Another Bunch of Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know
(because they aren’t actually true)
gathered at great personal risk of
psycholinguistic harm from actual student tests
by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira
This fifth collection of students’ pearls of wisdom, laboriously digitised from hand-written test answers, demonstrates once again how students new to the study of language speculate about grammar after having imperfectly absorbed what their teachers think they have taught them.
Test question—Compounds and hyponymy
Headed compounds can be described as hyponyms of their head stem. Do you agree with this description? Explain your answer with examples.
- Yes. Houseflies are a common sight in houses therefore the compound is a hyponym of ‘fly’.
- No. In ladybird, the headed compound, or nutcase, is not a type of the bird which is the head stem.
- No. The headed compound whale shark is a hyponym of fish.
- Yes, insane is a headed compound and the word class of sane has not changed much.
- No, not all headed compounds like pickpocket are opaque.
- Yes. Hunt is the head stem in hunting and a hyponym of the act.
- No, ‘handbag’ belongs to accessories, not ‘bag’.
Test question—Non-native pronunciations
In the speech of some non-native speakers of English, the following pronunciations are found:
Question 1. According to the data, describe what characterises the pronunciation of these speakers.
Question 2. Given what you know about natural classes of sounds, explain whether these non-native pronunciations are natural in any way.
- They stress the phonetic symbol ‘p’.
- f is pronounced as p, and p as f.
- For the first set, they have a [-stop] problem and for the second set, it is a [+stop] characteristic.
- They pronounce [f] with a [+stop], using the DF approach to phonetic analysis.
- The native language of these speakers does not consist of ‘f’.
- There is no raised symbol [w] added to the plosives [p g b] even in the instances that require them, preceded by rounded vowels.
- These sounds are being transcripted to represent themselves in speech.
- They don’t pronounce ‘f’ as in the IPA, even the sound ‘-gh’.
- What characterises their pronunciation is allophones of phonemes.
- These speakers are able only to speak plosive pronunciations.
- What characterises the pronunciation is bilingualism/phonemes.
- The speakers pronounce ‘p’ with aspiration, [ph].
- They pronounce a fricative when executing it as plosive.
- These speakers use their labial a lot in articulation.
- These speakers start with a phoneme p or end with a phoneme p.
- It is the vowels that characterise their pronunciation. p and f have distinctive features about the way they are pronounced.
- They do not pronounce the [-stop] phonemes that appear in fricative sounds.
- The speakers may be bilingual.
- Probably the non-native speakers are not accustomed to the ‘g’ and ‘p’ sounds which have not abrupt or fixed endings.
- The sounds share the same characteristics even though they have different physical appearance.
- When non-native speakers speak English, they tend to learn sounds of [+stop +labial] or [+stop +coronal], easier to pronounce, also reflected in the cooing and babbling stage of babies. So it’s natural because they are only starting to pick up the articulatory features of the sound.
- They are natural because the non-native speakers of English sound alike and behave alike in similar contexts.
- The speakers used their labial and not their alveolars and velars. This manner of speech is natural to them.
- The pronunciation is natural because articulators are used.
More to come...