Mousehole memories

As you can see from the map, the village of Mousehole is due south of Penzance and is about 2.5 miles (4km) away. The name is pronounced ˈmaʊzl and is thought to be a reference to a cavern in the cliffs nearby. The original Cornish name is Porthenys (pronounced pərˈθenɪs), which means “island cove”.

I’m pretty sure I’ve written about Mousehole here before , but what has prompted me this time is the discovery of an interesting short film about the place. It was made by The British Council and was released in 1943. The film is part of a large collection of films made by The British Council and can be viewed for free here. The village is not actually named in the film, but there is absolutely no doubt that it is Mousehole.

The British Council website looks very interesting, but I haven’t had time to investigate it thoroughly yet. Apart from the historical interest of what life was like in the 1940s in England, there is the added bonus that some of the narration for the films is in beautiful antique RP.

Map credit: Google Maps.

PTLC2015 Proceedings

The proceedings of the Phonetics Teaching and Learning Conference held at UCL 5-7 August this year are now available online here. The ebook version will appear in the near future.

The proceedings for previous meetings from 2005-2013 are also availabe. There are plans to republish the proceedings of the conferences held in 1999 and 2001.

Many thanks are due to Michael Ashby.

Cluster fun

Petr Rösel’s latest post deals with variations in the pronunciation of the word length. He points out quite rightly that it can be pronounced leŋθ, leŋkθ , lenθ or lentθ. The same sort of variation also applies to the word strength.

I have always thought it a shame not to pronounce strength with a three-term final cluster – ŋkθ or ntθ, because this means that the plural of the word is a maximal monosyllable for GB English. By this I mean that it is not possible to have more consonants than seven in a syllable, three at the beginning and four at the end. This is what we have in streŋkθs or strentθs and as far as I know this is the only English word like this.

Phonetic Adventure

More as a bit of nostalgia than anything else I acquired a couple of months ago BBC Basic for Windows. I bought a BBC Micro (pictured) in about 1983 and had lots of fun with it. It turns out that BBC Basic has been available on various platforms all the time since it was first released. The first Windows version was released by R.T.Russel in 2001 and version 6 is the one I have. It is now a very sophisticated programming language.

One of the things about BB4W that caught my attention was the ability to produce stand-alone applications from one’s programs. This means they can be distributed to anyone with a Windows machine, even if they have not got BB4W installed. In order to re-acquaint myself with BBC Basic I have written an old-style adventure game. This is in the tradition of the original 1970s Adventure (also called Colossal Cave or Colossal Cavern). For those not familiar with this sort of game, the player can interact with the program by typing simple commands. For instance, north may take you to another location in the game’s universe. Another example: take ring, assuming there is a ring present at the current location, will add the ring to your list of possessions. Part of the fun of the game is finding out what you can and can’t do.

The only difference between my game and those of the 1970s and 80s is the program’s output is in GB phonemic transcription rather than English orthography. The player, however, must use normal spelling for input. If you like this sort of thing, you can download the game here. This will deliver a 1.81mb zip archive called You should then extract all the files in the archive to the same folder on your computer. There are 5 files: phon_adv.exe, readmefirst.txt, goldallo.bmp, alloblank.bmp and zara.wav.

The game is called, rather unadventurously, Phonetic Adventure. I am sure I have perpetrated some typos in there somewhere. I’d be grateful to know about them if you find any and also to know what you think of the game.

Photo credit: Stuart Brady. In the public domain.