Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sweet Lassi

Sweet lassi is a tasty drink that's easy to make.  Here is the recipe:

2 cups plain yogurt
6 ice cubes, crushed
2 cups water
2 teaspoons sugar

Put the ingredients in a blender and blend.  Pour the drink over ice cubes in a tall glass.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Universal Markedness Theory

Universal markedness theory claims that certain sounds are rarer than others.  Because they are rarer, they are more difficult to pronounce and acquired by children at a later stage than more common sounds.  Rare sounds are marked sounds, and common sounds are ummarked.

Universal markedness theory can make many universal generalizations about the sounds of languages.  The following statements are all true:

1)  Short vowels are more common than long vowels.  All languages have short vowels, but not all languages have long vowels.  If a language has long vowels, it also has short vowels.

2)  Oral vowels are more common than nasal vowels.  All languages have oral vowels, but not all languages have nasal vowels.  If a language has nasal vowels, it also has oral vowels.

3)  Voiceless plosives are more common than voiced plosives.  If a language has  a voiced plosive, it also has a voiceless counterpart.

4)  Short consonants are more common than long consonants.  All languages have short consonants, but not all languages have long consonants.  If a language has long consonants, it also has short consonants.

5)  Simple onsets are more common than complex onsets.  All languages have simple onsets, but not all languages have complex onsets.  If a language has complex onsets, it also has simple onsets.

Universal markedness theory helps to clarify the relationship between marked and unmarked sounds.  Short vowels are more common than long vowels because they are simpler to produce.  A long vowel has a longer duration if the contrast is quantitative and is a diphthong or a less common vowel if the contrast is qualitative.  Oral vowels are easier to articulate than nasal ones.  Voiceless plosives require less articulatory effort than voiced ones because the glottis does not vibrate in their production.  Short consonants have a shorter duration than long ones and are thus easier to pronounce.  Simple onsets have only one segment in contrast to complex ones which have two or more.  It is clear that marked sounds are rarer because they require more articulatory effort.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mate in 17

In a game of speed chess, I mated my opponent in 17 moves.  He was Callasse of the USA, who played black.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 Qf6

Black brings out the queen early.  The move Nf6 is common here.

4. Bxc6 Qxc6
5. 0-0 Bd6

Black's move blocks the d-pawn and prevents the development of the light-squared bishop.

6. c3 Qxe4

Black gains a pawn, but with the king in the centre of the board this is risky.

7. Re1 Qf5
8. d4 f6

My aim is to open the centre.

9. dxe fxe
10. Nbd2 Nh6
11. Nc4 Ng4

It is better for black to castle.

12. Nxd6+ cxd6
13. Qxd6 e4

Now black cannot castle.  My knight is immune from capture because of my rook on e1.

14. Bg5 Qf7

Black prevents mate on e7.  The problem is that e4 is now unprotected.  A better move for black is Nf6.

15. Rxe4+ Qe6

Black's move is forced.

16. Rxe6+ dxe6

17. Qe7#

Black's failure to castle and lack of development allow me to achieve a quick mate.  His third move, Qf6, is a mistake because it develops the queen too early and puts the queen on a square ideal for the knight.  The sixth move, Qxe4, is an example of a move that neglects development.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Swedish o

The o of Swedish has four main pronunciations.  This is unusual because most Swedish vowels only have two different pronunciations.  The o is a special vowel.

When the o is long, it often sounds very much like the u of many languages such as German and Spanish.  However, the Swedish o is pronounced with more lip rounding.  An example of this o is the word ros (rose).  In certain cases, long o sounds similar to the English o of home, but the Swedish vowel is a monophthong rather than a diphthong  This sound often occurs in loanwords.  An example is the word telefon (telephone).

When the o is short, it is often pronounced like the o in the English word cold.  An example is the word tolv (twelve).  In certain cases, short o sounds like the English vowel in put.  An example is the past participle trott (believed).

The Swedish word kort is interesting.  When pronounced with the long vowel of ros (rose), it means map, but when it is pronounced with the short vowel of tolv (twelve), it means short.

The Swedish o is a vowel with four different pronunciations.  This is also the case for the Norwegian o.  This vowel has more pronunciations than in many other languages.

Featured Post

Finding the Proto-Form

Related languages have a number of words which are similar to one another. In the branch of linguistics known as historical linguistics, the...