Thursday, March 30, 2017


Intonation is the variation of spoken pitch. It's used for a wide variety of functions. They include the attitudes and emotions of the speaker, the difference between statements and questions and emphasis given to different parts of the spoken message. In many languages the intonation of questions and statement is very different.

Contrastive stress can be expressed with intonation. In the sentences He didn't finish. I did. the emphasis on the pronouns he and I serves to create contrast between the two. It's also common to put extra stress on I to give greater emphasis.

Wh-questions in English have rising intonation on the wh-word and falling intonation at the end of the question. English yes-no questions, however, have rising intonation at the end of the question. The question Where are you from? ends with falling intonation and Do you agree? ends with rising intonation.

Dependent clauses often have lower pitch than independent clauses. For example, in the sentence Mr. Howe (the former hockey player) was born in Canada, the information in parentheses is often uttered with lower pitch. This serves to distinguish the two clauses.

Intonation also has a psychological function.  It organizes information into units that are easy to perceive. For example, you can have it in red, blue or black has pauses between the colours and falling intonation on black. This helps to communicate the message clearly and makes it easier to remember.

Intonation serves a number of different functions. The variation of spoken pitch in English differentiates sentences and questions. Intonation also helps to distinguish dependent clauses from independent ones, organizes information into units which aid perception and gives emphasis to different parts of the message.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Adpositions include prepositions and postpositions. They are used to express spatial and temporal relations. Languages such as English have prepositions, words which are placed before nouns. In other languages such as Finnish, Hungarian, Korean and Japanese, however, postpositions, words placed after nouns, are used. As a result, adpositions refer to both types.

English uses prepositions to create phrases such as in Vancouver and in Toronto. In Hungarian, though, the phrase in Vancouver is expressed with Vancouverben. The suffix -ben is a postposition. The phrase in Toronto is expressed in Finnish with Torontossa. The suffix -ssa is the Finnish postposition which corresponds to the English preposition in.

The word ago is usually analyzed as an adverb, but can also be considered a postposition. The reason is that it follows rather than proceeds the complement as in ten weeks ago. In addition to prepositions and postpositions, languages also use circumpositions. These consist of two parts and are placed before and after the complement. The Norwegian phrase for tre uker siden (three weeks ago) is an example of a circumposition with one word before tre uker (three weeks) and another after.

Adpositions are words which indicate spatial and temporal relations. These are usually expressed with prepositions, but they also include postpositions and circumpositions. Prepositions are more common than postpositions.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Carrot Casserole

This Finnish recipe is a great way to use carrots. It's simple and makes an excellent side dish. Here's the recipe:

1 cup rice, cooked
2 cups milk
5 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 190⁰ C.
In a bowl combine the rice, milk, carrots, salt, brown sugar and eggs.
Butter a casserole.
Pour the carrot mixture into the casserole.
Combine the breadcrumbs with the melted butter.
Sprinkle over the carrot mixture.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is light brown.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Cinnamon Cake

Cinnamon cake is very popular in Norway. It tastes great and is easy to make. Here's the recipe:

3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
7 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup water
butter and breadcrumbs to coat the pan

Mix the eggs and the sugar.
Add the flour, baking powder and cinnamon.
Melt the butter and water, add to the mixture and mix.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes at 175 degrees Celsius.

Cleft Sentence

A cleft sentence is a complex sentence with a meaning that could be expressed by a simple sentence. This type of sentence puts a particular constituent into focus. In conversation, this focus is often accompanied by special intonation.

Here are examples of cleft sentences:

It's you I love.
It's Leonard who we're looking for.
That was the prince you were talking to.
What she wanted to buy was a new house.
A new house is what she wanted to buy.

In the cleft sentence a specific element is emphasized by placing it in a separate clause. This element is often introduced by the pronoun it. The cleft sentence divides a single message into two clauses.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Potatoes a la Landaise

Potatoes a la landaise is the name of a French potato dish. It's simple and very tasty. Here's the recipe:

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions finely chopped
1 cup chopped ham
6 potatoes peeled and diced
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

Heat the oil in a large frying pan with a lid.
Fry the onions and the ham until they are well browned.
Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.
Cook with the lid on for 20 minutes.
Stir from time to time.
When the potatoes are cooked add the garlic and mix well.
Serve warm!

