Thursday, December 29, 2016

Linking R

English has a phenomenon known as linking R. This only occurs in non-rhotic varieties of English  They pronounce the /r/ when it is in the syllable onset and occurs before a vowel. In the case of linking R, however, the /r/ is word-final.

Non-rhotic varieties of English pronounce word-final /r/ when the following vowel begins with a vowel sound and there is no pause between the segments. For example, the /r/ of winner can be pronounced in the phrase the winner is. However, in the English of many non-rhotic speakers of the southern USA, linking R fails to apply.

Non-rhotic varieties of English often apply linking R. This /r/ always occurs across word boundaries. It isn't categorical, however, because it's blocked if there's a pause between the two segments.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Broccoli Gratin

Broccoli Gratin is a delicious French recipe for broccoli. Here is the recipe:

1 head of broccoli, stalk removed
1 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons cream
1/2 cup grated cheese

Cook the broccoli in salted water.
Put the broccoli in cold water and drain.
Make the white sauce by melting the butter.
Add the flour and then the milk.
Mix and remove from the heat.
Add  and stir the cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper and half the cheese.
Chop the broccoli and mix into the sauce.
Put in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top.
Bake in the oven at 200° Celsius for approximately 15 minutes or until the top is browned and crisp.

Broccoli Gratin is very tasty and easy to prepare. I hope you'll try the recipe.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

English Contractions

English uses many contractions. They're words which reduce two words to one. Contractions are especially common in casual speech and writing.

Many contractions include personal pronouns and the negative adverb not. Examples include I'm, you're, we're, aren't and can't. With negative contractions, two forms are often possible. For example, you aren't and you're not are both acceptable. The verb might, however, never contracts.

Contractions are very common in English. However, they're avoided in formal language. Many contractions include a personal pronoun and verb.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Creamed Carrots

Creamed carrots make a great side dish. Known as carottes a la concierge in French, they also have onion and garlic. Here is the recipe:

2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 onion, sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup vegetable or beef stock
1/2 cup boiled milk
1 teaspoon sugar
2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons parsley

Cook the carrots and onion slowly in a covered pan for approximately 30 minutes.
Make sure to stir occasionally.
The vegetables should be tender but not browned.
Add the garlic for the last five minutes of cooking.
Mix the flour and cook for three more minutes.
Take the pan off the heat and add the boiled stock, boiled milk, sugar and seasonings.
Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.
In a bowl blend the egg yolks and cream.
Remove the carrots from the heat and use a spatula to fold the egg yolks and cream.
Shake the pan over low heat until the egg yolks have thickened.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Creamed carrots can also be served as a main dish. They're a nice alternative to mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Assimilation in English

Assimilation is a common phonological process in which a sound becomes more similar to a nearby sound. Assimilation can be classified into two types, progressive and regressive. Let's look at a few examples of assimilation in English:

The word ten is pronounced with an alveolar nasal. However, in the word tenth the nasal is dental. The reason is that it is followed by an interdental fricative. The nasal becomes more similar to the following sound. This is an example of regressive assimilation.

The words kiss and cool are both pronounced with a velar plosive. However, they aren't identical. The /k/ in kiss has an advanced articulation. This is because the vowel in kiss is a front vowel. In cool the vowel is back. The front vowel of kiss triggers the advanced articulation of the plosive. This is an example of regressive assimilation.

The words happy and home have the same initial consonant, but they're pronounced a bit differently. The glottal fricative of home is produced with lip rounding. As a result, the /h/ is labialized. This isn't the case in happy. The /h/ of  home is labialized because it is followed by a rounded vowel. This is an example of regressive assimilation.

In the words hand and hat, the vowel is the same. However, the vowel of hand is nasalized. The reason is that it's followed by a nasal in the same syllable. The nasal triggers nasalization of the vowel. This is also an example of regressive assimilation.

However, assimilation can also be progressive. The phrase Let's go has a word-final consonant in let's and a word-initial consonant in go. When the two words are articulated quickly, the /g/ of go becomes a /k/. This is a voicing asssimilation. The voiceless alveolar fricative of let's devoices the velar plosive of go. This is an example of progressive assimilation.

English has many examples of assimilation, a phonological process which causes one speech segment to become more like another. Assimilation can happen within a word or even across word boundaries. Assimilation can be further divided into two types, regressive and progressive. Of these two types, regressive is more common.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Apple Pudding

Apple pudding is delicious. Though this French recipe takes time to prepare, the result is worth the effort. Here is the recipe:

4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon potato flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

Place the apples in a pan with the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice.
Cook over medium heat until the apples start to soften.
Lower the heat and stir the apples until they become a puree.
Add the flour and butter.
Reduce the puree over low heat until it is quite thick.
Allow to cool.
Beat the eggs into the puree and pour into a buttered mold.
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes or until firm to the touch.

This is a very tasty pudding. Enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2016

L-Vocalization in Dutch

Many Dutch words with the letters ou have an l in English. The Dutch words used to have an l, but this l changed into the diphthong ou. The process in which a consonant changes into a vowel is called vocalization.

Here are Dutch words which are examples of l-vocalization:

Arnold Arnoud
bolt bout
cold koud
fault fout
gold goud
malt mout
old oud
salt zout
shoulder schouder
Walter Wouter

This sound correspondence is also found in other Germanic languages. For example, the English word salt is the same in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish and is Salz in German. The word shoulder is skulder in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish and Schulter in German.

The phonological process of l-vocalization is common. In the English dialect of Cockney, syllable-final l is vocalized. Words such as bottle, hole and shelf replace the l with a vowel sound. Many speakers of Brazilian Portuguese also vocalize syllable-final l.

Many Dutch words used to be pronounced with an l. As a result of l-vocalization, this l became ou. This ou often corresponds to an l in English.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Palatalization in English

Palatalization is the term for a sound change in which a consonant becomes a palatal consonant or becomes palatalized. This is a common phonological process in not only English but in fact all languages. The term palatal vowel is often used to refer to front vowels. Palatal consonants and vowels are articulated near the palatal region of the oral cavity.

Palatalization in English exhibits three alternations that are types of palatalization. They are coronal palatalization, velar softening and spirantization. 

Coronal palatalization involves an alternation between alveolars and alveopalatals. The alternation involves changes in both the manner and place of articulation. Here are examples:

perpetuity perpetual
please pleasure
residue residual

Velar softening exhibits alternations between velar plosives and coronals. This alternation also involves changes in both the manner and place of articulation. Here are examples:

analogue analogy
critic criticize
medication medicine

Spirantization exhibits alternations between the voiceless alveolar plosive and either the voiceless alveopalatal fricative or voiceless alveolar fricative. This alternation involves a change in the manner of articulation, i.e., secret secrecy or both the manner and place of articulation, i.e., part partial. Here are examples:


Palatalization is a common phonological process. The sound change usually applies to consonants but can also apply to vowels articulated near the palatal region. English palatalization can be exemplified by three phonological alternations.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Clauses

Restrictive and non-restrictive clauses are also known as adjective clauses. They modify the noun which they follow. Restrictive noun clauses are essential to the meaning of the sentence. If they were eliminated, the meaning would change. However, non-restrictive clauses are not essential. They give additional information, but if omitted, the meaning of the sentence doesn't change. Here are examples of the two types of clauses where the first is restrictive and the second non-restrictive:

I have a sister who lives in Miami.
I have a sister, who lives in Miami.

