Friday, September 30, 2016

A taster (one of the less frequent AL sounds)

I haven't yet reached the Promised Land (the 'then a miracle happens' moment mentioned here, but here's an amuse-bouche (with the links unchecked, but often working). I've lumped together  /a::l/ and /a:/.
almond 1 calm
almoner 2 calve
Kabbalah 10 palm
alms 3 chorale
half-baked 7 lala
palm oil
aloo 4 dhal
half-breed 7 lip balm
half-caste 7 locale
half-cocked 7 marsala 11 qualms 12
half-timbered 8 masala
fly half 5 half-truth 9 morale


  1. almond
    Macmillan English Dictionary transcribes "almond" with this long vowel and no /l/, but many other pronunciations are current among native-speakers of British English. I have heard /ɑ:l/, /ɔ:l/, /æl/ and /ɒl/. Some of these are reported in Cambridge Dictionaries Online and identified as "American".
  2. almoner
    The Macmillan English Dictionary does not include "almoner", but other dictionaries (for example, Collins English Dictionary) do. In this and many other "-al-" words the letters "al" represent the phoneme /ɑ:/; there is no /l/.
  3. alms
    Note the plural ending.
  4. aloo
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives "aloo" this long vowel, but with primary stress on the second syllable, suggesting an /ə/ pronunciation in the first. Other pronunciations are common (as is normal with foreign borrowings).
  5. fly-half
    In this expression (a position in a game of rugby) there is no clear (immediate) sense of "divided by two".
  6. gala
    Used in compounds, probably the most successful being "swimming gala". In many northern dialects the stressed vowel is pronounced /eɪ/. (This pronunciation is identified in the Macmillan English Dictionary as "American", although it is common in many British English dialects.)
  7. half-baked, half-breed and half-caste
    In these and many other words that use the qualifier "half" "half"-ness does not have a direct and/or obvious association with the word that follows "half-".
  8. half-timbered
    In this sort of building, some of the structural timbers (not necessarily half) have a cosmetic function.
  9. half-truth
    In this sort of misleading statement much of what is asserted is true (often – though not necessarily – more than half).
  10. Kabbalah
    The Macmillan English Dictionary transcribes this word with the long /ɑ:/ vowel, but the audio sample has a clear /æ/. Both pronunciations are common.
  11. marsala
    The Macmillan English Dictionary does not include this word but other dictionaries (for example, Collins English Dictionary) do.
  12. qualms
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives this in the plural. The plural is indeed more common; the British National Corpus contains 141 instances of the plural and only 30 of the singular, and in the Corpus Of Contemporary American (a much bigger corpus) the preference is even stronger (705:71). But the singular is used - most commonly after a negative, as in the idiom "without a qualm".

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Sigil produces .epub output...........1
I've begun moving stuff to Sigil......2

WVGTbk  will be a/v as an .epub 

At last I can put it off no longer and am broaching Sigil (and Linux). Linux has opened up for me the wonderful  world of syntax colouring, which lets me do stuff like this:

And it doesn't just look pretty, it warns you when you make a syntax error (a guaranteed concomitant of coding of any sort).

Meanwhile, here's the latest (I'm not posting them all as I go along, just a select few):

