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In my question https://chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/47777/meaning-of-early-written-versions-of-%E5%9C%B0-and-etymology, I learned that the modern character for "earth, ground"「地」(dì) used to be written in a multitude of ways, using either 「也」,「豕」, or「它」as phonetic components. Compare the Baxter-Sagart reconstructions of the OC (Old Chinese) pronunciations:「也」(/*lAjʔ/) ,「豕」(/*l̥ajʔ/) , and「它」(/*l̥ˤaj/). Compare also the reconstruction pathways from Old Chinese to Middle Chinese of the following characters derived from「也」or「它」(copied from https://chinese.stackexchange.com/a/17067/18338):

Character    Mandarin    Cantonese    Hokkien       Middle Ch.   Old Ch.
也           yě          jaa5 / yáh   iā             yæX         *lAjʔ
他           tā          taa1 / tā    tha/thaⁿ       tha         *l̥ ˤaj
地           dì          dei6 / deih  tè/tē/tōe/tī   dijH        *[l]ˤej-s
池           chí         ci4 / chìh   tî             drje        *Cə.lraj 
蛇           shé         se4 / sèh    chôa / siâ     zyæ         *Cə.lAj
施           shī         si1 / sī     si/sì          sye         *l̥ aj
馳           chí         ci4 / chìh   tî             drje        *lraj
紽           tuó         to4 / tòh    tô             da          *lˁaj                                      
匜           yí          ji4 / yìh    î              ye          *laj 

The author of that answer grouped these modern Mandarin sounds into 4 groups: shi/chi/she, tuo/ta, ye/yi, and finally di, so 4 "groups" of sounds derived from the Old Chinese homophones「也」(/*lAjʔ/) ,「豕」(/*l̥ajʔ/) , and「它」(/*l̥ˤaj/). Compare also the derivatives of「豕」(https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E8%B1%95#Chinese):

Character    Mandarin    Middle Ch.   Old Ch.
豕           shǐ         ɕiᴇX         *l̥ajʔ
逐           zhú         ɖɨuk̚         *[l]riwk
㒸           suì         ziuɪH        ?

(「家」apparently was descended phonetically from https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E8%B1%AD). Also maybe the characters in the 「豕」table are SEMANTIC derivatives (like https://baike.baidu.com/item/%E9%80%90/6437886), in which case I guess the sound is irrelevant).

Regardless, I am interested in how the sounds changed from something similar to /*laj/ in Old Chinese to at least 4 "groups" of sounds not at all similar to that.

I am particularly interested in the connection between「也」and the "di" sound -- the answer https://chinese.stackexchange.com/a/33386/26500 claims:

「也」originally depicted a child「子」with an emphasised mouth「口」, indicating the meaning to wail, cry. This word was later written as「嗁」and now written as「啼」. The meaning also is unrelated, and is a phonetic loan, derived from an early usage of「也」as a modal particle.

Please take note of the phonetic component of「嗁」;「遞」and「地」are homonyms in Mandarin, and the latter uses「也」as a phonetic component.

which makes me think that there is some deeper (i.e. non-coincidental) connection between「也」and the sound "di", given that "di" is the sound of the (supposedly) original meaning (now written as)「啼」, and also the modern sound of「地」.

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Your question is extremely technical, especially from the Chinese side, and its complex phonetic and graphic evolutions.
In my humble opinion, the multiple reflexes of the same apparently phonetic component is possibly due to the fact it was used for a number of sounds like *laj, *tlaj, *dlaj and *hlaj, which used to have some phonetic similarity in Ancient Chinese, but have now drifted apart in Modern Mandarin, so that the connection between them is now lost, or at least far from obvious.
So I would say that your question hinges around the way Ancient Chinese is (to be) reconstructed. Baxter-Sagart reconstructions are not bad, but I would say that improvement is still possible. Their system has so-called pre-initial consonants, which concretely is an oxymoronic concept, and logically that issue needs a satisfactory solution.

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