Besides the difference in punctuation, the two sentences have different meanings. In the first sentence, the speaker has more than one sister, and one of his sisters lives in Miami. In the second sentence, he has only one sister, and she lives in Miami.

My brother whose name is Jack is a scientist.
My brother, whose name is Jack, is a scientist.

In the first example, the speaker has more than one brother, and one of them is named Jack. In the second example, the speaker has only one brother and his name is Jack.

Let's look at two more examples.

We had to wear a uniform which I didn't like.
We had to wear a uniform, which I didn't like.

The first sentence tells us that the speaker didn't like the uniform that she had to wear. In the second sentence, the speaker tells us that she had to wear a uniform, and she didn't like the policy. In other words, the speaker didn't like the uniform (sentence one) and the speaker didn't like having to wear a uniform. (sentence two)

Restrictive and non-restrictive clauses differ in meaning and punctuation. Restrictive clauses are essential to the meaning of the sentence and are thus never separated by commas. Non-restrictive clauses, on the other hand, provide extra information and are punctuated with commas.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Lemon Mead

Lemon mead is very popular in Finland. Known as sima in Finnish, it is often drunk during May Day celebrations. Here is the recipe for this refreshing drink:

1 lemon
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
12 cups boiling water
1/8 teaspoon yeast
6 raisins

Peel the lemon skin of the lemon and set aside.
Cut away the white membrane of the lemon and discard.
Slice the lemon thinly.
In a bowl, combine the lemon slices, lemon skin, white sugar and brown sugar.
Pour boiling water over the lemon and sugar.
Stir and let the mixture cool.
When it is warm, stir in the yeast.
Allow the mead to ferment uncovered at room temperature for about 12 hours.
To bottle use two bottles with caps.
Place 1 teaspoon of sugar and 3 raisins in the bottom of each bottle.
Strain the mead and pour the liquid into the bottles.
Close the bottles tightly and let stand at room temperature for one or two days.
When the raisins have risen to the surface, fill the bottles until ready to serve.

This is a drink with a low alcohol content. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Resignation in 17

In a game of speed chess, my opponent resigned after 17 moves. He was Rapidmates of the USA, who played white. Here are the moves of the game with my commentary:

1. e3 d5

White chooses an unusual opening.

2. Nf3 Nc6
3. c4 e6
4. cxd exd
5. Nc3 Nf6
6. Bd3 Be6
7. a3 Bd6

White  chooses to push a pawn rather than castle.

8. h4 Qd7
9. b4 Bg4
10. Qb3 Bxf3

I decide to give white doubled pawns.

11. gxf Be7

I retreat with my bishop to protect my d-pawn.

12. b5 Ne5

White plays aggressively but the white king isn't safe.

13. Bb1 Nxf3+

White blunders. Be2 is better.

14. Ke2 Ne5
15. Bb2 Qg4+
16. Ke1 Nf3+

Kf1 is better.

17. Kf1 Nxd2+

I fork the king and queen.  Because he is already down two pawns and about to lose his queen, black resigns.

The keys to victory in this game are my ability to develop my pieces and attack the exposed king. Though my king doesn't castle, it isn't a problem because my attack is stronger than white's. On the other hand, black's failure to castle directly contributes to his downfall.

Monday, November 21, 2016


The syllable is a unit of pronunciation with one vowel sound. It forms part or the whole of a word. The syllable can be classified into three parts.

The three parts of the syllable are the onset, nucleus and coda. The nucleus and coda can be further classified into the rhyme. The onset and the coda are optional, but the nucleus is an essential part of the syllable.

The word pin has an onset, nucleus and coda. The onset is /p/, the nucleus is /I/ and the coda is /n/. In the word in there is no onset. The nucleus is /I/ and the coda is /n/. The word eye has no onset or coda. The nucleus is /aI/.

The syllable can be light or heavy. A light syllable consists of a short vowel. The heavy syllable consists of a long vowel, diphthong or syllable with a coda. If the syllable has a coda, it is closed and if it has no coda, it is open.

Syllable structure differs among languages. English allows the consonant cluster /sk/ in the onset and coda, but Spanish does not. The word school is thus escuela in Spanish.

The syllable is an important unit of phonology. Words with one syllable are monosyllabic. If they have two syllables, they are disyllabic and if they have three, they are trisyllabic. Long words with over three syllables are polysyllabic. The essential unit of the syllable is the nucleus.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Noodles with Bacon and Cottage Cheese

Noodles with bacon and cottage cheese are very popular in Hungary. They're very tasty and so easy to prepare. Here is the recipe for this Hungarian dish:

200 grams bacon, diced
400 grams dried noodles
100 grams cottage cheese

Fry the bacon over moderate heat until crisp.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
Drain the noodles.
Place in a pan and add the bacon and cottage cheese.
Bake at 225 degrees celsius for 20 minutes.
If you wish, you can also add a bit of sour cream.

Noodles with bacon and cottage cheese are delicious. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Beautiful Heart

Here is my latest poem. I wish to dedicate this to my wife. Here it is:

Beautiful Heart

In action, thought and example
You reveal your beautiful heart.
You are my eternal candle
Whose flames kindness and love impart.

Your virtue is precious treasure.
Humility and patience last.
These qualities beyond measure
Over decades you have amassed.

Your heart touches in word and deed,
Ready to extend compassion.
Your kindness touches those in need
Through each noble word and action.

Your virtues I will remember
Every day of my life with you.
Your beautiful heart is treasure
And reflects all you say and do.

The poem consists of four stanzas with four verses each. The rhyme scheme is a,b,a,b and each verse has eight syllables. Beautiful Heart is a tribute to virtues such as kindess, love and patience.

Apocopation in Spanish

Spanish has words which are shortened when they come before nouns. This is known as apocopation, the loss of one or more sounds from the end of a word. In Spanish apocopation often applies to adjectives. Here are examples:

David es bueno. (David is good)
David es un buen chico. (David is a good guy)

Este libro es mi primero. (This book is my first)
Es mi primer libro. (It's my first book.)

Francisco es el santo que amaba a los animales. (Francis is the saint who loved animals)
San Francisco es el santo de los animales. (Saint Francis is the saint of animals)

Manuel es mi tercero. (Manuel is my third)
Manuel es mi tercer hijo. (Manuel is my third child)

Quiero uno. (I want one)
Quiero un helado. (I want one ice cream)

A number of Spanish words are shortened when they come before a noun. The unstressed ending of the word is dropped. This ending always has the vowel /o/.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Cod with Egg Sauce

Cod can be prepared in many different ways. This Norwegian recipe is simple and delicious. Here is the recipe:

4 tablespoons salt
4 codfish steaks

Egg Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup hot fish stock
2 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped chives
black pepper

Fill a pan with water to a depth of four inches.
Add four tablespoons of salt.
Bring to a boil and reduce the heat.
Gently slide the cod into the water with a spatula.
Lower the heat and simmer for about three minutes.
Do not overcook or the fish will disintegrate.
Remove the fish and serve with egg sauce.
Melt the butter in a pan.
Remove and add the fish stock in which the fish was cooked.
Add the tomato, egg, parsley and chives.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Return to the stove and heat almost to the boiling point.
Serve with the cod.

In Norway this is often served with raw diced carrots served with lemon juice and with steamed potatoes.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Performative Verbs

Performative verbs are verbs which convey a speech act when they are uttered. In other words, they communicate actions which are performed in speech. Examples of performative verbs include apologize, insist, promise, recommend, and quit. 