OL Representing /əʊ/ Notes

  1. acrolect
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives this transcription, but the audio sample has the vowel sound /ə/.
  2. ahold
    This word is on the CD supplied with the Macmillan English Dictionary, with audio samples identified as British and American. But the entry in Macmillan English Dictionary Online has a URL that specifies that it is "American". It is heard in the UK, but widely regarded as very informal.
  3. bankroll
    This is the sole representative of the many compound nouns formed by the addition of -roll. In this case adding another noun has produced a new verb too: to bankroll something is to make its development possible by making funds available.
  4. below-the-fold
    link to el- ɪ note (note already done for the *el* in the first syllable, commenting on irony of the Macmillan definition – unless of course it refers prophetically to folding screens [and cp flash-in-the-pan, hang up {a telephone}, etc: metaphors outlasting the technology they refer to].)
  5. boll
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives this transcription, but the audio sample has the vowel sound /ɒ/ (sharing the vowel sound with atoll, doll, folly, jolly, knoll, moll, poll, and toll[bridge|booth] (but not toll itself) . See also note 16.
  6. ecolabel
    This is the sole representative of the many words (and neologisms) that use the prefix eco-.
  7. folk (and its derivatives), holm-oak, and yolk
    These words could be in a section of their own, as they have no /l/ sound.
  8. gasholder
    This is the sole representative of the many words that use hold to make a compound word when the string -hold has a clear containing sense. This does not apply to some -hold words – for example freehold.
  9. gentlefolk
    This is the sole representative of the many compound nouns formed with -folk.
  10. goldfinch
    As the gold in this compound is metaphorical it escapes the exclusion given in note 9.
  11. goldmine
    This is the sole representative of compound words constructed with the prefix gold-.
  12. mold (and its derivatives), molt, and smolder
    These words are American English variants of words that – by dint of the general exclusion of words with double vowels – are not included here.
  13. monolingual
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives this transcription, but the audio sample has the vowel sound /ə/.
  14. oleander 
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives this transcription, but the audio sample has the vowel sound /ɑ/.
  15. polarity
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives this transcription, but the audio sample has the vowel sound /ə/.
  16. poll
    This is unlike many other -oll words, which have the vowel sound /ɒ/. In the fairly uncommon usage that refers to a truncated part, some speakers always prefer /ɒ/.
  17. profiterole
    Students of ESOL should note that neither of the es in this word is a Magic E. The first represents a new syllable (in a four-syllable word), leaving the second vowel as /ɪ/, and some speakers pronounce the second o with a sound more like the French [ɔ] or at least the British English /ɒ/.
  18. prolapse
    The vowel sound in the prefix – unlike words such as collapse – is not normally reduced to /ə/.
  19. proletarian
    As in the case of profiterole (see note 17) the e in this word is not a magic E; the word has five syllables.
  20. small-holder and small-holding
    These two escape the exclusion given in note 8 because what is held is not (except comparatively) small, and in any case the object of comparison – a farm – is not expressed.
  21. stronghold
    This escapes the exclusion given in note 9 because the object of the holding (typically a building) is not specified; what is held is a position of strength.
  22. threefold
    This is the sole representative of compound words constructed with the suffix -fold.
  23. tollgate
    This is the sole representative of compound words constructed with the prefix toll-.
  24. townsfolk
    This escapes the exclusion made in note 9 because – unlike menfolk and youngfolk – the suffix -folk is not simply added to the defining noun/adjective.
  25. troll
    Also heard with /ɒ/. Both pronunciations are both common and acceptable.
  26. wholly
    Compare sole/solely (both in the Magic E section).

Monday, September 12, 2016

/ɔ:l/ together again

I don't plan to re-post everything here as I do my second pass, but this is a case of significant rewriting/correction/addition. So [and in that case the word does have a meaning] here are the /ɔ:/ and /ɔ:l/ notes.

