# Speak English? An unlong, ilusual survey just for you

#### honestrosewater

Gold Member
Moonbear said:
I don't see the distinction you're making here. I don't know of any additional meaning to the second list other than "not (blank)."
The difference isn't huge and doesn't seem to have been a factor anyway. The sentence replacement is most revealing.
For example: The police force was mobilized. The police force was not mobilized. The police force was immobilized.
I at least notice three options - set into motion (moved), not set into motion (didn't move), impeded from motion (couldn't move).
There are cases where pronunciation of an "n" in front of the following consonant is troublesome, and then I'd choose a different prefix, but when presented with the choices of only "un-" or "in-", neither resolves that problem of pronunciation, so in part A, I wound up choosing "in-" in a few cases because at least the vowel sound "i" was more similar to the actual word familiar to me, I think because the "i" as the starting sound allows me to more easily use ellision to soften the "n" sound and skip straight to the consonant starting the root word. When I pronounce "un-", the sound of the "n" is very defined, and when I pronounce "in-", I don't enunciate the "n" much at all (so "imprecise" and "inprecise" both sound nearly the same in my pronunciation...someone who is a non-native speaker would have trouble understanding what word I just said, but saying "unprecise" would require a distinct pause between "un-" and "precise" for me to fully enunciate the "n" and switch to the "p").
Yes, interesting, I can see elision working for words beginning with r, m, and l, because the ir-, im-, and il- still sound like they're there. But for p, it would just be ip, as in tip - unless it wasn't a total elision. Not that I'm challenging what you said - just speculating, because there's actually some cool things going on in this case. Three main factors in producing sounds are position, air flow, and voice. Position: m and p are both bilabials - your lips are closed and your tongue rests flat. n is an alveolar - your tongue touches the ridge behind your upper teeth.
Air Flow: m and n are both nasals - air flows through your nasal cavity. p is a plosive - air builds behind your lips and is released.
Voice: m, n, and i (as in tin) are all voiced - your vocal chords vibrate. p is voiceless - vocal chords don't vibrate.
Now, a person could try to intentionally drop the n by not positioning their mouth/tongue correctly but still unintentionally use the correct air flow (presumably, from habit). Since m is the combination of n's air flow, p's position, and i's voice, you end up saying m (even if you don't voice n)! Am I the only one who thinks that's cool?

Anywho, did you prefer dropping the n always, or just when dropping the n formed a familiar word?
I think you should try breaking down the responses between the two (and other English dialects...Australian, other country); I don't know if they will turn out different, but it's possible since I notice at least some British dialects very distinctly enunciate every single consonant in a word, whereas American dialects tend to be more sloppy about consonants and vary more in the pronunciation of vowels.
Thanks, I'll try that.

#### honestrosewater

Gold Member
zoobyshoe said:
To the extent I wasn't really putting much effort into deciding if I prefered an il- to an ir-, but going by quick, knee-jerk reactions to get through it as quickly as possible, I can't say that my responses are as finely tuned as HRW might be hoping for. My main motivation was to post a response as requested to indicate a lack of suspicion about HRWs motives and get the survey over that hurdle.
Thanks, and don't worry, I'm not putting too much stock in the responses. I might be prompted to investigate further if there turn out to be obvious patterns, but it's not a big deal. The comments are providing better information.
Additionally, my response may be corrupted for the following reason: I claimed, by omission, to speak no foreign languages. In fact, though, I've studied French, German, Spanish, and Russian at the college level without being expert enough in any of them to say I "speak" them. Would the level of exposure to them I have had affect my "sense" of English prefixes? Of course. Of course not. Maybe. I don't know.
I don't really know either. I just thought I may as well ask in case it turned out to be important, say if the other languages use lots of derivation.

