some difficulty during a LING 101 lecture the other day. I was talking about entailments, and focusing specifically on superset/subset relations. I started with some simple examples: "I eat bacon" entails "I eat meat", because bacon is a type of meat. I then moved on to what I considered were essentially identical statements. One of these was "John hates music" entails "John hates country music". Here I started getting blank looks. Several people didn't understand why this was the case, since John could hate some other type of music. After a second of musing, I found the problem: mass and bare plural nouns in English. If I say "John hates music", this can mean one of two things. The first is what I had in mind: that John hates all music. On this reading, "John hates music" entails "John hates country music", because country music is a subset of all music. However, there is another reading for "John hates music": that there is some type of music that John hates. On this reading "John hates music" does not entail "John hates country music", because John's hating black metal could satisfy the "some music" reading of "John hates music" without satisfying "John hates country music". General plurals (and mass nouns like "music") have a funny way of interacting with verbs in ambiguous ways, a fact that has led Mark Liberman to propose a voluntary ban on generic plurals to express statistical differences between populations.
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Ryan Denzer-King)
Publ.Date : Sat, 03 Dec 2011 21:52:00 +0000

Review: Through the Language Glass
Announcements: For anyone who still follows this blog, I should probably mention in a more official capacity that I don't really update anymore (in case you hadn't noticed). I am no longer in linguistics and though my 6 years in the field leaves me with significant interest, I no longer devote significant time to this blog. I still plan to post occasionally, but it will probably be mostly reviews like this one rather than more standard blog posts. If for some reason you are interested in reading more of my writing, feel free to check out my new (technology/science) blog Less Than Twelve Parsecs over on Wordpress.

Disclaimer: I was sent a free review copy of this book.

OK, the blog post:

The basic idea of this book ("Through the Language Glass: Why the world looks different in other languages" by Guy Deutscher) is to examine the premise that the language we speak influences how we interpret the world. The primary approach throughout is an analysis of how languages describe color. I've found that many people aren't really interested in color terms cross-linguistically because they assume that such analysis is merely providing translations. Of course (and as this book points out), languages in fact vary widely in how many color terms they have. Blackfoot has one word for blue/green, while Arabic has completely separate words for dark blue and light blue. I found the first half of this book to be the most compelling, providing a lot of history about how philologists and then linguists approached the question of color across cultures. These approaches began as mostly racist caricatures and progressed to the seminal Berlin & Kay work that established a (mostly) definite order of color acquisition that with very few exceptions predicts which color terms a language will have based on its number of colors terms. A language with just two colors will divide them into dark and light, and a language with three colors will always have red as the third color. (While there are exceptions to some of the predictions, the one just stated is as far as I know exceptionless. I would be very interested if anyone knows of any exceptions -- languages with only three basic color terms that do not include red as one of the color terms.) This part of the book is written clearly enough and provides enough helpful examples that I actually used it in my own teaching several times, as a content unit about colors for ESL classes.

On a more negative note, Chapter 5 of this book almost made me put it down for good. The author takes an entire chapter to essentially deconstruct the widely held linguistic notion that all languages are "equally complex". He even goes so far as to say that though he disagrees both with the popular notion that "primitive people speak primitive languages" and with the linguistics teaching that all language are equally complex, "linguists have fallen into the more serious error". Let me say that again: he disagrees that lesser-spoken languages are primitive, and he also disagrees that all language are equal, but he says that it's better to believe that lesser-spoken languages are primitive. Now, I doubt the author would agree with what I've just said if pressed, but it is literally the logically inescapable conclusion of that last sentence. While I might agree that we should strive to be utterly scientific (and saying something sweeping like "all languages are equally complex" is not very provable or scientific), I think it's even more important to think about the negative ramifications of things that we say. The saying that all language are equally complex arose because people used linguistic analysis as a racist tool to denigrate and victimize indigenous peoples. Don Frantz once related a story where when he told a local shop owner that he was studying the Blackfoot language, the owner told him that the Blackfeet did not have a language, "just a bunch of grunts". This is history; this is popular thinking, and to seek to make purely scientific statements while ignoring the destruction and victimization of indigenous peoples is careless at best and hateful at worst.  Certainly the author is correct that we need to specify complexity and offer controlled cross-linguistic studies, but even so I shy away from abandoning completely the maxim that languages are equally complex.  Languages ARE "equally complex" in the sense that they are all capable of communicating the same information.  This is the sense in which the maxim is usually meant in linguistics, not in the sense the author denigrates, that all languages are identical in the complexity of their phonology, morphology, and syntax.  Such an interpretation is nothing but a straw man argument that nobody would defend.  The author concludes by arguing that in fact "simple" societies have more complex languages, alluding to shared context enabling greater complexity without confusion.  Of course, in English, "simple" has come to be a word with negative connotations, and talking about "simple" societies or "simple" languages is an inherent judgment, whether we like it or not, just because of the meaning of the word in modern English.  

