Saturday, 28 September 2013

WTF

A COW HERD MAKES MORE
GREENHOUSE GAS A DAY
THAN A 3,000-MILE DRIVE

This startling snippet leapt out at me from a Times Magazine article just now. 'A single drover?' I thought, 'WTF!' – meaning, of course, 'What a Tremendous Fart'. Silly me, though, there was a word-space saving it from that hyper-flatulent meaning. But I wondered why the sub-editor had gone for that unnatural choice of words.

I looked in the text, and read this:
A herd of cows daily produces more greenhouse gas than a family car driven for 3,000 miles.
Now look back at the misleading subhead: it is in a 3-line box, with first and third lines very tight. 'A herd of cows' is three letters and a wordspace longer than 'a cow herd'. A monospace typeface such as Courier (in which an N takes up as much space as an M, and an I as much as an O, rather than the sort of proportional font that we are more accustomed to in print) accentuates this:

A herd of cows
versus  A cow herd
And if you made space for those three extra letters and one extra space by moving 'more' down to the second line, then that line'd be too full. So whether or not the medium is the message, the medium can certainly change the message in all sorts of risible (and/or calamitous) ways. I expect examples of the latter will come to me, but it's coming on to rain, and the washing's out.

(Just a quickie to let you know that work on V5.0 is under way, and V4.0 is still free to download!†)

b
Update, 20-13.09.29.18:00 – Added this PS:

And while we're on the subject of flatulence, I was dumbfounded by the ignorance and cultural insensitivity of the English-speaker from (or at least, resident in, Wales) who is reported as having said (one has to be careful – it was the Mail Online):
 'Just imagine how embarrassing it will be to have the word "fart" in your village's name .... I'd be humiliated every time I told someone my address'.
Oh dear.... The alleged speaker was not Hyacinth Bucket, but 'Sioned Jones' (who, with a Welsh-sounding name like that, should be ashamed of herself). OK, there'd be some sophomoric titters and photos of signposts, but that's par for the course when languages rub along together. It is, for example, only the most po-faced and socially insensitive English-speaking pedant who gives Immanuel Kant his native vowel; it's uncomfortably close to a taboo word.

The article 'explains' the problem:
Campaigners say the ancient name should be replaced because there is no 'V' in the Welsh language
And I'll spell out the URL, as it is a gem:: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2430414/Varteg-Wales-renamed-Farteg-villagers-fear-make-butt-jokes.html#ixzz2gIbMlC56  – which invites the rejoinder 'No, it's not the making of butt-jokes they're worried about, it's fart-jokes.'

In fact, that explanation is a bit of an over-simplification. The written Welsh language has no letter 'v'. Welsh does have a voiced labio-dental fricative phoneme, to give it its $10 name; it has a /v/, and that phoneme is represented in writing as a single letter – which explains that old Ffion joke:
<political_history egg_sucker="grandmother">
Ffion was William Hague's wife, and he was PM at the time.
</political_history>
'Why are there two 'f's in Ffion?'/ Because there's no effin' Prime Minister' – /f/ is written 'ff'.

In short, when languages come together,  there is scope for double entendres. I'd rather live in a world with a bit of lavatory humour than in a world bereft of its minority languages.

Update 2013.09.30.09:45 - Added this PPS

And it's just occurred to me that that Ffion joke underlines my point about double entendres happening when languages meet (and if you thought I chose it because of that I'm sorry to disabuse you): here the two languages are the meta-language that addresses spelling and the informal speech that uses such defused (and so inoffensive) obscenities as "effin'".

Update 2013.10.02.15:55 – added this note:
Not any more

Update 2013.10.04.10:05  – added this note:
 I've only just appreciated the stupidity and insensitivity of this subhead. I might have guessed, given that it's the Mail. The 'ancient name' is 'Farteg'. A handful of centuries (maybe 6 –7 at the outside) doesn't qualify for ancientness. Farteg was called Farteg long before the Mail's Year Zero, 1066.

Update 2012.10.15.14:40  – Footer updated



 Mammon (When Vowels Get Together V4.1: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs – AA-AU, EA-EU,   IA-IU, OA-OU, and – new for V4.1 – UA-UE.  If you buy it, contact  @WVGTbook on Twitter and I'll alert you to free downloads of the forthcoming volumes; or click the Following button at the foot of this page.)
And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources: nearly 32,400 views**,  and  4,400 downloads to date. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with 1570 views/700 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.












Monday, 23 September 2013

Head in the clouds

This morning on Start the Week Farida Vis was bemoaning the tendency for money-grubbing algorithms to be hidden behind infantile vocabulary: she gave 'the Cloud' as a prime example.

