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Questions tagged [sound-change]

Systematic changes in pronunciation associated with languages and dialects. Includes segmental and prosodic changes. Sound-change is usually used in a diachronic sense and does not refer to the transient or adaptive changes of an individual.

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Homophones in Proto-Germanic

Does anyone know reconstructed homophones in Proto-Germanic or where I could look them up? I am interested in clear homophones, not polysemes.
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Are there established linguistic theories which incorporate the concept of “lazy speech”?

Motivation So on EL&U, I pretty often encounter the claim, under a question of some usage or other, that certain usages are the consequence of "lazy speakers", who "would otherwise" use some (...
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Vowel Change in Europe Book

Perhaps a rogue question but my father loves languages and when on holiday in Holland was trying to tell me about the two vowel (or constant? Shifts) changes that occured, and so why English and ...
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How complex contour tones get in languages

So I have seen a few tonal languages, such as Thai, Mandarin Chinese, and Cantonese: I'm not too familiar with which other languages have tonal features. But I'm wondering if there are any ...
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How these close sounds are distinguished in native language

This is not a comprehensive list but just a few snippets from languages that have a few consonants that sound pretty much the same to me. I wanted to ask how I can learn to hear the difference between ...
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Why did German <d> and <t> flip over?

I speak English and Norwegian and a little German and a little Dutch and I discovered a pattern while thinking about words which are obviously cognate. The pattern is wherever English, Norwegian and ...
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How did Gk. ταινία “band, ribbon” come from PIE *tn̥-yā- < *ten- “to stretch”?

AHD-IER (Watkin, 2011) P93 gives PIE *tn̥-yā- for Gk. ταινία: Suffixed zero-grade form *tn̥-yā‑. taenia; polytene, from Greek tainiā, band, ribbon. while EDG (Robert Beekes, 2010) P1444: ...
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Possible diachronic developments of th sounds

What are possible diachronic developments of th sounds? Of course, I am aware of th-stopping /ð/,/θ/ -> /d/ and of th-fronting/θ/ -> /f/. Are there other developments of ð/ and /θ/ attested in the ...
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What impact does it bring if the tone values of a tone language are generally lowered?

Tones in a tone language have values marked by 1 to 5. If a sound change happens by which tone values become lowered in some cases, e.g. the standard value of a tone in Mandarin is 214, while the ...
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171 views

How did Proto-Indo-European *septm evolve into English “seven”?

The PIE *septm should have changed to Pre-PG *sefθen, by the Grimm's Law. Then, by the Verner's Law, it should have changed to *sebθen. Why did the *θ disappear for the word to develop into "sieben" ...
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Why do phonemes such as /r/ and /ɾ/ evolve into uvular sounds like /ʀ/?

Forgive me if this seems vague, but this is mainly looking at the Germanic languages. Proto-Germanic probably used an alveolar of some sort, most likely a trill. In terms of Modern Germanic ...
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Degemination and prenasalization together: how common?

I have a couple of examples of degemination and prenasalization of the same geminate affricate/stop in Calabrian: "menzu", which should have evolved from "mediu(m)" through "mezzu", or maybe this ...
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Why does “begin” have /g/ instead of /j/ if it's from PG *ginnan?

My understanding is that the reflexes of Proto-Germanic velar consonants before front vowels were usually palatal consonants in Old English, which in turn generally yield palatal or palato-alveolar ...
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changes in sounds in Indo-European languages

Forgive me if this question is too simple/repetitive/... as I'm not familiar with technical terms. I'm looking for a good reference that's explained the changes in sounds in Indo-European daughter ...
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How does English 'lodge' come from Frankish *laubija by sound change?

lodge (etymonline) (n.) Middle English logge, mid-13c. in surnames and place names; late 13c. as "small building or hut," from Old French loge "arbor, covered walk; hut, cabin, grandstand at ...
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Are PIE *bʰewg- “flee” and PIE *bʰegʷ- “flee” cognate?