#### honestrosewater

Gold Member
Gokul43201 said:
One of the things I find interesting is that others are more willing that I am, to abandon (if only as a second choice) the strict reservation of ir- and il- and im- to words beginning with r, l, m and p. I also note that others (like MB) will go with an in- over an un- because it's closer to an im- sound, for instance. I tell myself, that if I can have the im- I must look for a best option, assuming the im- never existed (rather than look for something that sounds closest to the im- that I can't have anymore).
See, this is where I thought biographically native speakers would differ from non-native speakers. I imagine that a native speaker, who learned the language mainly by listening to other speakers, could rely more heavily on whether a word 'sounds right' to them. While non-native speakers, who learned the language primarily by being taught rules, could rely more heavily on rules. Additionally, natives don't necessarily know the rules (not consciously anyway), as non-natives don't necessarily know the 'right' sound.
Did you learn English as a child, i.e., grow up speaking English, or were you taught it formally later, in school or such?

#### honestrosewater

Gold Member
Updated...
For easier comparison.
A: 2-mobilized 3-possible 4-legal 5-relevant 6-offensive 7-mature 8-regular 9-legitimate 10-partial
$$\begin{array}{|c|c|c|c|c|c|c|c|c|c|} \hline \mbox{number}&2&3&4&5&6&7&8&9&10 \\ \hline \mbox{norm pref}&m&m^{p}&l&r&-&m&r&l&m^{p} \\ \hline \mbox{\underline{n}ot/\underline{o}wn}&o&n&n&n&-&n&o&o&o \\ \hline \mbox{HRW}&i&i&u&u&u&i&u&i&i \\ \hline \mbox{zooby}&u&u&u&u&i&u&u&u&u \\ \hline \mbox{Gokul}&u&u&u&u&i&u&u&u&u \\ \hline \mbox{brewnog}&u&u&u&u&u&u&u&u&u \\ \hline \mbox{hypnagogue}&u&i&u&u&i&i&u&i&i \\ \hline \mbox{Smurf}&u&u&u&u&i&i&u&i&? \\ \hline \mbox{wolram}&u&u&u&u&i&u&u&u&i \\ \hline \mbox{zanazzi}&i&i&u&u&u&u&u&i&i \\ \hline \mbox{The Bob}&i&i&u&i&u&i&i&u&u \\ \hline \mbox{Moonbear}&i&i&u&u&u&u&u&u&u \\ \hline \mbox{BobG}&u&u&u&u&i&u&u&u&u \\ \hline \mbox{motai}&u&i&u&u&u&u&u&u&i \\ \hline \end{array}$$

B: 1-young 2-fit 3-mature 4-late 5-legal 6-relevant 7-false 8-off 9-possible 10-open
Note that five of these form old words with a prefix, so look for whether their usual prefix is most acceptable: 2-u 3-m 5-l 6-r 9-m

1unlrm 2ulnmr 3mnulr 4ulnmr 5lunrm 6runlm 7unmlr 8ulnmr 9munlr 10unlmr - HRW
1urnlm 2ulrmn 3murln 4unmrl 5lurnm 6rulnm 7unmlr 8unlrm 9mnurl 10unmrl - zooby
1unmrl 2unmrl 3munrl 4ulnmr 5lunmr 6runml 7unmrl 8unmrl 9munrl 10unmrl - Gokul
1unmlr 2unmlr 3munlr 4unlmr 5lunmr 6runml 7unmlr 8unrlm 9munlr 10unmlr - brewnog
1unmrl 2ulnmr 3munlr 4lunmr 5lunmr 6runlm 7unmlr 8unmrl 9munrl 10unmrl - hypnagogue
1urnlm 2ulrmn 3murln 4unmrl 5lurnm 6rulnm 7unmlr 8unlrm 9mnurl 10unmrl - Smurf
1umlnr 2ulnmr 3munrl 4runml 5ulnmr 6urmnl 7umlrn 8nmurl 9munrl 10unmrl - wolram
1unlmr 2unlmr 3mulnr 4ulnmr 5lunmr 6urlnm 7unmlr 8nmrlu 9mlunr 10unlmr - zanazzi
1umnlr 2ulmnr 3munlr 4ulmnr 5lunmr 6rumnl 7unmlr 8umnlr 9mulnr 10umnlr - The Bob
1unmlr 2unlmr 3munlr 4unlmr 5lunmr 6runml 7unmlr 8umlnr 9munlr 10unlrm - Moonbear
1ulrmn 2ulnrm 3mulrn 4ulrnm 5lurnm 6rulnm 7ulrnm 8unlrm 9mulrn 10urlnm - BobG
1munlr 2unmlr 3munlr 4munlr 5lumnr 6rulnm 7umlnr 8umnlr 9munlr 10umnlr - motai
(The color is just for easier reading.)