A little history: long before the World Wide Web, even before the birth of the Internet or its DARPAnet forerunner (invented by the Department of Defense as a means of guaranteeing military communications against a nuclear strike – taking out a single point of failure)...where was I?... long before all that, network diagrams used a conventional symbol to convey the meaning 'there is a connection here from anywhere to anywhere, and the details don't matter'. That symbol was an infantile cloud (a puffy cumulus job, built up of lots of loosely interconnected arcs, and infantile because that's the level of draughtsmanship of most computer engineers): like this –

Infantile, see? In fact, in practice (writing,as I do, from the point of view of a long-time technical writer in the field of Networks and Communications), writers find the one of their number who can draw a convincing cloud and clone that.

So when the idea of everyone storing their data somewhere they didn't know or care about (poor innocent fools ) arose, The Cloud was an obvious and convenient metaphor; so obvious and convenient, in fact, that the concept probably didn't need to be explained (among the software engineers who developed it). Nothing to do with devious plutocrats conspiring in smoke-filled rooms. No Mr Big asking his minions 'What childish allegory can we use to mislead Joe Public into entrusting their data to us?'

What is misleading (but more by accident than by design) is that The Cloud, being a warehouse full of servers and wires, is a single point of vulnerability (which is just what those DoD engineers were trying to avoid).

(I'd add a few links to justify the above, but time (and M&SEnergy in particular ‐ see yesterday's update) don't permit.

Report fom the word-face

V4.0 is nearly done. In fact it would be even more nearly done if not for a minor disaster last Friday. I only lost a couple of hours work though. So later this week it will be available.
[old hat – see new footer]
b

Update: 2013.09.25.17:00
And here it is - footer updated

Update 2012.10.15.14:40  – Footer updated
Update 2014.09.03.17:10  – And again
Update 2015.09.17.15:10  – Added this footnote

This radio clip suggests that the truth is not so simple. Well, the story is complex: in the end, the computer network that became the Internet was not developed so as to survive a nuclear attack (specifically), but the ultimate design incorporated some elements that did have this aim – at least, the politicians who voted the necessary funding certainly had that intention. (Of course, a cynic might suggest that research proposals are a load of hooey anyway. )
<rant status="on the drawing board"> 
I'm rather sick of people who go around saying they're exploding myths who have no idea what they're saying. A myth conveys a truth; many users of the word seem to think that it means the opposite:* 'MYTH ⇒ UNTRUE'. They're wrong.

I'll develop this rant in the fullness of time. 
</rant >

 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 

And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common pairs of vowels used to represent the /i:/ phoneme, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

I'm thiinking about doing a native iBook version in due course, but for now Mac users can use Kindle's own (free) simulator.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this

Freebies (Teaching resources:  nearly 45,500 views  and very nearly 6,100 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with over 2,300 views and nearly 1,000 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.










