Language Log » "Quid pro crow"

Mai 18, às 14:33


2 min de leitura


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« previous post | next post » In Maria Bartiromo's recent interview with James Comer (R-KY), there's an interesting speech error — "quid pro crow" for "quid pro quo": This being Language Log rather...
Language Log » "Quid pro crow"

« previous post | next post »

In Maria Bartiromo's recent interview with James Comer (R-KY), there's an interesting speech error — "quid pro crow" for "quid pro quo":

This being Language Log rather than Making Fun Of Politicians Log, I'm going to start by assuming that this was a slip of the tongue rather than an inadequate command of legal Latin — specifically, a speech error involving perseveration of the consonant+/r/ onset cluster from "pro" to "quo":

It's possible that there was some Freudian priming of the slip, based on reverberations of Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Stern's clever 4/13/2023 Slate title "Quid Pro Crow", about the relationship of Clarence Thomas and Harlan Crow.

But in any case, once attention is drawn to this phrase, it has some phonetic properties worth highlighting.

To start with, it's a nice example of pre-boundary lengthening — crow is more than twice as long as pro:

Another phonetic point is this phrase's illustration of why minimum and maximum values of fundamental frequency are (always) artifacts, or at least profoundly uninteresting numbers. Even after careful instructions to Praat to choose minimum and maximum f0 estimation values suitable for Comer's voice in this interview, the minimum and maximum values in this phrase represent scattered points caused by (imperceptible) interactions between laryngeal oscillation and vocal tract closures:

And a histogram of F0 estimates also suggests why the mean value is generally not a great summary statistic:

Then there's the whole question of how to characterize the phrase's intonational pattern — but that's a topic for another time.

May 16, 2023 @ 8:42 am · Filed by Mark Liberman under Psychology of language


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