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24 votes

Does the letter p in a word mean that the word is not Germanic?

Not always. Grimm's Law predicts that Proto-Indo-European *b would turn into Proto-Germanic *p. However, Proto-Indo-European *b is vanishingly rare, and some scholars argue it didn't actually exist in ...
Draconis's user avatar
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16 votes

How did Latin "aqua" became Sardinian "abba" and Romanian "apă"?

Labiovelars like /kʷ/ (that is, the Latin qu- sound) and /ɡʷ/ have turned into labial stops in at least some environments in a few different languages (almost exclusively in European Indo-European ...
Cairnarvon's user avatar
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15 votes

Does the letter p in a word mean that the word is not Germanic?

No, because PIE *p does not always become f. It does not in the cluster sp, for example "spin" < *spen, "sprawl" < *sper. Germanic p regularly derives from b, e.g. "deep&...
user6726's user avatar
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14 votes

How did Latin "aqua" became Sardinian "abba" and Romanian "apă"?

The change of /kʷ/ > /p/ is moderately common, cross-linguistically. It also happened in Osco-Umbrian aka "P-Italic" (Oscan pis ~ Latin quis "who"), the "P-Celtic" ...
Draconis's user avatar
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11 votes
Accepted

Have ejective consonants ever arisen on their own?

It is almost true, in the sense that there are nearly no cases of ejectives unambiguously developing and clearly without external influence. There are two good candidates, though: Yapese and Waimoa. ...
user6726's user avatar
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10 votes

s / h change in Indo-European languages

This is a common sound change. [h] has no constriction above the larynx, and involves spreading the glottis so that any noise generated is turbulence as the air flows through the glottis. Most of the ...
user6726's user avatar
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10 votes
Accepted

Why did German <d> and <t> flip over?

You have a few different correspondences here; I'll go through them individually. day ~ dag ~ dag ~ Tag This is part of the second German consonant shift (or the High German consonant shift). Among ...
Draconis's user avatar
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10 votes
Accepted

Apart from French, does any language have voicing-dependent change of place of articulation?

I don't think it's at all common for alveolopalatal and/or sibilant consonants to undergo place changes that are directly conditioned by the presence or absence of voicing: French doesn't actually ...
brass tacks's user avatar
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10 votes

Is there a sound change from [ɡ] to [i] or [j]?

There certainly is. For example, final -y in English often comes from an older -ig (and there is often a current German cognate that ends in -ig) It's a widespread phenomenon, one form of ...
Colin Fine's user avatar
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10 votes
Accepted

Apparent exceptions to the sound law f -> h in old Spanish

Some of these words were re-loaned from Classical Latin after the change of Old Spanish /f/ to /h/ had stopped: compare loaned forma "shape" against inherited horma "mold" (as you ...
Draconis's user avatar
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9 votes
Accepted

Why does French "cheveu(x)" have "eu" and not "eau"?

L /kasˈtɛl.lʊm/ > VL /kasˈtɛl.lũ/ > OF /t͡ʃahˈtɛl/ > MF /ʃaˈtɛau/> F /ʃaˈto/ L /ˈwɛ.tʊ.lʊm/ > VL /ˈβɛ.lũ/ > /ˈvjɛ.lu/ > OF /vjɛl/ > MF /vjɛu/ > F /vjø/ L /kaˈpɪl.lʊm/ ...
Kenny Lau's user avatar
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9 votes

Proto-Polynesian reconstruction and ambiguities in Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan and Tongan

Tongan /s/ seems to be the regular reflex of *t before /i/. Wikipedia says Tongan has retained the original proto-Polynesian *h, but has merged it with the original *s as /h/. (The /s/ found in ...
brass tacks's user avatar
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9 votes
Accepted

Why did Finnish and Sami noun-final A and I flip over?

I recommend Pekka Sammallahti's historical analysis (collectively, and I think most extensively in The Saami languages). He does does not go straight from proto-FS to North Saami or base his analysis ...
user6726's user avatar
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9 votes

Words in English which elided medial 'g' or 'v' (or initial 'h' before 'l', 'n', or 'r')

All the following information comes from Christopher Upward's The History of English Spelling: Words that lost initial ‘h’: OE hlaf ModE ‘loaf’ OE hlud ModE ‘loud’ OE hlædder ModE ‘ladder’ OE ...
Mellifluous's user avatar
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8 votes

How does the initial consonant in "Jupiter" and "Zeus" come from the "d" in PIE "*dyew-"?

