Saturday, December 21, 2013

Received Pronunciation and Estuary English

Received Pronunciation and Estuary English are two accents of British English. Received Pronunciation is the variety of British English which is usually taught to foreigners. It has other names such as BBC English, Queen's English and Oxford English. Estuary English is a variety of English spoken in southeastern England. Though similar, they have differences in pronunciation.

In Estuary English, a word-final l vocalizes and is realized as a w. This happens in words such as apple, ball and well. This is not the case in Received Pronunciation.

Another difference concerns the glottal stop. In Received Pronunciation, it can occur in combination with an alveolar plosive. An example is the word football. However, in Estuary English, the glottal stop can replace another consonant. It is thus possible to pronounce football with a glottal stop instead of an alveolar plosive. The glottal stop can also replace other plosives in Estuary English. Examples include bookshelf and laptop. Notice that the glottal stop occurs syllable-finally.

Also different in the two varieties is the phenomenon of h-dropping. In Received Pronuncation it never occurs, but in Estuary English pronouns such as he and him and the auxiliary have can be pronounced without the h. H-dropping is possible with such words in Estuary English, but not in Received Pronunciation.

Though they are similar varieties of English, Received Pronunciation and Estuary English have pronunciation differences. Estuary English has vocalization of the alveolar lateral, more extensive use of the glottal stop and h-dropping in certain situations. These pronunciation differences serve to distinguish Received Pronunciation from Estuary English.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Spanish h and Portuguese f

A number of Spanish words have a word-initial which corresponds to a word-initial f in Portuguese. The word-initial f was present in Latin but changed to an h in Spanish. The Spanish h now has no phonetic value. It remains in the orthography but is not pronounced.

Here is a list of words with an h in Spanish and f in Portuguese:

hablar falar (speak)
hijo filho (son)
hija filha (daughter)
hierro ferro (iron)
horno forno (oven)
hoja folha (leaf)
hilo fio (string)
harina farinha (flour)
hecho fato (fact)
hambre fome (hunger)

The Portuguese words preserve the word-initial f of Latin. It is thus possible to say that Portuguese is more conservative than Spanish. In addition to this sound relationship, Spanish and Portuguese share many others.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Open Lines of Attack

In a game of speed chess, I won with open lines of attack against an exposed king. My opponent, who played black, was Reylee from the Philippines. He used a defence which I did not expect. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 f5

Black's move is a surprise. This is usually played in response to d4. I can play exf on my next move, but this results in a pawn which is difficult to defend.

2. d3 e5
3. Nc3 c6
4. Bd2 Nf6
5. f4 exf
6. Bxf4 d6
7. Nf3 Be7

Black is ready to castle kingside.

8. Be2 0-0

Now I can also castle kingside, but I decide to castle queenside to launch a strong attack on the kingside.

9. Qd2 fxe
10. Nxe4 Nxe4
11. dxe4 Bh4+

The check is ineffective.

12. g3 Be7
13. 0-0-0 a5
14. Bd3 Bg4
15. Rdf1 b5
16. h3 Be6

Black's attack on the queenside is more advanced than my attack on the kingside.

17. Ng5 Bd7
18. e5 d5
19. Bxh7+ Kh8

I win a pawn.

20. Bd3 Na6

Black finally activates the queen knight.

21. e6 Be8
22. h4 Nb4
23. Kb1 Nxd3
24. Qxd3 g6

Black stops Qh7#.

25. Nf7+ Bxf7
26. exf7 Kg7

Black protects g6 and attacks the f7 pawn at the same time.

27. Be5+ Kh6

I have open lines of attack against the black king.

28. Qe3+ Kh7
29. h5 Bg5

I want to open the h-file.

30. hxg6+ Kxg6

I ignore the attack on my queen.

31. Qd3#

The black king has no escape. My queen, rooks and bishop dominate the kingside. The black pieces are too far from the king.

My open lines of attack, control of the kingside and protected king are the keys to victory in this game. This is a game with attacks on opposite sides of the board. I fight on the kingside and black on the queenside. Fortunately for me, my attack is more powerful.