I was really disappointed in that one chapter, but once I got through it, I did enjoy the rest of the book.  That last part of the book finally delves into the science that I was perhaps most interested in from the start, comparing how languages use color terms and offering numerous summaries of experiments showing that how a language divides up colors can influence how quickly speakers perceive differences between colors.  The author's most compelling point is that while language does not dictate what we can express or what we think, the patterns of language do force us to focus on different things in different languages.  These patterns mean that speakers of Guugu Timithirr have a much better sense of direction that English speakers -- not because their language makes it impossible for them to think in egocentric directional terms, but because their language requires that they identify position based on cardinal directions.  The book also includes a section about gender in language, which, while providing some interested data, is in my view little more than a good way to introduce the idea that how we speak can influence how we think about things.  The last part of the book wraps up with a good (and at least for me, eye-opening) summary of the evolution of color vision, which is certainly relevant to the points brought up in the book.

TL;DR: I hesitate to recommend this book just because of my own violent allergy to any suggestion that languages are not equal.  Languages are of course very different, but I think any suggestion of inequality will only enforce in the minds of many the idea that "primitive people speak primitive languages".  I am not swayed by the author's assertion that because languages differ in the complexity of their phonology, morphology, and syntax, this means that it is a mortal sin to claim that languages are equally complex.  That being said, I found the other sections of this book not only readable but eminently informative and interesting.  There is much to be learned here, both about the history of research into color terms and analysis of cross-linguistic color terms themselves.
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Ryan Denzer-King)
Publ.Date : Sun, 23 Nov 2014 02:06:00 +0000

out of proportion to
I was reading something recently and the expression "out of proportion to" caught my eye. Somehow the preposition "to" seemed odd, but at the time I couldn't figure out what I would rather use. Since then I've decided that I probably use "out of proportion with", though I'm much more likely to rephrase the entire sentence so that I can use "disproportionate(ly)". So I thought I'd do a little searching and see which is more common. Sure enough, the "to" version is significantly more common, with 8.7M ghits versus only 1.5M for "with". Those seem to be the only prepositions possible, both from my own intuitions and looking around on the interwebs. COCA gets 161 hits for "to" versus a mere 21 for "with". I did turn up one more preposition that I hadn't thought of, and didn't find from random google searches: "out of proportion from". COCA gives two hits ("Pain out of proportion from injury" and "privileges and a scale of living that were not only far out of proportion from what we had experienced back in the United States"), and google gives ~95k hits, only about 30% of which seem to be genuine "out of proportion P" constructions, so this usage seems to be rather rare. Not sure why I felt "to" was odd, and honestly I'm not even sure that if I used the construction I wouldn't use "to", but I find this sort of variation in prepositional choices interesting.
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Ryan Denzer-King)
Publ.Date : Sat, 12 Feb 2011 19:38:00 +0000

thinking scientifically about language
I just submitted my grades for my fall LING 101 course, and I'm busy preparing for my spring LING 101 course, so the question of how to get people to think scientifically about language has been much on my mind recently. I've found that one of the most useful entry-level questions is "How is human language difference from other forms of animal communication?" The media loves animal language stories, and so the uniqueness and complexity of human language is one of the first things I cover. One of the most important things about discussing such topics is not "Is human language unique?", but "What concrete properties of human language distinguish it from animal communication?" We're doing science, and so we want to point to specific criteria to distinguish the two; we want a theory of human language that predicts specific empirical facts. This is not how the general public usually thinks about language (or about anything; critical thinking is far removed from the natural pattern of human cognition).

