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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

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Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: The role of prosodic structure in the formation of English blends
Author: Sabine Arndt-Lappe
Institution: Universität Siegen
Author: Ingo Plag
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Linguistic Field: Phonology
Subject Language: English
Abstract: This article investigates a variety of ways in which prosodic factors influence blend structure in English. Recent approaches no longer consider blends unpredictable, but the role of stress in blend formation has not been investigated in detail yet. This article addresses this problem, focusing on the role of stress in determining the switchpoint of the two bases in the blend, and on the question of what determines the stress pattern of the blend. We investigate these questions using experimentally derived forms, coined by native speakers on the basis of carefully controlled word pairs as stimuli. The results demonstrate that the length of the blend, the location of the switchpoint, and the stress of the blend are crucially determined by stress properties of the two base words of the blend, above all by those of the second word. At a theoretical level, the most important single finding is that preservation of the stress of the second word may happen independently of preservation of segmental material of the stressed syllable (e.g. préstitant from prestígious + dóminant). In contrast to stress, and contrary to earlier claims, syllabic constituency is shown to be of minor importance for switchpoint location. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed. On a methodological level, our results show that experimentally elicited blends constitute a valid and highly useful resource for research on blend structure.


This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 17, Issue 3.

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