  1. all-conquering
    This is the sole representative of the many adjectives that use the prefix "all" (for example "all-knowing", "all-powerful"...).
  2. all alone/along
    This sound occurs in the first word. The "al" in the second word is unstressed. See /ə/.
  3. alright
    This is not included in some dictionaries, but the Macmillan English Dictionary does include it - only adding "Many people consider this to be incorrect.‘
  4. balk
    Also "baulk". Note that, unlike many other -alk words (chalk, stalk, talk, and walk), this word keeps the /l/ sound (as does caulk – although the spelling without the u is much less common). In the British National Corpus there are a good half as many instances of balk as there are of baulk (24:40); the Macmillan English Dictionary does include it, but notes that it is an American usage. Even the Corpus of Contemporary American, though, includes many more instances of caulk than of calk. In any case, a student of ESOL is unlikely to need this word.
  5. Balkanis/zation
    The Macmillan English Dictionary transcribes this word thus, but the audio sample uses the sound /ɒ/.
  6. ballcock
    This is the sole representative of the many compound words that start "ball-" (for example" ballgown") - or end "-ball" (for example "baseball").
  7. balti
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives two transcriptions, /ɔ:/ and /æ/, but the audio clips (though of different speakers) both use the /ɔ:/ phoneme. Typical of foreign borrowings, the vowels can vary widely; /ɒ/ is also common in this word.
  8. be-all
    This is part of the phrase "be-all-and-end-all". In current usage there is no other phrase that includes it.
  9. callback
    This is the sole representative of the many compound words that use the string "call-" or "-call".
  10. chalkboard
    This is the sole representative of other compound words that use the string "chalk-" (for example, "chalkface").
  11. cobalt
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives this transcription, but the audio sample uses a sound that falls somewhere between /ɒ/ and /æ/.
  12. enthral(l)
    The Macmillan English Dictionary does not include the version that has "ll" in the CD-ROM version (and indeed its participles are much more common). But other dictionaries, including Macmillan English Dictionary online, do include it. The link there includes the word "American" , though the British National Corpus has 12 instances in a corpus of 100 million words (1:83), whereas the Corpus of Contemporary American has an almost identical frequency (58 in a corpus of 450 million - 1:76).
  13. fall
    This list does not include the many compound words that include the string "fall" where there is a clear sense of downward motion; in many cases this meaning is present but lost in the mists of etymology.
  14. hallmark
    The many compound words that include the string "hall", where there is a clear sense of a public and/or general-use room. In some cases (for instance, "hallmark") this sense is less clear.
  15. highball
    This escapes the global exclusion of "-ball" compounds as there is no "ball" in a "highball".
  16. instal(l)
    The Macmillan English Dictionary does not include the spelling with a single "l" but many other dictionaries do - the Collins English Dictionary, for example, does.
  17. mall
    See also under /æ/.
  18. overalls
    The adjective (with no "s") is excluded along with many other "over-" and "-all" compounds, but the "plural" is a garment (which is naturally singular, not unlike "trousers").
  19. palter
    This word is not in the Macmillan English Dictionary , though it is in several other dictionaries (for example, the Collins English Dictionary). It is indeed rare: it does not figure in British National Corpus , and Corpus of Contemporary American includes only 11 instances.
  20. salt water
    This is the sole representative of collocations that include the word "salt".
  21. SWALK
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives this with the /ɔ:/ vowel, but as it is necessarily written (on the outside of an envelope) the question of its pronunciation is moot. (My "mental voice" pronounces it with the /æ/ vowel, and with the /l/ sounded.)
  22. uptalk
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives only the noun, but the primary stress marked in the transcription does not match the primary stress sounded in the audio sample (either for British English or for American English). The speakers in the examples presumably have in mind a verb (which other dictionaries agree in not including); but I have heard both stresses, and suspect that future dictionaries may recognize the existence of a verb. In this case it seems possible that – since the word is chiefly used among linguists – the speakers both make the mistaken assumption that it is a compound verb formed on the basis of the phrasal verb talk up, meaning something like "enhance (in price or position) by means of unwarranted praise". At present, the word is used fairly rarely in discussions of modes of speech; "uptalk" is not alone among terms used to refer to the same phenomenon. In academic use the preferred word seems to be "HRT" (High Rise Terminal and/or Tone).
  23. walkover/walkthrough
    This is not excluded with other "walk-" compounds because a contestant awarded a walkover does not necessarily walk; nor does a person conducting a walkthrough, for similar reasons.
  24. wallflower/wallpaper
    This is not excluded with other "wall-" compounds because of the figurative meaning (wallflower - someone [in the days when formal dancing was the norm in "polite society", this person was necessarily a woman] who does not have a dancing partner; wallpaper - a background on a PC/laptop/tablet/phone)
  25. windfall
    This escapes the exclusion of other "wind-" and "-fall" compounds because of the figurative meaning (both as a noun [an unexpected stroke of good fortune] and as an adjective [chiefly used in the expression "windfall tax"]).

