Saturday, December 21, 2013

Received Pronunciation and Estuary English

Received Pronunciation and Estuary English are two accents of British English. Received Pronunciation is the variety of British English which is usually taught to foreigners. It has other names such as BBC English, Queen's English and Oxford English. Estuary English is a variety of English spoken in southeastern England. Though similar, they have differences in pronunciation.

In Estuary English, a word-final l vocalizes and is realized as a w. This happens in words such as apple, ball and well. This is not the case in Received Pronunciation.

Another difference concerns the glottal stop. In Received Pronunciation, it can occur in combination with an alveolar plosive. An example is the word football. However, in Estuary English, the glottal stop can replace another consonant. It is thus possible to pronounce football with a glottal stop instead of an alveolar plosive. The glottal stop can also replace other plosives in Estuary English. Examples include bookshelf and laptop. Notice that the glottal stop occurs syllable-finally.

Also different in the two varieties is the phenomenon of h-dropping. In Received Pronuncation it never occurs, but in Estuary English pronouns such as he and him and the auxiliary have can be pronounced without the h. H-dropping is possible with such words in Estuary English, but not in Received Pronunciation.

Though they are similar varieties of English, Received Pronunciation and Estuary English have pronunciation differences. Estuary English has vocalization of the alveolar lateral, more extensive use of the glottal plosive and h-dropping in certain situations. These pronunciation differences serve to distinguish Received Pronunciation from Estuary English.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Spanish h and Portuguese f

A number of Spanish words have a word-initial which corresponds to a word-initial f in Portuguese. The word-initial f was present in Latin but changed to an h in Spanish. The Spanish h now has no phonetic value. It remains in the orthography but is not pronounced.

Here is a list of words with an h in Spanish and f in Portuguese:

hablar falar (speak)
hijo filho (son)
hija filha (daughter)
hierro ferro (iron)
horno forno (oven)
hoja folha (leaf)
hilo fio (string)
harina farinha (flour)
hecho fato (fact)
hambre fome (hunger)

The Portuguese words preserve the word-initial f of Latin. It is thus possible to say that Portuguese is more conservative than Spanish. In addition to this sound relationship, Spanish and Portuguese share many others.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Open Lines of Attack

In a game of speed chess, I won with open lines of attack against an exposed king. My opponent, who played black, was Reylee from the Philippines. He used a defence which I did not expect. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 f5

Black's move is a surprise. This is usually played in response to d4. I can play exf on my next move, but this results in a pawn which is difficult to defend.

2. d3 e5
3. Nc3 c6
4. Bd2 Nf6
5. f4 exf
6. Bxf4 d6
7. Nf3 Be7

Black is ready to castle kingside.

8. Be2 0-0

Now I can also castle kingside, but I decide to castle queenside to launch a strong attack on the kingside.

9. Qd2 fxe
10. Nxe4 Nxe4
11. dxe4 Bh4+

The check is ineffective.

12. g3 Be7
13. 0-0-0 a5
14. Bd3 Bg4
15. Rdf1 b5
16. h3 Be6

Black's attack on the queenside is more advanced than my attack on the kingside.

17. Ng5 Bd7
18. e5 d5
19. Bxh7+ Kh8

I win a pawn.

20. Bd3 Na6

Black finally activates the queen knight.

21. e6 Be8
22. h4 Nb4
23. Kb1 Nxd3
24. Qxd3 g6

Black stops Qh7#.

25. Nf7+ Bxf7
26. exf7 Kg7

Black protects g6 and attacks the f7 pawn at the same time.

27. Be5+ Kh6

I have open lines of attack against the black king.

28. Qe3+ Kh7
29. h5 Bg5

I want to open the h-file.

30. hxg6+ Kxg6

I ignore the attack on my queen.

31. Qd3#

The black king has no escape. My queen, rooks and bishop dominate the kingside. The black pieces are too far from the king.

My open lines of attack, control of the kingside and protected king are the keys to victory in this game. This is a game with attacks on opposite sides of the board. I fight on the kingside and black on the queenside. Fortunately for me, my attack is more powerful.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Mate with Rook and Knight

In a game of speed chess versus Juanpablogonzalez of Argentina, I mated with my rook and knight. My opponent, who played black, probably never saw the mate. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. d4 d5
2. c4 Be6

Black makes an unusual move. More common moves are c6, e6 and dxc.

3. c5 a6
4. Nc3 h6
5. Bf4 Nc6
6. Nf3 Nf6
7. e3 Bf5

I want to prevent black from playing Nb4 on his next move because this targets c2.

