LINGUIST List 4.481

Sat 19 Jun 1993

Sum: English Juncture

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  1. Max W. Wheeler, Sum: English juncture (grey day/grade A)

Message 1: Sum: English juncture (grey day/grade A)

Date: Fri, 18 Jun 93 17:41:45 BSSum: English juncture (grey day/grade A)
From: Max W. Wheeler <>
Subject: Sum: English juncture (grey day/grade A)

A couple of weeks ago I posted the following query:

>A graduate student of mine is investigating non-native speakers' sensitivity
>to English juncture phenomena. She wishes to collect a good range of examples
>of pairs which share (more or less) the same phonemes but have different
>boundaries or juncture phenomena. Several such pairs are classics of the
>literature, e.g.:
 night-rate nitrate
 grey day grade A
 why choose white shoes
 I scream ice cream

>I have a feeling that somewhere there are substantial collections of such
>pairs. Can anyone point out a useful source?
>Has anyone any such pairs that they have heard, read, invented that they'd be
>willing to share?

>The best examples, for our purpose, are those which can more or less
>plausibly be fitted into the same frame sentence, such as:
 I have {known oceans/no notions} that you yourself couldn't imagine
 Any {grey day/grade A} would be bad news for one professor I know

Many thanks for all the replies; I haven't been able to thank you all
individually. So thanks now to: Sheri, Jerry Neufeld-Kaiser, Helen Karn,
Thomas Ihde, Louise Kelly, Helena Halmari, James E. Cathey, Martine Grice,
Julie Vonwiller, John Lawler, Paul Black, Leslie Morgan, Neal Norrick, Harold
Schiffman, Larry Trask, Mark A. Mandel, Robin Barr, Steven Schaufele.

I include below the examples and the references which were contributed. I
observe that nearly all the examples involve 1) possible final/initial
allophonic differences (aspiration, vowel or sonorant length, etc.), 2)
gemination (e.g. some others/some mothers), or 3) syllabification alone (e.g.
an aim/a name). It's interesting that people haven't given much attention to
pairs which involve neutralizing assimilation (e.g. bad girl/bag girl) or
elision (e.g. lease pretext/least pretext, hold length/whole length). From the
point of view of non-native listening comprehension, one might expect these
types to be equally problematic.

>[...]'oh, no! [this guy/the sky} is falling!'

Jerry Neufeld-Kaiser <>
>i like "sadder day/ Saturday"

Helen Karn <>
>Lehiste, Ilse. 1960. An acoustic-phonetic study of internal open
>juncture. Phonetica 5 (supplement). pp. 5-54.

>She conducted experiments on pairs such as:
 a nice man - an ice man
 grade A - gray day
 home-acre - hoe-maker
 it sprays - it's praise
 keep sticking - keeps ticking
 night rate - nitrate - Nye-trait
 plum pie - plump eye
 see lying - seal eyeing
 see Mabel - seem able
 two lips - tulips
 white shoes - why choose
>among others (see also p. 19 from the same article).

L Kelly <>
>[...] I'm now coming to the end of my PhD looking into the Segmentation
>Strategies of Aphasic Listeners. The first experiment I carried out
>investigated whether the supposed acoustic cues to juncture were still
>accessible to aphasics. I used the types of materials you requested and
>managed with some difficulty to assemble a sufficiently long list of them.
>The usefulness of some is very accent dependent and in many ways I still
>found the list unsatisfactory. Although I presented my items in
>isolation, and therefore didn't have to [en]sure that they fitted into the
>same sentence frame, I did find it difficult to construct pairs which
>were balanced for frequency, concreteness and plausibility.
>My sources were mainly:

>Ilse Lehiste's (1960) An Acoustic-Phonetic Study of Internal Open
>Juncture, published by Buchdruckeri National-Zeitung, Basel,

>Nakatani L. H. & Dukes, K.D., 1977, Locus of Segmental Cues to Word
>Juncture, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Vol 62, pp
>714-719 and

>Barry, W J, 1981, Internal Juncture and Speech Communication,
>Arbeitsberichte. Institut fu"r Phonetik. University of Kiel. Vol 16.