Thursday, 19 September 2013

OU, you ARE awful

Here is a first draft of the notes for the last new V4 section:
  1. borough
    There are also many place-names that are compounded from something+'borough', such as 'Marlborough', 'Middlesborough' and 'Yarborough'. (Similar-looking place-names spelt something+''burgh', such as 'Edinburgh' have no /ʌ/, and the '-burgh' suffix is not stressed: /'edɪmbrə//).
  2. router
    The published (hardcopy) Macmillan English Dictionary gives three transcriptions, one for British English (with /u:/, with matching audio [on the CD]), and two for American English /u/ and /aʊ/ (but with only one audio example – /aʊ/). The Internet offering is less clear. The link with 'british/' in it has /u:/ with matching audio. But there is a mistake in the link that points to the 'american/' dictionary; there is only one transcription (/u/) with audio /aʊ/.
  3. slough
    The noun has the vowel sound /aʊ/, and the wholly unrelated verb is /slʌf/. It might be thought that this word, in either of these pronunciations, is so little-used that it is not worth a student's attention, but as the Macmillan English Dictionary includes both (slough [marked 'American', and with an audio representation different from either of the transcriptions given] and slough), each of these words is included. (Students of literature may come across 'The Slough of Despond', in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, and students who study in the south-east of England are likely to meet the place-name 'Slough'; both of these have the /aʊ/ pronunciation.)
  4. bivouac, gouache, langoustine, pirouette, and silhouette
    These five, with a shortened /u/ were borrowed (like many other /u:/ words)  from French.  Note that this is not to say that in all words borrowed from French, 'ou' makes this sound. In camouflage, carousel and limousine for example, this digraph represents an /ʊ/ sound. But in 'pouffe', an alternative spelling for pouf, the Macmillan English Dictionary gives the transcription /u:/ while the audio sample gives a clear /ʊ/ sound. (The main entry has the sound /u:/). Macmillan English Dictionary's transcription for tourniquet uses /ʊə/ in the 'ou' syllable, but the sound in the audio sample is a clear /ɔ:/. Meanwhile, the transcription of troubadour has two different phonemes – /u:/ in the first syllable and /ʊə/ in the last (although the Macmillan English Dictionary audio sample has a clear /ɔ:/ sound in the last syllable). As with all borrowings there is fluidity in (and disagreement about) the pronunciation.
    To take another example, Macmillan English Dictionary transcribes the 'ou' in boutique as /u:/, but the audio sample has something between /u/ (that is, unlengthened) and /ʊ/. The same dictionary treats bouquet in the same way (this time with the added option of an /əʊ/ pronunciation). Again, Macmillan English Dictionary transcribes the 'ou' in couscous as /u:/, but the audio sample has a clear /ʊ/ sound.
    Taking another language (the source word is Arabic, although French colonial cuisine may have influenced its adoption into English), the Macmillan English Dictionary's transcription of houmous has /ʊ/ in both syllables, but the audio sample has the sound /u:/ in the first syllable and something between /ʊ/ and/ə/ in the last. Derivation from any particular foreign language is rarely if ever a reliable indicator of the appropriate British English phoneme, although this knowledge may sometimes assist in making an informed guess. It is clear that there is a mixture of uncertainty and insouciance among native-speakers of English over how to pronounce these words , and that using a /u:/ will result in a perfectly comprehensible pronunciation.
  5. chough
    This word is not listed in the Macmillan English Dictionary; the link is to the Collins Pocket English Dictionary.
  6. furlough
    The rather obscure word furlough (chiefly used among British English speakers to refer to periods of absence from regular duties in the US military – the corresponding British English word being 'leave') is unique among polysyllabic words ending in '-ough' in that the last syllable, though unstressed, is pronounced with a full diphthong (/əʊ/. Other polysyllables ending in '-ough' have an unstressed /ə/.
  7. bourbon
    The Macmillan English Dictionary's unequivocal transcription for bourbon uses /ɜ:/ in the 'our' syllable. This is the sound used for the US whisky. But in the context of European history, either /ɔ: or /ʊə/ is usual – as it is for a certain kind of chocolate biscuit.
  8. tourniquet
    The Macmillan English Dictionary's transcription for tourniquet uses /ɔ:/ in the 'our' syllable, but the sound in the audio sample is a clear /ʊ{/. The /ɔ:/ sound, as noted elsewhere occurs (in Macmillan English Dictionary's audio sample – though not the transcription) in the last syllable of troubadour
  9. could, should, and would
    The 'l' is silent in these three words. There is no trace of an /l/ phoneme (in fact, there is not even an etymological justification for the 'l' in could – Chaucer, for example, used the word 'koude' and the 'l' was added later on the basis of analogy with the other modals. See this Etymonline explanation).
  10. patchouli
    While the Macmillan English Dictionary gives this vowel to the 'ou' in patchouli, with stress on the first syllable, this pronunciation is foreign to many speakers of British English, who put the stress on the 'ou' and use the sound /u:/ – giving a more English-sounding and common vowel. See, for example, here. The Macmillan English Dictionary's compiler must have been too old or too young to remember the craze for patchouli oil in the Sixties!
  11. entourage
    Although entourage is clearly related to tour etymologically, the longer word has no schwa – even when a rock star takes one on tour (and who is to say whether, in some future folk etymology, an entourage may not be explained as something you go 'on tour' with!)
  12. lough
    This word is used mainly in Ireland and does not fit in with a scheme of seven sounds represented by the spelling '-ough'. It does not, in fact, fit in with the standard set of 44 phonemes of British English learnt by many English language students, having the final consonant /x/, which is pronounced similarly to consonant at the end of the Scottish loch (like the consonant at the end of the Scottish loch (not unlike the one at the end of the German [bax] – Johann Sebastian et al.)
  13. ratatouille
    In this word, in the Macmillan English Dictionary's entry the 'ou' digraph is realized as the glide (sometimes called a semi-vowel) /w/. Some speakers use the same /w/ sound – with the justifications of consistency, etymology, and context – for bouillabaisse and bouillon, but the Macmillan English Dictionary has a /u:/ vowel for these words.
Update 2013.09.19.17:45
I've added one for entourage.
Update 2013.09.21.17:45
And one more for ratatouille 
 Update 2013.09.21.17:35
Added this rant. The situation is ridiculous enough to merit a standalone post, but I don't have the time.

