LINGUIST List 11.490

Tue Mar 7 2000

Disc: New: Underlying Shwas?

Editor for this issue: Anthony Rodrigues Aristar <aristarlinguistlist.org>


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  1. Larry, Re: 11.470, Disc: New: Underlying Shwas?
  2. Norval Smith, Re: 11.470, Disc: New: Underlying Shwas?

Message 1: Re: 11.470, Disc: New: Underlying Shwas?

Date: Mon, 6 Mar 2000 12:03:54 +0900
From: Larry <be262scn.org>
Subject: Re: 11.470, Disc: New: Underlying Shwas?

Message reference: Sun, 5 Mar 2000 14:34:21 -0500 (EST)

Jorge Guitart had written:
> Gedanken Experiment
>
> If an improbable product were to be invented that uses
> cactus meat as its base and it is called cactusia, how would the word
> be pronunced? (It would not have a shwa in the second vowel of the
> morpheme cactus-.)
>
> What about the following entries in The Dictionary of Mental
> Health?
(dictionary entries snipped)

Gedankenexperiment 2:

Consider the word "calcule" (/kalkju:l/) which appears in the 2041 edition
of Webster's. We find the following entry: "1. a decision based on a
calculation (in the figurative sense), a consideration of various
possibilites; 2. a choice or decision, made against seemingly strong odds,
but turning out to be the correct one in hindsight".

When considering *possible* words in English we may be able to prove that
there can be no underlying schwa. Supporting evidence might be found in the
history buried in (ore revealed by) English spelling: every schwa is
represented by one of the 5 vowel symbols, and we will find cognates or
antecedents in other languages that have non-reduced vowels in the exact
same position where we find schwa in English.

> What is the better candidate for the UR of X where X is the morpheme
> common to each alternant--shwa or something else?

Contrary to what I suggested in my first message, I would now suggest that
the one example (the "calcul-" words) may not be useful evidence to support
an underlying schwa because it is merely accidental that there is no word
(any longer, yet) from that group where a stressed /ju:/ sound occurs
between the second "c" and the "l".

Larry
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Message 2: Re: 11.470, Disc: New: Underlying Shwas?

Date: Mon, 06 Mar 2000 10:08:31 +0100
From: Norval Smith <nsmithhum.uva.nl>
Subject: Re: 11.470, Disc: New: Underlying Shwas?

At 01:29 6-03-2000 -0000, you wrote:
>LINGUIST List: Vol-11-470. Sun Mar 5 2000. ISSN: 1068-4875.
>
>Subject: 11.470, Disc: New: Underlying Shwas?
>
>
>-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------
>
>Date: Sun, 5 Mar 2000 14:34:21 -0500 (EST)
>From: Jorge Guitart <guitartacsu.buffalo.edu>
>Subject: Underlying shwas?
>
>As part of his query about shwas in American English Jorge Guitart wrote
>
>< Are there underlying shwas?
>
>On Sun, 5 Mar 2000, Larry <be262scn.org> wrote to Jorge
>
><I suspect so. What about words like "cactus", "abacus", "syllabus",
>"phosphorous" (N), and "opus"?
>
>Jorge Guitart responds
>
>Gedanken Experiment
>
>If an improbable product were to be invented that uses
>cactus meat as its base and it is called cactusia, how would the word
>be pronunced? (It would not have a shwa in the second vowel of the
>morpheme cactus-.)
>
>What about the following entries in The Dictionary of Mental
>Health?
>
>1. Abacusia: Unwarranted reliance on an abacus for calculation
>2. Abacusic: Individual suffering from abacusia
>3. Syllabusia: The desire to follow the course's syllabus too closely
>4. Syllabusic: Individual suffering from syllabusia
>5. Phosporousia: Obsession with the chemical element phosporous
>6. Phosphorousic: see 2 and 4
>7. Opusia: Malady striking the workaholic musician
>8. Opusic: See 3, 4, and 6.
>
>What is the better candidate for the UR of X where X is the morpheme
>common to each alternant--shwa or something else?
>
>jg
>
>
First of all, I suspect that the doctor responsible for these idiotic
dictionary entries did not for a moment consider the fact that languages
have to be spoken. Secondly, he certainly was not a classical scholar,
otherwise he would have realised that the stem of "opus" is "oper-".
"Operia" and "operic", while still being ugly formations, would maybe have
been easier to pronounce!

	In addition we already have the word "phosphoric", and
"phosphoria" sounds quite nice. Instead of the ridiculous
"syllabusia", I suggest "curriculitis"!

Norval Smith
============================================================================
Dept. of Theoretical Linguistics, University of Amsterdam
Spuistraat 210, 1012 VT Amsterdam
Tel. 	+31 20 525 3855
Fax 	+31 20 525 3021
E-mail:	nsmithhum.uva.nl
and:		glasbak9hotmail.com

Home pages:	personal 	www.hum.uva.nl/~nsmith
		HIL		www.leidenuniv.nl/hil/faculty/staff/smith.htm
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