Friday, August 06, 2004

Fine example of metathesis spotted in the wild

Yesterday I was listening to a talk on computational vision techniques. The speaker consistently pronounced "daguerrotypes" as "derogatypes" /də.ɹɔ.gə.taɪps/ - effectively transposing /g/ and /r/, and also changing the vowel pattern. It seems to me pretty clear that he was doing this on analogy to the word "derogatory", since the quality of the two vowels in "derog" was exactly the same as the first two vowels in his pronunciation, which in my mind boosts Elizabeth Hume's theory that metathesis errors serve to make rarer sound sequences conform to more often-attested sound sequences.

Which gets me to thinking - this would seem to mean that theories of phonology have, in some way, to take the corpus of sound sequences into effect, which at present they don't seem to. This is a topic that I'd really like to know more about.

By the way, the IPA in this message was input using the new service Charwrite from Emeld, which seems really useful. All you have to type in is a letter that vaguely resembles the IPA character you want, for example, if you want <ə>, then right-click on the field to get a list of characters with similar shapes, and then select the right one. Good if you're working on a computer (like this one) that doesn't have IPA fonts installed, and if you just want to type in a really quick word and don't fancy hunting around in Microsoft Word or your LaTeX guide. (I discovered CharWrite through the Language Log, by the way.)

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