Wednesday, 30 October 2013

bread-winning

I have been pondering off-and-on about bread-based metaphors. And I want to post something on my blog today, as all the footers are now wrong (as they point to a non-existent work-in-progress). At least one post must point to the Real Thing.

Some time ago, in my early days as a moderator at UsingEnglish.com, I added this to a discussion about self-referential words:
Re borrowed words that mimic the translation of a two (or more)-part analogue in the 'donor'-language; in my previous post I mentioned 'almighty'. The word is "calque", often replaced by the more informative 'loan translation': loan translation: Definition and Much More from Answers.com. The example given in Mugglestone [ed.] The Oxford History of the English Language is the Old English wellwillende ['well-wishing'], formed on the analogy of benevolens [Latin - 'benevolent'].

Another, going back one step in the story is the Vulgar Latin companione(m) (conventionally, Vulgar Latin words are cited in what classicists would call 'the accusative case', with the final m of the singular in parentheses - as it was nearly always [?always] dropped). This was coined on the analogy of the Celtic* ga-hlaiba [meaning "with-bread"]

Which required further explanation:

I left out the final bit of the derivation. The Celtic* ga hlaiba meant 'someone you shared bread with'. The speakers of Latin maintained that idea in companione(m). The idea of eating together is vestigial (if it's there at all) in 'companion', 'compagnon', 'compañero' etc.

Some years later I dismissed another question about 'what a word really means' with this perhaps rather curt riposte:

A word means what it means. If you care to 'stop the clock' at 1553, then a company has to involve more than one person. Online Etymology Dictionary

If you wind the clock back another thousand years to when French was being formed you will find that companio was borrowed because of the strength of the analogy with the Gothic* ga hlaiba - which meant someone who shares bread (hlaib is related to the English 'loaf'). Online Etymology Dictionary. You're not suggesting that company directors should share bread?
They do, of course, in a colloquial meaning of bread. But, discounting that sort of 'bread' all the non-execs share is Rich Tea biscuits, if they're lucky.

I returned to this example more recently. It is a commonplace of philologists. (And that word, in Portuguese. is lugar comúm – 'common place'; I wonder which language got there first.)

The gothic-speaking* tribes conquered by Rome had a word for someone you were friendly enough with to break bread: GA HLAIBA (which means with bread). (If you wrinkle your eyes up you can just about see the origin of our 'loaf'.)

The Roman soldiers knew a good thing when they saw it, and coined the word COM-PANIO - which ultimately (probably via French compagnon) gives us 'companion'.

And a 'lord' is a loaf-ward. Bread-based metaphors seem pretty central to a lot of things. Use your loaf, and you're bound to come up with more  – and not just in English .

b

Update – 2013.10.30.22:15: Added this note:

* 'Gothic' is what Elcock says in The Romance Languages . Maybe the Goths were Celts: I leave that as an exercise for the reader.


Update – 2013.11.12.22:15: Added this PS

Changed footer and updated the link to 'the RealThing' in the first para. so that it doesn't give  a 404.




 Mammon (When Vowels Get Together V5.1: 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 if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources:  nearly 33,900 views**  and  4,700 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 1637 views/740 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, 28 October 2013

Like ships in the night


The Phrase Finder refers, not without a certain scepticism (or do I mean sepsis? [it being rather poisonous]), to CANOE – the 'Committee to Ascribe a Naval Origin to Everything'. And I bet the author of that [ahem] jibe wasn't a native of the UK (where it is hard to be more than an hour or two's drive from the sea). The average UK resident is much more likely than the average USA resident to look to the sea for a source of metaphor.

To go somewhere in a boat was, in Latin, navigare.
<autobiographical_note date_range="1963-1964">
I doubt if a rowing boat was big enough for a word that takes as much pencil as that, but navigare was in the first conjugation, so in my first year I remember the Latin master making us sing Michael ad oram naviga, alleluia. [Eat  your heart out, Pete Seeger.]
 </autobiographical_note>

'Navigate' has acquired all sorts of non-naval metaphorical uses. Navigating is quite often a question of simply finding your  way. Indeed, although it may have been people at sea (at sea) who first used GPS, it was road-users who made the word 'satnav' really take off. It's a shame that Collins haven't included it yet in their online dictionary – as  they have, for each word, a graph like this:


My guess is that it would show a huge increase in recent years. It is interesting (not to say, at first glance, paradoxical) that BNC (latest entry 1994) has 11 entries for 'satnav' – none of which refers to navigation by road – while the more recently compiled COCA (collected from texts dating from as late as 2012) has a  single one (again not for roads – but at least not relating to the sea). I expected more in COCA. But the term 'GPS' has more than 3,000 hits – demonstrating American English's preference for technical abbreviatons (e.g. 'cell' for 'mobile telephone', 'an SMS' for 'a text message' [note the article, the point is that in this usage 'SMS' has become countable, and 'an SMS' is short for 'a message that conforms with the specifications of the Short Message Service']...).

