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A "conservation law" of sound change

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  • Alex Fink
    Over at the fora for the Akana project, Basilius has written a nice post about sound change, on the theme that you can t get new genuine phonological contrasts
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 4, 2009
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      Over at the fora for the Akana project, Basilius has written a nice post
      about sound change, on the theme that you can't get new genuine phonological
      contrasts without sacrificing other ones:
      http://akana.dreamersdisease.de/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=23

      Alex is 4pq1injbok
    • David Peterson
      ... Wait a minute... So in English, we have words like hay , say , ray , may , bay , lay , etc., that are all pronounce with a vowel like [ej]. If you
      Message 2 of 4 , Nov 5, 2009
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        On Nov 4, 2009, at 7◊23 PM, Alex Fink wrote:

        > Over at the fora for the Akana project, Basilius has written a nice
        > post
        > about sound change, on the theme that you can't get new genuine
        > phonological
        > contrasts without sacrificing other ones:
        > http://akana.dreamersdisease.de/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=23

        Wait a minute...

        So in English, we have words like "hay", "say", "ray", "may", "bay",
        "lay", etc., that are all pronounce with a vowel like [ej]. If you add
        an "-s" to all those, you get "hays", "rays", "mays", "bays", "lays",
        etc.
        which are all pronounced with the following coda: [ejz].

        Then you get "says". "Says" is pronounced [sEz].

        This would seem to be a regular sound change (if you said that
        you had [e] in open syllables and [E] in closed syllables, I don't
        think any phonologists would be surprised [here assuming that
        there is no phonological glide at the end of "may", "ray", etc.).
        This, then, is a regular sound change that acted on exactly one
        word of English: "says". Unless I'm missing something historically,
        I'd say that should be pretty surprising.

        -David
        *******************************************************************
        "sunly eleSkarez ygralleryf ydZZixelje je ox2mejze."
        "No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."

        -Jim Morrison

        http://dedalvs.com/

        LCS Member Since 2007
        http://conlang.org/
      • Mark J. Reed
        How can a sound change that applies to only one word be considered regular ? It s clearly an exception. ... -- Mark J. Reed
        Message 3 of 4 , Nov 5, 2009
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          How can a sound change that applies to only one word be considered
          "regular"? It's clearly an exception.

          On Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 2:13 PM, David Peterson <dedalvs@...> wrote:
          > On Nov 4, 2009, at 7◊23 PM, Alex Fink wrote:
          >
          >> Over at the fora for the Akana project, Basilius has written a nice post
          >> about sound change, on the theme that you can't get new genuine
          >> phonological
          >> contrasts without sacrificing other ones:
          >>  http://akana.dreamersdisease.de/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=23
          >
          > Wait a minute...
          >
          > So in English, we have words like "hay", "say", "ray", "may", "bay",
          > "lay", etc., that are all pronounce with a vowel like [ej].  If you add
          > an "-s" to all those, you get "hays", "rays", "mays", "bays", "lays", etc.
          > which are all pronounced with the following coda: [ejz].
          >
          > Then you get "says".  "Says" is pronounced [sEz].
          >
          > This would seem to be a regular sound change (if you said that
          > you had [e] in open syllables and [E] in closed syllables, I don't
          > think any phonologists would be surprised [here assuming that
          > there is no phonological glide at the end of "may", "ray", etc.).
          > This, then, is a regular sound change that acted on exactly one
          > word of English: "says".  Unless I'm missing something historically,
          > I'd say that should be pretty surprising.
          >
          > -David
          > *******************************************************************
          > "sunly eleSkarez ygralleryf ydZZixelje je ox2mejze."
          > "No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."
          >
          > -Jim Morrison
          >
          > http://dedalvs.com/
          >
          > LCS Member Since 2007
          > http://conlang.org/
          >



          --
          Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
        • Craig Daniel
          ... Yup. The Neogrammarian hypothesis is a damned useful assumption for many kinds of historical linguistics work, and it s usually true, but there are
          Message 4 of 4 , Nov 5, 2009
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            On Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 2:19 PM, Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...> wrote:
            > How can a sound change that applies to only one word be considered
            > "regular"?  It's clearly an exception.

            Yup. The Neogrammarian hypothesis is a damned useful assumption for
            many kinds of historical linguistics work, and it's usually true, but
            there are certainly words that don't obey it. Those don't have to
            follow the restrictions in that piece, which are about regular sound
            change only. Similarly, while regular sound change and analogy both
            delete information from the language over time, borrowings and
            neologisms and changes in syntax restore it. Those processes aren't
            regular either, but they're the only reason languages aren't all
            doomed to eventually be a long string of [a].
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