so my teacher asked us to make the phonological rules like this:

*pinta → winta 'arm'

answer : in rules expressing sound changes: p > w / #_ (initial [p] becomes [w])

but I still confused with this Javanese dialect:

*andɛk → cəndhɛk ‘short’

Here is the rule I tried to write. please correct me if i am wrong:

*andɛk → cəndhɛk

*a > c / #_

*a > ə / #_

*Ø > h / d

  • 2
    Welcome to Linguistics! Please specify the language of these words. Also, we love questions that demonstrate your own research effort; questions like "do my (home-)work for me" may attract downvotes and get eventually closed. Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 0:48
  • i've edited my question. could you help me, please? sorry for my bad english, english is not my native language
    – Haileen
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 1:06
  • I'm surprised that they would make you write rules with so little data. I mean, you could write rules but they would be one of many possible interpretations. P.S. To follow up on bytebuster's comment above, I think it would be helpful if you said: "Here is what I think is happening. Here is the rule I tried to write. Please verify if this is right." Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 3:41
  • I just learned this, so still confused
    – Haileen
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 4:07
  • Thanks for the edit; I think someone should be able to answer it now. Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 5:27

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, there's no good answer for this question without additional data. With only one data point, you could write a phonological rule like:

andɛk → cəndhɛk / #_#

In other words, a rule that specifically changes this word and this word only. Such a rule is absurd, of course, but with only a single data point, can you prove it wrong?

The key will be getting more data. I would assume your assignment includes more data from this same Javanese dialect. Perhaps others show that /a/ turns into /cə/ at the beginnings of words. In that case, you could write:

a → cə / #_

Or maybe /a/ turns into /ə/ before /n/, and then /c/ is inserted before vowels at the start of words.

a → ə / _n
∅ → c / #_

Perhaps /d/ turns into /dh/ (which I'm assuming is meant to be a breathy-voiced /dʱ/? though that doesn't really matter) only after /n/:

d → dh / n_

Or perhaps it happens before /ɛ/ in particular, or even all front vowels:

d → dh / _[+front]

Or maybe it just happens everywhere!

d → dh / _

Only by looking at more data can you figure out which of these, if any, are accurate.


Draconis spelled out some of the problems in trying to decide what the specific rules are, given a lack of data. I'd like to address the question of whether there are rules at all. The teacher seems to have given a model of such a "rule", where *pinta → winta 'arm'. The use of the star tells me that this is historical change, this is not about phonological rules; the reconstructed form is *pinta, and some set of sound changes gave winta. The question is, what are those changes? If the exercise is about historical change, the rules of the game are very different from synchronic phonological analysis. A possible solution to a p-to-w change is p→pʰ→φ→ʍ→w.

In Javanese, there is a contrast between dental and retroflex, the latter notated with an added h. If we assume that the reconstructed root is *andek, there are four questions to be answered: what is the cause of the initial consonant, how did the stop become retroflex, why did the first vowel become schwa, and why did e become [ɛ] in a closed syllable (this is an actual phonological of Javanese)? We also have to know what dialect of Javanese this is.

There is a somewhat-open question as to whether proto-Austronesian has retroflex as well as alveolar consonants: therefore the assumption that the historical input has an alveolar cannot be made gratuitously. Blust claims that it is common in Austronesian for t to be postdental and for d to be alveolar (he objects to calling the back linguals "retroflex"), where Javanese innovated the contrast by filling in voiced postdentals and voiceless alveolars (due to large-scale borrowing). The presence of a retroflex consonant in Javanese is often taken to be evidence of loanword status. The question "how did d→ɖ?" assumes, without evidence, that this is a sound change. But if this is a loan word, then the correlation has a different interpretation – ɖ is the ordinary re-interpretation of a "foreign" lingual voiced stop, upon borrowing into Javanese.

Blust's book is an excellent starting for figuring our how these changes might have come about. But before trying to figure out how something happened, you need evidence that something did happen: reconstructions, like synchronic underlying forms, are not self-evident or God-given.

  • thank u for your explanation sir..
    – Haileen
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 12:31

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