In contrast, non-performative verbs are independent of speech. The verb run isn't a performative verb. The sentence I run every week doesn't perform the act of running. Other non-performative verbs include dance, sing, sleep, swim and walk.

Here are five sentences with performative verbs:

I apologize for being late.
I insist you come with us.
I promise to read your book.
I recommend a red wine.
I quit.

Many verbs can be classified as performative verbs. When uttered, they perform the action which they convey. Performative verbs are often used in present tense. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Food Idioms

Idioms are expressions which cannot be interpreted literally. Many idioms are connected to food. Here are ten:

a piece of cake
a lot on my plate
food for thought
with a grain of salt
you can't have your cake and eat it too
apples and oranges
a lemon
have a finger in every pie
small potatoes

The exam was a piece of cake. This idiom means that the exam was easy.

She has a lot on her plate. This is another way to say she has many issues to deal with.

The question gave me food for thought. The question gave the speaker a lot to think about.

Take my opinion with a grain of salt. This idiom means that the speaker's opinion should not be taken too seriously because it may not be correct.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. This idiom means that we can't have two things that are incompatible. If we eat our cake, we can no longer keep it.

You can't compare high school students with university students- they're apples and oranges. The speaker believes that high school students and university students are very different. In other words, they're incomparable.

This car is a lemon. This is another way to say that the car is defective and doesn't run well.

He has a finger in every pie. This idiom means that he's involved in many enterprises.

My salary is peanuts. This means that the speaker's salary is very low.

This contract is small potatoes. The speaker believes that the contract is insignficant.

English uses a number of food idioms. These are fixed expressions with a meaning distinct from that of the individual words themselves.The ones listed here are common English idioms.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Potato Pancakes

Potato pancakes are a great way to use potatoes. Here is a German recipe:

1 egg
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 potatoes, peeled and grated
1/2 cup chopped onion
vegetable oil

In a bowl beat together the egg, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
Mix in the potatoes and onion.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
In batches put the mixture into a pan.
Press to flatten.
Cook until brown and crisp.

Potato pancakes are an excellent side dish. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Garlic Rice

Garlic rice is a very popular dish in the Philippines. It's easy to prepare and really tasty. Here's the recipe:

1 cup rice, cooked
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons oil

Heat the pan and add the oil.
When the pan is hot, add the garlic.
Fry until it becomes brown and crispy.
Add the rice and mix well with the garlic.
Fry until the rice is ready.
Add the salt.
Serve hot with your favourite main dish.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Garden Path Sentences

Garden path sentences are sentences which are often misinterpreted. They are not so easy for the reader to parse. The reason is that they contain words which appear to have more than one structural analysis.

Here are five examples of garden path sentences:

The old man the boat.
The horse raced past the old barn fell.
I told the girl the cat scratched Mark would help her.
The florist sent the roses was pleased.
The government plans to increase taxes were defeated.

The first sentence can be misinterpreted because old man isn't a noun phrase. Here old is a noun and man is a verb. If we write It is the old who man the boat, the meaning is clear.

The second sentence is in passive voice. We can clarify the meaning by writing The horse which was raced past the barn fell.

In the third sentence Mark is not an object but a subject. We can rewrite the sentence as follows: I told the girl who the cat scratched that Mark would help her.

The fourth sentence is also in passive voice. We can clarify the meaning by writing The florist who the roses were sent to was pleased.

In the fifth sentence government plans isn't a noun followed by a verb. Here government plans is a noun phrase. We can clarify the meaning with a possessive noun: The government's plans to increase taxes were defeated.

Garden path sentences often confuse the reader because they have a structure which can be misread. They're called garden path sentences because to be led down the garden path means to be deceived. In many cases, the addition of a few words can help to clarify the intended meaning.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

R-Dissimilation in American English

Many American speakers drop one /r/ from words which have two /r/s. The deleted segment is always post-vocalic. This type of deletion is normally produced by rhotic speakers who tend to retain the /r/ in every other position. It is a dissimilation process because it avoids the presence of identical segments in the same word.

The process usually occurs with adjacent syllables such as in larger but also with intervening syllables such as in thermometer. The latter is an example of long-distance assimilation. Deletion usually occurs in unstressed syllables, but can also occur in stressed syllables such as in farther.

Here is a list of words with r-dissimlation:


(The /r/ in parentheses indicates the deleted segment).

The deleted /r/ is usually the first post-vocalic /r/ in the word, but this is not the case in formerly, forward and northerner. Notice that in these cases the deleted /r/ is unstressed. R-dissimilation doesn't apply to word-final position. Here the /r/ is always maintained.

R-dissimilation appears to be most common between labial and coronal consonants. This is the case in adversary, caterpillar, farther, formerly, governor, northerner, particular, repertoire, southerner, surprise, thermometer, vernacular and westerner. It doesn't occur with velar consonants. For example, the first /r/ is never deleted in worker.

R-dissimilation is common in many varieties of American English. This phonological process deletes a post-vocalic /r/ from a word with two. The deleted /r/ is usually unstressed and between coronal and labial consonants. The speakers who apply r-dissimilation usually retain the /r/ in all other positions.

Friday, October 28, 2016


Goulash is Hungary's most famous dish. There are many variations of this soup. Here is the recipe:

600 grams of beef cut into cubes
2 tablespoons oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 green peppers, seeded and sliced
3 potatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and fry the onions until they are golden.
Add the beef cubes and brown.
Add the garlic, salt and pepper.
Pour water to cover and let simmer on low heat.
After 30 minutes add the potatoes, tomatoes and green peppers.
Add water (2-3 cups) to cover.
Cook until the vegetables are ready.

If you like, you can serve goulash with sour cream. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Trisyllabic Laxing

Trisyllabic laxing is a process in English which affects tense vowels and diphthongs. They become lax in word formation when followed by two or more syllables and the first syllable is stressed. The process first occurred in Old English.

Here are examples of trisyllabic laxing:

divine divinity
profound profundity
serene serenity

denounce denunciation
pronounce pronunciation
renounce renunciation

apply applicative
derive derivative
provoke provocative

impede impediment
school scholarly
sole solitude

fable fabulous
tyrant tyranny
vile vilify

In the cases of denounce, pronounce and renounce, the lax vowel in the nouns denunciation, pronunciation and renunciation does not carry primary stress but rather secondary stress. This stress shift is also evident in word pairs such as civilize/civilization, organize/organization and realize/realization. In these word pairs, however, trisyllabic laxing is optional.

Trisyllabic laxing has exceptions. The process does not apply in the following words:

alien alienate
brave bravery
danger dangerous
hyphen hyphenate
lone loneliness
moment momentary
motor motorist
nice nicety

The rule of trisyllabic laxing applies to many English words. The process first developed in Old English and affects tense vowels and diphthongs. They become lax when they are stressed and are in the third syllable or farther from the end of the derived form. However, this rule has exceptions.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

British and American Compound Nouns

English uses many compound nouns. Most of them are the same in all varieties of English. However, a few compounds are different in British English and American English. Here is a list with the British compound on the left and the American on the right:

cookery book cookbook
dialling tone dial tone
doll's house dollhouse
driving licence driver's license
filing cabinet file cabinet
sailing boat sailboat
skimmed milk skim milk
skipping rope jumprope
sport section sports section
swimming suit swimsuit

In a number of compounds, British English uses a gerund such as in sailing boat and swimming suit. British English uses a possessive noun in doll's house, and American English uses one in driver's license. Though most compound nouns are the same in all varieties of English, these examples illustrate a few differences.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Excerpt from Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is undoubtedly one of William Shakespeare's most popular plays. The language of the play is very beautiful. Let us analyze the language of one excerpt.