Another topic I've always wanted to cover in more detail is speech perception. Often when I tell non-linguists that I work on how we perceive speech sounds and assign them to various categories, I get blank stares. Certainly before I was in linguistics I gave no thought to speech perception. When I lived in Italy in elementary school it was inconceivable to me that Italian speakers couldn't understand English; my first hypothesis (admittedly quickly discarded) was that when someone spoke English they simply heard nothing. We think of language as magic: direct communication from one mind to another. It takes a bit of work to transition into the type of thinking that evaluates the creation of sound by the human vocal tract and analyses how these sounds are transmitted as vibrations through the air, and then perceived by the human auditory and perceptual apparati (yes, I know that's not the proper Latinate plural). The question of how we distinguish a bilabial nasal from an alveolar nasal is not a natural one to ask, but it's an important question for linguists.

These are some of the basic concepts I'm planning to use in my 101 class next semester. If anyone has suggestions for other concepts useful for introducing people to the scientific study of language, I'd be glad to hear about them in the comments.
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Ryan Denzer-King)
Publ.Date : Sat, 17 Dec 2011 15:17:00 +0000

new Collins dictionary site
I had my attention directed to the new Collins dictionary site this week. For the most part it's your standard dictionary site -- definitions, usage examples, etc. The IPA transcriptions are solid, though don't include syllable boundaries, and I have yet to find a word improperly transcribed. The search function is predictably fine, though doesn't have autosuggestions. What got me excited, though, was the information about the relative frequency of the word in each entry. In the top right of each entry is a "commonness" bar, which indicates how common a word is by shading between 1 and 5 circles. Additional mouseover text mentions the size of that category, e.g., "X is one of the 30,000 most commonly used words". Though there are obviously questions about what corpus is being used for these calculations, it's still a neat feature. Another cool graphic is featured in the bottom right of each entry, which features an adjustable chart showing how common the word has been for a specified time period (from the last 500 years to the last 10 years). Perhaps not as detailed as COCA's interface, but still a great addition to a dictionary web site. And let's not forget the "translations" section, which gives translations of the word into other languages. Okay, Blackfoot isn't included, but you can instantly see translations from all the most spoken languages. Overall, it's pretty cool; I'll probably be using it as my go-to dictionary site from now on, mostly because of the frequency statistics.
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Ryan Denzer-King)
Publ.Date : Sat, 03 Mar 2012 14:20:00 +0000

language as technology
My friend and erstwhile colleague Josh Birchall posted a link on Facebook to an interesting TED talk by Mark Pagel entitled How Language Transformed Humanity, on the development of language as a communicative tool and how it presented a huge evolutionary advantage over non-linguistic species. It isn't difficult to see how language, an infinitely productive system capable of expressing ideas that are not tied to a specific time and location, confers a greater benefit than other forms of communication. Language can be used to transfer abstract ideas and share a much wider range of information and technology compared to, say, the system of pheromones that ants use to communicate. It is for that reason that many archaeologists typically assume that the rise of abstract expression (viz., art) and the exponential proliferation of tool development coincides with the rise of language.

At any rate, it's an interesting talk, even if it's not perfect, and I think well worth watching.
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Ryan Denzer-King)
Publ.Date : Sat, 21 Jan 2012 14:56:00 +0000

heritage languages
Many Americans don't give a thought to what their heritage language is. No doubt this is partly because we are titans of assimilation and monolingualism (and I don't mean that entirely as a bad thing -- it's no doubt the reason why it's not ridiculous to speak of "Americans" in a country with dozens of ethnic groups spanning almost 4 million square miles). I'm only the third generation born in the U.S. on my maternal side, and I know exactly three phrases in German (excluding things I learned outside my family), and one of them is "Gesundheit". I think another reason we don't think about heritage languages is that we have so many of them. I don't know if I know a single second-generation (or greater) American who has ancestors from a single ethnic group. Depending on which line I'm tracing, my "heritage language" might be German or Scottish or Irish (or maybe even Italian or Hungarian -- old census and shipping records aren't the clearest).

In another sense, we all speaker our "heritage language", if we define heritage language to refer to the language of the culture we identify with. While the U.S. has no official language, English has become the de facto lingua franca, with 82% speaking it natively and up to 96% fluently. Insofar as English is the national language of the U.S., and insofar as I consider myself an American, English is in some sense my heritage language. But I think for many people that use the word "heritage", it means a lot more than this. It's not just about genes or cultural affiliation, but about self-identification. If a German child is adopted by Lakota parents and grows up speaking Lakota without knowing a word of German, is Lakota his heritage language any less than his parents? I don't doubt that there are many who would say "yes", but it's a touchy subject trying to foist heritage languages on others.

