Has this ever happened? Can it happen? I'm a novice in linguistics and I'm trying to study sound changes.

  • Are you asking for a sound change that voiced stops between vowels, but didn't voice obstruents between vowels, or a sound change that voiced stops between vowels, but didn't voice stops between obstruents? – Draconis Dec 7 '20 at 16:50
  • I'm asking for a sound change that changed voiceless stops into voiced stops but didn't voice fricatives. Sorry, I meant to write fricatives instead of obstruents. – Sarāntairi Dec 7 '20 at 16:52

It depends on what you mean by "sound change", as distinct from "correspondence relationship". There is a general analytic framework set forth in R. Kirchner's dissertation that explains the individual steps in lenitions, and I think it is quite applicable to these phenomena. As an example, a number of languages of Cameroon and Nigeria (e.g. Beti-Fang language, Kenyang, Ibibio and Efik) seem to have intervocalic voicing + spirantization, which acts stem-medial stops (and apparently only stops). Closer scrutiny shows that actually there is a "shortening" of the consonant where closure duration is radically reduced – the initial impetus is something about rhythmic organization of speech. The appearance of voicing (and spirantization) involves secondary developments, with voicing "bleeding through" to the stop, and with incomplete closure owing to the very short time-slot allotted to the consonant. (In Ntumu and probably other languages, this in fact results in regular nasals becoming "fast" nasals). This rule in Ntumu does not affect final /s/.

If this is how "intervocalic voicing" develops generally, then correspondence relations like *p,t,k → b,d,g would have as the first step in the change *p,t,k → p̆,t̆,k̆ /V_V, then other phonetic processes contributing to a phonological correspondence of earlier p to later b. That is, "no, it can't happen" because the phonetic causes are more complex.

A complicating factor is knowing that you actually have voicing. Danish may have such a process: or it may not (is "b" [p] or [b]?).

  • alright, but why does standard american english have words like /ɹ̠eɪsi:/ but also words like /vɪʒn̩/ then? – Sarāntairi Dec 7 '20 at 17:37
  • 1
    Intervocalic voicing in Old English is an old sound change, which is long done with. "Vision" was borrowed from Old French with a voiced fricative so that is about how voicing originated in Romance. "Racy" is a 17th c. invention derives from race, itself a French loan with [s] (because it was not intervocalic in French). The Romance source of race is itself not crystal clear, but may come from Latin ratiō. – user6726 Dec 7 '20 at 18:01

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