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Unformatted text preview: Lecture 4: Sound Change
& Language Change
Grimm’s Law Review: Voicing, Manner, Place
Recall: Consonants are sounds made by
considerable restriction of the airflow.
considerable They can be made with or without
voicing ( [s] vs. [z], for instance).
voicing [s] The airflow can be restricted completely
(‘stops’), mostly (‘fricatives’) or not
much (‘liquids’, ‘glides’).
much Voicing, Manner, Place
Voicing, Besides differing in voicing and
airflow restriction, consonants differ
as to where the restriction is:
at the lips (labial), lips with teeth (labiodental),
), between the teeth (interdental), behind the teeth (alveolar),
), against the palate (palatal) Voicing, Manner, Place
Every consonant has a characteristic
value for voicing, a characteristic
manner of production, and a place of
articulation. These features define families of
sounds that all share one feature in
common. What is the shared feature?
f, v, θ, ð s, z, ʃ, All fricatives (manner)
ʃ, ʒ ɹ, l, m, d, w
All voiced (voicing) s, p, ʃ, f, θ
All voiceless (manner) b, f, w, m, v
All labial (place) k, d, p, g, t
All stops (manner) t, d, s, z, n All alveolar (place) Families of Sounds &
Grimm’s Why do you need to know all this about
To understand sound changes that happened
In the history of its development, English has
undergone considerable sound changes that
affected families of sounds, not just individual
sounds. Language Constantly Changing
Language In the mind of the average person, language is
associated with writing, and the idea of a
But writing is only a convention.
As long as a language is in use, it is in a state
of constant change.
of Language Constantly Changing
Language Each speaker is constantly and unconsciously
changing his/her speech.
There’s no such thing as uniformity in
The speech of one community differs from
that of another.
The speech of different individuals of the same
So, the language of any community is subject
to changes that occur in the speech of its Dialectal Differences
Dialectal When two groups of people, sharing the same
language, are separated, their languages begin
to drift apart.
At first, the differences among such languages
are not great, and they are mutually
intelligible dialects (speakers can understand
Over time, differences among languages grow,
and speakers from different groups can no
longer understand each other.
longer Different Languages
Different Even though there are considerable differences
among different languages, it is possible to
recognize certain common features.
Russian: молоко Different Languages: Examples
Different English: father
Old Norse: fað ir
German: Vat er
Greek: pat er
Greek: p at ̄
Sanskrit: patir Different Dialects: Examples
Different In American & British English, there are
interdental fricatives, /ð/ and /θ/, as in the
words rather/ˈɹæðəɹ/ and think /θɪŋk/.
In Irish English, these words are pronounced
/ˈɹæd əɹ/ and /t ɪŋk/.
In fact, this is true of several dialects of
No dialect of English has changed just one of
these sounds (e.g. /d/ to /ð/) and left the other
unchanged. Sound change happens to
features, not segments
features We can understand why dialects change either both
interdentals, or neither one, if we recognize that
change happens to articulatory features, not to
individual consonants and vowels.
Consonants and vowels are made up of groups of
In Irish English interdentals, the feature fricative
changed to the feature stop.
Consequently, the same change happened to both the
voiced interdental /ð/, and the voiceless one /θ/.
voiced An example from the history of
English An accumulated series of sound changes can
change one group of people’s speech so much
that it is no longer comprehensible to another,
Mutual intelligibility is one of the criteria that
can be used to distinguish a ‘dialect’ from a
By analyzing such sound changes, 19th
century linguists (Grimm & Rask) showed that
English and Latin are descended from a
common ancestor language.
common The Proto-Indo-European
The PIE was (now extinct) once a single language
spoken by a group of people in Central
It was the parent tongue to all modern IndoEuropean languages including English
(Germanic) and Hindi (Indo-Iranian).
(Germanic) The Proto-Indo-European
The This group of people split into several groups.
Some groups migrated eastwards (India),
westwards (Spain, Italy, France), far north
(Scandinavia), to Eastern Europe and Russia.
(Scandinavia), The Proto-Indo-European
Tocharian The various groups today
The The Germanic/Romance split
The The split between the groups whose languages would
eventually become Proto-Germanic and Protoeventually
Romance happened about 2500 BC.
English is a Germanic language descended from
Latin was a direct descendant of Proto-Romance, and
is the ancestor of all the modern Romance languages
(Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, etc.)
(Spanish, Sound change in Germanic
Sound The English ancestor branch, Proto-Germanic,
underwent a very regular sound change, which
made it sound different than other dialects
descended from Proto-Indo-European.