Friday, September 9, 2016

A second look at ash

A New Look

I'm having a second look at the ash  notes (/æ/)  – the  number of changes/errors/improvements is chastening). Here's the latest.
  1. algal, and alkali
    The stressed (first) syllable has this vowel. See also under AL: /ə/.
  2. allied
    This is the adjective (as in, for example, "allied troops"). When used as a past participle this word has the same stress (and the same unstressed vowel) as the verb "ally" – see under
    AL: /ə/.
  3. alloy
    This is the noun. The same letters appear in words such as "unalloyed", which has an unstressed second syllable – see AL: /ə/.
  4. balalaika
    The first syllable has this vowel; the "al" in the second syllable is unstressed – /ə/.
  5. caloric
    Not in Macmillan English Dictionary but in several other dictionaries – for example, Collins.
  6. counterbalance
    This is the sole representative of compound words formed with "balance". There are no separate entries either for idiomatic phrases (such as "balance of power" and "checks and balances").
  7. Dalai Lama
    Transcribed thus in the Macmillan English Dictionary but in the audio sample the sound is /ɑ:/
  8. gallant
    This is the adjective, with stress on the first syllable. In the noun, the first syllable is unstressed – see AL: /ə/.
  9. genealogy
    Perhaps because of the popularity of genealogy on the Internet, the American English pronunciation (which Cambridge Dictionary of American English gives as having either /æl/ or /ɑl/) is often misheard, misreported, and then mistakenly learnt as /ɒ/ and misspelt as "geneology". As this is the only "-alogy" in English, it is possible that the erosion will continue , and that in 22nd-century English the a spelling will seem as old-fashioned as – for example – "shew" does today.
  10. hallowed
    The noun and the verb have limited (largely literary and/or poetic) use, but the past participle formed from the verb is still used in idioms such as ‘hallowed ground" or the hyperbolic – mock-reverential – "hallowed turf" in certain sports venues.
  11. hallucinogen
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives this word the vowel sound /æ/, but the audio sample has /ə/ (like hallucinate and other derivatives, which are transcribed that way.
  12. heraldic
    It is not clear why the Macmillan English Dictionary does not include this word. Many others (for example, Collins) do.
  13. maladjustment
    This is the sole representative of the many words that use the prefix "mal-" – with certain exceptions. These exceptions are generally cases where the remaining word, after the "mal-" is removed, is not a recognizable word in its own right.
  14. malfeasance
    This is included because the word "feasance", while it exists, is archaic and used chiefly in a legal context.
  15. malapropism
    This is included because the word "apropism" doesn‘t exist (except, perhaps, in a jocular context).
  16. malcontent
    This is included because, although the word "content" is recognizably etymologically relevant, the word is normally not a noun (except in the British House of Lords, where it refers metonymically to the votes of people in favour of a motion, or to the voters themselves).
  17. mall
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives a total of four transcriptions, two marked as "British English" and two marked as "American English". The two "British English" ones are /æ/ and /ɔ:/, but they both have the audio example /æ/. However, the one marked /ɔ:/ uses /æ/ in the context "shopping mall" – a context that tends to attract one of the American pronunciations (/ɔ/ – typically realized by speakers of BE as /ɔ:/).
  18. mallrat
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives a "British English" pronunciation with /æ/. But as the word is American slang this pronunciation seems to be questionable. Certainly I have never heard it.
  19. malodorous
    The word "odorous" is not simply "giving off a smell", with a prefix indicating whether that smell is good or bad. (Similarly, "smelly" has an automatically negative connotation.)
  20. malware
    The "mal-" refers to the effect of the "-ware" rather than to its quality.
  21. palpitations
    Note the plural. The singular also exists, but the plural refers to a specific (though ill-defined) physical condition.
  22. phalanx
    The Macmillan English Dictionary transcription is thus for British English, and gives /eɪ/ as American English – although the /eɪ/ pronunciation is common in the UK. In fact, the /æ/ seems to be common enough in the US for the /eɪ/ transcription to be linked to an American voice using /æ/.
  23. salmon and salmonella
    Note that in "salmon" the l is silent, whereas in "salmonella" it is not.
  24. shall
    In most other cases of words that end "-all" - "ball", "call", "fall", "gall", "hall" .... – the pronunciation is /ɔ:/. Philologists are generally not surprised to find exceptional pronunciations in words that are dying out: the frequency graph at the Collins Dictionary entry for evidence of this decline. (The usage graph may take a few seconds to load, and by default it shows usage in the ten years to 2008; Use the drop-down menu to select 100 years [or 300 years for the whole story – with an explosion in the late 18th centtury followed by a steady decline in the 19th and 20th centuries].)
  25. shallows and valuables
    This is a noun. Note the plural ending.
  26. shalom
    The Macmillan English Dictionary gives this transcription, but the audio clip has /ə/. Moreover, especially when sung, the vowel is commonly heard with the long vowel /ɑ:/.
  27. shalt
    This is archaic; it is the second person singular of the verb "shall", but is still used in Biblical (and pseudo-Biblical) quotations – particularly in the form "Thou shalt not...".
  28. tala
    Indian English musical term, used also by Westerners in the UK referring to Indian music.

