VDELVenereal Disease Experimental Laboratory
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We will take note of certain quirks in the VDEL `rule' such as the observation that the positive form of the modal (vee)num loses its -v- (and the following vowel) but the negative form veendaam does not (no.
As noted, LT has its own `spelling pronunciation' based on the orthography of the literary dialect and does not exhibit the phenomenon of VDEL, so its occurrence is one of the clear indicators that the speech specimen is a token of ST rather than LT.(6)
The weak/strong distinction is expressed with the same tense-lax consonantal contrasts in other areas of Tamil morphology, and it is in some of these that we can find crucial examples related to intervocalic VDEL. These two other areas are in derivational morphology (deverbal nouns) and in the causative formation.
It is in these two areas of the grammar, deverbal nominalization and causative formation, that we get differential VDEL. Imperative forms of the (w) causative verbs, if they occur at all (see below), show the present of -v-, but inflected forms like the past do not.(17)
This example raises the question of whether certain derived nouns are `lexically prime' or are derived by grammatical rules that operate within the lexicon.(18) Whatever the case may be, such forms appear post-lexically with their intervocalic -v-s intact, even if at some stage in the lexicon, intervocalic VDEL is seen to apply.
Whatever the case may be, if there is a rule of VDEL in the lexicon, it must either precede LENITION (which anyway, being gradient and `automatic', applies in the post-lexical component) or else applies in highly specified morphological environments and domains.
We have seen examples above of VDEL applying to aspectual verbs and verbal compounds where [v] occurs at the left edge of the morpheme.
LT, as already mentioned, does not show evidence of VDEL, though it does show LENITION; that is, the spelling pronunciation of LT shows LENITION: the LT form [pookireen] is pronounced [po:hire:n], not [po:kire:n].
Crucial in the discussion of whether VDEL applies to aspectual (v)idu is the question of the underlying form of this morpheme.
Thus in forms like the negative conditional,(29) which has the LT form -aavittaal, contrasting with the ST form -aattaa(l), we simply treat the ST form as having undergone the historical intervocalic VDEL rule.
Nevertheless, VDEL must be considered to be a phonological rule of ST, even if we do not allow every historical instance of it to have a "free ride" on the VDEL rule.
Let us now look in some detail at unpredictable variation in VDEL.