Today, we navigate through computer menus. It's really a very flexible word.

And sometimes, having left the sea, it returns there in metaphor. A government [now there's a juicy digression: gubernator/ 'rudder'... no, no time] may steer the ship of state through choppy waters, or just navigate though those straits.
<autobiographical_note date_range="1981-1983">
I am reminded of a pun whose memory I have cherished for years, which may have been the first sign of my lack of serious application (which led in due course to an amicable parting of the ways). My manager was out of the office and his boss wanted to know where and why. 'What did he say about the ship of state?' he asked. Quick as a flash I said 'Frigate' (which was more or less true, given his attitude to the hierarchy, though it won no prizes for oleageneity).
</autobiographical_note>

Earlier this year, I was listening to a concert in St Barnabas Church thinking, as I looked up at the vaulted roof, about the word 'nave'. I knew (I'm not sure where from, though it's not a particularly long stretch to use a 'ship'-metaphor for the long thin part of the building) about the derivation from Latin navis. I knew it, but didn't think much of it. I was thinking of an upright ship.  But it wasn't until that moment that I realized what an apt metaphor it was. That church (and I've looked in vain on that site for an interior photo of the roof) felt just like an inverted ship – or an upturned fishing boat on a beach.

<fragment>
Not sure where this comes from  – probably another post about naval-based metaphors; at any rate, it doesn't seem to belong here:
a shot across the bows combines the sea with that other most prolific generator of metaphor  – armed combat discussed here and tangentially [how else?] here. And elsewhere, probably... Yes, here, and... [etc etc ad nauseam {and please God not NAUSEUM, which is un ubominution.} ]
</fragment>

One last thought about navigating. The people who dug canals or laid railroad tracks were  called navigators. The word was becoming more and more used throughout the end of the 18th century. It was not until 1832 that the abbreviation navvy started to catch on. Today, the word 'navvy' evokes an image of a pick-axe rather than a theodolite.

Anyway, things to do...

Report from the word face

A condition of the Macmillan Education Award for New Talent in Writing is that submissions should not have been commercially published. So the complete version of #WVGTbook (V5.0) will be ephemeral. It will become available shortly, and be free to download for five days. Then it will go into purdah for a few months. So stand by your beds...

b

Update 2013.10.29.11:45
Added the BNC/COCA stuff, and of course some esprit de l'escalier.
Update 2013.11.23.12:35  – Updated footer

Update 2015.07.28.14:00 – Added this note, and updated footer

 I went to another such prom yesterday, and took this photo (with apologies for the quality – which does no justice to that beautiful building: visit this website for some proper photos): sitting under that, couldn't you just hear the 'cello tune from that scene  in the first Pirates of the Caribbean film (you know, the one worth watching) when Jack Sparrow is getting across a beach unseen by crawling under an inverted dinghy.







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:  
Well over 49,300 views  and nearly 9,000 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 2,700 views and nearly 1,100 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.


Friday, 25 October 2013

The home strait (sic)

The book is nearly done (that is, completed in its first draft – what to do with it thereafter is TBD [To Be Dithered over].)

Here is the latest tranche (not as trencher-like as previous instalments; less to get your teeth into) because the vowel pair in question isn't so prolific.


Vowel sounds represented by the spelling 'UO'

A large proportion  of words spelt with the vowel pair '-uo-' (57½%, to give a percentage that on such a small sample size is not particularly significant) are excluded along with other words spelt with the ending '-ous' (as explained here [the link doesn't work here]), specifically '-uous' . The Macmillan English Dictionary provides two transcriptions of these 35, assigned apparently randomly: /juə/ and /jʊə/.
This apparent discrepancy suggests the hypothesis that the prefix in some way 'causes' a supposed vowel change.The words discontinuous and inconspicuous have /u/, and continuous and conspicuous have /U/, which supports this hypothesis. However both ingenuous and disingenuous have /ʊ/, which suggests that the beginnings of a seeming pattern are illusory.
Another possibility is that a stressed vowel in the preceding syllable goes with /ʊ/. This rationale works for  both continuous and conspicuous, but not for ingenuous, which has /u/. Perhaps the apparent distinction is just accidental(1).