Monday, September 5, 2016


Getting there. Here's a more complete version of an earlier post.


Letters and Phonemes

There is an admittedly uneasy blurring – in my approach, both here and in the first When Vowels Get Together book – between printed/written letters on one hand and phonemes. I look here at vowels "before an l" for example, and list words alphabetically (referring to letters as written). But the letter a represents the /ɒ/ phoneme only when it follows a /w/ phoneme (as in both "swallow" and "qualify") – in Received British Pronunciation, that is. In fact I was surprised that reviewers did not mention this – which, I suppose, might be regarded by some as a flaw.

My justification for this is based on the history of language development. Sounds always precede letters (except in special cases such as acronyms). Sometimes, the link between letters and phonemes remains firm (as in Castilian Spanish, which has a fairly reliable correspondence between letters and phonemes – nearly one-to-one, with a few exceptions). But in English this link is shakier.

The link is still there, though, when you consider the history of spellings. The common silent "gh" for example was originally an attempt to represent the sound /χ/ as in the Scottish "loch" or the German "Bach". In parts of Scotland, indeed, "night" is pronounced /nɪχt/ (as "night" was, at one time, in English); and in Northern Ireland a lake is a "lough", with (uniquely, among British English words – along with the Scottish "loch") the final consonant /χ/.

In some cases letters have no phonemic value – as is often the case with silent letters. There are various reasons for this. Two examples will give a hint of the (often meddlesome) justifications:
  • The "b" in "debt" (Chaucer was writing "dette" in the fifteenth century, but later scholars imposed the "-bt" spelling in deference [some would say craven deference] to the Latin debitum.)
  • The Greek "ρ" with a spiritus fortis (also known as a "rough breathing") persuaded scholars to take the word "rime" (as used by Coleridge, for example) and insist that it should be spelt with an "rh".
In other cases a "silent letter" spelling was imposed by false analogy with another word with a silent letter that had once had a phonemic value. For example both "should" and "would" had one of these "real" silent letters (the words were sceolde and wolde, the past tenses of sculan and willan). But the past tense of another word that came to be used as a modal verb (like "would" and "should") was a word that Chaucer, for example, had spelt "koude" – with no phonemic "justification" for a silent l. So, basing their suggestion on a false analogy, language "experts", (thinking "modal verbs that end /ʊd/ should share the spelling -ould "), introduced the spelling "could". (I wonder if the irony was intentional in Dr Johnson's definition of lexicographer as "a harmless drudge";  some would say that the harm lexicographers have done has sometimes been a major contribution to the complexities of English spelling.)