8. Bd3 Bxd3
9. Qxd3 e6
10 a3 Be7
11. 0-0 0-0
12. b4 Na7

I have a space advantage.

13. h3 c6
14. Rad1 b6

The knight on a7 is ineffective.

15. e4 bxc
16. bxc Nc8

The knight is even more ineffective on c8.

17. Ne5 Qe8
18. Nf3 a5
19. exd exd
20. Rfe1 Qd7
21. Ne5 Qb7
22. Rb1 Qa6

Black wants to exchange queens, but my queen is more valuable.

23. Qg3 Bd8

Black misses my next move.

24. Bxh6 Nh5
25. Qg4 g6
26. Nxg6 Re8

This is a blunder but black cannot save the rook.

27. Rxe8+ Kh7

This is black's only legal move.

28. Rh8#

The knight on g6 and the bishop on h6 are hanging, but this does not matter. I mate the black king with a combination of my rook and knight. Black cannot protect the back rank.

I take advantage of black's cramped position, lack of control of the back rank and exposed king to force mate. Black plays a number of dubious moves such as Nc8. This move worsens his position and gives me a space advantage. The black rooks play no active role in the game.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Spanish Syntax

Spanish syntax is similar to that of English in many ways. Both Spanish and English are SOV languages and both languages have wh-movement. However, in sentences, Spanish displays greater variety.

For example, the English sentence David isn't going to the party cannot be expressed with a different word order. In Spanish, three sentences are possible.  They are:

1) David no va a la fiesta.
2) No va David a la fiesta.
3) No va a la fiesta David.

The first sentence has the same word order as in English. In the second sentence, the subject David is placed after the verb and in the third sentence the subject David is placed after the object of the preposition party.

The basic Spanish structure is expressed in number 1. In number two we see the NP placed after the VP. More emphasis is given to the VP. In the third sentence, the NP is placed after the VP and the PP. Here the subject is demoted to sentence-final position.

Though English and Spanish both share many syntactic similarities, they also have differences. One of these differences is the word order of sentences. English often has a fixed word order in cases where Spanish allows a variety of word orders.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winning Tactic

In a game of speed chess versus Mikehw of England, I used a winning tactic to force a quick resignation. My opponent played black. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6

Black chooses a passive defence. Nc6 is more common.

3. d4 exd

I immediately challenge black's centre.

4. Nxd4 Be7
5. Nc3 Bf6

Black moves the bishop again. It is better to develop the knight.

6. Be3 Ne7
7. Qd2 Ng6

Black moves the knight again. It is better to castle or develop another piece.

8. 0-0-0 a6
9. Kb1 b5
10. Nce2 c5

Black advances the queenside pawns, but the black king remains exposed in the centre of the board.

11. Nf5 Qc7
12. Qxd6 Be5

I win a pawn, but to my surprise, black does not recapture. I expect ...Qxd6 13. Nxd6+. Blacks wants to avoid this, but his move is a blunder.

13. Nxg7+

I sacrifice my knight to win black's queen. Black must reply Bxg7 and then I play Qxc7. My thirteenth move is so strong that black decides to resign.

I win quickly because black falls behind in development, leaves his king exposed in the centre and blunders on his twelfth move. He loses a valuable pawn and then overlooks my knight sacrifice, which ends the game. My knight sacrifice is undoubtedly a surprise.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ten Famous Arias

An aria is a long song written for a solo voice. Many operas have famous arias which have thrilled audiences from their premiere. Arias are a highlight of opera. Here is a list of ten famous arias:

1) Rigoletto (Caro Nome)
2) Rigoletto (La Donna è mobile)
3) Gianni Schicchi (O mio babbino caro)
4) Carmen (La voila...L'amour est oiseau rebelle)
5) Madama Butterfly (Un bel di, vedremo)
6) La Bohème (Che gelida manina)
7) The Marriage of Figaro (Voi che sapate che cosa è amor)
8) Aida (Celeste, Aida)
9) Tosca (Vissi d'arte, Vissi d'amore)
10) Turandot (Nessun Dorma)

The list has arias from nine operas. The opera Rigoletto appears twice. The composer Puccini (Gianni Schichhi, Madama Butterfly, La Bohème, Tosca, Turandot) has five arias. Verdi (Rigoletto, Aida) has three and Mozart (The Marriage of Figaro) and Bizet (Carmen) both have one. This list is by no means definitive and in fact, a list of ten famous arias can vary greatly.