...

UO Notes
  1. Words spelt '-uous'
    The apparent randomness might be explained in this way: at first two researchers were working on these words (words spelt with an initial a-f were shared equally between /juə/ (2 a-s. 3 d-s, 1 f-) and /jʊə/ (1 a-, 4 c-s, 1 e-) . One oddity resulting from this division of work was that discontinuous is transcribed one way and continuous another. For the 17 words with initials from i-to-  the researcher with a preference for /juə/ was working alone. For the last 6 words, tu-v the researcher with a preference for /jʊə/ was working alone.
    But my use of was and were in this tale of backroom staff management  is entirely speculative; the distinctive transcriptions may have fallen either way completely by chance. In any case, the student may safely ignore the distinction.
  2. fluorescent
    Macmillan English Dictionary uses the transcription /flɔ:'resənt/, but the audio sample has a similar diphthong to the one in the word transcribed as /'flʊərəʊkɑ:bən/. Meanwhile, as further evidence of the variable pronunciation of this vowel sound, the words fluoride and fluorine are transcribed with the diphthong /ʊə/ but have an audio sample with a monophthong that is not unlike /ɔ:/.
  3. duodenum
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives the transcription /dju:əʊ'di:nəm/, but the audio sample gives both unstressed vowels as /ə/. Again,
    the student may safely ignore the distinction. Full enunciation of the diphthong is reserved for very careful speech.
Ho hum. Back to the grindstone.

b



 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 33,500 views**  and  4,600 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 1637 views/740 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, 21 October 2013

Happy Birthday

On 21 October 2012,, I posted this, with the intention of generating and/or maintaining interest in my lexicographical dabblings, specifically #WVGTbook. Thirty posts and 3 months later I posted this, having noticed that while posting 10 pieces a month was fun for me it was taking my eye off the ball. 60-odd posts later I've reduced the rate to about 7 a month and the book is getting on much better.

Birthday posts often include reams of statistics, but I'm afraid the schedule doesn't allow me to collect them. So here's just one: in the first 3 months of the blog (roughly BPS [Before Publication of the Schedule]) the site had under 1,900 visits – about 600 a month. In the 9 months since, the site had 6,700 – about 750 a month. This isn't a huge improvement (I reckon something like 25%), but given that it's been achieved in spite of (or because of?) less regular posts, and more work on #WVGTbook it's quite satisfying.

A propos of which, I should get on. The rest of this post is a foretaste of the latest new bit:

UI Notes

  1. cuisine
    The single exception [to a preceding g or q] is cuisine.
  2. aquifer etc
    ...and other words with the same prefix:
    • aqui- when it refers to water. There is a separate entry for aquiline, for example, in which the reference to water is lost in the mists of etymology and metaphor, if it was ever there at all.
    • equi- when it refers to equality. There is a separate entry for equip, for example.
    • quint-, except when it is attached to a stem that is not itself a word (quintet, for example).

