Category Archives: discussion

cataphoric focus marking

Shifting prominence to mark focus requires a linguistic antecedent, so if you say ‘A red apple’, chances are you or someone either said something like ‘green apple’, or there is some other reason why antecedents of this sort are salient, for example, someone might have asked: What kind of apple do you want? Marking focus […]
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non-recoverable deletion

A post on mindhacks reports on a 1974 study on writer’s block, replicated in 2007. The study has a lot of parallels with Fiengo & Lasnik’s 1972 squib in Linguistic Inquiry on unrecoverable deletion in syntax. I wonder in how many fields similar studies were published, and when it started.
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prosody and dr. syntax, 1832

There is an interesting series of articles in the new york times on the benefits and dangers of using large-scale corpora and statistical methods in the analysis of literary and other texts in the humanities. The first discusses some projects that are part of the digging-into-data challenge. The second article illustrates what race horses with […]
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the king’s speech

A movie about King George VI is soon to be released in North America (December 10 in Canada), which centers around his stammer, and his successful way of dealing with it in a job that turned out to require lot of public speaking. He worked with speech pathologist Lionel Logue to overcome the problem. You […]
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cab drivers and non-native phonological contrasts

It’s hard not to think of the acquisition of non-native phonological contrasts when reading about the research on London cab-drivers described here (well, if you’re a linguist, that is). I found the blog post via a discussion of the study here. Essentially, London cab-drivers are better at learning new routes than a control group when […]
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not even a dog barked

When a friend recommended Cormac Mccarthy’s ‘All the pretty horses’ (the first part of the border-trilogy) to me 12 years ago, I first wondered why I would ever want to read a book that promised to mostly involve cowboys and horses and a lot of clich├ęs about the west. A short ways into the book […]
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if worst comes to worst

I was about to write if worse comes to worst in an email, and then realized that I’m actually not sure what the correct idiom exactly is. The difference between worse and worst is hard to hear, and it’s not so clear that it has a transparent compositional meaning, so neither sound nor meaning really […]
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did you say toyota or toyoda?

The name of the car company and that of its president and CEO (a grandson of its founder Kiichiro Toyoda) are homophonous (or at least nearly homophonous)–in North American English, that is. Both [t] and [d] become flaps intervocalically after a stressed syllable. It’s interesting though to see what people do when they want to […]
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rhyme is in the air

[see also a more recent post here. mw, august 8 2010] Kate McCurdy and I are currently working on cross-linguistic differences in constraints on rhyme. Here’s a draft of a recent paper that proposes an explanation for why ‘identity’ rhyme is considered a satisfactory rhyme in French but not in English. We relate this difference […]
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