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Ellipsis refers to the omission of words from a phrase. They can be omitted because they're understood from the context. Ellipsis is especially common in verb phrases. Here are examples of ellipsis:

Carl can play the violin and Rose can play the harp.
Carl can play the violin and Rose the harp.

Should I call you or should you call me?
Should I call you or you me?

The employee who wanted to quit did quit.
The employee who wanted to quit did.

When does the tournament start? The tournament starts tomorrow.
When does the tournament start? Tomorrow.

I saw Peter's house and you saw Julie's house.
I saw Peter's house and you saw Julie's.

Ellipsis helps to avoid redundancy. It's possible because context clues clarify the meaning. Ellipsis is very common in all languages.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cherry Clafoutis

A clafoutis is a traditional French dessert. It can be many with many different fruits, but the most traditional is cherry. Here is the recipe:

butter to coat the pan
2 cups cherries, stemmed and pitted
3 eggs at room temperature
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Coat a pan with butter and arrange the cherries in a single layer.
Combine the eggs, sugar, milk, almond extract and vanilla extract.
Add the flour and whisk until the ingredients are well blended.
Pour over the cherries.
Bake until set (about 30 minutes).
Cool for 10 minutes and then add powdered sugar.

Cherry clafoutis is one of my favourite desserts. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mate in 23

In a game of speed chess I mated my opponent in 23 moves. My opponent, sammy2017 of the USA, played white. Here are the movies of the game along with my commentary:

1. d4 Nf6
2.Nf3 g6
3. e3 d5
4. Nbd2 Bg7
5. Bd3 0-0
6. h4 Bg4

White decides to push his h-pawn instead of castling. This is aggressive but leaves the king in the centre.

7. Nf1 c5

White wants to free his dark-squared bishop, but his knight isn't well-positioned. A better move is b3.

8. c3 cxd
9. cxd Ne4
10. N1h2 Be6

I decide to keep my bishop.

11. h5 Nc6
12. hxg fxg

I play fxg to open the f-file for my rook.

13. Bxe4 dxe4
14. Ng4 Bc4
15. Nxh7 Kxh7

White sacrifices his knight for a pawn. Nxe4 is safer.

16. Ng4+ Kg8
17. Nh6+ Bxh6
18. Rxh6 Kg7
19. Rh3 Bd3

My bishop is now very strong.

20. Qg4 Rd8

I offer to exchange rooks.

21. Rg3 Rh1+

Maybe black expects me to defend g6, but I go on the offensive.

22. Kd2 Qa5+

I have mate in one.

23. b4 Qxb4#

Whtie plays aggressively with moves such as h4 and Nxh7, but his attack is premature. His king isn't adequately defended. I take advantage to win the game.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Prefixes -ex and -in

The prefixes -ex and -in combine with roots to form many English words. In many cases the word pairs with these two prefixes have opposite meanings. Here's a list of ten words:

ejection injection
emigration immigration
exception inception
excitement incitement
exclusion inclusion
excursion incursion
exhalation inhalation
explosion implosion
expression impression
exportation importation

The word pairs ejection/injection, exclusion/inclusion, excursion/incursion, exhalation/inhalation, explosion/implosion and exportation/importation truly reflect the meaning of the prefixes. For example, exhalation is the action of breathing out and inhalation is the action of breathing in.

In the word pair emigration/immigration, the first word focuses on the point of departure and the second on the point of arrival. The word pair exception/inception doesn't appear to be so closely related. The word exception refers to a circumstance that doesn't conform to a particular rule and inception means beginning. In the case of expression/impression, the former communicates thoughts and ideas and the latter is an idea or feeling formed without conscious thought. The word incitement refers to the action of provoking unlawful behaviour and excitement is the feeling of pleasure.