  3. ubiquity
    The published Macmillan English Dictionary gives the transcription /ju:'bɪwəti/; but the CD supplied with the dictionary gives an audio sample with a hint [I was tempted to put whiff,  but felt such self-indulgence would be out of place in that hallowed context] a /wɪ/ vowel, in line with its transcription of the more common ubiquitous.
  4. Inuit
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives two pronunciations: /uɪ/ and /juɪ/.
  5. casuistry
    The Macmillan English Dictionary has the transcription /zjuɪ, but the audio sample has a pronunciation in which the /z/ combines with the /j/ to give /ʒ/ . This is a common pronunciation, as is recognized in their transcription of casual.
  6. assiduity The published Macmillan English Dictionary gives the transcription /æsɪdju:əti/; but the CD supplied with the dictionary gives an audio sample with a hint of an /ɪ/ vowel.
  7. incongruity
    The Macmillan English Dictionary does not note the word congruity, but see for example Merriam-Webster's entry: congruity. (There are several other such cases, and the negative form is much more common.)
  8. intuitive etc
    A transcription with /ɪ/ rather than /ə/ would fit in with the Macmillan English Dictionary's intuition. Similarly, it is difficult to justify an /ə/ for perpetuity when there is an /ɪ/ transcription for promiscuity,  though in that case assimilation might account for it – the vowel sound in the '-uity' ending matching the vowel sound of the second syllable.
  9. breadfuit etc
    In accordance with the restrictions noted here compounds such as breadfruit are included, but not. for example, fruitcake (coined from an obvious association between fruit and cake). For similar reasons, catsuit is listed, but not lawsuit.
  10. suitor
    A suitor is indeed someone who 'makes a suit', but that does not make him a tailor – wrong meaning of make and wrong meaning of suit. For this reason it is not excluded by this book's Selection Principles
  11. enquiry
    The Macmillan English Dictionary transcribes enquiry with no /ə/ before the written 'r' – in contrast to inquiry, acquire and several other words with the ending '-ire' . Both pronunciations are common.
  12. quiet
    There is no other English word that has the sound /waɪə/, apart from those with the ending '-quire' (see notes 11 and 14).
  13. quietus
    The Macmillan English Dictionary transcribes quietus /kwaɪi:təs/, but the audio sample makes it /kwaɪ'eɪtəs/. Both pronunciations are used, but it is rarely enough used to make any distinction of little interest to the English student..
  14. /waɪə/ words
    The Macmillan English Dictionary lists only the five given here, but there are more – quire, for example: See Merriam-Webster's quire.
  15. obsequies
    The Macmillan English Dictionary's transcription makes this word unique among English words spelt with the digraph '-ui-' as having the shortened vowel /i/. The audio goes one step further, and changes the vowel to /ɪ/.
  16. ratatouille
    The Macmillan English Dictionary's gives ratatouille this vowel, whereas bouillabaisse and bouillon are given the transcription /u:j/. Perhaps this pronunciation of ratatouille was chosen to avoid the /j/ in a word-final position (which would make it unique among English words).
  17. requiem
    The Macmillan English Dictionary's gives the final vowel as /ə/, but in the same article it gives the pronunciation of 'Requiem Mass' with an /e/ in this syllable. This may be either because the speakers are different (and both pronunciations are common), or because the context 'Requiem Mass' refers – perhaps without the speaker's knowledge or awareness – to the Latin word 'requiem' (which has no /ə/) [as, of course, all choral singers know].
b
Update 2013.11.23.12:40  – Updated footer:


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

Freebies (Teaching resources:  over 34,100 views**  and  4,700 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 1637 views/740 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, 17 October 2013

Red letter day

Actually, it's not (a red letter day – work is progressing on the -UI- section of #WVGTbook);  but I suppose it is (an RLD) for someone.

To start this morning's In Our Time, one of the guests was describing what there was in the way of church literature before the Book of Common Prayer. The main player was the Missal all in Latin. The faithful had no precise idea of what was going on in the mass; which is why the altar boy rang a hand-bell at critical moments. The same speaker also said there were 'rubrics'.

When people don't know what's going on they can listen for the bell, watch for interesting bits of ceremony, and look at the Missal – even though they can't read Latin. Because rubrics tended to be, and usually were picked out in red (I'm not sure why Etymonline is so mealy-mouthed with its '(often in red writing)'; the word comes from the Latin rubrica  – itself derived from ruber, 'red').The man on the radio probably knew this, but didn't say it (although it strikes me, at least, as interesting and apposite).

To this day⋇, roman missals have instructions to the congregation in red. And every week-day, when there is no special theme to the Mass, is marked (in red) Feria. Students of Portuguese will recognize here the days of the week: Prima Feira, Segunda Feira.... The feira part is so common that the days of the week often have (feminine) adjectives as names: Terça, Quarta, Quinta...

The strange thing is, though (and it's been bothering me for many years) that feria means 'feast'; it's ultimately where the English 'fair' comes from (the public celebration sort of fair, that is).  So  maybe (only my guess) the typesetters of the first missals wanted to say that on the lowliest of working days the Mass was a special celebration.

I was meaning to carry on the theme of redness by marvelling at  Borges' use of rubricar in the story known to many English readers as 'Death and the compass' but which has the original title La muerte y la brújula (which is better, because it doesn't telegraph the solution†). But I have words and words to do, and promises to keep and words to do before I sleep‡.

b

† Note, if you're that interested in the writings of 'un mero literato de la República meramente argentina': The whereabouts of the final murder in that story is predicted not with a compass but with un compás – which can be used to contruct a rhombus given an equilateral triangle. The English 'compass' and 'pair of compasses' (for the few who insist on giving it its proper name, not just 'compass') are too close for comfort, and you can't tell me that Borges, with all his English learning, didn't know what he was doing when he used that bilingual pun.

Update: 2013.10.18.10:30
‡repaired the misquote (which is now a misquote on only one level!).

Update: 2013.10.21.17:10

Well, until 1966, at least; and where the Latin Mass is said (if it IS – I'm a bit out of touch with this stuff) I imagine the missals used still say it.



