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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:15 pm 
Avisaru
Avisaru
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Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2006 4:41 am
Posts: 437
Location: Davis, CA
OK, so I'm a little confused about the history of sibilant consonants in Spanish. What I've been told is that Old Spanish had the following sibilants:
  • The sound of initial/final or pre-voiceless consonant s or intervocalic ss, generally given as /s/
  • The sound of intervocalic or pre-voiced consonant s, generally given as /z/
  • The sound of ç or of c before e or i, generally given as /ts/
  • The sound of z, generally given as /dz/
  • The sound of x, generally given as /ʃ/
  • The sound of j or of g before e or i, generally given as /ʒ/
Additionally, /s/ and /z/ were apical while /ts/ and /dz/ were laminal, so when the affricates deaffricated, at least for a while there was a pure apical-laminal contrast in the anterior sibilants as in modern Basque. This later resolved with them merging in southern Spanish and New World dialects but with the laminal sibilant becoming non-sibilant /θ/ in northern Spanish dialects.

Here's where I get confused: As I recall, the ch sound, or /tʃ/ in modern Spanish, derives ultimately from simplifying various Vulgar Latin consonant clusters in ways that produced [t] plus a palatalizing element, e.g. [kt] >[jt] > [tʃ]. What was the value of this sound in the era of Old Spanish that had the six above sibilants? If it was an affricate, why didn't it deaffricate with the others? If it wasn't an affricate, what was it at that time? Was it a palatal or a palatalized dental stop?

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[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:40 pm 
Avisaru
Avisaru

Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2006 10:05 pm
Posts: 274
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
I don't think you can really ask why something did or didn't happen in a language. Why didn't [kt] become [tt] as in Italian, rather than [jt]? Why didn't Proto-Semitic /b/ go to /v/ in Arabic if /p/ went to /f/? That's just how it happened. We say that sound changes generally move towards greater economy in articulatory effort, but the opposite happens as well. You can come up with a rationale, but you can't know for sure, because these things don't happen for reasons, inasmuch as rain falls down rather than up because of gravity.

It may be worth noting, though, that when /ts dz/ deaffricated, no phonemic contrasts were lost. If /tʃ/ had deaffricated, it would've erased the contrast between /ʃ/ and /tʃ/. But then /s z ts dz/ all ended up as /s/ for the majority of modern-day Spanish speakers, so you can't necessarily say that sound changes that erase contrasts are less likely than those preserving them.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 6:36 pm 
Avisaru
Avisaru

Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:28 pm
Posts: 364
Ziz wrote:
Why didn't Proto-Semitic /b/ go to /v/ in Arabic if /p/ went to /f/?

That does have a sort of answer. While it is perfectly possible to have [p] > [f] as an isolated change, unconditional [b] > [v] won't happen if the language keeps its [d]. (That is why the seemingly missing PIE *b is such a mystery.) On the other hand, [g] is free to go walkies - and, indeed, it did in Arabic - PS *g > [d͡ʒ] (or something similar).


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