<rant flame="vigorous">
 I was recently gulled into switching to M&SEnergy; it would 'fix' energy prices until some date in the future. It doesn't. It fixes the unit cost for consumption. So if they want to raise prices they just load it onto the Standing Charge. Grrr. 'My bad'  though; I should have read the small print.

I also went for paperless billing, online management, all that good stuff. But I had trouble submitting a reading. so I pressed the button for an online chat. And this appeared: 
BUGRIT! Wrong computer. And don't talk to me about Dropbox, purveyors of flakey bloatware to the crowned houses of Europe.
Anyway, long story short, their software is incredibly picky about versions of browser software and combinations thereof with operating systems. The message was a museum exhibit, talking about Vista and Netscape. The latest version of IE it supported (not that I normally use it, but it's my first port of call when meeting ridiculous compatibility issues) was V3!†

<autobiographical_note
Internet Explorer V3, that takes me back to the time in – when was it?... the 90s? – when I was using Netscape Navigagor V2.? and I went over to the Dark Side because IE beat NN to including rudimentary CSS support. But I digress...
</autobiographical_note>

I'll have to phone. And that's Monday morning wiped out. Hmmph. And the upshot I suppose will be that I can't manage my account online because of their feebleware.
</rant>

Anyway, must get on....

b PS Here it is:

†I was wrong about IE V3 . Still, it's pretty picky. And people who advertise online account management should support it.

b
Update: 2013.09.26.09.50 
Footer updated

Update 2013.10.15.14:40  – Footer updated

Update 2014.11.11.11:11  – and again



 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 

And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common pairs of vowels used to represent the /i:/ phoneme, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

I'm thinking about doing a native iBook version in due course, but for now Mac users can use Kindle's own (free) simulator.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this

Freebies (Teaching resources:  over 47,300 views  and well over 6,350 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with nearly 2,350 views and 1,000 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.



Monday, 16 September 2013

What's in store?

On Saturday I watched The Young Montalbano (and there's 110 minutes of my life that I'll never get back ), towards the end of which (I knew it'd be worth watching the first 100 minutes!) a nun said that a chest was in the magazzino.  The sub-title glossed this as 'store-room' (and s/he probably got it right; the fact that Mary became Mery in the sub-titles suggests that the translator was Italian; or maybe Meri is a current abbreviation for a common Italian name...?)

The Arabic mahzan (there should be a line under the h but life's too short) – meaning 'shed' – gave the standard Italian magazzino. I thought, until I checked on iPlayer, the nun might have used the Sicilian word magasenu but she, like many another speaker of a minority language, had had the local word beaten out of her at school; or maybe she wasn't local. In Spanish – as careful, not to say hypervigilant, readers may remember I explained a while ago – the Moorish invaders weren't native speakers of Arabic, and automatically tacked on a definite article before any noun; so  mahzan became almacén. Magazzino, as I said, was the Italian word; and this gave the French magasin first noted in a 15th-century report, by Émile Maximilien Paul Littré, the 19th-century French lexicographer (whose work was so important that Hachette still keep his  Dictionnaire de la langue française in print today, the Dictionnaire being called affectionately 'le Littré)':
Là estoient les boutiques des marchandises que ils (les Sarrasins) [sic] appellent magasins...

Littr
é, quoted in Elcock, The Romance Languages, p.295 in my edition (which isn't the latest, so I hope the link to that secondhand version stays up)
So, when first used in French, it was known to be used by 'les Sarrasins'; the parentheses are round, not square, which suggests the explanation is Littré's and not Elcock's.


It was a military meaning, 'printed list of military stores and information' ... a "storehouse" of information' that gave us our English word 'magazine', meaning a periodical. A gun that can accommodate more bullets than it is firing at one moment has a magazine.

Another perfectly innocent storage word from Arabic has been... bellicosified (don't bother looking that up; it means 'given a martial meaning' ). The word in question derives from what looks to me like a phrase in Arabic: dār as-şinā‘ah (maybe Arabic can create composite nouns by joining smaller words together –  as indeed English does: Etymonline tells me dār means 'house' and as-şinā‘ah means 'art/craft/skill' –  a rather up-market sort of 'workshop'; come to think of it, English has borrowed from French le mot juste, an 'atelier'). 