 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:  32,700 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 1637 views/740 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, 14 October 2013

'im again, on downloading

Once again I'm hosting a guest blog. And once again, the guest is me (in a context that probably doesn't get as many hits as this). I posted it on my Amazon author page a couple of weeks ago.

Not before time, I've had a go at downloading. I did it from a clean machine (with no previous knowledge of anything that might give me a silent short-cut), and set up a new Amazon account (using an alias that has an email address [which, come to think of it, may break some rule or other... Oh well...]).

I did it on a Windows machine, but there are options for iPhone, iPad, and Android.

Here's what I did:

1 I went to the #WVGTbook page and clicked on the Add to Cart button.
1 (result) a window appeared with the message 'We did not find a Kindle device'. Of the four optio[n]s, I clicked on the Kindle for Windows one.
Then an installer window appeared. Following the instructions ...

2 I clicked 'Run
2 (result) It did the usual Windows thing of asking 'Do you want to run...?'

3 I clicked on the 'Yes stupid, are you deaf or something?' option (well, that's what it felt like; I think the actual option was 'Yes')
<rant apple_user="gloat">
I do see the point of this nagging request for confirmation: people make mistakes, and should be given a chance to change their mind. But people like me always click through it unthinkingly. Whenever I want to find something in the Windows Recycle Bin I remember (too late) that I have found (and always use) the keyboard shortcut that lets me bypass the Recycle Bin and consign things automatically to perpetual oblivion. Even, when I forget to use it, I hit the Cancel button with the sometimes audible retort 'No I don't want to "...send it to the Recycle Bin". I want it terminated with extreme prejuduce. Just do what you're bloody told'
 
I know that shortcut, but I  shan't  tell you it, because I wish I could unknow it. So although the nagging request for confirmation makes sense it's guaranteed not to work; which reduces it to a waste of time (accompanied  by the infuriating feeling that the Infernal Machine – that's IM rather than PC – is saying 'I know better than you, and I know you're not going to take a blind bit of notice but I'm going to waste your time anyway').

</rant>
3 (result) After a download (about 5 minutes for me, over the famed Tesco InfraSlow 'Broad'Band - but YMMV) the Kindle Setup window appeared.

4 I clicked on the 'Shop in Kindle Store' button
4 (result) the usual search screen appeared, and I searched for 'When Vowels Get Together['].
It appeared.

5 I clicked on 'Add to Cart' again.
5 (result) A form appeared asking me to register my Kindle device.
There were the usual details to supply, but I wasn't too punctilious about [t]his bit.
After I'd registered, it asked 'Do you want to go to Kindle Device?'

6 I clicked 'Yes stupid. You really ought to get your hearing checked.'
6 (result) My 'library' (one book) appeared.

7 I clicked on it, and it opened.

8 At the foot of the page, there was a dashboard. I think it was one of these 'mouse-over' jobs that doesn't appear until you start scrabbling the mouse about desperately [thinking 'I know it's here somewhere].

9 I clicked on 'Aa' (which gives you the Options menu) [This.is one of the most counter-intuitive bits of User Interface (or UI, as we used to say in the trade) I've ever seen; and I've seen some doozies]

10 On the Options menu, I dragged the page-width slider as far to the right as it would go. (This isn't essential, but it's more convenient that way.)

That's it - a bit fiddly, first time round; but in future it'll be a breeze, as they say. When you click on an external link, it fires up your Browser. (I wonder what happens on a real Kindle...?)

b

Update 2013.10.14.16:05 – Added rant.

Update 2013.10.10.15.12:40 – A few tweaks.


 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.












Sunday, 13 October 2013

A big hug

Today's Broadcasting House featured a piece on the Greek National Opera by Andrew Bomford who called the production of Cinderella...
That's what Momford called it, though the excerpts were in Italian , so he probably meant La Cenerentola (blessed relief, considering the aboMInable mis-stressing that it's routinely subjected to  by English speakers – but that's neither here nor there). Now where was I before I so rudely interrupted myself?...

... at the Greek National Opera  'a big hug for Greece', which set me thinking about big hugs.

The reception desk at a French camp-site is marked Accueil. Suppressing your possible cynicism about French tourism, try to imagine  'Mine Host', standing by the desk with a beatific smile and his arms extended in a gesture of welcome – promising a big hug.

Last autumn (? can't find it, though the subject matter should make the search quite easy) I wrote about 'accumulate', and talked about a heap (or cumulus to give the Latin) of dead leaves. A similar 'acc-' word is this accueil, although there is no attested instance of the Vulgar Latin (so it's conventionally preceded by a diffident '*' (although it's confidently known to have existed, because of its many descendants in the Romance languages): *ACCOLLARE.

