Monday 27 May 2013

sound additions

credit: LOL phonology at facebook
Adding a sound segment to a word without changing its meaning is one of the many English passtimes. English speakers add a vowel (as in /fɪləm/ for film) or 'stretch' a hamster by calling it /hæmpstə/. This insertion process is often called epenthesis. Some academics use instead the terms anaptyxis (adding a vowel, the so-called svarabhakti vowel, between consonants) and excrescence (adding a consonant between consonants). If you add a sound segment word-initially (e.g. Latin status became Spanish estado), we call this prosthesis or prothesis; glueing a sound to the end is called paragoge. Would the change from among to amongst be an example (with -st being an old genitival ending)? Can anyone out there come up with an English word exemplifying present-day pro(s)thesis?

BTW: You get the pun in the blog title, don't you?

Tuesday 14 May 2013

rant alert

I'm sorry but I must get this off my chest.
I've started reading a scholarly book on the phenomenon called foreign accent. In the book's first chapter the author, a renowned professor at an American university, mentions the often repeated idea that children normally master their mother tongue, whereas if adults start learning an additional language they do not reach the same high level. To which the author adds the remark that this widely believed fact has been challenged. Included in round brackets is a reference to Spada 2011. Not knowing this source I consulted the reference section and found this:

Nina Spada
credit: University of Toronto
Spada, N. (2011). SLA research and L2 pedagogy. Misapplications and questions of relevance. Presentation to Second Language Research Forum, Iowa State University, Ames, IA.

Not very helpful - not helpful at all - and a nuisance!
Don't we write books for the academic readership? Don't we write them so that our colleagues are enabled to evaluate our statements, hypotheses, theories? Don't we all rely more or less on written sources when we give credit to what some other person thinks about the topic? Don't we all check the odd reference to an article in a journal or to a monograph? Yes, we do! How can we countercheck what Professor Nina Spada opined on that conference if we did not attend that forum or conference or whatever it was?