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Roles of Stress in English Free Variations






Abstract

British and American English free variants, though phonetically realized identically,
are slightly different in graphemic representation, thus resulting in learning difficulty.
However, little attention has been paid to what causes differences in British and American
English. Pair comparisons made between lexigraphical items in the two Englishes reveal that
word stress is the key factor determining the formation of free variants; graphemic deletion
and metathesis occur in a post-tonic syllable, and that American variants are derived from
their respective British counterparts. The disclosures help formulate four learner-friendly
variable rules with prose statements; they can serve as a general reference in derivation of
American free variants.

Keywords: free variant, word stress, graphology, morphology


*
; Tel:03-3412500 ext.6084; E-mail:senling@mail.knu.edu.tw
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I. Introduction

Chinese is a monographic language with monosyllabic logography. lexigraphical
items are written in uniform character scripts, regardless of syntactical categories; whereas
English is a language with alphabetical scripts with varied syllables and graphemic
representations that may rise from derivation or inflection in its lexigraphical items.
English vocabulary is versatile, due to adoption and transliteration of exotic
vocabulary virtually from every European language (McCrum, et al., 1986: 47). Besides,
content words in English vocabulary are varied in syntactical categories, bringing about
challenges to its learners. Among others, free variants, though small in number, are found to
be an obstacle in the enrichment of its vocabulary.

II. Related Literature

Free variants exist in British and American English. Crystal (1989:324) contends that
the choice of variants may be subject to contextual constraints, or there may be no
explainable conditions. However, Adams (1973:1) expresses that it is necessary for learners
of English to be aware of how English words are constructed and emphasizes that the
formation of English words is systematic. Robins (1967:183) also claims that variations in the
forms are incorporated with meanings of words and are regular and traceable, while words
with their variants bear formal and semantic correspondences to each other.
MacWhinney (1997:278) reviews the research results, maintaining that language
learners benefit from explicit instruction in cultivation of vocabulary. Perry (1989:51)
advocates that students should be helped to gain confidence in their ability to correctly use
and spell words, maintaining that the confidence can, among others, be obtained from
enhancing vocabulary by careful application of prefixes and suffixes to root words with exact
meaning intended.
Applicable approaches to enriching English vocabulary are reported to be numerous.
Carroll (1965:280) initiates the intensive reading to build up more vocabulary, asserting that
the more kinds of association are made to a lexigraphical item, the better is learning retention.
Schmitt and Schmitt (1995:140) propose that word pairs be compared so that students can be
helped to visualize the associative network of relationships between new and familiar words.
Cross (1999:3) advocates that students use new words as often as possible so that words will
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become their active vocabulary. Skmen (1997:87) insists that vocabulary is explicitly built,
and suggests that a cognitive approach with emphasis on the recognition of vocabulary can
help understand the formations of English words with alphabetical graphemes.

III. Scope, Hypothesis and Methods

3.1 Scope
To be dealt with is the disclosure of implicit factors that lead to graphemic deletion
and metathesis in British and American free variants; therefore, the focus is on an
understanding of spelling patterns of free variants in the two versions of English.

3.2 Hypothesis and Methods
It is hypothesized that British and American English free variants are systematic and
traceable, and the formation or coinage of agentive nouns is subject to agentive
nominalization.
To support the hypothesis, an exhaustive survey is made to reveal factors that lead to
British and American free variants. With word-pair comparison of graphology and
morphology, analytical observations are made to reveal implicit linguistic features that
govern graphemic deletion and metathesis in the formation of British and American variants.
In the final analysis, learners-friendly variable rules are formulated, thus providing
learners of English with the knowledge of the coinage or formation of British and American
free variants.

IV. Formation of American Variants

In comparison of word pairs, words cited as a corpus are those likely to appear as
British and American free variants. For graphological analysis, the words are tabulated in
three to four columns. The first column is for phonetic transcriptions for words cited, which
may be followed by definitions or remarks to indicate the originality or identification of
words that have been compared.
4.1 The Graphemic <gue> vs. the Graphemic <g>

To be observed are words ending in <gue> and <g>, which are both phonetically
represented as [g], the voiced velar plosive. The vowel grapheme <u> serves as a formative
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to prevent the grapheme <g>, the voiced velar plosive, from being palatalized as [],
the voiced palatal affricate (Pyles: 56 & 69).