When a knight was welcomed to the ...knightate? ...he was given a big hug; his liege lord wrapped his arms around his neck (think of our 'collar'). He embraced him, to use another physical metaphor, which I haven't time to pursue.

And so we come to accolade, quite appropriate in this week of Nobel prizes. Those Swedish grandees are echoing that welcoming embrace – or to use Andrew Momford's phrase 'a big hug'.

News from the word-face

I had planned to do all the U* vowel-pairs in one release, but progress on UA and UE has been slower than expected. So I've decided to put out a 'Special Home Straight Release'  –  V4.1. But I've run out of Kindle Direct Publishing's free days; so there has to be  a small charge. This also gives me the chance to repair the missing -EE- section. It should be there early tomorrow, but here's something to be going on with:

b

Update: 2017.01.05.12:20 – A few format tweaks, and deleted old footer.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Next in the seqUEnce

This is the latest:
  1. kafkaesque
    The Macmillan English Dictionary does not note other ''esque' words that refer to an author's idiosyncracies; 'Pinteresque' is another. This does not mean that the student has license to coin new '<author>+ esque' words though: 'Shakespeare => Shakespearian' and 'Shaw' => Shavian' are among the alternative forms. And such words do not always refer to an author. Humour, for example, can be 'Chaplinesque' (like that characteristic of Charlie Chaplin), 'Pythonesque' (like that characteristic of the TV series Monty Python's Flying Circus), 'Dada-esque' ...
  2. prologue and prorogue 
    Confusingly, prologue has the apparent 'twin' prorogue in which the 'o' is lengthened to /əʊ/. Macmillan English Dictionary does not include this word, which is quite rare, being used chiefly by scholars of constitutional history – in such collocations as 'prorogued parliament' or 'prorogued the senate'. See, for example, the Collins English Dictionary's prorogue.
  3. /ju:e/ versus /jue/ versus /jʊe/
    Of these eight, the Macmillan English Dictionary transcribes two with the first two of vowel-sounds and four with the last; but the audio samples do not seem to justify these distinctions – least of all in the case of these rhyming pairs Of these eight, the Macmillan English Dictionary transcribes two with the first two of vowel-sounds and four with the last; but the audio samples do not seem to justify these distinctions – least of all in the case of these rhyming pairs:

  4. frequent
    The verb has /we/ in the final syllable, which is stressed, whereas the adjective has stress on the first syllable and the sound // in the second.
  5. equerry
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives the transcription as /`ekwəri:/ . But the audio sample has different stress and the vowel sound /we/ in the stressed syllable. Both pronunciations are common (and the /we/ pronunciation is beginning to have the edge. In a hundred years, /`ekwəri:/ will probably be regarded as archaic.
  6. argue 
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives the transcription as /ju/ rather than /ju:/. The audio sample seems to have the sound /u:/, as in – for example – statue.
  7. ingénue
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives the transcription as /ju:/ rather than /u:/. But the audio sample has the sound /u:/ with no glide. As this inconsistency suggests, both pronunciations are common.
  8. issue
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives two alternative transcriptions: /'ɪʃu:/ and /'ɪsju:/, although the two audio samples seem to be identical. Both are common pronunciations.
  9. bluebottle
    This, and several other words with the prefix 'blue', is included, as blueness is not an essential feature. Words such as bluebird are, however, excluded. A fuller explanation of inclusion criteria is provided here.
  10. sue
    Some speakers do use the pronunciation /sju:/; at one time it was widely regarded as the 'correct' version. But this pronunciation is now very rare.
  11. croquet
    Unique, that is, among the words ending '-quet'. One other word in the Macmillan English Dictionary does have the transcription /i/ as a sound represented by the digraph 'ue': the not very common dengue fever.
  12. habitué and roué
    It was tempting, as previously, to include the last two in one catch-all sub-section, but as the French sounds are distinctive it's possible that a distinction is preserved. (This is not to suggest that native speakers consciously pay attention to etymology. Few Italians, distinguishing the [dz] of mezzo from the [ts] of prezzo, know that the distinction can be traced to the Latin medium and pretium; and those few probably aren't conscious of it at the time when – like all native speakers of Italian – they make the distinction.)
  13. evacuee
    The only one, that is, listed in the  Macmillan English Dictionary. No list of this kind can be exhaustive. The  Collins English Dictionary, for example, gives evacuee the same vowel sound as toluene (the second T in 'TNT'). But the Macmillan evacuee has a /u/, where Collins gives it a /ʊ/ – matching the /ʊ/ in toluene  Both words are little enough used for any distinction to be insignificant.
  14. '-quet' and '-quette' words
    The growing commonness of European rail travel has led to the appearance in British English of the word 'banquette'; American English already had it, presumably imported by French-speaking immigrants. The Macmillan English Dictionary does not include this word, but see for example the Concise Oxford Dictionary's banquette. The pronunciation of the last syllable is neither /ɪt/ (as in racquet) nor /wɪt/ (as in banquet) but – like other '-quette' words, such as briquette – /et/ (with the stress, similarly,  on the second syllable).
  15. coquetry
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives the transcription as /ɪ/ , but the audio sample has the sound /ə/.
Also, in testing a cross-reference in the text I noticed that the EE section had gone missing. I've reinstated it.

