Talk:Old English phonology

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Untitled[edit]

From the text:

  Consonant allophones
  The sounds marked in parentheses are allophones:

I don't see any parentheses in the subsequent list, though. Only brackets. Is this what was meant? --Godtvisken 18:10, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Yes. The symbols ( ) are called parentheses in American English, which this article is written in. Angr/talk 19:23, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Voiced þ and ð[edit]

In The Cambridge Old English Reader by Richard Marsden (Cambridge 2004), it says that these letters are voiced ‘at the start of a word or medially’ (he gives the examples þis and hwæþer), whereas this article seemes to say that they were voiced only medially. Is Marsden wrong? Widsith 10:51, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

English is pretty conservative with consonants (except for c, g, and h). This means that you should be able to use your knowledge of Modern English to infer the voicing in Old English. So the OE ancestors of the, this, that, there, and then would have been voiced, and the ancestors of thane, thatch, thin, think, three, and through would have been unvoiced. Does Marsden say þ and ð are always voiced medially? My understanding is that they were not voiced when doubled or adjacent to an unvoiced consonant. (I can’t think of any NE examples, but siþþan and æfþanc are OE examples.) --teb728 09:01, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
the story i've normally heard is that the initial voicing of þ did not occur until middle english, at the time when þ and ð split phonemically. note that southern middle english dialects showed a similar voicing of initial /f/, which comes down to modern english in certain words like "vixen" (cf. "fox") and "vat". it's likely that the /f/, /v/ distinction became phonemic as a result of borrowing from french, and that this was reinforced by certain late middle english changes (loss of final vowels and double consonants) that also introduced phonemic /z/ and /ð/. Benwing 02:41, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

allophones of /h/[edit]

Another question. The article says that [ç] and [x] are allophones of /h/ ‘after front and back vowels respectively’. But surely /h/ also changed after liquids? E.g. a word like þurh ‘through’ must surely have sounded something like /θurx/, no? Widsith 16:46, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

be more specific![edit]

There was no thing such as "Old English" per se. We have records of various dialects, as well as cases such as the Beowulf which may have originally been set in one dialect (Anglian), but later preserved in another (West-Saxon). The phonology of modern English is largely derived from non-West-Saxon dialects, so at the very least it would be more responsible to indicate in the article that it is discussing just one dialect which acted as the standard written form (I doubt there was a standard spoken form) for several centuries. Of course a few lines about some of the major differences in phonology (West-Saxon vs. Kentish vs. Anglian) would not be amiss, even in a short article.Jakob37 05:51, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Anglo-Frisian brightening[edit]

According to "a History of English Phonology" (Jones 1989) p. 85-86, long vowels did not participate in Anglo-Frisian brightening.Jakob37 02:04, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