It's not by accident that I chose Lakota in the above example. The concept of a heritage language is of utmost importance for people who are losing their language. For native peoples of the Americas (I'm choosing North America because that's where I live and those are the languages I've studied the most), language is much more bound up in culture than for Europeans. European traditions, religions, and politics have been translated and adapted so many times that I have met very few people of European descent who identify strongly with the language they speak. While nuances are of course lost in translation, I would wager that few would say that the ideas in Machiavelli's The Prince would be lost if we lost the original Italian printing. On the other hand, there is a very strong feeling among American language speakers that losing their language means losing their culture, and means losing unique ways of looking at the world. (NB: there are other American language speakers who feel equally strongly for the opposite view.) Thus the concept of a heritage language is a very important one.

These are just musings. You may disagree with some or all of them. That's fine. One final thought: given that languages evolve, where does our "heritage language" begin and end? If English is John's heritage language, is Middle English? Old English? Proto-Indo-European?
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Ryan Denzer-King)
Publ.Date : Sun, 02 Jan 2011 03:37:00 +0000

pre-fixed menu
I saw a nice example of an eggcorn the other day, advertising a "pre-fixed" menu. This is of course referring to the phenomenon of a "prix fixe" menu, where restaurants offer a multi-course meal for a set price (typically one that's cheaper than expected). Even though I don't speak French, I've always thought this phrase was fairly transparent: as an English-speaker, I'm familiar with the fact that French adjectives (like most other Romance languages) have adjectives after the noun -- we even have some traces of it in English, e.g., Attorney-General. And if you know that much, it's not a big stretch from prix fixe --> price fixed --> fixed price. But for someone who's only ever heard the phrase pronounced, the similarity might not be as obvious: /ˌpriːˈfɪks/. This certainly does sound almost identical to a standard pronunciation of "pre-fixed". And since prix fixe menus have a price that's already set, the semantic notion of a menu being "pre-fixed" makes sense as well. Phonetic similarity + semantic compositionality = the perfect scenario for eggcorn formation.

Just for fun, some examples that I found online:
http://www.afridom.net/lesouk-harem/menu.html
http://www.thespot-restaurant.com/party.html
http://www.clarksbarandgrill.com/Menu/Dockside-Grill-pre-Fixed-Menu.htm
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Ryan Denzer-King)
Publ.Date : Sat, 13 Nov 2010 15:21:00 +0000

an eggcorn and a spelling pronunciation
In this post I just wanted to quickly document two items I came across recently.

The first is the substitution of "upmost" for "utmost". This fits the classic definition of an eggcorn: mistaking a particular turn of phrase for a phonologically similar word or phrase that makes more intuitive sense. When we talk about something "of the utmost importance", we mean something of the highest import, something that should be at the top of our list. Thus it makes perfect sense that some people would reanalyze "utmost" as "upmost", especially given that the stops are in coda position next to a bilabial /m/, making the phonetic distinction between the two probably very slim. This substitution seems to be fairly common; I got almost 5M ghits, and the top one was an article called "Don't Confuse 'Utmost' with 'Upmost'", hosted on a site related to grammar tips. COCA only returns 8 results, not all relevant, but given that "upmost" is most likely to occur in speech, and transcribers may simply hear "utmost" since that is the standard, most likely there would be significantly more results.

The spelling pronunciation I came across recently is "half to". While not an eggcorn ("half to" makes no more intuitive sense than "have to", in fact I'd say it makes less sense), I still find this interesting. Most likely the writer here is thinking of the fact that the word 'have' contains a /v/, and since the /v/ in "have to" is devoiced (obligatorily, at least for me), "half to" more accurately represents the phrase phonetically. Voicing the /v/ in "have to" sounds quite archaic to me, and primes constructions like "I still have homework to do" much more than the relevant meaning "I am required to X". Unfortunately constructions like "one and a half to two" and "half to death" make it almost impossible to turn up genuine results of this online. A similar situation obtains with "supposed to": if you tell me you're "suppo[zd] to do" something, my first thought is that someone's making a supposition about you, rather than giving you a requirement. The devoicing here is so necessary in my idiolect that voicing the final cluster sounds like hypercorrection to me. The spelling "suppose to" again seems very common: almost 7M ghits, with several grammar sites warning against this "mistake". COCA actually turns up some instances that seem to be genuine as well. This type of phonological reduction is common with set phrases, and I'm guessing is assimilation in voicing to the following /t/.
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Ryan Denzer-King)
Publ.Date : Sun, 30 Jan 2011 03:12:00 +0000