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#### zoobyshoe

Gokul43201 said:
One of the things I find interesting is that others are more willing that I am, to abandon (if only as a second choice) the strict reservation of ir- and il- and im- to words beginning with r, l, m and p. I also note that others (like MB) will go with an in- over an un- because it's closer to an im- sound, for instance. I tell myself, that if I can have the im- I must look for a best option, assuming the im- never existed (rather than look for something that sounds closest to the im- that I can't have anymore).
I didn't get into the spirit of the second part at all and analyze things at the level you did. After the first seemingly obvious choice, and the second nebulous one, the third, fourth, and fifth choices semed all so wrong I didn't have the patience to consciously analyze why one might be more acceptable than another. I was reduced to quickly picking the one that "seemed" better without any reflection about why, no recourse to any kind of conscious pattern observation.

You clearly have paid much more attention to articulating to yourself why one might seem preferable: similarity of sound, meaning, or due to more widely applicable spelling patterns.

#### Gokul43201

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
honestrosewater said:
See, this is where I thought biographically native speakers would differ from non-native speakers. I imagine that a native speaker, who learned the language mainly by listening to other speakers, could rely more heavily on whether a word 'sounds right' to them. While non-native speakers, who learned the language primarily by being taught rules, could rely more heavily on rules. Additionally, natives don't necessarily know the rules (not consciously anyway), as non-natives don't necessarily know the 'right' sound.
Did you learn English as a child, i.e., grow up speaking English, or were you taught it formally later, in school or such?
I learnt English as a child and grew up speaking it more than my native tongue. I learnt the language essentially as a native speaker would. And as I mentioned before, I didn't know of the existence of rules for the correct choice of affix. When I saw a word on the list, I went through words of (i) similar meaning (or at least part of speech), and (ii) similar sound, to make my choices by pattern matching.

It was this process that lead me to notice certain "rules" and how strict some rules were and how some weren't so. For instance (speaking of the unstrict rules), un- seems to be used mostly on adjectives and rarely on nouns, for which, in- is more frequently used. In fact there are some adjectives, like 'unjust' (this came from thinking about 'legal'), for which the noun form uses in- (as in 'injustice'). I noticed several more of these : unstable, undecided, undivided, etc.

Let me not go on and on about all the exciting discoveries I made during the course of this exercise.

#### motai

1u 2u 3i 4u 5u 6u 7u 8u 9u 10i

1munlr 2unmlr 3munlr 4munlr 5lumnr 6rulnm 7umlnr 8umnlr 9munlr 10umnlr

Native language - English (American dialect, no geographical influences). Have not read further into thread.

So what did you think - easy, difficult? Did you notice any patterns? Have any guesses about how or why you came to any of your decisions? I'll post how and why I made up the survey in a little while.
A little awkward at times. The "ir" on the second part sounded really odd on all of the words, so the only one that wasn't last on that one was 6. Most of mine were a combination of "u" and "m" sounds.

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#### honestrosewater

Gold Member
Gokul43201 said:
Let me not go on and on about all the exciting discoveries I made during the course of this exercise.
Heehee, I think it's quite fascinating. I'm starting my morphology chapter now - I'll let you know if I discover anything exciting.

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