Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally


Posted by Neal on January 28, 2013

The title of this post as it sat in my drafts folder was “October Linkfest”. But you know what? I don’t think I want to wait nine months to share these links with you, so here they are now!

  1. From the folks who brought you COCA and COHA, and created user-friendly interfaces to the BNC and Google Books Corpus, it’s the Corpus of American Soap Operas. To get just a quick look at the difference between CASO and COCA, the search string “been with a man/woman” returns 47 hits out of COCA’s 450 million words, but with CASO’s mere 100 million, we still get a respectable 34 hits.
  2. In this first of two from Language Log, Mark Liberman asks: How do you pronounce the final consonant in with?
  3. When I was a teenager, I’d see the commercials for Raid insecticide on TV, with its tagline, “Raid kills bugs dead!” I didn’t like how they were trying to use kill with an object complement, as if it were a verb like make or render. I also didn’t like the redundancy of kill with dead. Oh, well, I was probably suffering from the Recency Illusion, anyway. But there’s one more problem with kill s.t. dead that I hadn’t thought about: What do you do when your direct object is long enough that you decide to move it to the right of kill dead? Think about it, then check out the news headlines in this Language Log post.
  4. What’s a ranga? Find out in this post from Fully (Sic). By its etymology, I’d guess its pronounced /ræŋə/, but I find that I want to pronounce it /ræŋɡə/.
  5. Since January 2011, Neal Goldfarb has been keeping a blog on linguistics and the law called LawnLinguistics (get it?), which I have now installed on the blogroll.
  6. John Wells has written a blog post on the affrication heard in words like truck and dry (and which I’ve blogged about, too). His question: Does it happen when the tr or dr cross word boundaries, as in night rate and head room?
  7. Nancy Friedman, with a nod to Language Hat, tells about “said-bookisms”, which turns out to be the word for an author’s use of more and more distracting words to replace said in written dialogue.
  8. A checked out the blog of Quirkycase, someone who recently started following me on Twitter, and found this enlightening post on why some German past participles begin with ge- and some don’t.
  9. A fascinating story, and equally fascinating 2:36 video on “Silbo Gomero”, a whistled version of Spanish used on the Canary Island of La Gomera.

2 Responses to “Linkfest”

  1. Alacritas said

    re: 6 —

    The affricate pronunciation seems alright for the voiced, but not the voiceless, affricate. So for example “head room” is OK, but not so much “night rate” with the affricate. I think the reason is that I pronounce the final “t” in “night” almost like a glottal stop, as most North Americans seem to — there is still some alveolar action going on there, but it’s hardly distinguishable to non-native speakers, and they often can’t tell what the place of articulation is of these final voiceless stops, p t k. So since this only applies to the voiceless ones, I assume that’s what’s blocking it there but not present to block it in the voiced case such as “head room”.

    Although to be honest, my tendency to affricatize my “tr” and “dr” clusters is not totally consistent — I seem to be on the slower end of this “chrend”. It’s at the point where I hear it and notice it in my and in other’s speech a lot of the time, but not all the time; it goes beneath the radar most of the time, I’m sure. But ever since you pointed it out it’s fascinated me how nobody notices this! Although it’s the same with most such non-phonemic changes.

    It reminds me of when I used to teach English in Chile and the kids would say “choo” for “two”, which is interesting since there, I wouldn’t say there’s any affricate so it must be the aspiration which makes them hear the initial “t” as a “ch”. If I said it with an hispanic accent, ie without the aspiration, they would mimic me perfectly, but otherwise they would usually make an affricate; and then since in colloquial Chilean Spanish they change the Standard Spanish alveolar affricate “ch” to an alveolar fricative “sh”, they would say “shoo” for “two”, since they had stored the initial sound as being essentially their “ch/sh” phoneme. And with the “tr” and “dr”, I had to take care not to pronounce it with the affricate pronunciation, lest they get that stuck in their heads and start saying “I had a jreem about a green shree”.

  2. EP said

    Oh man. Your comment about Raid and how it “kills bugs dead” was way too vivid for me. Memory-wise, I mean. That commercial image popped up in my mind and won’t leave me alone! Redundant? For sure. I suppose that was the point. But I’m sure it was effective for them from a marketing point of view.

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