Linguistics 105 * Words and Sounds
Lecture Number Six-b
Types of Phonological Change


  1. Assimilation
    Assimilation is the copying of a feature from one segment to another in such a way as to make the copying segment more like the copied one.

    Nasal Assimilation

    /bn/ [bn]  
    /bnk/ [bk] [bk]


    [rk] [rk]

    Assimilation to Place of Articulation

    /wd-/ [wt]
    /hajt-/ [hajt]

    Voicing is the addition of voicing ([-Voiced] {+voiced]) to a consonant, usually because of surrounding vowels or an adjacent vowel or sonorant.

    Dutch Phonemic Allphonic Gloss
    afkomen /afkom/ [afkom] come down
    aftrekken /aftrek/ [aftrek] deduct
    afbelen /afbel/ [avbel] ring off
    afdekken /afdek/ [avdek] cover over

    Devoicing is the loss of voicing (voicedness) usually caused by a voiceless contiguous consonant or word-final position.

    English (/l/ after voiceless consonants)

    /pliz/ [pliz]
    /klk/ [klk]
    /sliz/ [sliz]

    German (at the end of words)

    /hund/ [hunt] Hund 'dog'
    /mag/ [mak] mag 'like'
    /rand/ [rant] Rand 'rim'

  2. Dissimilation
    Sometimes a segment is made dissimilar to a contiguous segment because the language does not like identical or similar sounds next to each other.

    English dialect:
    /ff/ [fft]

  3. Deletion

    Syncope is the deletion of an unaccented vowel or reduced consonant from the middle of a word.

    US English: schwa after [r] (if preceded by a consonant)
    /bliv/ [bliv] believe
    /spoz/ [spoz] suppose
    /mlan/ [mlan] Milan
    /srndr/ [srndr] surrender
    /plis/ [plis] police
    /pred/ [pred] parade

    If preceded by a vowel, the vowel is deleted:
    veteran : Northeast [vtrn], Southwest [vtrn]
    different: Northeast [dfrnt], Southwest [dfrnt]
    ignorant: Northeast [gnrnt], Southwest [gnrnt]

    US English: [t] after [n]
    /ntrpt/ [nrpt]
    /ntrkt/ [nrk]
    /ntrfir/ [nrfir]
    Unless followed by an /s/:
    /prnts/ [prnts]

    Other examples:
    British: /mdsn/ [mdsn]
    laboratory: /lbortori/ [lbort|ri] (British) : US [lbrtori]
    secretary: [skrtri] [skrt|ri]

    Apocope is the deletion of an unaccented vowel at the end of a word.

    longe 'long' [l] (from [l])
    verte 'green' [vert] (from [vert)
    haute 'high' [ot] (from [ot])

  4. Epenthesis
    Epenthesis is the insertion of a vowel, usually between consonants that are not allowed to stand together by the phonotactic rules, rules which determine the possible sequences of sounds in a language.

    English borrowings in Japanese
    strike : [suturaiku]
    club : [kurabu]
    necktie : nekutai

  5. Metathesis
    Metathesis is the switching of positions of two adjacent segments. Liquid metathesis is probably the most common form. It involves the exchange of places of a liquid and a following or preceding vowel.

    /sk/ [ks]

    Liquid Metathesis (Historical evidence)
    English gard-en : Old Slavic grad 'city'
    German Berg 'mountain' : Old Slavic breg (bank, shore)
    cold [kold] : Old Slavic xlad 'cold'

  6. Haplology
    Haplology is the deletion of a segment or syllable that is identical or similar to an adjacent syllable or segment in that syllable.

    /prabbl/ [prabl]
    library: /lajbrri/ [lajbrri] British : US [lajbri] February: /fbjwer] (US) : [fbrri] (British)

  7. Raising (Lowering)
    Vowels may be lowered one level or raised one level as a result of neighboring vowels (or historical change).

    'Canadian' Raising: diphthongs go to schwa before voiceless consonants
    /bajk/ [bjk]
    /lajt/ [ljt]
    /kajt/ [kjt

    In Canada and Norfolk, Virginia
    /haws/ [hws]
    /awt/ [wt]
    /maws/ [mws]

    US English (Brooklyn, etc.)
    /st/ [st]
    /bd/ [bd]
    /rt/ [rt]

    New Zealand English
    /bd/ [bd]
    /sd/ [sd]
    /lt/ [lt]

  8. Unrounding
    Vowels may be rounded or unrounded by synchronic or diachronic phonological rules.

    US English (New England, etc.)
    /wk/ [wak]
    /kf/ [kaf]
    /bt/ [bat]
    /dg/ [dag]

  9. Diphthongization

    /wk/ [wawk]
    /kf/ [kawf]
    /bt/ [bawt]
    /dg/ [dawg]

  10. Palatalization Palatalization is the movement of the place of articulation toward the palate either from the alveolar ridge or from the velum. This process is usually triggered by a following jod [j] or front vowel [i], [e].

    1. English palatalization before [j]:
      • Did you : [d]
      • hit you : [h]
      • [pktjur] [pkr]
    2. Italian
      • adagio [adao]
      • (buon) giorno [orno]
      • gelato [lato]
      • Boccaccio [bokao]
      • but caro [karo], cosa [kosa], gamba [gamba]
© 1996-2000, Inc.