>Cutler & Butterfield, Rhythmic Cues to Speech Segmentation. Evidence
>from juncture misperception, 1992, Journal of Memory and Language, Vol
>31(2) 218-236 Provides materials in context frames where the
>alternative segmentations lead to one Vs two word parsings: in furs Vs

 1 Stay dill stayed ill
 2 known ocean no notion
 3 bee feeder beef eater
 4 night rate nitrate
 5 new Deal nude eel
 6 be quiet Beek Wyatt
 7 Cato Kay toe
 8 freed Annie free Danny
 9 get aboard get a board
 10 hiatus Hy ate us
 11 holy wholly
 12 ho[e] maker home-acre
 13 twenty six ones twenty sick swans
 14 the suns rays meet the sons raise meat
 15 tulips two lips
 16 seize ooze see zoos
 17 pinch air pin chair
 18 pawn shop paunch op
 19 four met form ate
 20 fork reeps four creeps
 21 your crimes York rhymes
 22 sick squid six quid
 23 scar face scarf ace
 24 catch ooze cat chews
 25 bean ice be nice
 26 thing call think all
 27 bang cat bank at
 28 her butter herb utter
 29 field red feel dread
 30 yelp at yell Pat
 31 damn pegs damp eggs
 32 well done other weld another
 33 great ape grey tape
 34 it swings its wings
 35 grey day grade a
 36 an iceman a nice man
 37 see the meat see them eat
 38 seal eyeing see lying
 39 see Mabel seem able
 40 peace talks pea stalks
 41 play taught plate ought
 42 tour an two ran
 43 buys ink buy zinc
 44 that's tough that stuff
 45 a name an aim
 46 lawn chair launch air
 47 it sprays its praise
 48 keeps ticking keep sticking
 49 grasp rice grass price
 50 a notion an ocean
 51 may cough make off
 52 beer drips beard rips
 53 ice cream I scream
 54 grey tape great ape [=33]
 55 plum pie plump eye
 56 why choose white shoes
 57 I stink iced ink
 58 we'll own we loan
 59 youth read you thread

Helena Halmari <>
>[...] As a newly arrived graduate student (I'm a non-native speaker of
>English), a fellow student of mine asked me: "Do you have a fall schedule?"
>--I interpreted this as "Do you have a false schedule?" (I happened to be
>sitting in the tutoring room after my tutoring session had passed.)
>[...] When the customer is asked "Soup or salad?", foreigners, not expecting
>that routine question, easily interpret it as "Super salad?" --which is
>assumed to be some kind of wonderful house salad, being served as an option.

>Funny you should ask. Just before I read your inquiry (enquiry?) I
>heard the sign-off lines of a popular program here on National Public
>Radio called 'Car Talk'. Imaginary sponsors and producers are named
>including the following, only two of which I recall just now.

 Dewey, Cheatham & Howe (Attorneys) Do we cheat them, an how!
 Lois Steam low esteem

Martine Grice <>
>In doing assessment of synthetic speech, I classified juncture errors
>between word1 and word2 into three main types:
>1. (a)transfer of segment from word1 to word2 and (b) word2 to word1
>2. gemination across word boundary
>3. degemination across word boundary

 1. (a) keeps leaping -> keep sleeping
 (b) keep sleeping -> keeps leaping
 2. keeps leaping -> keeps sleeping
 or keep sleeping -> keeps sleeping
 3. keeps sleeping -> keeps leaping or keep sleeping

>Another paradigm could be keep sticking/keeps ticking/keeps sticking.
>[...]I referred to these types of juncture error very briefly in Grice,
>Martine and Hazan, Valerie, 1989, The assessment of synthetic speech
>intelligibility using semantically unpredictable sentences, Speech,
>Hearing and Language, Work in Progress, University College London. The
>inferior quality of the synthetic speech often caused more than one type of
>error at once (bright eye -> dry tie). (Julie Vonwiller)
>Have a look at the sentences in Price P, Ostendorf M, Shattuck-Huffnagel S &
>Fong C (1991) "The use of prosody in syntactic disambibuation"
>JASA 90 (6) pp2956-2970. It has some good examples,
>In about 1966, if memory serves, James E. Hoard (with whom I was a
>grad student at University of Washington at the time) published an article
>in (I think) Glossa in which he discussed the results of an experiment
>with English juncture phrases. To do it, he had made up an amusing
>little story that used all the juncture pairs (and some triplets). As
>I recall, it was called "Dr. Nye, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying
>and Love the Iceman", and he was disappointed that Glossa wouldn't
>print it.
 [The paper is probably `Juncture and syllable structure', Phonetica 15,
 1966, 96-109 -MWW.]

