LING 001 -- Homework 5

(Due 10/17/2007)

On the web site, you'll find a transcript with audio (and video) recordings of some remarks by president George W. Bush on 10/5/2007. "President Bush Discusses the Economy and Protecting Americans From Terrorism".

Download the audio (mp3) file.

1. In the transcript, there are 22 cases of words whose spelling ends in "ing". Such words can be divided into several major categories: (1) words where "ing" is just part of another morpheme (e.g. "string"); (2) words where /-ing/ is a derivational ending, (historically) added to a stem in order to make a noun (e.g. "wedding"); (3) words where /-ing/ makes an inflected form of a verb.

Note that category (3) has diverse functions, including forms traditionally known as gerunds

She found talking to Pat surprisingly stressful.

and present participles:

Leslie is taking LING001 this term.
We saw him leaving the quad this morning.

We are NOT asking you to distinguish these functions -- you can call all such forms gerund-participles, or just "category (3)".

In terms of pronunciation, instances of final -ing have several alternative forms. There are two major categories used in the president's recording: (A) IPA [ɪŋ] and (B) IPA [ɪn]. A few word sequences may be treated differently, for instance the word sequence "going to", which may be reduced to the form commonly written "gonna", or even further (C).

For each of the 22 -ing words in the transcript, provide a morphological classification and a phonetic classification.

You can do this just by providing a number and a letter, in a form like this:

[1] "for coming" (3)(A)

(That's the correct answer for the first -ing word in the transcript, by the way.)

If you're unsure about your classification, feel free to explain your reasoning.

In deciding on the pronunciation, you may want to use a program that will let you zero in on a particular region of the recording and listen to it repeatedly. One free program that does a good job at this is Audacity; other free options, with a larger range of phonetic analysis functions (not needed for this exercise), are WaveSurfer and Praat.

2. Describe and discuss the distribution of the different prounciations for final -ing. How many of each type are there? What do you think might be influencing the president's pronunciation choices?

Some factors that have been found to influence this choice, in previous studies of other speakers, are discussed here. Feel free to suggest ideas about other relevant properties of the -ing the words or their contexts, including phonological, morphological, syntactic, pragmatic or even entirely extra-linguistic features.

Cite evidence from the transcript and recording to support your ideas. For example, you might decide that words beginning with voiceless consonants are more likely to be pronunced with option (B); in this case, you should give the count of the -ing words in this category, the -ing words not in this category, and the counts of pronunciation outcomes for each group. [Please don't take this particular hypothesis seriously!]

Extra credit: Look at other presidential transcripts and recordings for additional data to support (or refute) your idea(s). (Dozens, even hundreds, of recordings and transcripts are available on the web site.) If you do this, please take note of the distinction between reading prepared remarks and speaking ex tempore.