(1) Monosyllabic words: Words ending in <gue>
Words below are monosyllables that end in the silent graphemes <ue>.

(i) The graphemes <gue> preceded by a vowel grapheme

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations
[ Vg] Vgue Vgue
[veg] vague vague
[fjug] fugue fugue

(ii) The graphemes <gue> preceded by a consonant grapheme

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations
[ Cg] Cgue Cgue
[mOrg] morgue morgue
[tng] tongue tongue

The word pairs in the two tables above show that no free variants occur to
monosyllabic words. The silent word-final graphemes <ue> cannot be deleted.

(2) Disyllabic Words: Words Ending in <gue>
Below are disyllabic words that end in the graphemes <ue>, which can be realized or
silenced.
(i) Disyllabic words with <ue> realized
Tabulated below are disyllabic words that take penultimate (initial) stress with a
realized word-final <ue>.


Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations
[gju] gue gue
[egju] ague ague
[rgju] argue argue


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The corpus indicates that no free variants occur to disyllabic words taking penultimate
(initial) stress, followed by the word-final graphemes <ue>, phonetically realized as
[u], the palatal glide plus the high back vowel.

(ii) Disyllabic words with <ue> silenced (1)
Tabulated below are disyllabic words that take penultimate (initial) stress with the
silent word-final <ue>.

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations
[ g] gue gue
[klig] colleague colleague
[ks*
r
g] exergue exergue

No free variants can be observed in disyllabic words taking penultimate stress and
ending in the graphemes <gue>, whose word-final <ue> is silenced.

(iii) Disyllabic words with <ue> silenced (2)
Below is a corpus with disyllabic words that take penultimate (initial) stress with the
silent word-final <ue>.

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations
[CVg] CVgue CVgue
[f*tig] fatigue fatigue
[n*trig] intrigue intrigue
[k*log] collogue collogue

No free variants can be observed in ultimate-stressed disyllabic words, with the silent
word-final <ue> immediately preceded by a stressed tense vowel.

(3) Trisyllabic Words: Bound Root + Bound Root
Tabulated as a corpus below are trisyllabic words, which contain two bound
morphemes with the word-final graphemes <gue>.

(i) Words ending in +{^logue}, the root morpheme
Below is a corpus with trisyllabic words that end in a bound root plus the bound root,
+{^logue}, meaning to speak (Merriam Websters: 686 & 1195).
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Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations
[ ^lOg] ^{logue} ^{log}
[n*^lOg] ana^logue ana^log
[kt*^lOg] cata^logue cata^log
[d*^lOg] dia^logue dia^log
[p^lOg] epi^logue epi^log

The corpus above shows that free variants occur to trisyllabic words ending in a
bound root morpheme +{^logue}, whose silent final graphemes <ue>, immediately
preceded by (secondary) stress, can be deleted from the root +{^logue}.

(ii) Words with +{^gogue}, the root morpheme
The corpus below contains trisyllabic words with a bound root plus {^gogue}, a
bound root, meaning to lead, or to gather (Merriam Websters: 306 & 770).

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations
[ ^gOg] ^{gogue} ^{gog}
[dm*^gOg] dema^gogue dema^gog
[hadr*^gOg] hydra^gogue hydra^gog
[pd*^gOg] peda^gogue peda^gog
[sn*^gOg] syna^gogue syna^gog

The corpus shows that free variants occur to trisyllabic words ending in a root
morpheme +{^gogue}. The silent final graphemes <ue>, immediately preceded by
(secondary) stress, can be deleted from the root +{^gogue}.
(4) Overall observations of sec.4.1
Overall observations of sec. 4.1 indicate that free variants are restricted to trisyllabic
words ending in the two specific root morphemes +{^logue} and +{^gogue}, in which the
silent final graphemes <ue> can be deleted in American variants, when immediately
preceded by (secondary) stress.

4.2 The Graphemes <que> vs. the Grapheme <q>

Both the graphemes <que> and <q> are invariably phonetically represented as [k],
the voiceless velar plosive.


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(1) Monosyllabic Words with Mono-morphemes
Below is a table, in which words cited as a corpus are those that contain one syllable
with one morpheme.