But quite often (I would guess more oftten than not, excepting Magic E spellings [where the presence of the e makes its presence felt, audibly, alhough it itself is not sounded]) the presence of a silent written letter does have some force with reference either to pronunciation at some stage in the development of the language or to etymology.

So while it would be wrong to say that written letters in English correspond to phonemes, quite often they make some reference to a real sound produced at some time in the chequered history of English (though, on reflection, a chequerboard seems an inappropriately regular image; a fiendishly irregular patchwork quilt, with the colours bleeding into each other seemingly randomly, would be nearer the mark.

Anyway, for better or worse, these books use alphabetical lists for convenience.

A note about my major source

Note that this book makes frequent reference to the Macmillan English Dictionary, not because of any particular hostility or preference of mine; it is simply because that was the dictionary I happened to have [that came with a CD-ROM giving examples of actual pronunciations]. Historically, it was chosen in unspoken (and un-called for) sympathy with an application for the Macmillan Education Award for New Talent in Writing. For the record, the CD-ROM's Version number is 2.3.0711, Impression 5. When, as is occasionally the case, I have found a discrepancy between the pronunciations given on the CD-ROM and at Macmillan Online Dictionary, I imagine that there has been an update to the CD-ROM.


Update 2016.09.06.14:15 – Supplied version number of CD-ROM.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Taking stock

Progress on the new book has reached a point that reminds me of a time when I was working for DEC (in the days when it was OK to call it "DEC" – rather than follow HR's instructions and give it the whole nine yards [well ten actually... syllables])
The biggest thing that happened in the 1990's (in an engineering sense) was a networking system called DECnet/OSI. As an article in the HP Journal says (but don't be misled by the name – in those days HP was just another competitor): 
The DECnet Phase V networking software presented the DECnet-VAX development team with a major challenge. ...[T]he Phase V architecture has substantial differences from Phase IV in many layers. For example, the session control layer now contains a global name service..... In most cases, the existing Phase IV code could not be adapted to the new architecture; it had to be redesigned and rewritten.  
HP Journal PDF (and regular readers will know how I feel about them). 
My one tangible souvenir of "Phase V"
This was a huge enterprise, involving dozens of engineers (and writers) working on both sides of the Atlantic. And there were many interlinking plans, schedules and wall-charts, involving dependencies, critical paths... all that scheduley stuff; and tele-conferences (this was the BS era – Before Skype; I did take part in one videoconference, using some hugely expensive proprietary system). Managers played games of Schedule Chicken (committing their teams to an impossible date, knowing that another team was going to slip first).  
There was a cartoon on a poster at the time. A character (called Antworth, and with a rather formic profile – which suggests that he might have been popular in a Dilbert-like way, although I've had no luck with Google) was pointing at ("talking to" was the MBA-ese) a complex flow-chart detailing many interlinked "deliverables" (more MBA-ese). There was an insignificant little box in one corner, with the words 
then a miracle happens
in very small writing. A manager was saying Nice work, Antworth, but I think it could do with a bit more work just here [pointing at the miracle box]. Some wag in the Reading office had added the words 
Phase V xxx stable
I've cloaked the crucial module in mystery, because the Non-Disclosure Agreement I signed at the time makes it more than my pension's worth to reveal the unstable party
So much for the preamble. My  "then a miracle happens" moment is nigh. I've collected the data, made the tables (ready for conversion to HTML), written a lot of the text,... I've "just" got to bring it all together in a Sigil  file and add all the links, Table of Contents, Prelims, cover design....As wossname said

'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"

For magic read miracle. I just have to find the technology.

Meanwhile, here are  the last few bits of text.

First draft of *AL* linking text

The letters "al" are divided here into seven sections. But counting exceptions – that have pronunciations both with and without the sound /l/ – there are ten. These exceptions are in the sections for /æ/ (shallow and salmon), /ɔ:/ (small and walk), and /ɑ:/ (impala and calm). (In all cases, the variant without an /l/ sound is much the less common.)

The sound /ə/ – 79%
This sound is by far the most common. Even after systematic omissions (as described in the Introduction) there are still well over 300 listed here.