This spawned various words in Italian and its many dialects. In standard Italian the word is darsena – 'wet dock'. Moving north, the Venetian equivalent was arsenal, which was applied to a complex of naval dockyards and armouries, the Arsenale di Venezia. Various other languages got their foot in the door and borrowed that word, but shorn of its peaceable storage-and-work-related meaning. It wasn't until some workers from the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich formed a football team ('The Gunners') that  swords were beaten into ploughshares and the word was rehabilitated.

More of Arabic anon, inshallah – Arabic for deo volente; (the Spanish 'it is to be hoped' [Ojalá] is a call to Allah). In signing off, I'll just mention a snippet of Arthur Smith I caught on Sunday on Radio 4Extra, who jokingly called Morris Dancing 'the Flamenco of England'. How near the mark he was,  unknowingly, as that link shows:
mid-15c., moreys daunce "Moorish dance," from Flemish mooriske dans...
 So there is an association – however fanciful (it seems unlikely that the art forms per se are related) – between Morris Dancing and Flamenco. And to double the coincidence Flamenco means 'Flemish'; there are many links between the Netherlands and Spain, dating from Carlos V (who, my memory of a Spanish History lecture tells me [from nearly 40 years ago, so I'd have to check], spoke no Spanish when he was flown in from The Hague – well not flown exactly, but you get the idea: he wasn't a local [or popular] choice).

Oh Lor', is that the time?

b
PS

Report from the word-face

I've roughed out the -OU- section. Now it's just a question of shovelling in the HTML (which I already have   ***Update: I already have the HTML, that is. I haven't already done the hack-work***). So V4.0 should be coming soon. Ojalá!

Update 2013.09.18.15:00: clarification of last line, in red

Update: 2013.09.26.09.50 
Footer updated

Update 2012.10.15.14:40  – Footer updated



 Mammon (When Vowels Get Together V4.1: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs – AA-AU, EA-EU,   IA-IU, OA-OU, and – new for V4.1 – UA-UE.  If you buy it, contact  @WVGTbook on Twitter and I'll alert you to free downloads of the forthcoming volumes; or click the Following button at the foot of this page.)
And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources: nearly 32,400 views**,  and  4,400 downloads to date. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with 1570 views/700 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.












Thursday, 12 September 2013

Unfinished bOOsiness

Here are the rest of the OO notes. The list should start at 24†, but it's my birthday and I can't be frigged to work out how to do it!
  1. adulthood
    This is the sole representative of all the words that follow the '<noun>hood'  pattern: babyhood/boyhood/girlhood... etc
  2. bookkeeping
    This is the sole representative of all the words that follow the 'book<noun>'  pattern: bookmark/~shelf /~shop/~store... etc
  3. bookmaking
    This may seem to be at odds with the previous note, but a bookmaker is not someone who makes books 
    –  except in a metaphorical sense of both words.
  4. copybook
    This is the sole representative of all the words that follow the '<noun>book'  pattern: phonebook, textbook.. etc
  5. falsehood
    This might seem to be at odds with note 24, but a falsehood is not a being false.
  6. football
    This is the sole representative of all the words that follow the 'foot<noun>'  pattern: footbridge/~plate/~print/~step'... etc
  7. footdragging
    This is not excluded according to the principle given here, because both the feet and any marks they leave on the ground are metaphorical.
  8. footman
    This may seem to be at odds with note 29, but a footman is a nearly archaic job that –  in its modern form –  has nothing to do with feet.
  9. good-looking
    Each of the first two syllables has the sound /ʊ/.
  10. gooseberry
    Note that the vowel sound in the first syllable is /ʊ/ (and not /u:/ as in goose).
  11. hooker
    This is not excluded according to the principle given here, because in the sense prostitute any hooking is metaphorical; in the rugby-related sense, the hooking could be argued  to be metaphorical as well.
  12. hooray
    When the stress is on the second syllable (as it is in the interjection Hooray) the sound (of the unstressed syllable) is /ʊ/. But in the informal collocation Hooray Henry the stress is on the first syllable and the vowel is /u:/. This phrase is not listed in the Macmillan English Dictionary, but see – for example –  the Collins English Dictionary.
  13. livelihood
    This is not excluded according to the principle given here (as likelihood is), because while likelyhood has much to do with being likely, livelihood has little to do with being lively.
  14. looker
    This is not excluded according to the principle given here, as a looker is not one who looks.
  15. manhood
    This is not excluded according general exclusion given in note 24, as manhood can be used metaphorically to mean penis.
  16. poofter
    The Macmillan English Dictionary has the transcription /əʊ/ – which is no doubt a typo (although it has not been corrected in whichever version is the more recent (the online or the printed version). But the audio sample , correctly, has /ʊ/.
  17. woodblock
    This is the sole representative of many other combinations. Exceptions are noted.
  18. woodpecker
    This escapes the ruling given in note 40 because it is not just any bird that happens to peck wood, but a particular sort.
  19. woodwind
    This escapes the ruling given in note 40 because it refers to a family of instruments not always (and rarely exclusively) made of wood.
  20. doorbell
    This is the sole representative of many other combinations. Exceptions are noted.
  21. doornail
    Thie word exists (as a standalone word) in historical contexts. It is not current (to anyone but a restorer of old doors), except in the phrase 'dead as a doornail' (which is so meaningless, in the absence of knowledge of what a doornail IS that manypeople prefer to maintain the alliteration by saying 'dead as a dodo').
  22. doorstep
    This word might be expected to be excluded (as a noun) according to the principle given here, but is included here as it has a metaphorical verbal sense (not given in the Macmillan English Dictionary. The link is to the Compact Oxford English Dictionary.
  23. doorway
    This  word is not excluded as explained in note 43, because it has a metaphorical sense (not unlike threshold).
  24. moor
    The vowel distinguishes this from Moor which is listed in the Macmillan English Dictionary among the few words that use the vowel sound /ʊə/.
  25. poor etc
    The  Macmillan English Dictionary gives two transcriptions for this, /ʊə/ and /ɔ:/. But the diphthong /ʊə/ is fighting a rear-guard action. Many native speakers of British English treat poor and pore as homophones. In fact, while the British Council favour's Adrian Underhill's phonemic chart, with its 8 diphthong sounds the software that comes with the New Cutting Edge coursebooks has a phonemic chart that includes only 7 diphthong sounds (and has no /ʊə/).