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations
[k] que que
[klik] clique clique
[bsk] bisque bisque
[ksk] mosque mosque

No free variants can be observed in monosyllabic words ending the
graphemes <que>, phonetically realized as [k] with the final <ue> silenced.

(2) Di/trisyllabic Words with Mono-morphemes
Below are disyllabic and trisyllabic words ending in the graphemes <que>.

(i) Disyllabic words with <ue> silenced
Words cited as a corpus are those that contain one morpheme with two syllables.

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations
[Cik] Cique Cique
[*pek] opaque opaque
[krtik] critique critique
[b*rok] baroque baroque

No free variants can be observed in ultimate-stressed disyllabic words with the
word-final <ue>. Though silent, the word-final <ue> cannot be deleted from the
graphemes <que>, phonetically realized as [k].

(ii) Mono/polysyllabic words ending in <qu>
Words cited as a corpus in the table below are those ending in the graphemes<u>.
Phonetic
Transcriptions
British
Representations
American
Representations
Definitions
[()^( ) ke] ()^( )()qu ()^ ()()qu
[pke] piqu piqu offense
[rske] risqu risqu indecent
[^plke] appliqu appliqu a cutout decoration
[k*^mjnke] com^muniqu com^muniqu a public notice

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No free variants can occur to words of Latin origin with stress placed on the
word-final <qu>. This graphemic cluster is phonetically realized as [ke], the voiceless
velar plosive plus the stressed non-back, mid tense vowel.

(3) Di/Trisyllabic Words with Two-morphemes
Below are disyllabic and trisyllabic words, which contain two or three morphemes
ending in the bound morpheme +{esque}.

Phonetic Transcriptions British Representations American Representations
[^ ()Csk] ()C+{esque} ()C+{esque}
[b[lsk] burlesque burlesque
[_r*tsik] grotesque grotesque
[^a_ntsk] ^gigantesque ^gigantesque
[^pk*rsk] ^picturesque ^picturesque

No free variants can be observed in disyllabic and trisyllabic words in the table above;
the silent final graphemes <ue> cannot be deleted from the adjective suffix +{esque} of
Germanic origin (Merriam Webster: 396).


(4) Words Ending in <(c)k> vs. <(c)que>
Words of foreign origin end in the graphemes <(c)k> and <(c)que>, which are
both phonetically realized as [k], the voiceless velar plosive.

(i) Words ending in <k> vs. <que>
Words below end in the phonetic [sk], the voiceless alveolar fricative plus the
voiceless velar plosive.

Phonetic
Transcriptions
British and American
Representations
British and American
Representations
Remarks
[ sk] sk sque
[ksk] cask (container) 'casque (helmet) distinct words
[msk] mask (cover) 'masque (drama) distinct words

The homonymous pairs are equal, rather than free, variants. They are two distinct
words, which bear identical phonetic representations, but different word endings; one ends
in <k>, the other in <que> (Mariam Websters: 177 & 714).
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(ii) Words ending in <ck> vs. <que>
Below are words ending in different graphemic representations but bearing identical
phonetic representations.

Phonetic
Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations Remarks
[k] que ck
[k] 'cheque 'check equal variants
[sk] 'sacque 'sack equal variants

The words cited above are equal, rather than free, variants. The monosyllabic words
check and cheque are synonyms, meaning draft. The modern word check is derived
from the Middle English chek. (Merriam Websters:194-196). The words sack and
sacque originate in American Spanish; the former is slightly more common than the latter
(Merriam Websters:91).

(iii) Words with word-medial <ck> vs. <cqu>
Below are words ending in different graphemic representations but bearing identical
phonetic representations.

Phonetic
Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations Remarks
[k] cqu ck
[rk*t] racquet racket equal variants

The two words, racket and racquet, are equal, rather than free, variants. They are
synonyms; they are derived from Arabic, while the former is slightly more common than the
latter (Merriam Websters:962). Both the intervocalic <cq> and <ck> are realized as [k], the
voiceless velar plosive.

NB. The graphemes <ck> and <cq> occur when immediately preceded by a
stressed lax vowel with a single vowel grapheme.

