Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ship Terminology

The language used for ships is unique. Many terms are different from those used for other means of transportation. There are specific words to refer to the front, back, left and right of a ship.

The front of a ship is called the bow. It can also be called the prow, but the prow refers only to the part of the ship which is above the water. It is a more specific word than bow.

The back of a ship is called the stern. The control room of the ship is the bridge. The bridge is located close to the bow of the ship.

The left of a ship is called the port side. One easy way to remember this is by the number of letters in the two words- both left and port have four letters. The right of a ship is called the starboard side.

The language of a ship is special. Many words such as port, starboard, bow and stern are used only for ships. This adds to the allure of sailing.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Victory with Rapid Development

In a game of speed chess at, I developed my pieces much more rapidly than my opponent. This propelled me to a quick victory. My opponent was Romano of Canada who played black. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6
3. Bc4 Bg4

Black makes a committal move. Developing a knight first is more flexible. This move also allows the sacrifice Bxf7+. If black accepts the sacrifice, I can play Ng5+ and capture the bishop on g4 to gain a pawn. I play a different move.

4. h3 Bxf3
5. Qxf3 Qf6

Black allows me to develop my queen. I do not wish to exchange because I prefer to maintain a strong attack.

6. Qb3 b6
7. 0-0 Ne7
8. d4 Nbc6

I prepare to sacrifice a pawn to open a diagonal for my dark-squared bishop.

9. dxe Qxe5

Black makes a mistake. A better move is Nxe5 which attacks my bishop on c4. Black's move allows Bxf7+ but I decide to develop another piece.

10. Nc3 d5
11. exd Nxd5

Black makes another mistake. I have three pieces that target d5 but black has only two.

12. Nxd5 Nd4
13. Qa4+ b5

This move loses material. Kd8 is better.

14. Bxb5+ Nxb5
15. Qxb5+ Kd8
16. Bf4 Qe8

Black wants to exchange queens, but I have a better move.

17. Bxc7+

Black resigns. He is forced to play Kc8. I then capture his queen with Qxe8+. This leaves black with a severe material deficit, so he decides to concede. In this game my rapid development and control of the centre are key factors in my victory.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Coronal Consonants

Coronal consonants are consonants which are articulated with the tip of the tongue. In English, the coronal consonants are the alveolar plosives /d/ and /t/, the alveolar nasal /n/, the liquids /l/ and /r/, the alveolar fricatives /s/ and /z/, the interdental fricatives of "the" and "three," and the alveopalatal fricatives in "ship" and "genre."

Many rules involve coronal consonants. For example, in many Swedish and Norwegian dialects, a rules states that the coronal consonants /d/, /t/, /n/, /l/ and /s/ become retroflex consonants when they are preceded by an /r/ in the same syllable. Across syllable boundaries this does not always occur. The word svart (black) is pronounced with a retroflex alveolar plosive in the syllable coda by Norwegian and Swedish speakers who use retroflex consonants.

In many varieties of Brazilian Portuguese, the coronals /d/ and /t/ are palatalized before an /i/. For example, dia (day) and tia (aunt) are palatalized by speakers who palatalize in this position.

Most speakers of American English do not use a palatal glide in words such as duty, tuna and new. This is in contrast to British English in which most speakers use a palatalize glide in such words. However, even in British English the palatal glide is usually not applied to words such as suit and luge. However, it is common for Welsh speakers to use the palatal glide in not only those words but also words with /r/ such as rule and rumour.

One class of sounds is the coronal class, a class which includes interdentals, alveolars and alveopalatals. In many languages such as French the alveolar plosives of English are in fact dental plosives. Many languages have rules which apply only to coronal sounds.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Medial Posttonic Schwa Syncope

In Canadian and American English, a word-medial posttonic schwa is often deleted. This refers to a schwa which follows a stressed syllable. However, schwa deletion only occurs in a specific context.

The following words have a word-medial schwa which can be deleted:


In certain words, however, the schwa is never deleted. This is the case in the following words:


The schwa is never deleted when the schwa is preceded by a sound which is a liquid or alveolar nasal and followed by a sound which is a liquid or alveolar nasal. Another way to state the rule is with distinctive features. It is possible to say that the schwa is never deleted when the preceding sound is +sonorant/+coronal and the following sound is +sonorant/+coronal. The schwa can be deleted when the following sound is +sonorant/+coronal but in such a case the preceding sound must be either -sonorant/+coronal or it must be -sonorant/-coronal. For example, in the word "opera" the /p/ has the distinctive features -sonorant/-coronal and in "listening" the /s/ has the distinctive features -sonorant/+coronal.