    Speakers who do use /ʊə/ use it also in words and phrases derived from poor  poorhouse, poorly etc.
  26. blood metaphors
    The notion of blood gives rise to many metaphors with many meanings; in 'Bad blood will out' and 'There is bad blood between them since the divorce', the collocation bad blood has totally different meanings. Many such collocations are hyperbolic: a bloodbath doesn't involve people bathing in blood, a bloodcurdling yell does not actually make blood curdle....
  27. blood letting
    This is not excluded  according to the principle given here, as it uses an archaic meaning of letting. (Like some other blood-related metaphors, it is hyperbolic.)
  28. zoon
    This word, already mentioned in note 23, is not in the Macmillan English Dictionary. The link is to the Collins English Dictionary.
  29. Moorish
    T
    he Macmillan English Dictionary gives the transcription /ʊə/, thus avoiding confusion with the informal word moreish ('hard to stop eating'). But the audio sample has the vowel sound /ɔ:/.  Note 48 says more about the ongoing tension between  /ʊə/ and /ɔ:/
b

Update 2013.09.13:09:45 – Added this note:

†It does now, thanks to a bit of code that is 'Deprecated in HTML 4.x/XHTML 1.0'. There must be something wrong with me: all the bits of code that I find most useful are deprecated (="preached [see it?] against"). 

<rant intensity="medium">
Whenever I see the word deprecated I think of Chaucer's Pardoner:
Thanne peyne I me to strecche forth the nekke,
 And est and west upon the peple I bekke
The modern day software fascists that go around deprecating are a bit like him – making life difficult for the common folk, so as to feather their own nests; quite appropriate, really, as the next line is
As dooth a dowve sittynge on a berne[]
</rant>
Update: 2013.09.26.09.50 
Footer updated

Update 2012.10.15.14:40  – Footer updated



 Mammon (When Vowels Get Together V4.1: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs – AA-AU, EA-EU,   IA-IU, OA-OU, and – new for V4.1 – UA-UE.  If you buy it, contact  @WVGTbook on Twitter and I'll alert you to free downloads of the forthcoming volumes; or click the Following button at the foot of this page.)
And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources: nearly 32,400 views**,  and  4,400 downloads to date. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with 1570 views/700 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.












Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The good is oft interréd with their bones - but not always

This morning in a trail for an Eartha Kitt program next weekend I heard this:
C'est si bon,
De partir n'importe où,
Bras dessus bras dessous,
En chantant des chansons
 And at the words bras dessus bras dessous a synapse clicked [There she was just a-walkin' down the street singing Doo wah diddy diddy dum diddy doo. Snapping her synapses...?]. It was not the tedious 'Aha, bras dessus bras dessous MEANS "arm-in-arm"' (the sort of knee-jerk 'equivalence' that often condemns learners to endless tongue-tied ratiocination - which I've summed up in this image:
I've probably uploaded this to TESconnect, but here it is anyway. )

My memory was of the mime performed by my French master 50-odd years ago. I've mentioned Cedric before, here. I can imagine his shade smiling down with a look of smug satisfaction (like the one he used to show the difference between 'No vacacies' and 'Complet').