Juliet says the following words:

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

Juliet tells Romeo that it is only his name that is her enemy. He is the one she loves, but he is not a Montague. This seems to be a contradiction because his last name is Montague, but she means that he is not her enemy. She explains that the word Montague is not a part belonging to a man. In other words, his name does not define him.

She wishes that he had another name. If he did, her family could accept him. She then explains that if a rose had a different name, it would still smell the same. For her Romeo's name is not important because she loves him. It is only a title. Even if he had a different name, he would be just as perfect. But then she asks him to remove his name.

At the end of Juliet's monologue, she tells Romeo that his name is no part of him. He bears no responsibility for his name and she cannot fault him for it. She offers herself to him.

These powerful words spoken by Juliet affirm her love for Romeo. She makes it clear that his name does not change the person he is. Juliet wants to be with him and asks him to take her. These words are among the most famous in the play Romeo and Juliet.

Hasselback Potatoes

Hasselback potatoes are a great way of preparing potatoes. Use a wooden spoon to slice through the potatoes but not all the way. These potatoes are the Swedish version of baked potatoes. Here is the recipe:

5 potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees Celsius.
Peel the potatoes and make small slices in each one.
Add butter and bake for 20 minutes.
Take the potatoes out and add salt and breadcrumbs.
Bake for another twenty minutes or until the potatoes are ready.

If you prefer, you can add grated cheese instead of breadcrumbs. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Phonetic Merger in Spanish

The Spanish y of yo (I) and ll of lleno (full) have merged in most dialects. The two are now pronounced as a palatal fricative or approximant by most speakers. For those who maintain a distinction, the ll is a palatal lateral.

In most of Argentina and Uruguay, the sound is pronounced as a voiced alveopatal fricative. This sound is present in the words leisure, pleasure and treasure. Among younger speakers of Buenos Aires, this sound is often realized as a voiceless alveopalatal fricative as in fish, pressure and sugar.

A few parts of the Spanish-speaking world maintain the distinction between the y of yo and ll of lleno. The distinction remains in parts of Argentina, Ecuador and Peru, in most of Bolivia, and in Paraguay and the Philippines. In Spain the distinction has been lost in most of the country.

The original palatal approximant and palatal lateral of Spanish have merged in the speech of most speakers. This is the result of a process known as delateralization. However, a few areas still maintain the distinction.

Milk Porridge

Milk porridge is not as well known as sour cream porridge, but is a great alternative. Here is the recipe for this Norwegian dessert:

1 litre milk
200 millilitres flour
50 grams butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Slowly add the flour to the milk over medium heat. Stir until the mixture thickens. Lower the temperature and cook for five minutes. Add the butter and salt at the end. Serve with sugar and cinnamon .

This is a simple and tasty dessert. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sponge Cake

Sponge cake is delicious and easy to make. Here is a Swedish recipe:

2 eggs
150 ml sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
300 ml flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
75 grams butter
100 ml milk

Beat the eggs and sugar until thick.
Add the flavouring, flour and baking powder.
Melt the butter and cool.
Stir into the batter.
Add the milk gradually.
Mix to form a smooth batter.
Pour into a buttered cake pan that has been sprinkled with breadcrumbs.
Bake for about 45 minutes at 175 C.

This cake is great with coffee or tea. Enjoy!

Post-nominal Article

Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are Germanic languages, but unlike English and German, they have post-nominal articles. In these languages, the definite article is placed after the noun and not before. This is relatively rare in the languages of the world.

The English definite article is placed before the noun. This can be seen in the book, the car, the house, the street and the wind. However, this is not the case in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. Here are the phrases in these respective languages:

the book, the car, the house, the street, the wind

Danish: bogen, bilen, huset, gaden, vinden
Norwegian: boken, bilen, huset, gaten, vinden
Swedish: boken, bilen, huset, gatan, vinden

With common nouns, the suffix variant is -en, and with neuter nouns, it is -et. In these languages, the majority of nouns have common gender. However, the suffix variant is different for plural nouns. Here is a list of words for the cars, the days, the dogs, the houses and the streets.

Danish: bilerne, dagene, hundene, husene, gaderne
Norwegian: bilene, dagene, hundene, husene, gatene
Swedish: bilarna, dagarna, hundarna, husen, gatorna

Though Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are Germanic languages closely related to English and German, their use of post-nominal articles is quite rare in the languages of the world. They suffix the definite article to the noun. This suffix has three variants- one is for common nouns, one for neuter nouns, and another for plural nouns.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Latin Word Order

Latin word order is very different from that of English. The reason is that Latin uses case to indicate the function of words in a sentence. The result is that Latin word order is far more flexible.

Consider the sentence A dog bites a man. The noun dog is the subject and man is the object. This is determined by the position of the words in the sentence. If we changed their positions in the sentence and uttered A man bites a dog, we'd have a very different meaning. In Latin, however, the same sentence can be stated in six different ways.

The sentence A dog bites a man is Canis mordet virem in Latin. The Latin sentence only has three words because no articles are used in Latin. The word canis (dog) has the ending -is to indicate that it is the subject of the sentence, and virem (man) has the ending -em to indicate it is the object.

The result is that the sentence A dog bites a man can be expressed in Latin with different word orders. Here they are:

Canis mordet virem.
Canis virem mordet.
Virem canis mordet.
Virem mordet canis.
Mordet canis virem.
Mordet virem canis.

The usual word order of Latin is SOV. This corresponds to Canis virem mordet. However, as we have seen in the previous examples, the sentence A dog bites a man can be expressed with six different sentences. In contrast, only one sentence is possible in English.

English is classified as an SVO language. We see this in the sentence A dog bites a man. In Latin the usual word order is SOV. However, Latin is a language which marks nouns with subject and object endings. The result is a flexible word order.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Kir is the name of a popular French cocktail. It is very simple to make and has only two ingredients. To make it you need white wine and blackcurrant liqueur known as creme de cassis.

Here is the recipe:

Put two tablespoons of cassis in a wine glass. Add a 3/4 cup of dry white wine and stir.

Traditionally it is made with a white wine from the Burgundy regjon of France, but other wines are also used. If champagne is added instead of white wine, it's called a kir royal.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Similarity of Romanian and Spanish to Latin

Romanian and Spanish are both Romance languages. They are descended from Latin and show a number of similarities to Latin and to one another. Here is a list of ten words with the Latin, Spanish and Romanian equivalents:

chair sella silla scaun
cloud nubes nube nor
flower flos flor floare
fruit fructus fruta fruct
gold aurum oro aur
milk lactis leche lapte
sun solis sol soare
table mensa mesa masa
time tempus tiempo timp
tooth dente diente dinte

Most of the words on the list are very similar. The exceptions are the Romanian words scaun and nor. With the exception of the Spanish word oro, all the words begin with the same letter. A few Spanish and Romanian words are almost identical- they include mesa/masa (table), tiempo/timp (time), diente/dinte (tooth) and fruta/fruct (fruit).