Tales from the word-face

Tuning in late to In Our Time earlier this week, and not knowing what the topic was, I was misled by a speaker who pronounced 'hypocrisy' with a schwa in the 3rd syllable. She was one of the speakers I have noticed before
<hedge>
 I know of no authority who supports me in this –  solid though the observation seems to me
</hedge>
in whose speech an unstressed 'i' is regularly pronounced /ǝ/,  especially in words that already have a stressed /I/. For many speakers, for example, Tony Blair was the /praIm 'mInǝstǝ/ (I think, in his more Estuarine moments, our Tone was one of them) .  Also, even in speakers of RBP,  this may occur: demonstrations may, for example, be accompanied by acts of /'sɪvǝl dɪsǝ'bi:djǝns/, although those speakers, if asked 'How do you pronounce C-I-V-I-L?' would say /'sɪvɪl/.

Anyway, she said /hɪ'pɒkrǝsi/, and for a moment I thought we must be in the land of the Houyhnhnms – a hippocracy. But other speakers soon saved me from my Swiftian delusion.

At the time of my submission for the ELTons 2012, I was thinking about writing a much larger 'Dictionary of Vowels and their Sounds' (larger, that is, than , #WVGTbook), but at the moment I'm just sticking to digraphs. I'm toying, though, with the idea of a sequel,  giving the same treatment to vowels followed by liquids( 'h', 'l', 'r', 'w' and 'y') – working title WHiRLYgig (geddit?). Feel free to voice your opinions on this, ranging freely on the continuum between 'Great idea!/What a cool title!' and 'Don't waste your time/Puh-leeze  What do you think we are? 1st graders?'

b

Update 2012.10.15.14:40  – Footer updated
Update 2014.12.18.17:00  – Added note

 Wrong word. See here.



 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.












Sunday, 6 October 2013

P1ss was it in that dawn to be alive...

...But to be young was very heavy'
 as Wordswsorth so nearly put it.

If I had my time again I'd be feeling extremely paranoid. The pressure starts being heaped on at primary school, where – as I mentioned last time – not only are the hoops you have to jump through getting smaller and higher, they are held by fools (or lions led by donkeys: look at the comments to that David Crystal blog I cited, and you'll see a good and conscientious teacher being forced into the goons' short-sighted bidding by an inflexible marking scheme).

Then there's secondary school, where the hoops are not only smaller and higher, now they're ringed with flame. Where Victorian schools had notices saying Boys and Girls, they should now say
Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate
(commonly mis-translated as 'Abandon hope all ye who enter here'. It's 'all hope'.)

And when the kids get through the hoops anyway, there's the ritual annual decrying of standards. 'More of them should be failing' snarl the hounds of hell (oh yes, I'm still working on the Dante theme).

In my day, the lower sixth was a breathing space. In my case apart from the UCCA thing (that's what UCAS was called in those days), I took on a couple of new O-levels (one in an A-level subject I was doing from scratch, and one in a new language). And I spread my wings a bit  musically and socially. My lower sixth was fun and rewarding and I learnt a lot of value. 'Bugger "value", what about price?' snarled the hounds. So ASs were invented, another nail in the coffin of education.

What I thought was the final straw was tuition fees. I really don't know how anyone who voted for them (let alone opposed them with their fingers crossed behind their backs) can sleep at night. Still, 'It's only 27,000 quid, and they don't have to repay a penny until they're earning a decent whack.' And, let's face it, the chances of earning any kind of whack are pretty remote.'

This solves another problem for the young. They have little chance of getting a mortgage. 'But they couldn't repay a mortgage anyway while they're repaying their student loan.  It's a Win-Win!'

