I lost $10 to Colin Wilson the other day. We bet on what the correct definition of “Rule A counterbleeds Rule B” is; specifically, which rule is A and which rule is B in a counterbleeding relationship. We agreed on a particular source as arbiter, and this source defined “A counterbleeds B” in the way Colin did, and so Colin won.

For various reasons (not the least of which was having lost $10), I got interested in just how very wrong I was, and so I did a little digging — but only a little, since I’m away from my usual sources at the moment and I don’t have time for extensive googling or anything like that. But I observed two interesting things in this little bit of digging:

  1. At least in the more recent literature and in class notes available online, it’s more common to see use of only the -ing form counterbleeding; e.g., “rules A and B are in a counterbleeding relationship”. This side-steps the “A counterbleeds B” problem.

  2. In the relatively fewer sources that explitly make a statement like “A counterbleeds B” (equivalently, “B is counterbled by A”) there is disagreement. Some identify A and B like Colin does, some like I do.

I’ll reveal the bet-winning definition in a later post (as well as the source Colin and I used as arbiter). In the meantime, I’d like to ask all phonoloblog readers to consider the counterbleeding relationship described below and to write to me (phonoloblog#gmail|com) saying which rule you think counterbleeds the other. I’d prefer “unrehearsed” replies; if you end up looking it up somewhere, I’d appreciate it if you let me know (i) where and (ii) whether or not your intuition agreed with that definition. I won’t reveal anyone’s identity unless you specifically say that I can.

Suppose that vowels are longer before (a) voiced consonants and (b) word-finally devoiced obstruents than before (underlyingly) voiceless obstruents. This looks like a case of counterbleeding: if Devoicing had preceded Lengthening, then Devoicing would have bled Lengthening; therefore, Lengthening precedes Devoicing. But which of the following would you say?

  • Lengthening counterbleeds Devoicing.

  • Devoicing counterbleeds Lengthening.

Note that the above description could also be analyzed as counterfeeding between Shortening and Devoicing. This point was technically not part of the bet between Colin and me, but if you want to add to the fun, which of the following would you say?

  • Shortening counterfeeds Devoicing.

  • Devoicing counterfeeds Shortening.

I’ll post an update later this month.

2 thoughts on “Countering

  1. Pingback: phonoloblog » Counterpunch

  2. Pingback: phonoloblog»Blog Archive » X Counter{bl/f}eeds Y

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