(iv) Words with the word-medial < qu>
Cited below are words as a corpus, which contain two syllables, while word stress can
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fall on the penultimate or ultimate syllable.

Phonetic
Transcriptions
British
Representations
Phonetic
Transcriptions
American
Representations
Remarks
[ k] que [ k] que
[frikw*nt] frequent
(adj)
[frkwnt] frequent (vv) different
syntactical
categories

The corpus shows that no free variants occur to disyllabic words with the intervocalic
graphemes <qu>. The shift of stress location is based on syntactical categories; ultimate
stress is a verb, while non-ultimate stress is a non-verb.

(v) Words ending in <c> vs. <que>
Cited as a corpus are homonymous words with <c>, and <(c)que>, with both
phonetically realized as [k], the voiceless velar plosive.

Phonetic Transcriptions
Words with <c> Words with <que> Remarks
[ k] () Cic ()ique
[krtk] critic (judge of
arts)
critique (review) distinct words
[mstk] mystic
(spiritualist)
mystique (magic) distinct words
[fzk] physic (medicine) physique (figure) distinct words

The corpus shows that stress location can result in distinct words ending in the
grapheme <c> or the graphemes <que>. Those ending in the graphemes <ique> are
invariably stressed on the ultimate (final) syllable, while those ending in an <ic> take the
penultimate stress except for a very few exceptions stressed on the antepenult as in Arabic,
politic, mathematic.
This indicates that with the identical [k] phone, words taking ultimate stress are those
ending in <ique>, whereas those with non-ultimate stress end in <ic>.

(vi) Overall Observations of Sec.4.2
Overall observations of sec.4.2 indicate that no free variants occur to words in the
grapheme <q> followed by the graphemes <ue>; the word-medial/final -<ue> cannot be
deleted, whether they are realized or silenced.
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4.3 The Graphemes <our> vs. the Graphemes <or>
Below are words which end in the graphemes <our> or <or>.

(1) Monosyllabic Words
Monosyllabic words below end in the consonant grapheme <r> preceded by the
graphemes <ou> with varied phones.

(i) The word-ending <our> with the high back vowel plus [r]
Listed in the table below are monosyllabic words ending in the graphemes <our>
with the phones [r].

Phonetic Transcriptions British Representations American Representations
[Cr] Cour Cour
[dr] dour 'dour
[jr] your 'your

(ii) The word-ending <our> with the mid back vowel plus [r]
Listed in the table below are monosyllabic words ending in the graphemes <our>
with the phones [Or] or the phones [or].

Phonetic Transcriptions British Representations American Representations
[COr], [Cor] Cour Cour
[fOr], [for] four four
[pOr] pour pour

(iii) The word-ending <our> with a diphthong plus [r]
Listed in the table below are monosyllabic words ending in the graphemes <our>
with the phones [ar].

Phonetic Transcriptions British Representations American Representations
[Car] Cour Cour
[flar] flour flour
[skar] scour scour

The words cited in the three tables above indicate that no free variants occur to
monosyllabic content words ending in the graphemes <our> with full vowel values.
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(2) Disyllabic Words with Penultimate Stress
The corpus below contains disyllabic words, which can take either the ultimate or the
penultimate stress.

(i) The word-final <our> preceded by a consonant grapheme
Words in the table below are disyllabic words that end in a consonant grapheme plus
the graphemes <our> in an unstressed syllable.

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations remarks
[C[] Cour Cor
[kl[] colour color
free variants
[leb[] labour labor
free variants
[fev[] favour favor
free variants
[hjum[] humour humor
free variants

Free variants can be observed in disyllabic words that take the initial stress or
penultimate stress, while the grapheme <u> can be deleted from the unstressed
graphemes <our> reduced to a schwa [*] or a schwar [[].

(ii) The word-final <our> preceded by two consonant graphemes
Words in the table below are disyllabic words that end in two consonant graphemes
plus the graphemes <our> in an unstressed syllable.

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations remarks
[C[] Cour Cor
[hrb[] harbour harbor free variants
[rd[] ardour ardor free variants
[prl[] parlour parlor
free variants
[knd[] candour candor
free variants
[splnd[] splendour splendor
free variants

Free variants can be observed in disyllabic words which takes penultimate (initial)
stress, while the grapheme <u> can be deleted from the unstressed graphemes <our>
reduced to a schwa [*] or a schwar [[].

