LINGUIST List 12.3100

Sat Dec 15 2001

Qs: Metathesis/Am Eng, Grounding in Narratives

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  1. John Goldsmith, metathesis in (American) English
  2. Jinting, Cai, Grounding in Narratives

Message 1: metathesis in (American) English

Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2001 14:59:51 -0800
From: John Goldsmith <>
Subject: metathesis in (American) English

There's been lots of discussion of the relationship between "ask" and
"aks" as pronunciations for the word "ask" (so to speak), but I've heard
none about other apparent metatheses in (American) English. Three that
I've noticed are ( for schwa, R/L for syllabic r/l, flap not

realtor ( riy - l - tR, in my New York speech)
comfortable ( kumf - tR - bL )
jewelry ( juw - l - ry )

The motivation behind these changes is pretty obvious, but how
widespread is the phenomenon in English - any ideas?

John A. Goldsmith
Department of Linguistics, The University of Chicago

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Message 2: Grounding in Narratives

Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2001 10:59:51 +0800 (CST)
From: Jinting, Cai <>
Subject: Grounding in Narratives

Dear colleagues, 

I've met some problems in coding the discourse structure of
narratives into foreground and background.

Are adverbials clauses usually used for background? Can they sometimes
express foreground information? In particular, is clause CLY03-02
listed in (2) a backgrounded clause? It does set up a temporal scene
for the main clause, so it is background in this sense. However, it
also narrates the main event, so can it be regarded as
foreground. What��s your solution?

code	clause	Grounding
CLY03-01	this regretable happened in the last year.	B?
CLY03-02	When I came to this college.	B?
CLY03-03	I recognized a beautiful girl.	F
CLY03-04	She study very well	B
CLY03-05	and she is very gentle.	B
CLY03-06	With the time passed, we became good friends.	F
CLY03-07	I often went to talk to her	F
CLY03-07.2	and studied with her.	F
CLY03-08	Our friendship was great.	B

How about these clauses:
When I came to his college,
I was very happy. 

Do you think the relationships between the adverbial clause and the
main clause are the same?

Thanks in advance!

Merry Christmas!

Cai Jinting (PhD)

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