Friday, October 26, 2012

English Stress

English stress can fall on any syllable of a word.  This can be seen in the words never, polite and afternoon.  However, English stress is not entirely unpredictable.   For example, rules can be given for words with penultimate and antepenultimate stress.

Consider the following words:  (An Introduction to Phonology:  Katamba)

a)  cinema Agatha overture Malibu
b)  Galapagos America rhinoceros epitome
c)  tornado rhododendron aroma bronchitis

The words in (a) and (b) have antepenultimate stress.  The ones in (c) have penultimate stress.  The difference between the words in (a) and (b) and the ones in (c) is that in (a) and (b) the penultimate syllable is light and in (c) the penultimate syllable is heavy. 

The second syllable in cinema consists of a nasal and a schwa.  This classifies the syllable as light.  Because it is light, it does not bear stress.  In the word overture, the second syllable has a schwar or schwa with r-colouring.  In many accents of British English, the vowel is not a schwar but rather a vowel similar to the schwa with a longer duration.

The second syllable of tornado consists of a nasal and a diphthong.  This classifies the syllable as heavy.  For this reason it is stressed.  The third syllable of rhododendron consists of a mid front unrounded lax vowel and a nasal.  This combination of a vowel and consonant classifies the syllable as heavy.  As a result, it carries stress.

Although stress varies in English, it is not entirely random.  Rules can be given for English stress.  One such rule is the one which determines penultimate and antepenultimate stress in loan words.  The rule states that if the penultimate syllable is heavy, it is stressed.  On the other hand, if the penultimate syllable is light, stress is then placed on the antepenultimate syllable.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Exciting Chess Game

I played an exciting game of speed chess against Tcet of Croatia.  In this game my opponent played black.  We attacked from start to finish.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1.  e4 d5
2.  exd Qxd5
3.  Nc3 Qe6+

The check achieves nothing.

4.  Be2 c6

This is an excellent square for the knight.

5.  Nf3 h6
6.  0-0 Nf6
7.  d4 Qd6

Now black can advance the king pawn.

8.  Be3 e6
9.  h3 Be7
10. Qd2 b6
11. Rad1 Ba6
12. Bf4 Qd8
13. Bxb8 Bxe2

I hope for Qxb8 or Rxb8 so that I can win the bishop on a6, but black does not fall for this.

14. Nxe2 Rxb8
15. c4 0-0
16. Ne5 c5

Black fails to prevent the fork.

17. Nc6 Qc7
18. Nxb8 Rxb8
19. d5 exd
20. cxd Bd6
21. Nc3 a6

Black prevents Nb5 which forks the queen and bishop.

22. Rfe1 Nh5
23. Re2 Nf4
24. Re3 Nxg2

Black's move surprises me.

25. Kxg2 Bf4

Black's knight sacrifice allows him to pin my rook with his bishop.

26. Rde1 Re8

Black wants to increase the pressure on e3 but this move is a mistake because I can check.

27. Rxe8+ Kh7
28. Qd3+ g6
29. R8e7

My fork of the queen and pawn convinces black to resign.  With my control of the e-file and my material advantage, I have a dominant position. 

This is a memorable game.  It features a knight sacrifice and pin by my opponent, a check that enables me to break the pin, and a rook fork that ends the game.  The key move of the game is undoubtedly my 27th move, Rxe8+.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Dissimilation is a phonological process.  In assimilation sounds become more similar to one another.  In dissimilation, however, the reverse occurs- sounds become less similar from one another. 

In Kurundi, an African language spoken in Burundi, a consonant in the prefix must disagree in voicing with a the first consonant of the root to which it is attached.  The rule can be states as follows:

A voiced root initial segment requires a voiceless consonant in the prefix and a voiceless root initial segment requires a voiced consonant in the prefix.  The data illustrates this:


rya eat

1st person singular present



mwa shave

1st person singular present



soma read

1st person singular present



kubita hit

1st person singular present


The prefix variant du occurs with roots that have a voiceless initial segment in the root.  With roots that have a voiced initial segment in the root, the prefix variant tu occurs.  The examples from Kurundi serve to illustrate the phonological process of dissimilation. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Spanish Loanwords in Tagalog

Tagalog has many Spanish loanwords.  This is due to the fact that the Philippines was a colony of Spain for over 300 years.  Tagalog has more loanwords from Spanish than from any other language.  The following provides a list of a few loanwords in Tagalog.  On the left is the Tagalog spelling followed by the Spanish spelling on the right and the English translation in parentheses.

arina harina (flour)
bisikleta bicicleta (bicycle)
bodega bodega (warehouse)
departamento departamento (department)
eskwela escuela (school)
gwapo guapo (handsome)
giyera guerra (war)
hustisya justicia (justice)
istudyante estudiante (student)
kalye calle (street)
kabayo caballo (horse)
karne carne (meat)
kotse coche (car)
mundo mundo (world)
probinsya provincia (province)
relo reloj (wristwatch)
sapatos zapatos (shoes)
silya silla (chair)
tuwalya toalla (towel)
yelo hielo (ice)

The list provides examples of Spanish loanwords in Tagalog.  From the list it is clear that the ll of Spanish corresponds to the ly in Tagalog.  Also, the c, v and z of Spanish correspond to the k, b and s of Tagalog.  In the case of a soft c in Spanish such as bicicleta (bicycle), the c is an s in Tagalog.  The short list clearly illustrates the influence of Spanish in the Tagalog language.

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