Monday, September 24, 2012

Attributive/Predicate Adjectives

Most English adjectives can be used in two positions- before a noun and following a noun.  When adjectives occur before a noun, they are in attributive position.  Following a noun, they are in predicate position.  For example, the phrase the happy man has the adjective happy in attributive position and the sentence He is happy has the adjective happy in predicate position.

A number of English adjectives can only occur in attributive or predicate position.  The adjective live only occurs in attributive position and alive only in predicate position.  However, live can occur in both positions if the noun modified is inanimate.  Consider the examples This is a live concert and The concert is live.

With animate nouns, however, live must occur before the noun it modifies.  The adjective alive must follow the noun it modifies.  Consider the following examples:

The live insects are in the laboratory.
The insects in the laboratory are alive.

Certain adjectives can only be used in attributive position.  These include sole, mere and maiden.  The following sentences are grammatical:

My sole intention is to delegate responsibilities.
The mere mention of his name made her angry.
Her maiden name is Edwards.

Other adjectives can only be used in predicate position.  These include afraid, alone and asleep.  The following sentences are grammatical:

The child was afraid.
He is alone.
Now the children are asleep.

A few adjectives can be used in both attributive and predicate position but the meaning is different.  Consider the following examples:

The secretary was present.
The present secretary is Linda O'Connor.

Robert Turner was late.
The late Robert Turner loved poetry.

English adjectives usually occur in both attributive and predicate position.  However, many adjectives are an exception.  A number only occur in one position- either in attributive or predicate.  Also, certain adjectives can occur in both positions but the meaning varies depending on the position in which they occur.

Blunder in Speed Chess

In a game of speed chess against Vshape05 of Italy, a blunder allowed me to mate in nine.  My opponent, who played black, failed to find the best move.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1.  e4 e5
2.  Nf3 Nc6
3.  Bb5 a6
4.  Bxc6 bxc6

I usually retreat my bishop to a4 but in this move I decide to capture.  Black does not make the correct capture.  It is best to play dxc6 to open squares for the dark-squared bishop and queen.

5.  0-0 d6

It is possible to play Nxe5 but I decide to castle instead.

6.  d4 Qf6

With the black king in the centre, I want to open up the game.  Black's move is a surprise.  I expect exd.  The square f6 is a common square for the king knight.

7.  dxe dxe

Now I control the d-file.

8.  Bg5 Qg6

Black blunders.  It is necessary to counter my control of the d-file with Qd6.

9.  Qd8#

With the support of my dark-squared bishop, my square delivers mate on the back rank.  Black fails to prevent the control of the d-file.  This leads to mate in nine moves.

Black makes three mistakes in this game.  One is the capture bxc6 which is weaker than dxc6.  Another is the sixth move, Qf6 which deprives the knight of an excellent square.  The worst mistake, however, is undoubtedly Qg6 which allows me to deliver mate on my ninth move.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Distinctive Features

In phonology distinctive features are used to analyze sounds.  Distinctive features use the concept of binary features which show the presence or absence of a feature in a particular sound.  The presence of the feature is indicated by a + sign and the absence by a - sign.

The distinctive features syllabic and consonantal can be used to classify vowels, glides and consonants.  This is demonstrated here:

vowels-  [+syllabic] [-consonantal]
consonants [+/-syllabic] [-consonantal]
glides [-syllabic] [-consonantal]

Some consonants are syllabic such as the nasal in rhythm and the lateral in bottle.

The four major classes of consonants can be identified with the features sonorant and continuant.

plosives  [-sonorant] [-continuant]
fricatives [-sonorant] [+continuant]
nasals [+sonorant] [-continuant]
approximants [+sonorant] [+continuant]

Distinctive features can also be used to identify specific speech sounds. 

[m] [+nasal] [+labial]
[n]  [+nasal] [+coronal]
[p]  [-voiced] [+labial] [-continuant]
[d]  [+voiced] [+coronal] [-continuant] [-nasal]
[w] [+back] [+sonorant] [+continuant]
[u]  [+high] [+back] [+round] [+tense]

Distinctive features are a useful tool in sound analysis.  They illustrate the features which identify sounds.  In addition, they show the relationships of sounds, the major classes, and the features relevant in their decription.  They are an important part of phonology.

Winning with the pin

The pin is one of the tactics of chess.  In a game of speed chess versus Texascanyon of the USA, I used the pin to win the game.  In this game, Texascanyon played black.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1.  e4 e5
2.  Nf3 c6

Black's second move is not common.  The c6 square is often used for the knight.

3.  Bc4 d6

Black has yet to develop a piece.

4.  d4 exd
5.  Nxd4 d5

I have a clear lead in development.

6.  exd cxd
7.  Bb5+ Bd7
8.  Qe2+ Be7

The king bishop is pinned.

9.  0-0 Nf6
10. Nf5 Bxb5

Black cannot castle because this would lose a piece.

11. Qxb5+ Nc6

Now the queen knight is pinned.

12. Nxg7+ Kf8

The check takes away black's right to castle.

13. Nf5 Rg8
14. Bh6+ Ke8
15. Re1 Ne4

The knight breaks the pin on the bishop.

16. f3 Bc5+

Black wants to play actively but the check is a blunder.  The reason is that the knight is now pinned.  A better move for black is to move the knight.

17. Qxc5

My queen is immune to capture because of the pin on the knight.  With this move, I am up a piece and black decides to resign.

The pin is a very effective tactical tool at the chess player's disposal.  In this game, I use the pin to disrupt my opponent's plans and find a path to victory.  In fact, my final move succeeds because of the pin on the black knight.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Free Variation in English

Free variation refers to a phenomenon whereby a word can be pronounced in two different ways which are acceptable to native speakers.  The word free is not entirely accurate, however, because for most speakers one form is preferred over another.  English has many examples of free variation.

Words with two different pronunciations include either, neither, data, status, bouquet, Caribbean, economic, divisive, often and kilometre.

The words either and neither can be pronounced with the vowel of me or the vowel of my.  I use the vowel of me.

The words data and status can be pronounced with the vowel of mat or mate.  I use the vowel of mate in data and the vowel of mat in status.

The word bouquet can be pronounced with the vowel of toe or two.  I use the vowel of two.

The word Caribbean can be stressed on the second syllable or on the third.  I stress it on the third.

The word economic can be pronounced with the vowel of met or meet in the first syllable.  I use the vowel of met.

The word divisive can be pronounced with the vowel of sit or site in the first syllable.  I use the vowel of site.

The word often can be pronounced with or without a t.  I pronounce it without a t.  A word with a silent t (no free variation) is listen.

The word kilometre can be pronounced so that it rhymes with thermometer or with the same pronunciation as in the word metre.  I pronounce kilometre with the pronunciation of metre.

English is a language with many examples of free variation.  This is in contrast to many other languages in which free variation is not so common.  However, it is important to note that the two different pronunciations of a word usually do not vary so freely because most speakers prefer one pronunciation over another.