These two verbal roots *bʰewg- "flee" and *bʰegʷ- "flee" share the same meaning and very similar forms, the only difference is their ending consonant. I wonder whether they are from a same root or ...
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Understanding the reflexes of PIE *ǵneh3- in Sanskrit, Latin and Greek

Today I was trying to reconstruct some PIE roots by myself and I came across the word for '(to) know' in different indo-european languages. Here are some examples: Eng. (to) know It. conoscere Lat. (...
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West Germanic Th-Stopping

This is just one example: In the word "father", there is the interdental voiced fricative. However, in Old English, the word is fæder with a voiced alveolar stop; it is also fader in Middle English. ...
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s / h change in Indo-European languages

There are many words where Latin and Germanic begin with s– but the Greek begins with an aspirate (h–). How does this shift come about? They do not seem to be formed in the same part of the mouth at ...
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Is Brugmann's Law controversial?

The Indo-European sound change known as Brugmann's Law states that PIE *o became ā in an open syllable in Indo-Iranian. The Wiki page calls the law "controversial" and says that "Brugmann's Law has ...
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Why does French “cheveu(x)” have “eu” and not “eau”?

Many French words have lost etymological /l/. I have read that this occured due to a process of l-vocalization around the 10th-12th centuries which turned pre-consonantal l to u after any vowel aside ...
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How and why did so many French letters become silent?

It would seem that much ease of use must have been lost when a lot of French letters came to be silent - I never fail to be amazed that "il parle" and "ils parlent" are homophones, and it's very easy ...
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Has English caused any Languages to undergo Sound Change or Grammar Change?

French historically has caused the presence of several unique sounds in English that would not have been present otherwise. For example the "dʒ" sound in "garage". Similarly, I believe I've read ...
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What factors influence the way we adapt loanwords into English?

If someone pronounces "pizza" as /piːzə/ instead of /pitsə/, we'd surely raise an eyebrow at them. But few people (that I know personally) mind when we pronounce "tagliatelle" with a hard G (I wasn't ...
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What spirantization of t is most common?

I am looking for candidates for the "most frequent" context-free spirantization of t. One almost-example is that Indo-European t became θ in Germanic via Grimm's Law. Another is that proto-Bantu t ...
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Arabic sin and shin sounds in Classical times

What sounds did س and ش‎ make in (early) Classical Arabic? I have heard that maybe they were not [s] and [ʃ]. Is that a widely accepted truth? If that's true, what is the evidence for that?
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Sound correspondences in Germanic languages

I've noticed that in particular germanic languages have similar base words to english of which many times the only difference is that of the vowels. This would make sense seing as to how they are ...
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Are sound changes regular?

Are sound changes regular now or not? I mean it seems to me that it's accepted that sound change is pretty regular, because of how sound changes are treated in etymology/historical linguistics. I even ...
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What sound change(s) underlie [iʒ-] in São Vicente?

Is there a particular sound change that would explain changing a word-initial [ʒu] (or alternatively [dʒu]) to [iʒ] before a stressed syllable? Or might this be best explained as dropping the [u] by ...
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Historical Linguistics: Merging consonants [closed]

In Middle Egyptian (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_language#Phonology), the /s/ and /z/ merged into one sound, but the graphemes continued to be used interchangeably. As one who is interested ...
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Voicing as lenition

Why is voicing considered lenition under phonological criteria? To me voiced consonants seem stronger in articulation, therefore voicing should be considered fortification.
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Am I using the right terms in referring to “soft” and “hard” vowels and consonants?

In English, there is a clear difference between the "a" in "at," and the "a" in "father." I described the difference by saying that the "a" in "father" is "harder" than the other one. The German word ...
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*sn > n (in Latin)

The older consonant cluster sn- loses its s in Latin: nix "snow" vs. English snow cēna "supper" vs. older Latin cesna Two questions: 1) Since word-medial -sn- was clearly lost within the history ...
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Languages showing affricate-to-plosive fortition (especially diachronically)

It is well known that consonant lenition or weakening tends to be far more common cross-linguistically than the opposite process called fortition or strengthening. Now, some languages have been ...
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What is the approximate time of the loss of the intervocalic /s/ in Greek?