The prefixes -ex and -in changed in certain words because of assimilation and deletion. We can illustrate the changes as follows:

ex + jection = ejection
ex + migration = emigration
in + migration = immigration
in + plosion = implosion
in + pression = impression
in + portation = importation

English has many words with the prefixes -ex and -in. These prefixes have variants because of assimilation and deletion. The prefix -in becomes -im before a p and -ex becomes -e before an m.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Creme Anglaise

Creme Anglaise is a French custard that's easy to prepare. This recipe uses milk, but it can also be made with cream. Here's the French recipe:

4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk, hot

In a saucepan whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla.
Gradually add hot milk while whisking.
Cook over low heat.
Stir constantly until the mixture thickens.

This can be served alone or with fruit and crepes.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Greek Cucumber Salad

Greek cucumber salad is healthy. It's also delicious and very easy to prepare. Here's the recipe:

1 cucumber
2 cups plain yoghurt
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried mint

Peel the cucumber and chop into small pieces.
Mix the yoghurt, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
Add the cucumber and stir.
Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Friday, March 10, 2017

English Schwa Deletion

English has optional schwa deletion in words such as desperate, differentfamily, interesting and memory. In these words the optional schwa occurs immediately after a stressed vowel. However, English also has words in which schwa deletion is obligatory. This is indicated by the spelling.

Here is a list which compares words with and without a schwa. The words on the right exhibit schwa deletion:

actor actress
ancestor ancestral
carpenter carpentry
centre centrist
emperor empress
enter entrance
metre metrical
theatre theatrical
waiter waitress
wonder wondrous

In nine of the words with schwa deletion the preceding syllable is stressed. The exception is carpentry. Here the first syllable of the word is stressed rather than the syllable immediately preceding the one with the deleted schwa. The words on the right have suffixes attached to the root. The roots and the derivations have the same stress with the exception of two word pairs: ancestor/ancestral and theatre/theatrical. In these pairs the root has first syllable stress and the derivation has second syllable stress.

Many English words have a schwa which can be deleted. However, words such as actress and entrance don't have the schwa which is preserved in the root. This schwa was deleted and is evidence of language change.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Salmon in Foil

Salmon in foil is a simple and delicious way to prepare salmon. This French recipe uses thyme, parsley and bay leaf. Here is the recipe:

4 salmon steaks
olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
3 tablespoons butter

Brush the foil lightly with oil.
Place the salmon on the foil.
Add the lemon juice, bay leaf, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.
Put a bit of butter on each salmon steak.
Seal the salmon well.
Transfer to a baking sheet.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Place in the oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes.

This dish is excellent with salad, rice or potatoes. Enjoy!

Prefix -De

The prefix -de is of Latin origin. It's used before verbs and often has the meaning of negation or descent. Here's a short list of words with the prefix -de:


In the words decrease and deflate the opposite meaning is expressed with increase and inflate. In the case of descend, the opposite is ascend. The roots crease, flate and scend are bound morphemes because they never occur in isolation.

Many verbs can be combined with the prefix -de. The prefix corresponds to other English prefixes such as -in and -un which derive the opposite meaning. It only occurs in loanwords from Latin.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal cookies are easy to make. This Danish recipe produces crispy ones. Here is the recipe:

1 1/2 cups oats
5 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

In a saucepan melt the butter over low heat.
Place the oatmeal in a small bowl and pour in the butter.
Leave it to cool for 10 minutes.
Cream the sugar and egg.
Add the flour and baking powder.
Stir well.
Blend in the oatmeal.
With two teaspoons drop 1 teaspoon of the oatmeal mixture onto a greased cookie sheet.
Leave a large space between the cookies because they will spread.
Place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 8-10 minutes.

These cookies are tasty and quick to make. Enjoy!

Friday, March 3, 2017

New York City English

New York City English is a regional dialect of American English. It's spoken by many in the city of New York and the metropolitan area. Sociolinguist William Labov considers it the most recognizable dialect in North America. The dialect is known for a number of pronunciation features.

The pronunciation of New York City English is also heard in western Long Island and in northeastern New Jersey. Non-rhoticity is a feature of this dialect, but in many speakers this is variable. Another feature that is associated with this dialect is l-vocalization in words such as milk, sell and twelve.

The traditional New York City dialect is non-rhotic. In other words, the r isn't pronounced at the end of a syllable as in car, park and word. However, the r is now variably rhotic. This makes the dialect more similar to other American dialects.