Paul Black <>
>These are old - from Gleason's Intro to Descriptive Linguistics? Or
>Hockett's?? [Not Gleason, as far as I can see --brief mention of nitrate,
pp 42-3, nor Hockett --see below -MWW.]

 (If you listen you can hear the) night rain / night train .
 (How did you do in the) contest / Kant test ?

>The latter with American /a/ in 'contest', of course [and in Kant -MWW].

>I've taught constrative structures of English and Italian, using
>Agard & DiPietro's *The Sounds of English and Italian*. There is
>a section on Juncture (pp. 43-44) which lists a few English
>examples- it sprays/it's praise; stop spinning/stops spinning;
>buy cakes/bike aches.

NealNorrick <TB0NRN1NIU.EARN>
>Hockett's now old introductory text has what I consider
>the standard description of juncture phenomena. I guess
>he mentions night rate/nitrate and why choose/white shoes.
[The ref is to Charles F. Hockett, _A Course in Modern Linguistics_, New York:
Macmillan, 1958, 54-61 -MWW.]
>There are some nice examples involving "rude" words:
>catch it/cat shit, new direction/nude erection and so on [not in Hockett,
though, -MWW]

Harold Schiffman <>
>Here's a pair that I discovered recently, and like because it illustrates
>critical presence/absence of aspiration: append vs. upend (up-end?) I
>haven't thought of a context for both of them, but since they're both
>transitive verbs it ought to be possible.

Larry Trask <larrytcogs,>
>While I can't now recall the source, I'm told that the following
>is a genuine example of a businessman dictating to his secretary:

 The cost of this project was calculated with a sly drool.
 (sc. `slide rule')

>The same source also provided `four-stair system' for `forced-air

Mark A. Mandel <markdragonsys.COM>
>In _The Joy of Lex_ (Giles Brandreth, 1980, New York: William
>Morrow and Co.), pp. 58-59, are a dozen "oronyms". I haven't
>heard this term elsewhere; I suspect Brandreth coined it from the
>root of "oral". Here's what he says. I have condensed the
>sentence pairs with brace notation.

 ----------- BEGIN QUOTATION -------------

Taking dictation isn't always easy because sometimes what you hear
isn't what you're supposed to hear. Oronyms are sentences that
can be read in two ways with the same sound. To inspire you to
cook up some oronyms of your own, here are a dozen of my favorites:

 The {stuffy nose / stuff he knows} can lead to problems.
 Where is the {spice center / spy center}?
 Are you aware of the words you have {just uttered /
 just stuttered}?
 That's the {biggest hurdle / biggest turtle} I've ever seen!
 I'm taking {a nice / an ice} cold shower.
 He would kill Hamlet for {that reason / that treason}.
 You'd be surprised to see a {mint spy / mince pie} in your
 {Some others / Some mothers} I've seen...
 Reading in the library is sometimes {allowed / aloud}.
 A politician's fate often hangs in a {delicate / delegate}
 {White shoes: / Why choose} the trademark of Pat Boone{. / ?}
 The {secretariat's sphere / secretariat's fear} of competence.

 ----------- END QUOTATION -------------

Robin Barr <>
>My favorite example of English juncture is Leonard
>Bloomfield's disguised illustration from his essay
>"On Juncture" (? Sorry--I don't have the reference
>in front of me.)

 catch it vs. that shirt

>I use this to prove to my students that Bloomfield
>really did have a sense of humor.

Steven Schaufele <>
>[...] would the following be relevant?

 I don't know how {mature/much your} people enjoy such a show

>There's going to be some dialectal variation on this, of course. Over here
>in the States, the standard dialect features complete palatalization of the
>'t' in 'mature', so that 'mature' and 'much your' have the same phonemes;
>the string could be disambiguated by attention to stress, but even that can
>be offset by a contrastive-stress-reading of 'how much *your* people enjoy

That's all, folks! Greetings and best wishes.

Max Wheeler,
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences,
University of Sussex,
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