Word-medial posttonic schwa syncope is a common rule of Canadian and American English but the rule does not apply in all environments. The rule is blocked when the preceding and following sounds are +sonorant/+coronal. The reason that the rule fails to apply here may be that the sounds have the same places of articulation and thus the deletion of the schwa makes the articulation of the two sounds less salient. Another reason may be ease of articulation. It is possible that with sounds which are homorganic, the retention of the schwa preserves a syllable structure which is not only less marked but also requires less effort to articulate.

Victory with Two Sacrifices

In a game of speed chess at, I defeated Tonito5402 from Bulgaria with two sacrifices. He resigned as black after only 19 moves. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 h6
4. a3 a6
5. Nf3 c5

Black wants me to play dxc so that he can develop his bishop to c5.

6. exd exd
7. Be2 c4
8. 0-0 Be6

Black finally develops a piece.

9. Ne5 Nf6
10. Kh1 Be7
11. f4 Qb6
12. f5 Bc8

The bishop retreats to the back rank.

13. Bh5 0-0
14. Bxh6 gxh6

I first sacrifice my bishop.

15. Qf3 Nxh5
16. Qxh5 Kh7
17. Nxf7 Rg8

Black can offer more resistance with Kg7.

18. f6 Bxf6

I now sacrifice my pawn to prevent the black queen from defending h6.

19. Qxh6#

In this quick game, I sacrifice my bishop to weaken the pawn shield around the king and sacrifice my pawn to cut the queen off from the defence of h6. Although black castles kingside to protect his king, my two sacrifices prove decisive. Also critical is black's lack of development. He has four pieces on the back rank at the end of the game.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Schwa in North American and British English

The pronunciation of North American English is quite different from that of British. One of the differences concerns the schwa. It is often pronounced by British speakers in words in which North Americans use a different vowel.

The following words are pronounced differently by Brits and North Americans:


In Lebanon, phenomenon, marathon, Amazon, lexicon and octagon, the final vowel is a schwa in British English. In North American English, however, the final vowel is the same as the "a" of father.

In the word mascot, the pattern is the same. British English has a schwa in the final vowel but North American English does not.

The capital city of Scotland is pronounced differently by Brits and North Americans. In British English it has only three syllables. The "u" is not pronounced and the final vowel is a schwa. In North American English, it has four syllables and the final vowel is the same as the "o" of go.

In North American English the final vowel of hurricane is the a of late. In British English, however, the final vowel is a schwa.

The final vowel of thorough is a schwa in British English but has the "o" of go in North American English.

In ceremony and testimony, the third vowel is pronounced with the "o" of go in North American English. In British English, however, this vowel is a schwa.

Many words are pronounced differently by British and North American speakers. A number of words which are pronounced with a schwa in British English are pronounced with a different vowel in North American English. If the pronunciation of the schwa in these words is viewed as the result of vowel weakening, one can say that British English is more innovative and North American English is more conservative in this aspect of pronunciation.

Unusual Chess Game

At, I played an unusual game of speed chess. My opponent was Merimopsi of Finland who played black. My game was unusual because I sacrificed a bishop, never developed my queen knight, allowed the pawn shield around my king to be ruined, and delivered mate with a king knight pawn. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Bd6

Nc6 and Nf6 are more popular moves for black.

3. Bc4 a6
4. a4 Nc6
5. d3 h6

I usually play d4.

6. c3 Nf6
7. 0-0 0-0
8. Be3 Be7

Black makes a very passive move. A move such as Re8 is better.

9. Re1 d6

Black's dark-squared bishop is immobile.

10. Qd2 Bg4

Black threatens to double my pawns. I do not mind because opening the g-file can help in an attack against the white king.

11. Bxh6 gxh6
12. Qxh6 Nh7
13. h3 Bxf3
14. gxf3 Bg5
15. Qh5 b5
16. axb axb
17. Rxa8 Qxa8
18. Bd5 Qa6

Black moves the queen out of the pin.

19. Kh1 Ne7

I prepare to place my rook on the open g-file.