Teachers of Ancient Greek at my university have always been emphasising the importance of being aware of the loss of the intervocalic sigma in the language's history, because it helped to understand ...
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Is diphthongising [ʌ] as [ʌɪ] novel or an accent feature?

I have noticed some speakers diphthongising [ʌ] as [ʌɪ]. For example, in Bea Miller’s Young Blood, she pronounces “young blood” as [jʌɪŋ blʌɪd] and “us” as [ʌɪs]. Has this been documented elsewhere? ...
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How do we get “four” when it doesn't follow Grimm's law?

I understand how Grimm's law has resulted in pairs such as duo / two, tri / three, penta / five. But how do we get "four"? I looked it up in the dictionary and the IE root is ‌‌kwetwer- Why doesn't ...
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Determining underlying representation

I'm really confused about how to determine underlying representation. Every thing I read seems to contradict the last. Trying desperately to solve this problem and I just seem to be going in circles ...
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Armenian pH < PIE *p(H)?

PIE * p has widely become h in Armenian (e.g. հարց (harts) "question" < * prsk-, հուր (hur) "fire" < * pur-, etc.). However, some have claimed that the verb փլիլ (pHlil) "to fall in, collapse", ...
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Semitic: *w > y

In some Semitic languages, the consonant w seems to have become y (a palatal glide) in certain positions: for example Arabic walid "newborn", Hebrew yeled "child", or Arabic waraq "leaves, foliage", ...
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πίστις & ἐλπίζω related linguistically?

This is stemming from a question on BH-SE. Are faith (πίστις) and hope (ἐλπίς) related linguistically? Is it at all possible that ἐλπίς is actually el/eli + πίστις or something + faith? If not, is ...
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Examples of discrete place-of-articulation changes

Most sound changes that involve consonantal place of articulation are gradual changes between two POAs that are contiguous: for example, a velar gets gradually fronted until it becomes a palatal. What ...
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R before TH sound?

Most of time when I say a word with r before θ or ð, my tongue slides on my palate and it goes to down mouth, behind my lower teeth. This movement produce a sound similar with tap or click, sometimes ...
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Why has Paris French mostly lost the distinction between /e/ and /ɛ/?

Why has Paris French mostly lost the distinction between /e/ and /ɛ/? As in, the difference between 'Je le ferai' and 'Je le ferais', 'poignée' and 'poignet', or more simply between the é sound and ...
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Can we choose words to avoid change?

The pronunciation and meaning of words change over time, as a result of a variety of forces. These forces are well documented and fairly well understood. Given this knowledge, is it possible to coin ...
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Do written languages evolve along the lines of the script?

The medieval sound changes of New Persian are suggestive of tracing back ultimately to the script, so as if to normalize the writting by adjusting the underlying spoken language. Thus the majhul and ...
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Use of forks/chopsticks and sound change?

Apparently [European] humans had an ape-like bite until relatively recently, with our top and bottom incisors aligned along their edges. With the invention of the fork around 250 years ago, our ...
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Sound change charts/lists

I am looking for a summary of sound change laws of various language families. For example for Indo-European, Uralic, N. Caucasian, Semitic but also within Indo-European e.g. Germanic, Greek etc. Is ...
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Similarities and differences

Why is it that Spanish and Italian are freakishly similar (for the most part) whilst French* and German are in some sense alien tongue when compared to the former two, even though geographically the ...
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How does PIE *kʷ in **wĺ̥kʷos change to PGmc. *f in *wulfaz?

wĺ̥kʷos The word *wĺ̥kʷos is a thematic accented zero-grade noun perhaps derived from the adjective *wl̥kʷós ‘dangerous’ (compare Hittite walkuwa ‘dangerous’, Old Irish olc ‘evil’, Sanskrit [script?...