Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Meaning of ad hoc and per se

The expressions ad hoc and per se are from Latin. They are useful expressions that are considered formal, but they can be used in both formal and informal situations. Let us look at examples.

The meaning of per se is by itself or without external factors. It can be used as follows: "The speaker was not the problem per se, but he should have given more examples." In other words, the speaker was fine, but he didn't give sufficient examples.

The expression ad hoc means for a specific purpose. In the sentence, "We hire employees on an ad hoc basis," the hiring is done only when the company needs employees and not on a regular basis.

Two Latin expressions which are common in formal speech writing are ad hoc and per se. However, they are also heard in informal conversation.Their order tends to be different- ad hoc is often used before nouns and per se after.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Victory in 13

In a game of speed chess, my opponent resigned after only 13 moves. He was r8ramya of India, who played white. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. d4 Nf6
2. Bf4 g6
3. Nc3 d5

White usually develops the c-pawn before the knight to control more of the centre.

4. Nf3 a6
5. e3 Bg7
6. h3 0-0

Developing the f-bishop to prepare castling is a better move for white.

7. Bd3 c5
8. dxc5 Nc6

White accepts the sacrifice.

9. a3 Re8

It is better for white to castle.

10. Ne5 Nh5
11. Nxc6 bxc6
12. Bh2 e5
13. b4 e4

White blunders. A better move is to castle.

White resigns because I have a double attack. His bishop on d6 and knight on c6 are both threatened at the same time. White's failure to castle is one of the reasons for his quick defeat.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Numbers in Sicilian

Though it is often considered a dialect of Italian, linguists agree that Sicilian is in fact a language. Sicilian differs significantly from Italian in vocabulary, phonology and grammar. For comparison, here are the numbers from one to ten in Sicilian and Italian:

one unu uno
two dui due
three tri tre
four quattru quattro
five cincu cinque
six sei sei
seven setti sette
eight ottu otto
nine novi nove
ten deci dieci

Word-final e and o in Italian often correspond to i and u in Sicilian. This phenomenon is known as vowel raising. The numbers from one to ten illustrate that Sicilian and Italian are separate languages.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Spanish Diphthongization

Spanish diphthongization is distinct from that of other languages. The Latin e and o often become ie and ue. This process is common in stressed syllables.

The word dental (dental) has an unstressed e. Compare this to the word diente (tooth), which is stressed on the first syllable. The word dental preserves the e of  Latin.

Here is a comparison of Spanish words with those of other Romance languages:


Spanish puerta Catalan porta French porte Italian porta Portuguese porta


Spanish fuego Catalan foc French feu Italian fuoco Portuguese fogo


Spanish piedra Catalan pedra French pierre Italian pietra Portuguese pedra


Spanish nieve Catalan neu French neige Italian neve Portuguese neve

Only Spanish has the diphthong ue in the words for door and fire. However, Italian also has a diphthong in the word for fire. Besides Spanish, French and Italian also have the diphthong ie in the word for rock. However, none of the other Romance languages have this diphthong in the word for snow, but Catalan has the diphthong eu. The diphthongs ie and ue are especially common in Spanish.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Vowel Alternation in Languages

Vowel alternation is a common process in many languages. This alternation often occurs in nouns and verbs. Here are examples from English and other languages:

decide decision
give gave
long length
volcano volcanic
wide width


vier (four) veertien (fourteen) veertig (forty)


six (six) soixante (sixty)


beginnen (begin) begonnen (begun)


dieci (ten) undici (eleven)


joven (young) juventud (youth)
seis (six) sesenta (sixty)
siete (seven) setecientos (seven hundred)

Vowel alternations can be observed in not only English but in many languages. Vowels have a relatively free airflow and less precise point of articulation than consonants. This may be the reason that vowels are more likely to alternate than consonants.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Th-Stopping in Irish English

Irish English has a feature known as th-stopping. This means that the interdental fricatives of there and thanks are pronounced as plosives. In the English of Northern Ireland, however, th-stopping does not apply because the fricatives are used instead.

The Irish language lacks the interdental fricatives of English. This explains their absence in Irish English. However, words such as thin/tin and then/den are not pronounced identically. The reason is that the words with th are pronounced with a dental plosive and those with a t or d are pronounced with an alveolar plosive.

Th-stopping is a feature of Irish English. Words such as this and thick are pronounced with plosives rather than fricatives. The voiceless fricative is pronounced with a voiceless plosive and the voiced fricative with a voiced plosive. Words with th have a dental pronunciation, and words with d and t have an alveolar one.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Alienable and Inalienable Possession

Two types of possession can be distinguished, alienable and inalienable possession. The first type of possession can change, but the second is obligatory. Inalienable possession is exemplified in kinship, body parts and attributes.

The following phrases illustrate inalienable possession:

my father
my sister
my eye
my leg
my name

Compare with these phrases which illustrate alienable possession:

my book
my pen
my bank
my friend
my school

In the phrases of inalienable possession, the nouns cannot exist independently from the possessor. However, in the phrases of alienable possession, the possession is optional because they can be separated from the possessor. If the possessor sold his or her book, it would no longer belong to the individual. In the case of the noun friend, if the friendship ended, the individuals would cease to be friends.

One distinction made in possession is between alienable and inalienable. Inalienable possession ca be seen in areas such as parts of the body, kinship and attributes. Of the two types of possesssion, alienable is more common.

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