Velars in the history of Old English

Abstract : The paper reviews phonological processes in the history of Old English where velars played a role. (1) In connection with nasal loss before Prim. Gmc. */x/, two proposals are made. First, that the velar fricative, lacking a phonological place of articulation, is too weak to perform its governing duties on a preceding nasal. Second, that the later loss of nasals before the other fricatives in OE and Old Frisian is quite reasonably the consequence of the nasal deletion before /x/. (2) As for the phonetic interpretation of breaking, its phonetic realization may be a simple [ə] or [u], of a melodically empty vocalic slot. Also, the problem of the short vs long diphthongs of OE is discussed, with representations in terms of elements. (3) With respect to the loss of /x/ between sonorants, it is argued that to assume compensatory lengthening for words of the -{l,r}x- shape (e.g. mearh 'horse') is unwarranted because (a) there is no conclusive positive evidence that it actually lengthened; (b) the process is theoretically suspect. (4) The changes to the initial velar clusters are discussed.
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Daniel Huber. Velars in the history of Old English. The Even Yearbook, 2006, 7, 20 p. en ligne. ⟨hal-00979907⟩

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