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(3) Stress on the Root/Word in Trisyllabic Words
Words cited as a corpus are trisyllabic words, which contain a root ending in the
graphemes <our>.

(i) Stress on the penultimate syllable
Words in the table below are trisyllabic words, which end in the graphemes +<our> as
a suffix.

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations Remarks
[CV+C[]
our or

[dmin[] de+mean+our de+mean+or free variants
[ ndv[] en+deav+our en+dea+vor free variants

In the trisyllabic words containing three morphemes, free variants can be formed by
deleting the grapheme <u> from the unstressed word-final <our> immediately preceded
by primary stress.

(ii) Stress on the antepenultimate syllable: trisyllabic words

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations Remarks
[CV+C*] our +{ } or +{ }

[fev*rt] favour+ite favor+ite free variants
[bhev[] behav+iour behav+ior free variants


(iii) Stress on the antepenultimate syllable: quadrisyllabic or quinquesyllabic words

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations Remarks
[CV+C*] our +{ } or +{ }
[fev*r*b] favour+able favor+able free variants
[n*r*b] honour+able honor+able free variants
[bhev*rsO] behav+iour+i+sm behav+ior+i+sm

The corpuses in two tables above indicate that in the quadrisyllabic or quinquesyllabic
words, the grapheme <u> can be deleted from the word-final graphemes <our>+, or the
graphemes <iour>+ in primary-stressed words.

(4) Disyllabic Words with Ultimate Stress
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Words cited as a corpus below are disyllabic words, taking ultimate stress, which
contain a root plus the graphemes <our>.

(i) Disyllables with stress on the word-final graphemes <our>
Words in the tables below are disyllabic words that end in the graphemes <our>.

a. Preceded by the consonant grapheme <v>

Phonetic Transcriptions British Representations American Representations
[var] vour vour
[dvar] devour devour

b. Preceded by the consonant grapheme <t>

Phonetic Transcriptions British Representations American Representations
[^tr] ^tour ^tour
[kn^tr] con^tour con^tour
[din^tr] de^tour de^tour

c. Preceded by the consonant grapheme <m>

Phonetic Transcriptions British Representations American Representations
[^m] ^mour ^mour
[^mr] a^mour a^mour
[gl^mr] gla^mour gla^mour

No free variants can be observed in disyllabic words ending in the final syllable
with <our>, and taking secondary stress with a full vowel quality.

(ii) Trisyllables with stress on the word-final graphemes <our>
Below are trisyllabic words ending in the nominal suffix +{dour}.

Phonetic Transcriptions British Representations American Representations
[ ^dr] ^dour ^dour
[trub*^dr] trouba^dour trouba^dour
[pmp*^dr] pompa^dour pompa^dour

The corpus shows that no free variants can be observed in trisyllabic Latin loanwords
ending in the nominal suffix, +{dour}, which is secondarily stressed with a full vowel quality.
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(5) Words Ending in Graphemes Other Than <r>
To be observed below are words with two morphemes that end in the
graphemes <ou> plus a final grapheme other than <r>.

(i) Disyllabic words: Words ending in the graphemes <oun> or <oup>
Words below in the table are disyllabic words that end in free morphemes such as
+{noun}, +{group}, or +{coup}.

Phonetic Transcriptions British Representations American Representations
[^Can] ^ Coun ^ Coun
[pr*^nan] pro^noun pro^noun
[ple^grup]
play^group play^group
[bju^kup]
beau^coup beau^coup

The corpus shows that no free variants occur to disyllabic words that are made up of
two morphemes. No deletion of the grapheme <u> occurs in +{^noun}, +{^croup}, and
+{^group}, each of which takes secondary stress.

(ii) Disyllabic words: Words ending in the graphemes <out>
Words cited in the table as a corpus are disyllabic words ending in the
graphemes <out> or the morpheme +{out} with stress.

Phonetic Transcriptions British Representations American Representations
[vat]
vout vout
[dvat ] devout devout
[+ruat] throughout
throughout

No free variants occur to disyllabic words ending in the stressed graphemes <out> or
morpheme {out}, phonetically realized as an [at], a diphthongal plus the voiceless alveolar
plosive with full vowel values.

