Tuesday, June 17, 2008

more morphological reanalysis

To refresh, morphological reanalysis is the treatment of a given phrase as a single set lexical item, specifically for the purposes of stress assignment and prosody. The token that got me thinking about this again was Conan O'Brien talking about Krispy Kreme a couple weeks ago. He pronounces it ˈKrispy ˌKreme, with the accent on the first word, whereas I have the more conservative ˌKrispy ˈKreme, which is essentially what I would say if I were talking about cream that had somehow become crispy.

However, I'm usually pretty liberal when it comes to morphological reanalysis (i.e., I usually treat a set phrase as a single prosodic word). One example I run into often is my ˈgreen ˌbeans, versus my wife's more conservative ˌgreen ˈbeans, the same thing anyone would say when confronted by a random bean which was green in color.

Occasionally I get confused when reading lexical items when I get the stress wrong because of this process. For instance, I was shocked to see how high the deˈfault APR was on a credit card offer I received in the mail, until I realized that it was actually the ˈdefault APR (the APR you receive if you default on a payment). One other instance was a dictionary entry that caught my eye when I was looking up something the other day: safety orange. I assumed this was ˈsafety orange, some delicious variety of the fruit with which I was unfamiliar. It is, of course, ˌsafety ˈorange, the color of traffic cones and hunting vests.

So, which pronunciations do you guys use?

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