At this time of year, teachers of all kinds may need the fillip of this post: if you're good, what you do (probably more than what you say) will let your pupils take away from your lessons much more than you think.

But I must get on with #WVGTbook; the OO section is taking ages (and the prospect of the even more voluminous OU isn't inspiring).

b

Update: 2013.09.10.16:16: Teensy stylistic tweak.
Update: 2013.09.11.11:30 Added this PS:

My last sentence (the whinge about OU) inspired me to do some Excel stuff and produce this graph:


The figures are crude. There is a lot of double counting: for example, for door there are 68. But they give a rough idea of relative frequencies.

Of the 25 vowel pairs, 16 have fewer than 1,000 hits – most fewer than 500, and about half fewer than 100. Of the remaining 9, 5 have fewer than 2,000. Of the remaining 4, OU is more than 1,000 hits ahead of the second-placed EA.

OU is daunting. But the U* pairs are much less so (and besides, I've done some of the work already for my submission to the 2012 ELTons.) Here's to the 2014 submission (deadline 22 November 2013).
Update: 2013.09.26.09.50 
Footer updated

Update 2012.10.15.14:40  – Footer updated
Update 2015.05.01.15:10  – Footer updated and added this PS:

This is something I wrote in the early days of the blog. I thought of it after an #eltchat earlier this week, which raised a controversy about L1 and L2; keep an eye out for the Summary at the #eltchat site. It seems that, at DELTA level, attitudes to the use of the mother tongue  are at variance with those espoused at CELTA level.




Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 

And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common pairs of vowels used to represent the /i:/ phoneme, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

I'm thinking about doing a native iBook version in due course, but for now Mac users can use Kindle's own (free) simulator.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this

Freebies (Teaching resources:  
Nearly 48,000 views  and  7,800 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with over 2,600 views and 1,050 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.



Thursday, 5 September 2013

OO, what a lot

As a breather from my work on '-oo-' words (so far I've done only just over half – all the words that have the sound /u:/) here is a first draft of the notes. (Remember that the occasional references to 'this sound', which will make sense in context, denote the sound /u:/)
  1. anteroom etc.
    The  Macmillan English Dictionary transcribes this, and many other rooms, with the sound /u:/, but the audio sample has the sound /ʊ/. In other cases, not listed separately (bathroom, bedroom, etc, but see note 2), the transcription matches the audio
    .
  2. backroom boys and bedroom eyes
    The  Macmillan English Dictionary transcription of the first word in these phrases, has this sound with a matching audio sample,  But, particularly when used adjectivally (as here) the word is often pronounced with an /ʊ/ sound. These phrases are not transcribed in  the Macmillan English Dictionary, but the sound is clearly /ʊ/ .
  3. bathroom etc.
    Both the transcription and the audio sample in the Macmillan English Dictionary  have this vowel sound but some speakers  reduce the /u:/ to /ʊ/, as this dictionary gives for anteroom and many others. Students should use whichever comes naturally (which seems to be what native speakers do, reducing or not according to the phonetic and syntactic context). 
  4. blooming
    The  Macmillan English Dictionary gives two possible transcriptions for this (/u:/ and /ʊ/), but the audio samples both use /u:/. Use either.
  5. bombproof
    This is the sole representative of the many '<noun>proof' words, of which there are dozens
     