(iii) Disyllabic words: Words ending in <ous>
Words below are disyllabic words ending in the adjective suffix +{ous}.

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Phonetic Transcriptions British Representations American Representations
[*s ] ous ous
[fem*s] famous famous
[ven*s]
venous venous

The corpus shows that no free variants occur to disyllabic words ending in the suffix
graphemes +{ous}, rather than +{our}, even though preceded by primary stress: the
penultimate (initial) stress.


(iv) Trisyllabic and quadrisyllabic words
Below are polysyllabic words including tri/quadrisyllabic words ending in the
adjective suffix +{ous}.

Phonetic Transcriptions British Representations American Representations
[*s ] ous ous
[*mr*s] amorous amorous
[pt*s]
piteous piteous
[glor*s]
glorious glorious
[*dvn*r*s]
adventurous adventurous
[fOrtjut*s]
fortuitous fortuitous
[*mb*s]
ambitious ambitious

The corpus shows that no free variants occur to tri/quadrisyllabic words ending in the
unstressed suffix graphemes +{ous}, even though the vowels are coalesced and reduced to
the schwa [*] with penultimate or antepenultimate stress.

(v) Overall Observations of Sec.4.3
Observations in sect. 4.3 indicate that free variants are limited to disyllabic and
trisyllabic words ending in the graphemes +<our>, and the grapheme <u> can be deleted,
which is immediately preceded by primary stress.

4.5 Graphemic Deletion: <l> vs. <ll>
Words cited in the table as a corpus are disyllabic words ending in graphemes, such
as<l> and <p> with a suffix beginning with a vowel.
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Phonetic Transcriptions British Representations American Representations
Remarks
[+{ }] ll+{ } l+{ }
[u*l[] jeweller jeweler free variants
[trv] travelling traveling free variants
[w)
r
p[] worshipper worshiper free variants
[w)
r
p] worshipping worshiping free variants

The corpus shows that free variants can be formed by deleting one of the double
graphemic clusters, <ll>+ and <pp>, from a disyllabic stem which is suffixed with a
vowel-initial bound morpheme, and primarily stressed on the initial syllable. That is, the
grapheme <l> or <p> in the double graphemes can be deleted in a post-tonic syllable (after a
stressed vowel).

4.6 Graphemic Metathesis: <re> vs. <er>
Word pairs cited below deal with graphemic metathesis in which the word-final
graphemes <re> can be transposed into the graphemes<er>.

(1) Disyllabic words with word-final: <bre> vs. <ber>
In the table below are mono-morphemic words ending in the graphemes <bre> and
the graphemes <ber>.

(i) Preceded by a vowel grapheme
Words cited in the table as a corpus are disyllabic words ending in the graphemes
<bre> and <ber>.

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations
Remarks
[[] re er
[fab[] fibre fiber free variants
[seb[] sabre saber free variants

The corpus shows that free variants can be formed in disyllabic words ending in a
vowel grapheme plus the graphemes <bre>. The word-final <re> can be transposed
into <er>, when immediately preceded by (primary) stress.

(ii) Preceded by a consonant grapheme
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Words cited in the table as a corpus are disyllabic words ending in the graphemes
<mbre> and <mber>.

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations
American Representations
Remarks
[[] re er
[smb[] sombre somber free variants
[tmb[] timbre timber free variants

The corpus shows that free variants can be formed in disyllabic words ending in the
grapheme <m> plus the graphemes <bre>. The word-final <re> can be transposed
into <er>, when immediately preceded by (primary) stress.

(iii) Trisyllabic words with word-final: <bre> vs. <ber>

Below are mono-morphemic words with three syllables that end in the
graphemes <bre> and <ber>.

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations
American Representations
Remarks
[[] re er
[klib[] calibre caliber free variants
[m*kb[] macabre macaber free variants

The corpus shows that free variants can be observed in trisyllabic words ending in the
word-final graphemes <bre>. The word-final <re> can be transposed into <er>, when
immediately preceded by (primary) stress.

(2) Disyllabic words with word-final: <tre> vs. <ter>
Below are disyllabic words that end in the graphemes <tre> and <ter>, and whose
primary stress falls on the penultimate (initial) syllable.

