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|Sound change and alternation|
A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement of one speech sound (or, more generally, one phonetic feature value) by a different one (called phonetic change) or a more general change to the speech sounds that exist ( phonological change ), such as the merger of two sounds or the creation of a new sound.
A sound change can completely eliminate the affected sound, or a new sound can be added. Sound changes can be environmentally conditioned if the change occurs in only some sound environments, and not others.
The term "sound change" refers to diachronic changes, which occur in a language's sound system over time. On the other hand, "alternation" refers to changes that happen synchronically (within the language of an individual speaker, depending on the neighbouring sounds) and do not change the language's underlying system (for example, the -s in the English plural can be pronounced differently depending on the preceding sound, as in bet[s], bed[z], which is a form of alternation, rather than sound change). However, since "sound change" can refer to the historical introduction of an alternation (such as postvocalic /k/ in the Tuscan dialect, which was once [k] as in di [k]arlo 'of Carlo' but is now [h] di [h]arlo and alternates with [k] in other positions: con [k]arlo 'with Carlo'), that label is inherently imprecise and must often be clarified as referring to either phonemic change or restructuring.
Research on sound change is usually conducted under the working assumption that it is regular, which means that it is expected to apply mechanically whenever its structural conditions are met, irrespective of any non-phonological factors like the meaning of the words that are affected. However, apparent exceptions to regular change can occur because of dialect borrowing, grammatical analogy, or other causes known and unknown, and some changes are described as "sporadic" and so they affect only one or a few particular words, without any apparent regularity.
The Neogrammarian linguists of the 19th century introduced the term "sound law" to refer to rules of regular change, perhaps in imitation of the laws of physics,and the term "law" is still used in referring to specific sound rules that are named after their authors like Grimm's Law, Grassmann's Law etc. Real-world sound changes often admit exceptions, but the expectation of their regularity or absence of exceptions is of great heuristic value by allowing historical linguists to define the notion of regular correspondence by the comparative method.
Each sound change is limited in space and time and so it functions in a limited area (within certain dialects) and for a limited period of time. For those and other reasons, the term "sound law" has been criticized for implying a universality that is unrealistic for to sound change.
A sound change that affects the phonological system or the number or the distribution of its phonemes is a phonological change.
The following statements are used as heuristics in formulating sound changes as understood within the Neogrammarian model. However, for modern linguistics, they are not taken as inviolable rules but are seen as guidelines.
Sound change has no memory: sound change does not discriminate between the sources of a sound. If a previous sound change causes X,Y > Y (features X and Y merge as Y), a new one cannot affect only an original X.
Sound change ignores grammar: a sound change can have only phonological constraints, like X > Z in unstressed syllables. For example, it cannot only affect adjectives. The only exception to this is that a sound change may or may not recognise word boundaries, even when they are not indicated by prosodic clues. Also, sound changes may be regularized in inflectional paradigms (such as verbal inflection), in which case the change is no longer phonological but morphological in nature.
Sound change is exceptionless: if a sound change can happen at a place, it will. It affects all sounds that meet the criteria for change. Apparent exceptions are possible, because of analogy and other regularization processes, another sound change, or an unrecognized conditioning factor. That is the traditional view expressed by the Neogrammarians. In past decades, however, it has been shown that sound change does not necessarily affect all possible words. However, when a sound change is initiated, it often eventually expands to the whole lexicon. For example, the Spanish fronting of the Vulgar Latin [g] (voiced velar stop) before [i e ɛ] seems to have reached every possible word. By contrast, the voicing of word-initial Latin [k] to [g] occurred in colaphus > golpe and cattus > gato but not in canna > caña. See also lexical diffusion.
Sound change is inevitable: All languages vary from place to place and time to time, and neither writing nor media prevents that change.
A statement of the form
is to be read, "Sound A changes into (or is replaced by, is reflected as, etc) sound B". Therefore, A belongs to an older stage of the language in question, and B belongs to a more recent stage. The symbol ">" can be reversed, B < A, which also means that the (more recent) B derives from the (older) A":
The two sides of such a statement indicate only the start and the end of the change, but additional intermediate stages may have occurred. The example above is actually a compressed account of a sequence of changes: *[t] first changed to [θ] (like the initial consonant of English thin), which has since yielded [f] and can be represented more fully:
Unless a change operates unconditionally (in all environments), the context in which it applies must be specified:
Here is a second example:
The symbol "#" stands for a word boundary (initial or final) and so the notation "/__#" means "word-finally", and "/#__" means "word-initially":
That can be simplified to
in which P stands for any plosive.
In historical linguistics, a number of traditional terms designate types of phonetic change, either by nature or result. A number of such types are often (or usually) sporadic, that is, more or less accidents that happen to a specific form. Others affect a whole phonological system. Sound changes that affect a whole phonological system are also classified according to how they affect the overall shape of the system; see phonological change .
In phonology, an allophone is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds, or phones, or signs used to pronounce a single phoneme in a particular language. For example, in English, and the aspirated form are allophones for the phoneme, while these two are considered to be different phonemes in some languages such as Thai and Hindi. On the other hand, in Spanish, and are allophones for the phoneme, while these two are considered to be different phonemes in English.
Verner's law described a historical sound change in the Proto-Germanic language whereby consonants that would usually have been the voiceless fricatives *f, *þ, *s, *h, *hʷ, following an unstressed syllable, became the voiced fricatives *β, *ð, *z, *ɣ, *ɣʷ. The law was formulated by Karl Verner, and first published in 1877.