    The  Macmillan English Dictionary lists 24, most of which are excluded according to the principle given here; the exception made for waterproof is explained in note 20. But the device is what linguists call 'a productive mechanism' so other cases are bound to occur in the course of everyday language use.
  6. boogeyman
    The  Macmillan English Dictionary gives this as an alternative to bogeyman, but gives the same transcription for both, in the examples given for American speech. This suggests that the 'oo' spelling represents, in British English, an element of Americanism.
  7. boozer
    The device '<verb>er' throws up almost as many words as there are suitable verbs (performed by a human agent). But boozer is not  excluded according to the principle given here, because a boozer is not a person who boozes.
  8. courtroom
    The  Macmillan English Dictionary has this transcription, but the audio sample has a hint of 
     /ʊ/, giving an example of the variation discussed in notes 1-3.
  9. foolscap
    The  Macmillan English Dictionary transcribes this /u:/ (reflecting the etymology – the watermark represented a fool's cap).
  10. footloose and footstool
    The vowel sounds is, in the second syllable, /u:/. In the first it is /ʊ/.
  11. hoodoo and voodoo
    Each syllable has the sound /u:/.   
  12. hoofer
    This is not listed in the published (paper) Macmillan English Dictionary. The link is to the American online version, and (as with American /u/ vowels generally) the stressed vowel is not long. 
  13. kooky
    This is one of the few English words (see note 16 for others) that has the spelling '-ook-' representing the sound /u:k/. In this case, it distinguishes /ku:ki/ from /k
    ʊki/
  14. schoolboy
    This is the sole representative of all the words that follow the  'school<noun>' pattern: schoolbook/master/girl... etc.
  15. cock a snook at, spook etc
    There are very few English words that have the spelling '-ook' representing the sound /u:k/. Note 13 has mentioned one. The scriptwriter of 
    Star Wars had no need to add a footnote to the script explaining that Wookie rhymed with cookie and hookie because nearly always (in RP) '-ook' represents the sound /
    ʊk/.

    (The  Macmillan English Dictionary  lists snook as a headword. This is, for the student of current English, unnecessarily confusing. the 'word' exists only as a fossil, as part of the phrase cock a snook at.)
  16. soothe and soothsayer
    Soothe
    , like smooth (note, no 'e') ends with the sound /u:ð/, whereas the first syllable in soothsayer (like the second in forsooth) ends with the sound /u:θ/ – as in truth (which is, by happy coincidence. a synonym of the archaic sooth). To quote that R. H. Barham  poem again (mentioned in the note about turquoise): 'in sooth a goodly company...[attended] the Cardinal Lord Archbishop of Rheims'.
  17. toothache
    This is the sole representative of all the words that follow the 'tooth <noun>'  pattern: toothbrush/paste... etc.
  18. vroom
    The  Macmillan English Dictionary  gives matching transcription and audio sample 
    –  an unequivocal /u:/. But in most cases when it is said in a group of two or more, only the last sound is /u:m/: /vrʊm vrʊm vru:m/.
  19. waterproof
    This is not excluded 
    according to the principle given here, because it may be used as a noun, as here: 'It looks like rain... you'd better take your waterproofs'.
  20. whoop
    The noun that means 'a jubilant or victorious cry' has the vowel sound /u:/; the interjection that accompanies a slip or error (which occurs only in the plural) 
    has the vowel sound /ʊ/.
  21. whooping cough
    This is listed in the American Macmillan English Dictionary  in its online version, which is surprising since both the malady and its name are not unknown in the UK. In the published dictionary, though, there is no special reference to America.
  22. zoo, zoology, zoological etc 
    Zoology
     is the study not of zoos but of zoa. In living memory (for example, mine) there were people (for example, my grandfather) who insisted that  the only 'correct' pronunciation of words usually seen – erroneously, in this view  as derivatives of zoo, should start with the diphthong 
    /əʊ/.
b 
Update 2013.09.09.09:58‡ – Almost imperceptible format fix, and updated footer. And added this PS:

PS A new ELTon submission looks more likely. I've started work on a hardcopy edition. But fear not –   the Kindle version remains my main focus.

‡It's now later, but I didn't want to lose the '09.09.09'.

PPS Update 2013.09.24.12:35
STOP PRESS
Going through the final printout of V4.0, I've added this to note 15:

(The  Macmillan English Dictionary lists snook as a headword. This is, for the student of current English, unnecessarily confusing, as the 'word' exists only as a fossil. A 'fossil' in this linguistic sense is a word whose present-day form attests to the existence at one time of a now-defunct word or form. The phrase 'cock a snook' is still used in current British English [especially journalese] to mean 'show contempt or defiance'; but the question 'What is a snook?' would draw a blank stare from most speakers, though students of phonesthesia, or more simply put 'sound symbolism', might guess that it was something to do with noses.)
Update: 2013.09.27.12:35
Footer updated

Update 2012.10.15.14:40  – Footer updated



 Mammon (When Vowels Get Together V4.1: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs – AA-AU, EA-EU,   IA-IU, OA-OU, and – new for V4.1 – UA-UE.  If you buy it, contact  @WVGTbook on Twitter and I'll alert you to free downloads of the forthcoming volumes; or click the Following button at the foot of this page.)
And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources: nearly 32,400 views**,  and  4,400 downloads to date. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with 1570 views/700 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.