The Spanish words for chair, cloud and sun show more similarity to Latin than do the Romanian words. The Romanian word for gold reflects greater similarity to Latin than does the Spanish word. With the remaining six words, both languages have words similar to Latin.

Romanian has word-final consonant clusters which do not occur in Spanish. These clusters occur in fruct and timp. Nine of the Spanish words end in a vowel, but only four of the Romanian words do.

The vocabulary list shows that Spanish and Romanian are descendants of Latin. The three languages share many similar words. In contrast to Spanish, Romanian permits word-final consonant clusters.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Apple Crisp

Apple crisp is delicious and easy to make. It's a great alternative to apple pie. Here's a simple recipe:

6 apples, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup oats
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
Mix the apples with sugar and cinnamon and put into a baking dish.
Mix the sugar, oats, flour and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
Mash the butter into the mixture until it resembles crumbs.
Spread evenly over the apples in the dish.
Bake in the oven until golden brown for about 40 minutes.

The Mystery

Sarah Teasdale wrote The Mystery. Here is her poem:

The Mystery

Your eyes drink of me,
Love makes them shine,
Your eyes that lean
So close to mine.

We have long been lovers,
We know the range
Of each other's moods
And how they change;

But when we look
At each other so
Then we feel
How little we know;

The spirit eludes us,
Timid and free--
Can I ever know you
Or you know me?

The poem consists of four stanzas. Each stanza has four verses and the second and fourth verses of each stanza rhyme. The poem ends with a question: Can I ever know you or you know me?

The first stanza expresses the intimacy of the couple. This is revealed in their eyes that lean closely to one another. In the second stanza the reader learns that they have been together for a long time and know how their moods change. The third stanza explains that even though they know each other well, they feel they know little about each other. The fourth verse is connected to the title. Love can be a mystery. Even though the two have been together long, there is so much they don't know about one another.

Sarah Teasdale tells the reader that relationships are complex and develop over time. Regardless of how long couples have been together, they'll never know everything about one another. In this regard, relationships are like a mystery.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Victory in 18

In a game of chess my opponent resigned after 18 moves. He was apricotshandy of Australia. In this game I played white. Here are the moves of the game with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 exd
4. Bc4 h6

I decide to develop rather than capture the pawn. Black's move fails to develop a piece.

5. 0-0 Bd7

Black should develop a piece on the kingside so that he can castle quickly.

6. e4 dxe

My aim is to open the centre of the board.

7. Nxe5 Be6
8. Bxe6 fxe6

The black king is exposed.

9. Qh5+ Ke7
10. Qf7+ Kd6
11. Bf4 Nc6
12. Ng6+ Kd5

I use a discovered check to win the black rook on h8.

13. Nxh8 Nf6
14. Ng6 Nh5
15. Bxc7 Qg5

I win a pawn.

16. Qf3+ Kc5
17. Nxf8 Nf6

I win a piece. Black wants to capture my knight.

18. Nxe6+

My knight check forks the king and queen, so black resigns.

I force an early resignation with my quick development and material advantage. Black makes a number of mistakes in the game. His most critical is probably Bd7. It fails to develop his kingside and keeps his king in the centre.


Frisian is a Germanic language closely related to English. Most Frisian speakers are located in the northern Netherlands. The language also has speakers in Germany and Denmark. Here are the Frisian numbers from one to ten:

1) ien
2) twa
3) trije
4) fjouwer
5) fiif
6) seis
7) sân
8) acht
9) njoggen
10) tsien

With the exceptions of one, eight and nine, all the numbers start with the same letter as in English. They are also similar to the numbers in Dutch. The Dutch numbers from one to ten are een, twee, drie, vier, vijf, zes, zeven, acht, negen, tien. Frisian is thus also closely related to Dutch.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

City Demonyms

Demonyms refer to the people of a place. English uses different suffixes for the residents of cities. Here are examples:

-ite Lisbonite, Vancouverite, Denverite, Seoulite, Tokyoite
-ian Parisian, Budapestian, Bangkokian, Madridian, Bostonian
-er Praguer, Berliner, Dubliner, New Yorker, Hamburger
-an Hanoian, Nairobian, Mumbaian, Chicagoan, Miamian

Here is a list of irregular city demonyms:

Warsaw-Varsovian Moscow-Muscovite Los Angeles-Los Angelino Liverpool-Liverpudlian
Manchester-Mancunian Florence-Fiorentine Venice-Venetian Naples-Neapolitan
Athens-Athenian Sydney-Sydneysider Glasgow-Glaswegian New Orleans-Orleanian
Cambridge-Cantabrigian Oxford-Oxonian Damascus-Damascene Aberdeen-Aberdonian
Oslo-Oslovian Cairo-Cairene New Castle-Novocastrian Halifax-Haligonian

English doesn't have a single suffix for city demonyms. However, the suffix -an occurs with cities that end with a vowel sound and -er, -ian and -ite with words that end with a consonant sound.  English also has a number of irregular city demonyms.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Baked Cod

Baked cod is both delicious and nutritious. For this recipe hake can be used instead of cod. Here is a Portuguese recipe:

1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons parsley
4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 slices of cod or hake

Saute the onion, garlic and green pepper in olive oil over moderate heat for 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the bay leaves, parsley, tomatoes, wine, tomato paste, salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
Uncover and simmer about 25 minutes more until the sauce thickens.
Preheat the oven to 175 C.
Put the pieces of fish in a casserole and arrange in a single layer.
Pour the sauce evenly over all, cover and bake for 15 minutes.
Uncover and bake 25 to 30 minutes more, until the fish almost breaks at the touch of a fork.

This fish can be enjoyed with either a dry white or red wine.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The prefix -re in English

The prefix -re can be attached to many English words. It has the meaning of again to indicate repetition or back to indicate backward motion. This prefix often occurs in loanwords from Latin.

Here is a small list of words with the prefix -re:


The prefix -re occurs with read and write, but not with listen and speak. It occurs with marry but not with divorce, with start but not finish and also with sell but not with buy. The number of words that the prefix occurs with is restricted.

In most cases the meaning of the prefix is again. The verb redo means to do again. However, in return the prefix means back. We can thus analyze return as turn back.

Many English verbs can be prefixed with -re. In certain cases, only one word pair is possible. For example, we can attach this prefix to live (relive) but not to die. Though the prefix originally occurs in Latin loanwords, it also occurs in native English words such as build, read and sell.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hungarian Cheese Biscuits

Hungarian cheese biscuits are delicious and easy to make. Here is a recipe:

(makes about 30 biscuits)

1/4 cup milk, heated
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon salt
1 egg
7 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup sour cream

In a bowl combine the milk, yeast and sugar.
Let stand about 10 minutes.
Add flour, salt, cheese, eggs, butter and sour cream to mixture.
Mix until dough comes together.
It should be smooth and not sticky.
Roll dough 1/2 inch thick on a floured surface.
Cut out biscuits and sprinkle cheese on top.
Arrange in rows on a baking sheet.
Set oven temperature to 200 C.
Bake for about 25 minutes until cheese biscuits are nicely browned.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Words without Pairs

Many English words are negatives whose opposites are either obolete or very rare. These negatives often have prefixes such as -dis, -in and -un. Here is a list of words without pairs:


The word unkempt comes from the Old English word kemb, which means comb. It used to mean uncombed but now means neglected.

The word ruly was once common and meant law-abiding. It is now very rare. To be reckless is to be unconcerned about the consequences of an action. The opposite doesn't exist.