pragmatic ambiguity?
Last weekend was the annual LSA meeting, and so I drove to Pittsburgh, PA to spend a few days carousing with linguists. On the PA Turnpike there are a number of tunnels through the mountains in central PA. Naturally, you should have your headlights on when driving through these tunnels (though they are somewhat lit). Signs just before the tunnels instruct you to do so: "Turn on headlights". However, I was more puzzled by the signs after such tunnels: "Headlights on?" I knew how to answer the question: "Yes." But why was it being asked? Clearly the designers thought it was an obvious question to ask, but I was more confused. Were they making sure I still had my headlights on, because I was going to be going through another tunnel soon? This doesn't seem right, because I'm pretty sure the signs appeared after every tunnel, including the last one coming through the mountains. But in that case it would seem they're asking to make sure I remember to turn them off. This seems odd because daytime running lights are a common safety feature on newer vehicles, and in fact some areas of the country require you to drive with your lights on all the time, since it increases the visibility of your car. So I'd be surprised if they were reminding me to turn off my lights. However, I can't really think of any other options. It seems insane to say that they're just calling my attention to the state of my lights so that I can adjust them as I see fit. What else is there?
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Ryan Denzer-King)
Publ.Date : Sun, 16 Jan 2011 02:02:00 +0000

time adverbials
I don't remember how I stumbled across it, but I found the SFMTA page a couple weeks ago, and was interested in a completely ordinary construction on their home page, namely that their railway "today carries over 200 million customers per year". If we take the more narrow meaning of "today" as the day of the utterance, this sentence is nonsensical. You can't have a certain number of customers per year carried on a single day. But of course that's not how we actually interpret the sentence. Here we use "today" in a more general, perhaps not quite metaphorical sense, simply to mean the current relevant time. That could be limited to the actual day in question, but it could also be a month, a year, or a millenium -- we could also say "today the planet has significantly lower oxygen levels than during the Cretaceous", and we'd be talking about the current geological era. This type of coercion is extremely common in English, though it isn't possible in every language. We're quite willing to reinterpret the semantics of a verb or time adverbial in order to make the sentence interpretable. The predicate "reach the summit" is a classic example of what is typically called an achievement, a predicate that happens all at once. You've either reached the summit or you haven't; there's nothing in between. But we're perfectly happy to say "they reached the summit in twenty minutes", because we attach a preparatory process that consists of the stages coming immediately before actually reaching the summit (hiking, climbing, etc.).
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Ryan Denzer-King)
Publ.Date : Sat, 12 Mar 2011 22:02:00 +0000

might didn't
A few weeks ago I caught myself saying "might didn't". When it came out I was confused, and assumed, like my cohorts, that it was a speech error. But the next day I did a bit of google searching, and realized that in fact "might didn't" is a construction associated with the use of double modals, and that perhaps I was successfully integrating double modals into my grammar.

One example: "Great Tools For YouTube And Online Music Streaming You Might Didn't Know Of"

In standard English this would be "Great Tools...You Might Not Have Known Of", or hypercorrect "...Of Which You Might Not Have Known". The "might didn't" construction indicates to me that syntacticians are missing the boat if they claim double modals are merely lexicalied constructions inserted whole into T. "Did" isn't a modal, and there are clear syntactic parallels between "might could" and "might did". What we need is a theory of grammar for double modal dialects that correctly accounts for the pattern of usage, not a theory that best fits standard dialects and half-heartedly accounts for certain superficial aspects of double modal grammars. Personally, I'm interested in a proper syntactic account of double modals because I'm all for accurate description of minority languages and dialects, but I have a feeling that such dialects could also reveal important things about what might could be a part of Universal Grammar.
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Ryan Denzer-King)
Publ.Date : Sat, 27 Nov 2010 17:35:00 +0000

Let's see if we can't do that
Last week Vicki Hartley wrote to ask me about "the use of a negative construction when a positive construction is simpler". One example is "I'll see if I can't do that". Strangely, this sentence means essentially the same thing as "I'll see if I can do that". Another example she asked about was, e.g., "I don't have but three students", to mean "I have only three students". The way I see it, these are two separate constructions, though there is an underlying theme.

