Daily Archives: July 25, 2010


“Well, I know what my favourite kind of phoneme is,” Marilyn Frack purred. “A fricative.” She rubbed herself, catlike, against her other half, Edgar Frick; the effect was enhanced by their wearing not their usual leather but satin, so that the frottage made a /ffff/ sound.

“That’s an infraction, you know,” I said. “Your frequent displays of affection have, you will recall, caused the Order of Logogustation to effect a censure. You’re being fractious.”

“Refractory, in fact,” Edgar said, with a saucy smile. “Look, we left our leather. Tonight is the Favourite Phoneme Festival, so silk and satin seemed suitable, as… yesss… we do like those fricatives.”

“Well, be aware that your friction – and frication – may engender friction.”

“I like gender friction,” Marilyn said. “Anyway, they’re asking for it. Look what they’re serving!” She reached over to the nearby high table for her plate, whereon was a helping of fricassee. She started to brush the plate against her garments. “Mmm, ah want to rub against every Frick ah see!”

“Well,” I said, “I seem to recall there was a phonemic motivation in that, yes, both in the pun and in the fact that a fricassee, when cooking, sounds rather like a fricative too.”

“Indeed,” said Maury, who had wandered over, possibly sent by others to caution the dynamic duo. “Even though fricassee does not share an origin with fricative and friction.”

“There’s the rub,” Edgar observed drily.

“Here’s the rub,” Marilyn said, and again made as if to afflict us with her affection for Frick.

Maury raised a hand. “Please… Bis repetita non placent. Besides, you seem fixated solely on voiceless fricatives: ‘f, s, th’… There are voiced ones, too, don’t forget.”

“Oh, I don’t forget,” said Marilyn. “‘Vvv, zzz’… Such sounds as are made by –” she tugged on a tag on her apparel – “zippers.”

Whereupon, with an appropriate sound, she unzipped her shirt to the navel, exposing a lacy brassiere about the same colour of red as Maury’s face had suddenly turned.

“I think,” said Maury, gesturing towards the door while noting the approach of other members of the organizing committee, “you may be about to change your phoneme type to ejective.”

Thanks to Roberto De Vido for suggesting fricative (a little while ago).

Two weeks’ notice?

This one leaves many people uncertain and even provokes debate, as there have come to be competing standards: should it be, for instance, two weeks’ notice or two weeks notice? Continue reading