I’ve been reading Ken Lodge’s new book sporadically in my lunchtimes (A Critical Introduction to Phonetics). It’s not exactly what I expected it would be like, but gives plenty of useful insights. For any phon-people reading, Lodge has two articles on thorny subjects which are extremely interesting and provocative – ‘Some handy notes on phonology’ in the Journal of Linguistics (1997), and ‘Timing, segmental status, and aspiration in Icelandic’ in Transactions of the Philological Society, 2007.
Anyway, here’s one of the by-the-way comments in his Critical Introduction:
“There is a strange tendency among British radio and television newsreaders and reporters who, of course, are reading out their texts, to stress the final syllable of a sentence or clause, irrespective of its structure (and meaning). … For example, I once heard an item about a threatened petrol crisis in East Anglia, which was soon going ‘to hit the [fɔ ˈkɔts]’. This can only be understood as four courts, which, of course, is nonsense in this context; forecourts can only be [ˈfɔkɔts] …” (p118)
This isn’t something that’s ever particularly struck me (but maybe I’m listening to the wrong things). But there was one distinctly odd time when the travel report said that there were delays and closures on some road in England, due to “a lorry with a shedload.” I fully processed the thought, “a shedload of what?” before realising it must have actually been a lorry with a shed load.