Monday, November 30, 2015

The Suffix -ish in Spanish

The English suffix -ish is a diminutive. When added to a root, it gives an approximate meaning. For example, the word "eightish" means around eight and "yellowish" means close to yellow. In Spanish, approximate colours aren't formed with an invariable suffix as in English.

Here are ten approximate colours in Spanish:

red reddish rojo rojizo
blue bluish azul azulejo
yellow yellowish amarillo amarillento
black blackish negro negruzco
white whitish blanco blancuzco
pink pinkish rosa rosáceo  
green greenish verde verdoso
orange orangish naranja anaranjado
brown brownish pardo pardusco
grey greyish gris grisáceo  

Compared to English, we notice that approximate colours in Spanish aren't formed with a single suffix form. With the colours black and white, the word final -o becomes a -u and the suffix -zco is added. In the case of brown, the suffix is spelt -sco. The colours grey and pink add the suffix variant -áceo. The other colours are formed with different variants.

To form approximate colours in English, the rule is simple. The suffix -ish is added to the root. In Spanish, however, approximate colours are formed with a single suffix, but this suffix has many variants.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

English Strong and Weak Forms

Many English words have both a strong and weak pronunciation. They are known as strong and weak forms. The strong forms are used in isolation and in careful speech. In casual speech, the weak forms are common.

The word or has a strong and weak form. The strong form rhymes with for, but the weak form has the pronunciation of the final syllable of elevator. In the question "Soup or salad?" the weak pronunciation of the word sounds the same as "Super salad?" Other words which have strong and weak forms are and, for, to, he, her and him.

The strong pronunciaton of and rhymes with sand, but the weak pronunciation has a different vowel sound and lacks the final consonant. In the phrases black and white, fish and chips and salt and pepper, the weak pronunciation is normally used. For this reason, fish and chips is often spelt fish 'n chips.

The weak forms are usually accompanied by little stress. In the sentence, "This is for you," the word for is usually unstressed-this results in a weak pronunciation. The weak form of for has the pronunciation of the final syllable of elevator. 

The strong pronunciation of to rhymes with two, but the weak pronunciation has a much shorter vowel, the same vowel that is heard in the weak pronunciations of and and for.

In the words he, her and him, the h is pronounced in the strong forms but dropped in the weak forms. Some dialects of English never drop the letter h. One such dialect is Cockney, which is spoken in London. In these dialects he, her and him only have one form.

A number of English words have strong and weak forms. These words are often very common words such as and, for and two. The strong forms are common in formal speech, and the weak forms are common in casual speech.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mushroom Soup

Mushroom soup is delicious and easy to make. Here is the recipe:

500 grams chopped mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup cream or milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Melt the butter in a frying pan.  Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Cook until the onion is soft. Slowly blend two tablespoons of flour and stir. Transfer to a pot and add chicken broth. While stirring frequently, heat until it has thickened. Add cream or milk to the soup and gradually add one tablespoon of flour while stirring. Heat and stir until the soup thickens. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Russian Family Names

Many Russian family names have different forms for men and women. In fact, this is also true of other Slavic languages such as Polish, Czech and Slovak. Most Russian family names have a masculine and a feminine form.

In many cases, an -a is added to a name to make it feminine. For example, the feminine versions of the family names Alexeyev, Denisov, Kuznetsov, Safin and Semenov are Alexeyeva, Denisova, Kuznetsova, Safina and Semenova. Many Russian family names end with -ov and -ova.

Names which end in -ski change to -skaya. For example, the female version of Krasinski is Krasinskaya. In other cases, there is no change. For example, the names Chernykh, Pavliv and Petrenko are the same for both men and women. This is also true for foreign names.

Many Russian family names have different forms for men and women. To make a name feminine, an -a is usually added. With family names which end in -ski, the suffix becomes -skaya. However, some Russian family names are invariable.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Indefinite Article

The indefinite article in English is a/an. Before words that begin with a consonant sound, we use a and before words with a vowel sound, we use an. The word university begins with a consonant sound, so we say a university. Hour begins with a vowel sound, so we say an hour.

Many people believe that a is the underlying form, the form from which an is derived. The reason is that more words begin with consonant sounds than vowel sounds. Thus we can say that a has wider distribution.

However, this is incorrect. The indefinite article a/an always comes before a singular noun. When we say an orange, we refer to one orange. There is a close relationship between the indefinite article and the number one.

In German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, the indefinite article is the same as the word for one. In German, ein Haus means a house and also one house. If it is important to emphasize number, the speaker can add more information to make this clear from the context or can add stress to the word ein to specify number.

Since we know that a/an is derived from one, we can conclude that the underlying form of the indefinite article is an. The phrase an house became a house because the nasal deleted before a consonant. In a phrase such as an orange, deletion was blocked.

The underlying form of the indefinite article is an, a word derived from one. The nasal deleted before a consonant, a common process in the languages of the world. This deletion of the nasal can be analyzed as both ease of articulation and simplification.

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 stop 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.