Monday, May 30, 2011

Adjective Order in English

Attributive adjectives usually precede nouns in a specific order. English speakers know that "new wooden table" is acceptable but "wooden new table" is not. They also know that "big red hat" sounds correct but "red big hat" does not. Though they may not be familiar with the rule for adjective order in English, they know which order sounds best on the basis of intuition.

English adjectives usually precede nouns in the following order: opinion, size, age, shape, colour, origin, material and purpose. However, speakers usually do not use too many adjectives in a phrase because this can be difficult to process. Opinion adjectives such as "beautiful" and "exciting" precede factual adjectives.

Here are examples of adjective phrases with different kinds of adjectives:

1. I bought a nice black silk tie.
2. He has a beautiful new red sports car.
3. You must try these delicious dark Belgian chocolates.
4. They have a comfortable long brown leather sofa.
5. She has gorgeous long curly black hair.

This adjective order applies to adjectives which precede a noun. If they follow, the adjective order is more flexible. It is also possible to use a relative clause such as "I bought a nice silk tie which is black." Sentence 3 uses a different adjective order when the adjectives follow the noun: "These Belgian chocolates are dark and delicious." Here the adjective "dark" precedes "delicious." Adjective order is relatively fixed for attributive adjectives but rather flexible for predicate ones.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quick Loss

I played a game of speed chess which only lasted 12 moves. Fortunately, I usually do not lose so quickly. My opponent was Ceres Macaraeg from the Phillipines who played black. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary.

1. e4 e5
2. f4 Nc6

Black usually plays fxe or d6 here.

3. Nf3 exf
4. d4 d5
5. e5 Bg4
6. h3 Bxf3

A better move for me is Nd2. The problem with my move is that now my kingside is weak and the black queen can check on h4.

7. gxf Qh4+
8. Ke2 Nge7

All of my pieces are on the back rank. Black is clearly better.

9. Qd2 Nf5

I want to force an exchange of queens. Black now threatens Ng3+, Ncxd4+ and Nfxd4+.

10. Qxf4 Nxd4+

11. Kd3 Qf2

Black plays aggressively and now threatens Qxc2#. I should play Nd2.

12. Na3 Bxa3

Black removes my defender of c2 and I resign.

I lose quickly because my sixth move leads to the weakening of my kingside and a check by the black queen on h4 which exposes my king. The final nail in the coffin is my twelfth move. My knight fails to protect my c2 square after black captures it with his bishop. My exposed king and lack of development result in my quick downfall.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Powerful Bishops

I recently won a game of speed chess with a pair of powerful bishops. My opponent was Asmadhu of the USA who played white. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 c5
2. c3 d6

White's second move is unusual.

3. d4 cxd
4. cxd Nc6

White has a powerful pawn centre but no piece development.

5. d5 Ne5
6. f4 Nd7
7. Nf3 e6
8. dxe fxe
9. Nc3 Ngf6
10. Bd3 Be7
11. 0-0 0-0
12. h3 b6
13. e5 dxe

White plays aggressively.

14.fxe Nd5

White has an advanced pawn on the e-file but it is isolated.

15. Qc2 g6
16. Nd4 Rxf1+
17. Kxf1 Qf8+
18. Kg1 Qg7

Here I should play Nxe5.

19. Nxe6 Qxe5
20. Nxd5 Qxe6

My queen can capture either of the white knights but I capture on e6 because I want to play Qe1+ on my next move. I expect white to play Nc7 on his next move.

21. Nc7 Qxe1+
22. Kh2 Bd6+

My dark-squared bishop now controls the b8-h2 diagonal.

23. g3

White blocks the check and then resigns. He sees that I can play Qxg3+. Then white must play Kh1. On my following move I activate my light-squared bishop with b7+. This gives my light-squared bishop control of the b7-h1 diagonal. My powerful bishops dominate the board. In reply black must play Qg2 and I then play Qxg2#.

In this game my bishops turn the game in my favour. White also has two bishops on the board but they are not nearly as dominant as mine. This game illustrates the power of the bishop pair.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Lucy Maud Montgomery is one of Canada's most famous writers. She wrote the novel "Anne of Green Gables." However, she also wrote poems. One is the poem "Forever" which I wish to share with you.



With you I shall ever be;
Over land and sea
My thoughts will companion you;
With yours shall my laughter chime,
And my step keep time
In the dusk and dew
With yours in blithesome rhyme;
In all of your joy shall I rejoice,
On my lips your sorrow shall find a voice,
And when your tears in bitterness fall
Mine shall mingle with them all;
With you in waking and dream I shall be,
In the place of shadow and memory,
Under young springtime moons,
And on harvest noons,
And when the stars are withdrawn
From the white pathway of the dawn.


O, my friend, nothing shall ever part
My soul from yours, yours from my heart!
I am yours and you mine, in silence and in speech,
Death will only seal us each to each.
Through the darkness we shall fare with fearless jest,
Starward we shall go on a joyous new quest;
There be many worlds, as we shall prove,
Many suns and systems, but only one love!

This poem is full of imagery such as stars, moons, dusk, dew, land and sea. It also has alliteration in dusk and dew, suns and systems and silence and speech. "Forever" is my favourite poem by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Phonological Rules

Though phonological rules can be written in prose, they can also be written in rule notation. The use of rule notation is often more concise than the use of sentences. I will provide a few examples to illustrate.

In English and many other languages, a vowel is nasalized when it is followed by a nasal in the same syllable. This is the case with words such as "sand" and "camping." This rule can be expressed with the following rule notation:

V ---> [+nasal]/_ [+nasal]$

This rule states that a vowel is nasalized in the environment before a nasal in the same syllable.

Another rule of English is the nasal assimilation rule. This states that an alveolar nasal becomes a velar nasal before a velar plosive. This is the case with words such as "ink" and "singer." Here is the rule in rule notation:

[+alveolar][+nasal] --> [+velar]/_ [+velar][-continuant]

This rule states that an alveolar nasal becomes a velar nasal in the environment before a velar plosive.

The vowel lengthening rule of English is also easy to express in rule notation. This rule states that a word-final vowel becomes long as in "see" and "yellow." This is the rule in rule notation:

V --> [+long]/_#

This rule states that a vowel becomes long in the environment word-final.

English also has a rule which deletes laterals before bilabial nasals. This is the case in words such as "calm," "palm" and "salmon." This is not true in all cases. The word "helmet" does not follow this rule, but nevertheless it applies in many cases. This can thus be called a variable rule as opposed to a categorical rule. In rule notation, the rule can be expressed as follows:

[+lateral] --> 0/ _ [+bilabial][+nasal]

This rule states that a lateral is deleted before a bilabial nasal.

Aspiration is another well-known rule in English. This states that a voiceless plosive is aspirated before a stressed vowel. This is the case in words such as "take," "party," "cold," "please," "prince" and "appear." Here is the rule in rule notation:

[-voice][-sonorant][-continuant]--> [+SG]/ _ ([+sonorant])([-nasal])V [+stress]

This rule states that a voiceless plosive is aspirated in the environment before an optional liquid or glide and a stressed vowel.

Rule notation is common in phonology. It is used as an alternative to prose in the expression of phonological rules. The examples demonstate the use of rule notation to express common phonological rules of English.

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