(i) Preceded by a vowel grapheme
Below are mono-morphemic words with two syllables that end in the
graphemes <tre> and <ter>.

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations
Remarks
[[] er er
18
[mit[] metre meter free variants
[*t[] theatre theater free variants
[mat[] mitre miter free variants
[lt[] litre liter free variants

The corpus shows that free variants can be formed in disyllabic words ending in the
graphemes <tre> preceded by a vowel grapheme. The word-final graphemes <er> can be
transposed into the graphemes <re>.

(ii) Preceded by a consonant grapheme
Below are mono-morphemic words with two syllables that end in the
graphemes <tre> and <ter>.

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations
American Representations
Remarks
[[] re er
[snt[] centre center free variants
[spt[] sceptre scepter free variants
[lst[] lustre luster free variants

The corpus shows that free variants can be formed in disyllabic words ending in a
consonant grapheme plus the graphemes <tre>. The word-final <re> can be transposed
into <er>, when immediately preceded by (primary) stress.

(3) Disyllabic words with the final other than <bre>, and <tre>

(i) Disyllabic words with the final <cre>
Words cited below are monosyllabic words that end in the graphemes <cre>.

Phonetic Transcriptions
British Representations American Representations
[k[] re re
[ek[] acre acre
[nek[] nacre nacre

The corpus shows that no graphemic metathesis occurs to word endings with the
graphemes <re> preceded by stress and the grapheme <c>.
NB. The graphemic cluster is kept intact to prevent the grapheme <c> from being
phonetically realized as [s], the alveolar fricative.
19

(ii) Disyllabic words with the final <bre>, and <tre>
Words below are mono-morphemic, disyllabic words that end in graphemes <re>
preceded by consonant graphemes other than the three graphemes <b>, <c>, and <t>.

Phonetic Transcriptions British Representations American Representations
[[] re re
[kedr] cadre cadre
[Lnr] genre genre
[pedr] padre padre

The corpus shows that no free variants occur to mono-morphemic words of Latin
origin, which contain two syllables ending in <re> preceded by a consonant other
than <b>, <c>, and <t>, though the words are stressed on a penultimate (initial)
syllable.

(v) Overall Observations of Sec. 4.5
Graphemic metathesis is restricted to word endings in mono-morphemic,
dis/trisyllabic words ending. The word-final <bre> and <tre> in British English are
transposed into <ber> and <ter> in American free variant in a post-tonic syllable (which is
immediately preceded by primary stress).

4.6 Formulaic Rules with Prose Statement
The rules formulated from observations can be collapsed into four variable rules with
prose statements to indicate how American free variants are derived from their respective
British English cognates.

(1) Graphemic Deletion
The graphemic deletion occurs in a post-tonic syllable in disyllabic and trisyllabic
words.

i. Stress plus -<gue> vs. -<g>
l ana^logue ana^log
ue / C
0
V
1
C
1
V
1
{ o + g ___}#
^ g [+mute] syna^gogue syna^gog

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The silent graphemes <ue> preceded by primary stress can be deleted from the
word-final <gue>, restricted to the morphemes +{^logue} and +{^gogue}.

ii. Stress plus <our> vs. <or>
labour labor
u / C
1
V
1
C
1
(i)o___ r {+,#} favourite favorite
demeanour demeanor
behaviourismbehaviorism
The grapheme <u> is deleted or abstracted from graphemes restricted to the
stem/word final <(i)our> preceded by primary stress.

iii. Stress plus <ll>+, or <pp>+
l 1 jeweller jeweler
/ C
1
V
1
C
1
V
1
___ + {V}#
p p worshipped worshiped

One of the double graphemes <ll>+ or <pp>+ preceded by primary stress can be
deleted from stems which are suffixed with a vowel-initial bound morpheme.

(2) Graphemic metathesis: <re> vs. <er>

The graphemic metathesis occurs in a post-tonic syllable in disyllabic and trisyllabic
words.

b fibre fiber
<re> <er> / C
1
V
1
C
0
< > ___ #
t calibre caliber

The word-final graphemes <bre> and <tre> preceded by primary stress can be
transposed into the graphemes <ber> and the graphemes <ter>.