The sound /æ/ – 16%
The sound /eɪ/ – 3%
The sound /ɑ:/ – 0.1%
The sound /ɒ/ – percentage negligible
This sound, when represented by the spelling "al", always follows a /w/ phoneme (as in wall or squall, for example).
The sound /ʌ/ – percentage negligible

First draft of *EL* linking text

The spelling "el" can represent any one of six sounds. The sounds /e/, /ə/, and words with a Magic E (which makes no sound itself but changes the sound that the preceding vowel represents), account between them for 85% of words with the spelling "el".

The sound /e/ – 33%
Magic E – 31%
This (non-)sound's significance is misrepresented by the size of the following table because of systematic omissions as explained in the Introduction – particularly adverbs ending -ely where the e is Magic.
The sound /ə/ – 21%
The sound /ɪ/ – 12%
The sound /i:/ – 2%
The sound /eɪ/ – ½%

First draft of *IL* linking text

This spelling is used to represent only four sounds. One of these predominates.
The sound /ɪ/ – 83%This is by far the most common of the four sounds represented by the spelling "el". The number of words listed here outweighs by far all other *IL* words by about 3:1, even without taking into account the more than 300 words excluded for reasons given in the Introduction.
The sound /aɪ/ – 11%

The sound /ə/ – 5%
The sound /i:/ – 1%.These are predominantly borrowings from languages derived from Latin, particularly French.

Update: 2016.08.24.17:15 – Added picture.

Update: 2016.08.29.10:35 – A handful of typos and other tweaks.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Joining up

First draft of *OL* linking text

The sound /ɒ/ – 37%

This (despite the relative sparseness of the words in this table – which is due chiefly to the absence of -ology words) is the most common of sounds represented by the letters *OL*. These omissions are explained in the Introduction.

The sound /ə/ – 30¼%
This is the second most common sound represented by the letters *OL*, but again the relative sizes of the tables might seem to belie this. As in the first case, omissions explained in the Introduction are the reason. In this case the omitted words have the spellings -ological and -ologically.

The sound /əʊ/ – 27½%

The sound Magic E – 6%

The sound /ʌ/ – percentage negligible

This sound occurs only in colo[u]r and its many derivatives. Some speakers use the sound /ɒ/, particularly in those derivatives.

The sound /ʊ/ – percentage negligible
This sound occurs only in the word wolf and its derivatives.

No sound – percentage negligible
This (lack of) sound occurs only in the word chocolate, and not always; younger speakers tend to enunciate the -ol- as /ə/. In chocolate's derivatives – in adult speech – the -ol- is almost always, fully agglutinated (so that a child will give chocolate three syllables, while an adult will say chocolatey with the same syllable count).

The sound /ɜ:/ – percentage negligible
This sound occurs only in the word colonel and its derivatives.

The sound /ɔ:/ – percentage negligible
This sound occurs only in South African English, presumably reflecting its Afrikaans origins.

First draft of *UL* linking text

The sounds /ʊ/ and /jʊ/ - 80%
This vowel, either preceded or not by a /j/ glide (in largely predictable contexts), is present in a majority of *UL* words (although, because of the exclusions outlined in the Introduction , it is outnumbered in this collection by words listed in the next section).
The sound /ʌ/ - 16%

This represents an unusually low proportion for a 2nd-ranked phoneme. The preponderance of /ʊ/ and /jʊ/ sounds means that if a student meets a previously unknown *UL* word there are 4 chances in 5 that the letters will represent this phoneme.

The sounds /u:/ and /ju:/ - 3%
This vowel, either preceded or not by a /j/ glide (in largely predictable contexts), accounts for very few words. The /l/ is almost always sounded, except in some names (such as Leverhulme- /li:vəhju:m/).
The sounds /ə/ and /jə/ - percentage negligible
In the Macmillan English Dictionary only one *UL* word is transcribed with the sound /jə/ (formula). But as the note to that word says, many words with the sound /jʊ/ can often be heard with the /jə/ sound.