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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: Can native Japanese listeners learn to differentiate /r–l/ on the basis of F3 onset frequency?
Author: Erin M. Ingvalson
Author: Lori L. Holt
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Author: James L. McClelland
Institution: Stanford University
Linguistic Field: Phonology; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Many attempts have been made to teach native Japanese listeners to perceptually differentiate English /r–l/ (e.g. rock–lock). Though improvement is evident, in no case is final performance native English-like. We focused our training on the third formant onset frequency, shown to be the most reliable indicator of /r–l/ category membership. We first presented listeners with instances of synthetic /r–l/ stimuli varying only in F3 onset frequency, in a forced-choice identification training task with feedback. Evidence of learning was limited. The second experiment utilized an adaptive paradigm beginning with non-speech stimuli consisting only of /r/ and /l/ F3 frequency trajectories progressing to synthetic speech instances of /ra–la/; half of the trainees received feedback. Improvement was shown by some listeners, suggesting some enhancement of /r–l/ identification is possible following training with only F3 onset frequency. However, only a subset of these listeners showed signs of generalization of the training effect beyond the trained synthetic context.


This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 15, Issue 2.

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