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zompist bboard • View topic - Explaining sound change?

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 Post subject: Explaining sound change?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 8:27 pm 
Sanci
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Hello all, it's been a while since I've been to the ZBB; college got in the way and the military keeps me fairly busy. In that time, conlanging has fallen to the wayside, and though I dabbled in reading some interesting grammars here and there, I haven't managed to properly understand sound changes.
More specifically: I want to understand how to apply sound change to conlanging. I have both the LCK and the ALC, and have read the wiki article several times, so I might just be overthinking it. Regardless, I have a few questions for you fine people if you happen to have the time to spare.

1: I understand that sound changes will occur when criteria is met ( A = B under conditions C always). How complex can these conditions be? Most examples I've seen are pretty straightforward, but I'm no expert.

2: This is more of a personal opinion, but how many rules should I be looking at using at one time with the SCA? Do sound changes typically trigger further sound changes? If for instance, I include a sound change similar to , can I expect further shifts to happen in some fashion? This is really where my trouble understanding comes from.

3: Would it be semi-realistic to place new roots into the SCA and apply later changes to them? For clarification: I'd like to intersperse new roots into the language to mimic borrowing from another language, is it realistic to skip a set of sound changes, and apply later ones to them?

4: Are there more/less common sound changes that occur? If so, where can I read about them? I am aware of the wiki for historic examples, but I'm asking more for general trends and I don't expect an in-depth answer to this, but perhaps your favourite sound changes for inspiration.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:06 pm 
Smeric
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1. Certainly some sound changes can have complex environments, which means they'll be more difficult to reconstruct. Any case when you're reading a grammar that says "the environment of this sound change is not yet understood," the environment is probably complex. Can't think of any specific example at the moment, though.

3. Yes. One way to date loanwords is to note what sound changes have and have not affected them.

4. A few off the top of my head...Palatalization is extremely common (e.g., T/S/_Y, where T=dental consonant, S=sibilant fricative or affricate, and Y=front vowel). Loss of labiovelars (kʷ/k/_) is extremely common. Intervocalic lenition is extremely common (T/D/V_V, where T=voiceless stop, D=voiced stop; D/Ð/V_V, where D=voiced stop, Ð=voiced fricative). Loss or debuccalization of dorsal consonants (uvulars, pharyngeals, glottals) is very common. /n l r ɹ z/ all seem pretty interchangeable, with sound changes in many different directions happening in different languages. Combining these, I have one language with the shift s/z/V_[VB] (B=voiced consonant), then z/r/_ (with caveats--it also becomes /l/ in certain environments).

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 10:46 pm 
Smeric
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1. We should at least define complexity if we're going to have a formal discussion about the topic here. We might just say "complexity" in a sound change is merely how many parameters are necessary to trigger it, with parameters being the presence of certain segments, or location in the word, or presence of certain suprasegmental phenomena, etc. Sound changes can be triggered by several of these things at the same time. In some Sino-Tibetan languages for instance, the ultimate rhyme is produced by a combination of certain initial consonants being present, *and* certain final consonants being present in the proto-form.

2. Sound changes do often trigger other sound changes, especially when one sound change "puts pressure" on the phonemic structure of the language. E.g., if a sound change causes one phoneme to have many features in common with another, this can very likely encourage either a complete merger or a further split in a different direction in order to preserve a distinction that's felt to be valuable.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 11:26 pm 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 2:05 pm 
Smeric
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 4:34 pm 
Smeric
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Actually, I'd expect the actual Semitic sound changes to be structurally similar to the Indo-European ones. The apparent exceptionlessness is entirely explicable by analogy, which can be attributed to the triconsonantal system. After all, if a conditional change obscures the root or the pattern, something is going to be generalised to restore the transparency.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 5:11 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 1:09 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2016 12:41 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2016 5:54 pm 
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