I think there are two schools of thought on that. The vowel in question comes from Proto-Indo-European *ē and shows up in Gothic as ē but in Old Norse and in all West Germanic languages except the Anglo-Frisian ones as ā; in Old English it's ǣ and in Old Frisian it is (I believe, not 100% sure) ē. So it's usually reconstructed as *ǣ or [ɛː] or the like for Proto-Germanic so that it can be differentiated into Gothic ē on the one hand and Norse/WestGmc ā on the other. The question is whether it simply remained ǣ in Anglo-Frisian, or whether it got backed to ā in the ancestor to A-F as it did in all the neighboring languages and then got fronted again to ǣ by Anglo-Frisian brightening. It's probably not possible to prove it one way or the other, so people just have to rely on what they consider more plausible. Usually when this sort of question arises at Wikipedia, we report the majority view, and mention the minority view only if it's held by a significant minority and reporting it doesn't violate WP:UNDUE. In this case, though, I suspect the majority of Germanicists haven't bothered publishing their opinion because the question is (1) unanswerable and (2) trivial. —Angr 08:08, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Trivial or not, it seems you are confusing apples and oranges here: the long vowel in question is Germanic ǣ, but the short vowel in question is Germanic a, which has no long equivalent; it could just as well be matched with long "o" as with ǣ. I think that Jones assumes that (traditional view) Gc ǣ had already gone to a central vowel by the time that Anglo-Frisian broke off, and that the later fronting in both languages was earlier and not part of AF Brightening. In any case, from what I have checked, the consensus is that AFB only affected short vowels. Where you say that the Gc ǣ: may have "simply remained ǣ in Anglo-Frisian" is not the received explanation, but to my mind it is simpler (as I recently expressed on some related page in Wikipedia), in which case, again, AFB would only affect short vowels.Jakob37 11:32, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Gmc short a had no long equivalent *until* ǣ became ā. Once that happened, they're a pair and could have fronted to æ/ǣ together. I think that's the simplest explanation, but I don't know if there are facts inconsistent with it. —Angr 18:34, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Jacob37, Perhaps you could elaborate on your statement, “from what I have checked, the consensus is that AFB only affected short vowels.” That is the only part of your comment that is potentially relevant. As for your opinion of which is the simpler explanation, Wikipedia doesn’t include the unpublished opinions of editors. Not that my opinion counts any more than yours, but:
  • ǣ is backed to ā in West Germanic, and then
  • a and ā are brightened to æ and ǣ (except sometimes) in Anglo-Frisian.
seems a simpler explanation than
  • a is brightened to æ (except sometimes) in Anglo-Frisian,
  • ǣ is backed to ā before w in Anglo-Frisian, and
  • ǣ is backed to ā in other West Germanic dialects.
--teb728 21:47, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

Phonotactics?[edit]

It'd be nice if there were a section on OE phonotactics. Anyone know of any sources where someone could get this info? True (talk) 19:25, 2 June 2011 (UTC)

ie/iy[edit]

I made changes to the diphthongs section to provide a more balanced array of information on the iy/ie question. I have also found at least 2 examples in Bosworth and Toller of ie being spelt as ye, which could further sugggest that ie being spelt as y in latter OE texts did not mean anything of the sort that the diphthong was pronounced iy (because it is the primary element - the element not under question - that was represented as a y in these two examples, not the latter, which is the one being alleged to have been a y sound). Gott wisst (talk) 11:44, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

Vowels[edit]

The vowels need to be hyperlinked. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 50.103.217.159 (talk) 05:24, 26 January 2014 (UTC)

[dʒ] as allophone of /j/[edit]

Is the claim that "[dʒ] is an allophone of /j/ occurring after /n/ and when geminated" not a mixture of diachronic and synchronic approaches? Synchronically, I think one has to argue that OE /dʒ/ could be analysed as having phonemic status, as we can form minimal pairs, such as sencan /ˈsenkɑn/ vs. sengan /ˈsendʒɑn/. Moreover, I don't think the allophony (if there was any) would be centred on /j/, but rather on some kind of palatalized /ɡ/ as [ɡʲ] => [dʒ], which is far more phonetically plausible than [jj](?)=>[dʒ] imho. In any case, that would not be allophony in OE, but in Proto-WGmc at best. By the way, I like the entry as it is and many thanks for the many contributions; as with all wikipedia entries the information given has to be taken cum grano salis, which is fine. Symkyn (talk) 10:11, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

/ˈsenkɑn/ vs. /ˈsendʒɑn/ doesn't show that /dʒ/ is a distinct phoneme from /j/, though. The claim is that [ˈsendʒɑn] is phonemically /ˈsenjɑn/. At the phonemic level it hardly matters what the manner of articulation is; you can call the underlying phoneme /ɟ/ or /ʝ/ if you prefer as long as it surfaces as [dʒ] after /n/ and when geminated and as [j] elsewhere. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 18:07, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
You are right; my minimal-pair-argument is probably dead-wrong here, thanks for pointing it out. I'm still not convinced that "[dʒ] is an allophone of /j/ occurring after /n/ and when geminated" or at least I don't quite get my head around this claim. So, I'll spend some more thought on it, first. Symkyn (talk) 05:14, 18 September 2014 (UTC)