The proto-Romance ancestor branch didn’t
undergo this sound change.
Compare the consonants in the following
English words and their Latin counterparts:
English Latin/English cognates:
Latin pater pedem penna tri tu dent cordis octo quis English father foot feather three thee tooth heart eight who Latin labia dent genu genus granum fundus foro frag haedus English lip tooth knee kin corn bottom bore break goat What Latin consonants correspond
to what English ones?
to Looking at our list of correspondences, we have the
following: Latin consonant on left, corresponding
English consonant on the right:
English p↔f b↔p f↔b t↔ θ d↔t k ↔h g ↔k h↔g General Patterns of Change
General If it were just the case that segments randomly
changed into other segments, we wouldn’t be
able to make any predictions.
But we can see that it would be more sensible
to think of the sound change in terms of
articulatory Voiceless Stops → Voiceless
Fricatives In the Germanic branch, voiceless stops
changed to voiceless fricatives, quite generally
—keeping the same place of articulation!
p → f, t → θ , k → h
This change is not random.
/p/, /t/, /k/ are all voiceless stops
/f/, /θ/, /h/ are all voiceless fricatives
produced at almost the same place
The change is manner of articulation
manner Voiced Stops → Voiceless
Stops What about voiced stops?
Latin /b/ corresponds to English /p/
Latin /d/ corresponds to English /t/
Latin /g/ corresponds to English /k/
Devoicing at the same place of articulation.
b → p , d → t, g → k Voiceless Fricatives
Voiceless What about voiceless fricatives?
Latin /f/ corresponds to English /b/
Latin /h/ corresponds to English /g/ Voiced Aspirated Stops →
Stops in Proto-German
Stops Another set of PIE sounds underwent changes
in both Proto-Germanic and Proto-Italic.
Voiced aspirated stops
/bh/, /dh/, /gh/ → /b/, /d/, /g/ in Proto/b
Germanic brother door
guest Voiced Aspirated Stops →
Voiceless Fricatives in
Proto-Italic In the Proto-Italic, the PIE voiced aspirated
In stops became voiceless fricatives (/dh/
disappeared, was replaced by /bh/, and changed
Sanskrit bhrata dhwer ghosti
PIE Voiced aspirated stops → voiceless
/bh/, /dh/, /gh/ → /f/, /f/, /h/ in Proto-Italic. Patterns of Sound Change
Patterns In any case, it seems clear that what changed
was not individual consonants, but rather
particular articulatory features.
Rather than say ‘d became t’ and ‘g became
k’, we can do better:
Voiced stops in Proto-Indo-European became
voiceless stops in Proto-Germanic (but this
didn’t happen in Proto-Romance).
didn’t Understanding gaps in patterns
Understanding In modern English, voiceless stops are
aspirated when they appear at the beginning
of stressed syllables.
They are unaspirated elsewhere.
[p ɪt] vs. [sp ɪt] vs. [sɪp] Imaginary future change
[p ɪt] vs. [spɪt] vs. [sɪp] Imaginary future change
Imaginary [fɪt] vs. [spɪt] vs. [sɪp]
Then two words that used to contain the same
consonant might end up containing different
Because spelling is conservative, we might
still spell the word with a ‘p’ — we might
acquire yet another ‘inexplicable’ spelling
irregularity! This actually happened! In fact, this is the true pattern that the Grimm’s
In Law sound change above took.
Voiceless stops that were part of consonant
clusters did not undergo the change,
presumably because they were different
Also: hostis ~ guest, spuo ~ spew
uo Grimm’s Law: Summary
Grimm’s 1st set of sounds: voiceless stops → voiceless
p → f, t → θ , k → h
2nd set of sounds: voiced stops → voiceless
b → p , d → t, g → k Grimm’s Law: Summary
Grimm’s 3rd set of sounds: voiced aspirated stops →
voiced stops in Proto-Germanic.
/bh/, /dh/, /gh/ → /b/, /d/, /g/
voiced aspirated stops → voiceless
fricatives in Proto-Italic.
/bh/, /dh/, /gh/ → /f/, /f/, /h/
/f/, Grimm’s Law: Summary
Grimm’s A chain reaction
Voiced aspirated stops → regular voiced
Voiced stops → voiceless stops
Voiceless stops → voiceless fricatives Exercise 1
piskterkerdbeudentgelbhregdhēghosti- English fish
guest Exercise 2
ger- English thirst
ten (Germ tehun)
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- Spring '10