V. Summary and Discussion

Free variants, at the first glance, appear anomalous. As conciseness in graphemic
representation, American free variants are derived from British counterparts in disyllabic or
trisyllabic words.
Variations of British and American free variants are subject to stress location,
supplemented with word-final post-tonic graphemes, such as <our>, +{^logue},
21
+{^gogue}.<bre>, <tre>, <l>+, and <p>+.

1. The grapheme <u> can be deleted from a graphemic cluster restricted to the
word-final <our> in dis/trisyllabic words;
2. The silent word-final graphemes <ue> can be deleted from trisyllabic words ending
in <gue> in the bound root morphemes +{^logue} and +{^gogue};
3. The final grapheme <l>+ or <p>+ can be deleted from their respective double graphemes,
when suffixed with a vowel-initial bound morpheme; and
4. Word-finals restricted to <bre> or <tre> can be transposed into the graphemes <ber>
or <ter> in mono-morphemic words with two syllables.

The word-final <que> remain intact; the silent graphemes <ue> cannot be deleted.
The feasible explanation is that the grapheme <q> is constantly followed by the
grapheme <u>, regardless of word position.
Transliteration leads to a few equal variants from loan words, as in racquet
alternating with racket. However, those words including <k> are slightly more common
than those containing <qu>, in terms of variants.
The graphemic deletion and metathesis occur only immediately after a stressed
syllable. As illustrated, armour [rm[] can alternate with armor [rm[] with
the grapheme <o> deleted, whereas amour [*mr] cannot alternate with *amor
[*mr], in that penultimate stress falls on the former pairs of words, while the latter word
takes ultimate stress.
Nevertheless, caution should be taken that in the formation of free variants, American
free variants are derived from British variants as cognates. A reverse or opposite practice in
the insertion or metathesis is likely to result in forming a non-existent word: a lexical gap.

Table 1
Lexical Gaps: <u> added to <or>

phonetic transcription words ending in <o> lexical gap: <u> inserted
[ jur[] juror *jurour
[mr[] mirror *mirrour
[sz[z] scissors *scissours


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Table 2
Lexical Gaps: <ue> added to <g>

phonetic transcription
words ending in <g> lexical gap: <ue> added
[egOg] a^gog *a^gogue
[kr^nOg] cran^nog *cran^nogue
[skr*t*^gOg] secreta^gog *secreta^gogue


Table 3
Lexical Gaps: <ue> added to <g>

phonetic transcription stems ending in <l> lexical lap: <l> added
[sak*l] cycling *cyclling
[Nsl[] whistler *whistller
[kans] counseling *consolling


Table 4
Lexical Gaps: <er> transposed to <re>

phonetic transcription words ending in <er> lexical gap: <re> transposed
[ lt[] shelter *sheltre
[dzst[] disaster *disastre
[nmb[] number *numbre

The words cited in the tables 1-3 above can support that despite the identical phonetic
transcriptions, variants cannot be formed by having grapheme <u> inserted to the
grapheme <or> or the grapheme <er> transposed into the grapheme <re> before the word
boundary.

VI. Conclusion

The current survey reveals that English vocabulary is sophisticated. Nevertheless, the
formation of free variants as synonyms is rule-governed, and thus predictable. Graphemic
deletion and metathesis are analogically changed in a post-tonic syllable. The essential
phonological features are linguistic factors associated with particular word-final graphemic
23
environments including particular bound root morphemes. On top of these, the graphemic
changes occur in a post-tonic syllable in non-monosyllables: disyllables and trisyllables.

1. Graphemic metathesis:
Graphemic metathesis occurs only to the non-monosyllabic word-final <bre> and
<tre> can be transposed into <ber> and <ter>, and
2. Graphemic deletion:
Graphemic deletion occurs to
(1) The grapheme <u> in the stem/word-final <our> or <iour>.
(2)The stem-final <l>+ or <p>+ in the double <ll>+ or <pp>+, which takes a
vowel-initial suffix.
(3) The silent final <ue> in the bound morphemes +{^logue} and +{^gogue}.
All in all, the importance of word stress could not be overemphasized in the
derivation of American English free variants from British English counterparts. The two
major graphemic changes with learner-friendly variable rules can serve as a useful reference
to familiarity with the coinage or formation of English free variants.


24

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