In the first, you're saying that you'll try the opposite of what you intend. I told Vicki that I saw this as similar to what goes on in the scientific method -- we'll start with our hypothesis and try to disprove it; hopefully we'll fail. Logically, this seems to make sense, since either way the result is the same: you find out whether or not you're able to do something. On the other hand, as a speaker, I wonder if this "scientific method" approach is really what's going on here. To me "I'll see if I can't do that" really doesn't mean "I'm going to attempt to not do that". To me I can't find any semantic difference in "see if I can't" versus "see if I can". Pragmatically there are differences -- the redundant negative version seems to presuppose that there will be some difficulty associated with the course of action, hence the negative. On the other hand, it seems to also presuppose that the course of action will result in a positive outcome. To me, telling a sopping wet child "let's see if we can't find you some dry clothes" would be infelicitous if it were my child at my house. I could only felicitously say that to my child's friend at my house, where there would be no reason to expect to find them dry clothes that fit properly. (An aside: I picked this example because I associate "let's see if we can't..." with a parent talking to a child -- not sure if this is relevant to the discussion at hand.) However, I'll also say it implies that I'm relatively sure of a positive outcome (finding dry clothes that fit). If I say "let's see if we can find you some dry clothes" I don't get quite the same expectation; there's more tolerance for the negative outcome "oh well, I guess not".

The second construction is a slightly different version of the redundant negative. For me, "I don't have but three students" is slightly marked, but fully grammatical, whereas "I have but three students" sounds archaic almost to the point of ungrammaticality. So we have the following, which all entail having three students:

1) I have three students.
2) I have only three students.
3) I have but three students.
4) ?I have but only three students.
5) I don't have but three students.

I have a question mark by (4) because I'm not sure if I like it or not. I
think I don't, but it doesn't seem totally wrong. And then we have the
following, which all entail NOT having three students:

6) I don't have three students.
7) I don't have only three students.
8) *I don't have but only three students.

I'm pretty sure (8) is bad, but if it's not, I think it would mean the
positive, not the negative.

My guess is that we should treat this second construction as parallel to the first one. Despite my archaic interpretation of "I have but three students", this was definitely fine in earlier versions of English, and my guess is that many people would find it unremarkable even today. Thus "I don't have but three students" is essentially the same phenomenon as "Let's see if we can't do that". One avenue of research that might prove useful is semantic research on some of the North American languages. Salishan languages have suffixes that create a "managed to" reading (non-control transitivizers, for those in the know). Navajo has an adversative reading that indicates that a proposition is counter to expectation. Blackfoot (an unrelated language) has the same thing (which coincidentally is also the affix for "please"). This might be what we're seeing in English: variation based on presuppositions of the speaker's ability to bring into being some desired or discussed resultant state.
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Ryan Denzer-King)
Publ.Date : Sat, 23 Oct 2010 20:02:00 +0000

English is hard
I ran across an interesting spelling pronunciation the other day (I have the sense that it was on Not Always Right, but I've been unable to find it). A woman ordering quiche asked for kwɪki rather than kiʃ. These types of spelling pronunciations are not uncommon for low-frequency words, where low-frequency varies according to dialect and context. Of course, English pronunciation rules don't get you from kiʃ to kwɪki. Since English has borrowed heavily from a number of languages (viz., French, Latin, and Greek), we have to figure out the source of a word before we can come up with a reasonable pronunciation. In the case of "quiche", we have to realize that the word originates in French, in which case we will probably know that "qui" is [ki] and that "ch" in French loans is typically a postalveolar fricative. It seems, however, that this woman thought the word was Greek, where word-final "che" is not uncommon in terms borrowed from Greek (e.g., synecdoche), and is pronounced [ki]. "Qui" as [kwɪ] is typically for English, though unusual for foreign loans. These types of errors are consequences of borrowing from so many different sources, and even more so of having a non-phonetic orthography.
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Ryan Denzer-King)
Publ.Date : Sat, 12 Nov 2011 20:35:00 +0000
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