The Proto-Indo-European form behind Zeus is reconstructed as *dyēw-s, with the oblique stem *diw- used for all forms except nominative, accusative, and vocative. This sort of alternation between *yē ...
Draconis's user avatar
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8 votes
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How these close sounds are distinguished in native language

If you mean "what can I do to learn the distinctions", you need repeated and varied exposure to the sounds in question, and you need some method of telling if you're correct in your hearing and ...
user6726's user avatar
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8 votes

Why does Sankr. नक्ति (nákti) not show Satemization

As commonly reconstructed, PIE had three different types of "velar-ish" plosives: "Palatal velars" (probably plain velar): *ḱ, *ǵ, *ǵʰ "Plain velars" (probably uvular): *k, *g, *gʰ "Labial velars" (...
Draconis's user avatar
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8 votes

What is the best linguistic term for describing the kw > p / gw > b change, and its usual companion s > h

The change from /s/ to /h/ is called debuccalization, from Latin bucca, "mouth". The name is generally applied to any change that turns a non-glottal sound glottal, since it's moving the articulation "...
Draconis's user avatar
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8 votes

What is the name of this sound change, and do we have it in English?

The shift of classical Persian ān to ūn is a feature of Tehran dialect (Tehrūnī), and of many other forms of colloquial Persian. It is an example of “labialization”. This phenomenon is widespread in ...
fdb's user avatar
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8 votes

What is the name of this sound change, and do we have it in English?

I don't know Persian, however I have some knowledge of linguistics. The example given seems to be linked to a shift in register (different use of language in different circumstances). The formal ...
Tomato's user avatar
  • 416
8 votes

Could some European languages get phonemic vowel length in future?

It absolutely can happen, and indeed it has done in the past couple of decades in at least one instance! In his book, English after RP, Geoffrey Lindsey describes the phonetics Standard Southern ...
Tristan's user avatar
  • 8,808
7 votes

West Germanic Th-Stopping

Th-stopping of original Proto-Germanic voiced /d~ð/ to /d/ in all contexts is normal for Old English. It seems to be a common feature of West Germanic languages. The modern-day /ð/ in "father" is due ...
brass tacks's user avatar
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7 votes

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

The excellent German etymological dictionary by Pfeiffer has this: sieben Num. Ahd. sibun (8. Jh.), mhd. siben (md. siven), asächs. siҍun, mnd. sēven, sȫven, mnl. sēven, nl. zeven, aengl. seofon, ...
fdb's user avatar
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7 votes
Accepted

Possible diachronic developments of th sounds

Proto-Semitic *ϑ becomes /ϑ/ in (classical) Arabic, /t/ in Aramaic and some Arabic dialects, /ʃ/ in Hebrew, /s/ in Amharic, /f/ in some Arabic dialects. Proto-Semitic *δ becomes /δ/ in (classical) ...
fdb's user avatar
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7 votes

How did Latin get its stress pattern?

I'm afraid the most satisfying answer I can give is, these things just change over time, without a solid reason. It's like asking why the vowels in Middle English chain-shifted so dramatically: vowels ...
Draconis's user avatar
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7 votes
Accepted

Why does Sankr. नक्ति (nákti) not show Satemization

There are three different series of guttural sounds reconstructed for Proto-Indogermanic, that are usually represented by *k' (the k that gets satemised), *k (plain k that stays k), and *kʷ (that has ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Are consonants more stable than vowels?

There are some factors that make vowels more volatile than consonants in general Consonants have fixed points of articulation and modes of articulation while vowels live in a continuous space In most ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
7 votes

Is Ruki sound law a Satem "Rhotacism"

No. Some instances of Proto-Indo-European *s were rhotacized in Germanic; some instances of PIE *s went to /x/ in Slavic by the Ruki rule. There is some overlap between the two sets, but the ...
TKR's user avatar
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7 votes

Apparent exceptions to the sound law f -> h in old Spanish

The occurrence of the sound change [f] > [h] > ∅ in modern Spanish words does seem fairly unpredictable. I think this is a situation where dialect mixing and reborrowing/learned re-formation of ...
brass tacks's user avatar
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