The word nonchalant can be defined as indifferent and unconcerned. The opposite doesn't exist. The opposite of innocent is guilty; nocent is rarely used.

English has a number of words which don't have antonym pairs. These words are negatives whose antonyms are either no longer used or have become very rare. It appears that the negative of an antonym pair is more likely to survive than the positive.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Lord Byron wrote the famous poem Solitude. Here it is:

To sit on rocks, to muse o'er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest's shady scene,
Where things that own not man's dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne'er or rarely been;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
Alone o'er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
This is not solitude, 'tis but to hold
Converse with nature's charms, and view her stores unrolled.

But midst the crowd, the hurry, the shock of men,
To hear, to see, to feel and to possess,
And roam alone, the world's tired denizen,
With none who bless us, none whom we can bless;
Minions of splendour shrinking from distress!
None that, with kindred consciousness endued,
If we were not, would seem to smile the less
Of all the flattered, followed, sought and sued;
This is to be alone; this, this is solitude!

Solitude consists of two stanzas with nine verses each. The rhyme scheme is a.b,a,b,a,c,a,c,c in the first stanza and d,e,d,e,e,f,e,f,f in the second. The poem evokes many scenes of nature with descriptions of rocks, forests, mountains and waterfalls.

The poems explains that we are surrounded by nature. Lord Byron admires nature and feels that to be alone in nature isn't truly solitude because we can relax, think and appreciate all around us. On the other hand, the second stanza explains that we can be surrounded by people and noises. This seems the opposite of solitude. However, even in a large crowd, we can be alone. Lord Byron writes that with none to bless us, none who we can bless, we experience solitude. In other words, if we are not surrounded by people who care for us, we are alone.

The poem Solitude expresses a deep appreciation of the beauty in nature. We learn that to be alone with our thoughts in the beauty of nature is not the same as in a big city surrounded by strangers. Connected to nature and filled with admiration of the beauty we see, we can feel happy. However, in a large crowd of strangers, we can feel solitude.

Monday, September 12, 2016


Blends are words made from parts of two or more words. Unlike compounds, they do not combine full words. English makes extensive use of blends.

Here are examples of blends:

camcorder = camera + recorder
clash = clap + crash
electrocute = electricity + execute
infotainment = information + entertainment
flare = flame + glare
moped = motor + pedal
motel = motor + hotel
sitcom = situation + comedy
smog + smoke + fog
sportscast + sports + broadcast

In the blend sportscast, the first part of the blend consists of a full word. This is different from the other examples of blends. Eight of the ten blends are nouns and two are verbs. It appears that blends are most likely to be nouns.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Meaning of the Days of the Week

The Greeks named the days for the five known planets and the sun and moon. These were named after Greek gods. The Romans substituted their own gods for the Roman gods. Germanic peoples also substituted the Roman gods for their own with the exception of Saturn.

Sunday was named after the sun. Sunday is thus the day of the sun.

Monday was named after the moon. It is thus the day of the moon.

Tuesday was named after Tiu, the Germanic god of war and sky.

Wednesday was named after the Anglo-Saxon god Woden. He was the leader of the wild hunt.

Thursday was named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder.

Friday was named after Freya, the Teutonic goddess of love, beauty and procreation.

Saturday was named after Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture.

The English days of the week correspond to the sun, moon and five planets. These planets were named after gods. Saturday was named after a Roman god, but the others were named for gods of the Germanic peoples. In the past only five planets were known

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Differences between British and American Pronunciation

The two main dialects of English, British and American, have a number of differences between them. This also extends to pronunciation. The following discusses the main differences in pronunciation between Received Pronunciation and General American.

In General American, the /r/ is pronounced at the end of a syllable. In Received Pronunciation, however, it is either not pronounced as in car or a schwa is produced instead as in here.

Most speakers of General American make no distinction between father and bother. They pronounce both words with the same vowel. However, in Received Pronunciation, they are pronounced with different vowels.

The vowel of words such as coat is different in General American and Received Pronunciation. In General American it tends to have a shorter duration and the vowel is articulated farther back than in Received Pronunciation. The General American vowel can be a monophthong, but in Received Pronunciation it's always a diphthong.

Flapping is very common in General American. It occurs intervocalically in words such as bottle, city, and ladder. The result is that the words medal and metal sound the same in General American, but they are distinguished in Received Pronunciation.

Yod-dropping is also common in American English. Many Americans make no distinction between do and dew. However, speakers of Received Pronunciation do. In the word stew, American speakers always apply yod-dropping, but Received Pronunciation speakers don't.

The trap-bath split doesn't exist in General American. Speakers of General American pronounce can and can't with the same vowel. Speakers of Received Pronunciation don't. In General American, words such as dance, fast and laugh have a front vowel while in Received Pronunciation they have a back vowel.

General American and Received Pronunciation exhibit a number of differences in pronunciation. These include syllable-final /r/, the trap-bath split, flapping and yod-dropping. The trap-bath split and lack of syllable-final /r/ in Received Pronunciation are relatively recent developments which weren't adapted by General American.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Open and Closed Vowels of Italian

Italian has seven vowels. The letters e and o have both an open and a closed pronunciation. The closed vowels are high-mid vowels and the open vowels are low-mid. However, this distinction is lost in a few varieties. In parts of northern Sicily, only the open vowels occur and in parts of the north of Italy, only the closed variants occur.

In stressed position, both the open and closed vowels may occur, but in unstressed position, only the closed variant may occur. A famous example of the difference between the open and closed variants is the word pesca. Pronounced with the open vowel, it means peach and pronounced with the closed one, it means fishing. Another example is the word botte. Pronounced with the open vowel it means blows (plural noun) and with the closed one it means barrel.

Here is a list of Italian words with open and closed vowels:

open- bene (well) festa (party) presto (soon) vento (wind) bello (beautiful)
closed- e (and) me (me) fede (faith) neve (snow) mela (apple)
open- cosa (thing) moda (fashion) no (no) posta (mail) rosa (rose)
closed- dono (gift) mondo (world) nome (name) o (or) posto (place)

In Italian the letters e and o have both an open and a closed pronunciation. This is different from other languages such as Spanish in which no such distinction occurs. In stressed position, both vowels may be realized, but in unstressed position the distinction is neutralized and only the closed variant occurs.

Sunday, September 4, 2016


Collocations are sequences of words that occur with one another. These sequences can be viewed as fixed expressions. Collocations can be classified as strong and weak. Strong collocations are collocations in which the link between two words is restricted. On the other hand, weak collocations have a word which can combine with many other words.

The words fast and quick have similar meanings, but speakers say fast food and quick meal. In the case of big and great, they say big surprise and great fun. When the topic is size, speakers say small, medium and large. Here the word big is incorrect. Both high building and tall building sound fine, but speakers use high temperature and tall man.

Few words can precede wish. It's possible to say grant a wish, make a wish and express a wish. Since few words can combine with wish, the ones that do form strong collocations. Another example is winding. This word is often used in the phrase winding road. It doesn't combine with many words and is thus another example of a strong collocation.

However, the word big can combine with many words. A few include big house, big disappointment and big idea. For this reason, it's classified as a weak collocation. Another example is strong:  strong coffee, strong boy and strong character.

Words which combine naturally are collocations. Though words can often be used interchangeably, i.e., run fast, run quickly, this is not so for collocations. They are word sequences whose order is fixed.