20. Rg1 Nxd5
21. exd5 f6
22. h4 Qa1

I pin the bishop.

23. hxg5 f5

It is better for black to play fxg.

24. Qg6+ Kh8

Black's move is forced.

25. Qe6 Qxb2
26. g6 Qxf2
27. g7#

It is not so common to deliver mate with a king pawn. In this game I fail to develop my queen knight and allow my pawn shield around my king to be destroyed. This is normally disastrous, but in this game it is effective because I generate sufficient threats to prevent black from taking advantage. This game illustrates that in certain situations basic chess principles can be broken.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Excellent Bishops

In a game of speed chess at, my bishops were instrumental in my victory. My opponent was Arcenciel35 of Cameroon who played white. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 cxd
4. Nxd4 a6

I want to prevent Bb5+.

5. Nc3 Nf6
6. Bc4 e6
7. Bb3 Nc6

White's move does not help his development. Better moves are Bg5 and 0-0.

8. Be3 Be7
9. Qe2 Bd7
10. 0-0-0 0-0
11. Kb1 b5
12. Nxc6 Bxc6
13. Bg5 b4

White should advance his kingside pawns.

14. Bxf6 Bxf6
15. Na4 a5

White is forced to move the knight to a4.

16. c3 Re8

White makes a move which weakens the protection of the white king.

17. f4 Qd7

White finally moves a kingside pawn. I make a move which aims to force the knight to move so that I can advance my queenside pawns.

18. Nb6 Qb7

On my seventeenth move I overlook the knight fork which attacks my queen and rook.

19. Nxa8 Bxe4+

Instead of recapturing the knight, I decide to put the king in check.

20. Ka1 bxc

I now threaten to mate with bxc.

21. bxc Bxc3+
22. Qb2 Bxb2+

White is forced to give up the queen.

23. Kxb2 a4

With the white bishop pinned, white decides to resign. A better move for me is Bd5 which also pins the white bishop and protects the d6 pawn, but my move is adequate. With no queen, a pinned bishop and an inactive knight in the corner, white does not wish to continue. In this game my bishops control much of the board and play a big role in my victory.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Yod-Dropping in Canadian English

Yod-dropping refers to the dropping of the palatal glide in English. In British English, most speakers pronounce the palatal glide following coronals and most American English speakers do not. As a result, for most Americans the words "do" and "dew" sound the same but for most Brits they do not. Canadian English also exhibits yod-dropping but it is not uniform in all speakers.

Examples of words which are usually pronounced with a palatal glide in British English are "tune," "duke" and "student." In Canadian and American English, the palatal glide is usually not pronounced in these words. In fact, in an experiment conducted in southern Ontario, approximately 80% of speakers exhibited yod-dropping in words with coronals.

In my accent, yod-dropping varies. I drop the palatal glide after a syllable-initial -st. I do not pronounce it in words such as "student" and "studio." I do not pronounce it in "tutor," "tumour" or "tune." However, I do pronounce the palatal glide in "Tuesday." Also interesting is that I pronounce the palatal glide in "duty" and "dew" but not in "dune" or "duke." I am also inconsistent with respect to the alveolar nasal. I pronounce the palatal glide in "new" and "neutral" but not in "neuter." My pronunciation seems to reflect a mixture of British and American English.

Yod-dropping is common in Canadian English. It shares this in common with American English. However, it is not uniform among speakers of Canadian English. My own pronunciation attests to this. This may be another indication that Canadian English often combines features of two other English dialects, British and American.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Here is my latest poem, the first of 2012.


Transformation in four stages,
Growing from egg to butterfly,
Each reflecting different ages,
From life on leaves to flight in sky.

On selected leaves small eggs rest,
Giving birth to caterpillars.
Each egg becomes another guest
Feeding now for later ventures.

After these stages follows sleep
For pupas need transformation,
All surrounded by calm so deep,
Bearing mystery of creation.

Buttons of silk hang upside down,
Metamorphosis soon complete.
They change inside their sleeping gown
As they prepare their final feat.

Vibrant wings emerge firm and dry,
Brushing air in search of nectar.
Four stages cross each butterfly,
Creature of amazing wonder.

This poem represents the four stages in the life of the butterfly: egg, caterpillar, pupa and butterfly. The transformation which changes the caterpillar into the butterfly is truly amazing.

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