So young people's paranoia is fed for the first quarter of their lives. Until they're about 20. But the hell-hounds weren't finished yet.  'How else can we load the swings and roundabouts of outrageous fortune against the young...? Got it. Housing Benefit.'

We're filling the streets with angry young men. And somehow I don't think it's just a revolution in theatre we're fomenting. Today's Jimmy is armed not just with an ironing board but with the power of the Internet.

I wish I could see an up-side to this, but 'hell' and 'handcarts' spring to mind.

b
Update 2013.10.08.17:45  – last sentence tweaked, and changed the title to deter any NetNanny software that may disapprove..


Update 2012.10.15.14:40  – Footer updated

Update 2014.04.25.18:10  – 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, 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.

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 40.000 views  and nearly 5,600 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 2,000 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.



Wednesday, 2 October 2013

He tested the children Govely, but learnt nothing of value

Today's text is:

An English-teacher correspondent in the UK writes to tell me a very worrying - but totally to be expected - story emerging from the Key Stage 2 grammar test marking earlier this year. Question 16 asks children to complete the sentence 'The sun shone ________ in the sky.' and the mark scheme reads 'Accept any appropriate adverb, e.g. brightly, beautifully'.
A child presented the answer 'The sun shone bright in the sky', and this was marked wrong, on the grounds that it is 'not an adverb'.
Read more in David Crystal's blog
 In  the ensuing discussion (on 12 September) David Crystal wrote, in a comment:
This is one of the problems with trying to test grammar in the way Gove wants. Things are rarely as black and white as testers would like them to be.

The thing is that ending in '-ly' is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for being an adverb.
Many adverbs, like the problem-word 'bright', have no '-ly' ending. And a fair few adjectives end in '-ly'. Mostly, these refer to the qualities of people – kindly, poorly, portly, comely, homely, kingly..*. – or about the quality of something people do (leisurely, seemly, cowardly, gentlemanly... I'm sure there are more).

Princely doesn't seem† to fit this scheme; it doesn't have much on the face of it to do with princes per se, though I suppose there might be felt to be some connection between 'a princely sum' and a 'king's ransome'. The phrase 'a princely sum', though, is often used ironically as in 'the taxman gave me a rebate – the princely sum of <name-your-pittance>'.

† Oh yes it does. I was thinking of 'princely sum', by far the most common princely ... collocation. Here are the first 15 hits in BNC for "princely + <noun>"'. There are 124 cases, but more than 1 in 5 is 'princely sum'. The rest (apart from 'princely sums' and 'princely paypacket' – both of which weigh in at only 2 cases each) are indeed to do with the characteristics of a prince or a prince's surroundings:

1  PRINCELY SUM 27
2  PRINCELY HOUSEHOLDS 4
3  PRINCELY COURTS 4
4  PRINCELY STATES 3
5  PRINCELY HOUSES 3
6  PRINCELY SUMS 2
7  PRINCELY AUTHORITY 2
8  PRINCELY FAMILY 2
9  PRINCELY GENEROSITY 2
10  PRINCELY ABODE 2
11  PRINCELY JURISDICTION 2
12  PRINCELY OFFICIALS 2
13  PRINCELY PAYPACKET 2
14  PRINCELY TREASURIES 2
15  PRINCELY WOODWIND 1

etc. All the others have only one hit. (As before when I've quoted BNC, the links in that table may not work for you.) 'Princely sum' just seems to have gone into a princeless backwater for reasons best known to its thousands of users.

But UE calls. Sorry not to have said more about (to quote  a tweet I saw the other day) 'the supreme Goviet'. But I was side-tracked, as so often, by BNC. That Crystal blog, and the many wise comments thereto (where wise is a signed variable, to quote an IT colleague I once had)) says it all: give it a browse.

b
Update 2013.10.15.14:40  – Footer updated

Update 2013.10.15.16:40  – Added PS:
*PS And lovely of course. It has an antonym, loathly but that's pretty much archaic.

Update 2013.10.23.11:20  – Added PPS:
PPS And sprightly; and manly. The idea of this form's being used predominantly for adjectives that can be applied to people clearly has legs‡. It is presumably related to the Old English suffix -lic and more recently to the productive English suffix -like.

Further to the lovely example, it's interesting that love and lovely go together, and loathe/loathsome, but both lovesome and loathly are relatively rare (apart from not sharing a meaning with their respective 'pair').

Update 2014.02.02.17:00  – Added PPPS and updated footer.
‡PPPS An aptly bi-pedal metaphor.





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

Freebies (Teaching resources: over 37,250 views  and 5,200 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 1867 views/867 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.