Saturday, September 3, 2016


A euphemsm is a word or expression used instead of one which may be considered too direct or offensive. The euphemism may intend to amuse or to express politeness. Many euphemisms are a regular part of daily conversation.

Many people use the euphemism pass away rather than die. Another example is ladies' room, which is less direct than ladies' toilet. Fertilizer is less direct than manure. 

The term enhanced interrogation is far less direct and expressive than torture. Instead of euthanize, the term put to sleep is often used. The term family planning often replaces contraception.

A euphemism refers to the practice of substituting an unpleasant or harsh word with one which is inoffensive and indirect. This is common in formal situations and in polite company. Many people use euphemisms for sensitive subjects and for decreasing negativity. They're an important part of language.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Schwa in English

The schwa is a mid central vowel that is very common in English. In English it is mainly found in unstressed positions, but in other languages it also occurs frequently in stressed positions. The term was introduced into linguistics by Jacob Grimm in the early 19th century.

The English schwa does not correspond to a single letter. Notice that it is represented by different letters in the following words:


Some speakers produce a high front unrounded vowel instead of a schwa in certain words. For example, some speakers use the high front vowel of sit in words such as chicken, needed and boxes. In British English, the names Lennon and Lenin contrast. The first is produced with a schwa and the second with a high front vowel. In American English both names are usually pronounced with a schwa. In both varieties of English, however, roses and Rosa's are distinguished. The first word has a schwa and the second has the vowel of but.

The schwa is a very common vowel in English. It is a short vowel that usually occurs in unstressed syllables. It is so common that it can correspond to a number of letters.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Redundancy in English

English has many examples of redundancy. This can be defined as a repetition of information. In fact, redundancy occurs in all languages.

In the plural two carrots, the plural marker -s is redundant. The reason is that the number two already indicates that the noun is plural. This is different from the sentence I see the carrots where the plural marker is necessary to indicate plurality.

In the double possessive a friend of my father's possession is indicated by the preposition of. The form father's is unnecessary. It is sufficient to say a friend of my father. However, the double possessive is sometimes necessary. Compare a picture of my mother with a picture of my mother's. In the first instance we have a picture of a person's mother, but in the second we have a picture which belongs to a person's mother.

In the question Do you like fish? the verb do is redundant. In the sentence You like fish it fails to appear, and in the question it adds no meaning. In informal language You like fish? conveys the same information.

Redundancy is sometimes used for emphasis. This can be exemplified in ha,ha, oh, oh and no, no. This type of emphasis is also often used to indicate surprise (oh, oh), laughter (ha,ha) and refusal (no,no).

Redundancy is common in language. It can be both grammatical and lexical. In the phrase three houses the redundancy is grammatical, but in free gift it is lexical. Lexical redundancy can be avoided, but grammatical redundancy such as three houses is an inherent and necessary part of the English language.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Oatmeal Pancakes

Oatmeal pancakes are delicious and easy to make. Here's a Danish recipe:

1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat the egg until it is fluffy.
Stir in the remaining ingredients.
Grease a heated pan.
Pour about 3 tablespoons of batter onto a hot pan.
Cook the pancake until it is puffed and dry around the edges.
Turn and cook the other side until it is golden brown.

These pancakes are best served warm. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 7, 2016


Galician is a language which is spoken in northwestern Spain. Though similar to Portuguese, it's a separate language. Here is a list of words to illustrate the differences:

eye Spanish ojo Portuguese olho Galician ollo
person Spanish persona Portuguese pessoa Galician persoa
today Spanish hoy Portuguese hoje Galician hoxe
game Spanish juego Portuguese jogo Galician xogo
leaf Spanish hoja Portuguese folha Galician folla
make Spanish hacer Portuguese fazer Galician facer
four Spanish cuatro Portuguese quatro Galician catro
yesterday Spanish ayer Portuguese ontem Galician onte
one Spanish uno Portuguese um Galician un
good Spanish bueno Portuguese bom Galician bo

The Galician words are closer to Portuguese than they are to Spanish. However, Galician has less nasalization. Compare the words for good and yesterday: bom vs. bo and ontem vs. onte. Another difference is that an lh in Portuguese often corresponds to an ll in Galician. Notice the words for eye and leaf: olho/ollo and folha/folla. Nevertheless, Galician and Portuguese are similar.

Friday, August 5, 2016


Sangria is a popular drink with many versions. It can be made with red or white wine. Here is a recipe for this famous drink:

1 apple, chopped into small pieces
1 orange or lemon, sliced into small pieces
1 peach, chopped into small pieces
1 cup orange juice
1 cup sparkling water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup orange liqueur
3 cups red wine

Add the fruit and sugar to a pitcher.
Add the orange juice and orange liqueur.
Add the red wine and stir.
Add the ice and chill.
It is advisable to chill sangria for at least 30 minutes. For a full fruit flavour you can chill it in the refrigerator overnight. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Differences in British and American English with Transportation Terminology

British and American English have a number of differences in vocabulary. This is especially true in transportation terminology. Here is a list with the British word on the left and the American on the right:

aerial antenna
bonnet hood
boot trunk
caravan trailer
car park parking lot
diversion detour
dual carriage way divided freeway
estate car station wagon
flat battery dead battery
fly-over overpass
give way yield
glove box glove compartment
high street main street
hire car rental car
indicator blinker
lorry truck
metalled road paved road
motorway freeway
number plate license plate
pavement sidewalk
petrol gasoline
silencer muffler
windscreen windshield
wing mirror rear view mirror
zebra crossing crosswalk

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup is a famous dish. Though it takes time to prepare, this is such a delicious soup that it's well worth the effort. This recipe serves four. Here it is::

4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup  beef stock
1 1/4 cups water
French bread
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan.
Add the onions and cook for about 20 minutes until brown.
Add the garlic and sugar and cook until sugar has browned.
Add the vinegar and cook for 2 minutes.
Sprinkle the flour over the onions and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the sherry, white wine, beef stock and water.
Continue stirring until the mixture boils and thickens.
Reduce the heat and simmer the soup uncovered for about 25 minutes.
Toast slices of bread in an oven until crisp and golden.
Place the bread in the soup and add Parmesan cheese so that it melts.

If you wish, you can garnish the soup with parsley. Enjoy!

Fireflies In The Garden

The poem Fireflies In The Garden was written by Robert Frost. Though it is a short poem, it is very descriptive. Here is the poem:

Fireflies In The Garden

Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course they can't sustain the part.

The poem has one stanza with six verses. The first three and last three verses rhyme.  Each verse has ten syllables with five feet and a stress pattern of weak and strong. The poem is in iambic pentameter.

In the first verse the poem tells the reader that it is dark and stars are in the skies. Now fireflies appear and because they are small and fly, they resemble flies. Though they are far smaller than stars and they have no desire to be stars, in the beginning of their flight they give the appearance of stars. However, they don't burn with the intensity and heat of stars. In other words, they have a much shorter duration.