New York City English has th-fortition. The interdental fricatives are often realized as alveolar plosives. The result is that through and true sound the same. However, this alternation varies by class. It appears more regularly in working-class speech.

The dialect has a feature known as intrusive g. When this feature is applied, Long Island is pronounced with a velar plosive at the end of the first word. This is popularly written Lawn Guyland.

New York City English has h-reduction in words such as huge, human and humour.  This is different from the h-dropping heard in England because the New York dialect only drops the h in a restricted environment. It's always followed by /ju/.

In New York City English the vowels of cot and caught are distinguished. The vowel of cot is higher than the vowel of caught. Many other American dialects don't make this distinction.

The New York City dialect maintains a three-way distinction in Mary, marry and merry. The first vowel of the first word is low, the first vowel of the second word is a mid lax vowel and the first vowel of the third word is a mid tense vowel. The vowels in furry and hurry are also distinct. The first vowel of furry is a lower mid central vowel, and the first vowel of hurry is an upper mid central vowel.

Words such as forest, horrible and orange are pronounced with the same stressed vowel as in part. In most of the rest of the United States, they are pronounced with the vowel of port.

New York City English also has a short-a split system Words such as badge, pan and class are pronounced with a low tense vowel, and words such as bat, map and patch are pronounced with a low lax vowel. The words bat, map and patch have the vowel of other American dialects.

The dialect known as New York City English is spoken not only in New York City, but also in the metropolitan area and New Jersey. The dialect is well-known for distinctive features of pronunciation. They include non-rhoticity, the short-a split system and h-reduction.

English Word Palindromes

A palindrome is a number, phrase, sentence, word or character sequence that is the same backwards and forwards. The number 3553 is a number palindrome because it's the same when read in both directions. Here is a list of 20 English word palindromes:

1) civic
2) dad
3) deed
4) did
5) ewe
6) eye
7) huh
8) kayak
9) level
10) madam
11) mom
12) noon
13) nun
14) pop
15) radar
16) refer
17) sagas
18) sees
19) solos
20) wow

Most of the words are monosyllabic (12 out of 20). Besides word palindromes, English also has sentence palindromes. A famous sentence palindrome is Was it a car or a cat I saw? In this sentence palindrome, word boundaries are ignored. The first two words of the question occur in the last three words when it's read backwards.

A palindrome is the same when read from left to right and right to left. It's identical in both directions. Palindromes can be found not only in words but also in phrases and sentences. Malayalam, a language spoken in India, is also a palindrome.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Roussillon Omelette

The Roussillon Omelette is a French omelette with green pepper, tomato and ham. It's easy to prepare. Here is the recipe:

3 eggs
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 green pepper, chopped
2 medium tomatoes peeled and chopped
1/3 cup ham

Season and beat the eggs.
Heat the butter in an omelette pan.
Add the green pepper and ham.
Cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and then the egg mixture.
Shake the pan occasionally.
When the omelette is cooked, fold in half.
Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Pro-Drop Language

A pro-drop language is a language which allows pronouns to be omitted when they can be inferred. In pro-drop languages, the use of the subject pronoun is considered unnecessary. However, languages such as Japanese and Korean also allow the deletion of other classes of pronouns. Languages which only allow the deletion of subject pronouns can be classified as partially pro-drop languages.

Besides Japanese and Korean, Chinese, Russian and Hungarian exhibit frequent pro-drop features. Italian and Spanish are classified as partially pro-drop because they only allow the omission of subject pronouns. Finnish doesn't allow the deletion of all subject pronouns. Third person singular and plural subject pronouns are never deleted.

In languages which allow the omission of pronouns, use of the pronoun is often for cases of emphasis and formality. For example, the Spanish sentence Yo no canto bien (I don't sing well) may be considered more formal than No canto bien, which omits the subject pronoun. The use of the pronoun also makes the sentence more emphatic. In response to the question Who doesn't sing well? it's natural to include the subject pronoun in the reply.

Languages which allow the omission of pronouns which can be inferred are pro-drop languages. They include Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Those which don't allow it are non-pro-drop languages. English, French and German belong to this group.

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Finding the Proto-Form

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