In linguistics, an elision or deletion is broadly defined as the omission of one or more sounds in a word or phrase. However, it is also used to refer more narrowly to cases where two words are run together by the omission of a final sound. An example is the elision of word-final /t/ in English if it is preceded and followed by a consonant: ‘first light’ is often pronounced /fɜ:s laɪt/. Many other terms are used to refer to particular cases where sounds are omitted.
In linguistics, lenition is a sound change that alters consonants, making them more sonorous. The word lenition itself means "softening" or "weakening". Lenition can happen both synchronically and diachronically. Lenition can involve such changes as voicing a voiceless consonant, causing a consonant to relax occlusion, to lose its place of articulation, or even causing a consonant to disappear entirely.
Assimilation is a sound change in which some phonemes change to be more similar to other nearby sounds. It is a common type of phonological process across languages. Assimilation can occur either within a word or between words. It occurs in normal speech, and it becomes more common in more rapid speech. In some cases, assimilation causes the sound spoken to differ from the normal pronunciation in isolation, such as the prefix in- of English input pronounced with phonetic [m] rather than [n]. In other cases, the change is accepted as canonical for that word or phrase, especially if it is recognized in standard spelling: implant pronounced with [m], composed historically of in + plant.
The phonology of the Irish language varies from dialect to dialect; there is no standard pronunciation of Irish. Therefore, this article focuses on phenomena that pertain generally to most or all dialects, and on the major differences among the dialects. Detailed discussion of the dialects can be found in the specific articles: Ulster Irish, Connacht Irish, and Munster Irish.
The phonology of Portuguese varies among dialects, in extreme cases leading to some difficulties in intelligibility. This article focuses on the pronunciations that are generally regarded as standard. Since Portuguese is a pluricentric language, and differences between European Portuguese (EP), Brazilian Portuguese (BP) and Angolan Portuguese (AP) can be considerable, varieties are distinguished whenever necessary.
Osage is a Siouan language that was spoken by the Osage people of Oklahoma.
In phonology, epenthesis means the addition of one or more sounds to a word, especially to the interior of a word. The word epenthesis comes from epi- "in addition to" and en "in" and thesis "putting". Epenthesis may be divided into two types: excrescence for the addition of a consonant, and for the addition of a vowel, svarabhakti or alternatively anaptyxis. The opposite process, where one or more sounds are removed, is referred to as elision.
In phonology, particularly within historical linguistics, dissimilation is a phenomenon whereby similar consonants or vowels in a word become less similar. In English, dissimilation is particularly common with liquid consonants such as /r/ and /l/ when they occur in a sequence.
The phonological history of the English language includes various changes in the phonology of consonant clusters.
Compensatory lengthening in phonology and historical linguistics is the lengthening of a vowel sound that happens upon the loss of a following consonant, usually in the syllable coda, or of a vowel in an adjacent syllable. Lengthening triggered by consonant loss may be considered an extreme form of fusion. Both types may arise from speakers' attempts to preserve a word's moraic count.
In linguistics, assibilation is a sound change resulting in a sibilant consonant. It is a form of spirantization and is commonly the final phase of palatalization.
Prenasalized consonants are phonetic sequences of a nasal and an obstruent that behave phonologically like single consonants. The primary reason for considering them to be single consonants, rather than clusters as in English finger or member, lies in their behaviour; however, there may also be phonetic correlates which distinguish prenasalized consonants from clusters. Because of the additional difficulty in both articulation and timing, prenasalized fricatives and sonorants are not as common as prenasalized stops or affricates, and the presence of the former implies the latter.
Like many other languages, English has wide variation in pronunciation, both historically and from dialect to dialect. In general, however, the regional dialects of English share a largely similar phonological system. Among other things, most dialects have vowel reduction in unstressed syllables and a complex set of phonological features that distinguish fortis and lenis consonants.
In historical linguistics, phonological change is any sound change that alters the distribution of phonemes in a language. In other words, a language develops a new system of oppositions among its phonemes. Old contrasts may disappear, new ones may emerge, or they may simply be rearranged. Sound change may be an impetus for changes in the phonological structures of a language. One process of phonological change is rephonemicization, in which the distribution of phonemes changes by either addition of new phonemes or a reorganization of existing phonemes. Mergers and splits are types of rephonemicization and are discussed further below.
The phonology of the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) has been reconstructed by linguists, based on the similarities and differences among current and extinct Indo-European languages. Because PIE was not written, linguists must rely on the evidence of its earliest attested descendants, such as Hittite, Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, and Latin, to reconstruct its phonology.
Hindustani is the lingua franca of northern India and Pakistan, and through its two standardized registers, Hindi and Urdu, a co-official language of India and co-official and national language of Pakistan respectively. Phonological differences between the two standards are minimal.
This article is about the sound system of the Navajo language. The phonology of Navajo is intimately connected to its morphology. For example, the entire range of contrastive consonants is found only at the beginning of word stems. In stem-final position and in prefixes, the number of contrasts is drastically reduced. Similarly, vowel contrasts found outside of the stem are significantly neutralized. For details about the morphology of Navajo, see Navajo grammar.
In phonology, voicing is a sound change where a voiceless consonant becomes voiced due to the influence of its phonological environment; shift in the opposite direction is referred to as devoicing or desonorization. Most commonly, the change is a result of sound assimilation with an adjacent sound of opposite voicing, but it can also occur word-finally or in contact with a specific vowel.