The powm Fireflies In The Garden describes the resemblance of fireflies to stars. Though the two are very different, in a certain sense they resemble one another. Fireflies also resemble flies, small insects capable of flight. Fireflies resemble stars in the beginning of flight, but only for a moment.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Names in Seven Languages

Many names are used around the world. They tend to be similar in every language. Here is a list of common names in seven languages:

English: David, Frances, George, James, John, Laura, Mark, Mary, Paul, Peter 
Dutch: David, Francisca, George, Jakob, Jan, Laura, Mark, Maria, Paul, Pieter
German: David, Franziska, Georg, Jakob, Johann, Laura, Markus, Maria, Paul, Peter
French: David, Françoise, Georges, Jacques, Jean, Laure, Marc, Marie, Paul, Pierre
Italian: Davide, Francesca, Giorgio, Giacomo, Giovanni, Laura, Marco, Maria, Paolo, Pietro
Spanish: David, Francisca, Jorge, Jaime, Juan, Laura, Marcos, Maria, Pablo, Pedro
Portuguese: David, Francisca, Jorge, Jaime, JoãoLaura, Marcos, Maria, Paulo, Pedro

These names are similar in the languages listed here. The names John, Paul and Peter have different forms in many languages. David, Mark, Laura and Mary vary far less.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Irregular Nationality Adjectives

Many nationality adjectives in English are formed with the same suffixes. We see the same suffixes in Bolivian, Colombian, Russian, Venezuelan and in Bahraini, Bangladeshi, Iraqi, Pakistani and Yemeni. However, English also has a number of irregular nationality adjectives. Here is a list:

Congo Congolese
Ivory Coast Ivorian
Kiribati I-Kiribati
Madagascar Malagasy
Niger Nigerien
San Marino San Marinese
Thailand Thai
Togo Togolese
Turkmenistan Turkmen
United Arab Emirates Emirati

The nationality adjective of Kiribati is I-Kiribati. This is the most irregular nationality adjective in English. Congolese and Togolese are not so irregular, but they have an l before the suffix -ese. In Turkmen and Thai, we see nationality adjectives that are shorter than the names of the respective countries. This short list illustrates a few irregular nationality adjectives in English.

Monday, July 25, 2016

War and Peace

War and Peace, a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, is considered one of the most important novels of world literature. It describes the French invasion of Russia and its impact on Russian society. This is told through the eyes of five Russian aristocratic families. In many ways War and Peace is not a novel but rather a philosophical discussion. The last section of the novel is in fact an essay.

Important characters of the novel are Pierre Bezukhov, Helen Kuragin, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, Princess Maria Bolkonskaya, Countess Natasha Rostova and Count Nikolai Rostov. Pierre Bezukhov is the central character of the novel. He is the illegitimate son of Count Kirill Bezukhov. Educated abroad, Pierre returns to Russia and finds himself in a society that doesn't suit him. However, his inheritance of a large fortune changes his life.

Helen Kuragin marries Pierre Bezukhov after he is legitimized as the heir to his father's title and fortune. At first Pierre is happy to be married to such a beautiful woman, but later realizes she is only with him for social and financial advantage.

Prince Andrei Bolkonsky is a strong but conflicted military leader. His first wife dies and he later becomes engaged to Countess Natasha Rostova.

Princess Maria Bolkonskaya is the sister of Prince Andrei Bolkonsky. She is a pious woman with a very kind heart, but her father makes her life difficult.

Countess Natasha Rostova is a young and romantic girl. She is a very accomplished singer and dancer.

Count Nikolai Rostov, the brother of Countess Natasha Rostova, is the eldest son of the Rostov family. He later marries Princess Maria Bolkonskaya.

Napoleon is also an important character of the novel. Leo Tolstoy portrays the French leader as arrogant and overconfident in his invasion of Russia. The Russian General Kutuzov is a wise and patient military tactician who manages to defeat Europe's largest army.

War and Peace questions ideas of fate and free will. It is a historical novel which presents Leo Tolstoy's complex theory of history. In his view, historians do not tell the whole truth but their own version coloured by prejudices and interpretations. War and Peace is an account of Napoleon's war with Russia from the Russian perspective. Leo Tolstoy tells us that history is never simple but rather a network of connected events influenced by previous ones. The realistic descriptions of war, the interactions of the aristocratic families, and the complex ideas explored by Leo Tolstoy truly make War and Peace an outstanding novel.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Apricot Compote

Apricot compote is a very tasty and simple dish to prepare. Here is a recipe:

10 apricots halved with pits removed
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup water

Place the apricots in a saucepan and add the water, sugar and cinnamon.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Serve hot or cold.

Apricot compote is very popular in Germany and is often served with plain yoghurt and also with whipped cream.

Friday, July 22, 2016

English t and German z

English and German are both Germanic languages. They have a common ancestral language, Proto-Germanic. As a result, it's not surprising that there are many similarities between them. In a number of words an English t corresponds to a German z.

Here are examples of English words with a t and German words with a z:

heart Herz
heat Hitze
salt Salz
ten Zehn
time Zeit
toe Zeh
tongue Zunge
twenty Zwanzig
two Zwei
wheat Weizen

The number of words in which an English t corresponds to a German z indicates that the two languages are related. In Proto-Germanic these words were the same. Historical linguists believe that the German z of these words developed from the t which is still preserved in English.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Difference between e.g. and i.e.

The abbreviations e.g. and i.e. are both from Latin. Though these abbreviations are used for clarification, they aren't the same. Let's look at how these abbreviations function.

The abbreviation e.g. provides an example. Here's an example: He has many hobbies, e.g., chess, tennis, photography and karate. In contrast, the abbreviation i.e. restates an idea more clearly or gives more information. For example, it happened in April, i.e., three months ago.

In certain cases, the use of e.g. and i.e. can change the meaning of the sentence. If we write "The fish are thriving in the new pond, e.g., the new goldfish," we can infer that there are more fish in the pond than just goldfish.

But if we write "The fish are thriving in the new pond, i.e., the new goldfish," we can infer that the only fish in the pond are the new goldfish. The abbreviation clarifies that the fish in the pond are the new goldfish.

Though e.g. and i.e. are both used for clarification, they serve different functions. The abbreviation e.g. provides an example, but i.e. provides more clarification or information. In fact, the abbreviation i.e. can be replaced with in other words. Though the two abbreviations are similar, they aren't identical.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sour Cream Porridge

Sour cream porridge is very popular in Norway. When made with Norwegian sour cream, butter separates from the sour cream when it is boiled. This is an easy dish to prepare. Here is the recipe:

2 cups sour cream
3/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt

Boil the sour cream for about 5 minutes. Add half of the flour and stir constantly. Lower the heat and slowly add the rest of the flour and some milk while stirring. Continue to add the rest of the milk and stir. Boil the porridge for five minutes and add salt. Serve with sugar, cinnamon and butter. Sour cream porridge can be served hot or cold.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Revival of Hebrew

The revival of the Hebrew language began at the end of the nineteenth century. Hebrew changed from the sacred language of Judaism to the spoken and written language of Israel. The revival of Hebrew is unique in history. There are no other examples of a natural language with no native speakers acquiring millions of native speakers.

The revival of Hebrew included linguistic additions. It incorporated characteristics from various periods of the Hebrew language and other languages used by Jewish communities around the world. Of these languages, Yiddish was the predominant.

With the rise of Jewish nationalism in nineteenth century Europe, many Jews believed that one of the criteria needed to define a nation was the use of a common language. In the early twentieth century, the Hebrew School Program founded in Palestine created a few hundred fluent Hebrew speakers. This proved that Hebrew could be used on a daily basis.

After World War II, it was clear that Hebrew would become the language of Israel. Though the immigrants to Israel did not speak Hebrew as a mother tongue, their children learned it as a native language. This made it possible to revive Hebrew and make it the official language of Israel. This revival can truly be considered remarkable.

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Finding the Proto-Form

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