Phonological history of English fricatives and affricates
H-dropping and h-adding
H-dropping is the omission of initial /h/ in words like house, heat and hangover in many dialects of English, particularly in England. H-dropping in English is found in all dialects in the weak forms of function words like he, him, her, his, had and have. The opposite of h-dropping, so-called h-adding, is a hypercorrection found in typically h-dropping accents of English.
Loss of velar and palatal fricatives
The velar or palatal fricative sounds that formerly appeared in words like thought, taught, daughter, night, weight, etc. (still reflected by the ⟨gh⟩ in the spelling) disappeared from almost all varieties of English in the late Middle English or early Modern English period.
A voiceless velar fricative /x/ is still used by many speakers of Scottish English in words like loch, where it is also sometimes used by speakers of other varieties of English, although it is not a regular phoneme in their systems. Alternatively, loch may be pronounced "lock", the /x/ being replaced by /k/.
The Old English fricatives /f, θ, s/ had voiceless and voiced allophones, the voiced forms occurring in certain environments, such as between vowels. In Early Middle English, partly due to borrowings from French, these split into separate phonemes: /f, v, θ, ð, s, z/. Later, also, a voiced /ʒ/ appeared alongside /ʃ/.
- The then–thyn split (one of those referred to above) was a phonemic split of the Old English phoneme /θ/ into two phonemes /ð/ and /θ/ occurring in Early Middle English which resulted in then and thyn (thin)'s starting with different initial consonant, /ð/ and /θ/.
- Th-fronting is a merger that occurs (historically independently) in Cockney, Newfoundland English, African American Vernacular English, and Liberian English (though the details differ among those accents), by which Early Modern English /θ, ð/ merge with /f, v/.
- Th-stopping is the realization of the dental fricatives [θ, ð] as the stops, [t, d] which occurs in several dialects of English.
- Th-alveolarization is the pronunciation of the dental fricatives /θ, ð/ as the alveolar fricatives /s, z/
- Th-debuccalization is the pronunciation of the dental fricative /θ/ as the glottal fricative /h/ when it occurs at the beginning of a word or intervocalically, occurring in many varieties of Scottish English.
Initial-fricative-voicing is a process that occurs in the West Country accents where the fricatives /s/, /f/, /θ/, /ʃ/ and /h/ can be voiced to [z], [v], [ð], [ʒ] and [ɦ] when they occur at the beginning of a word. In these accents, sing and farm are pronounced [zɪŋ] and [vɑːɻm]. As seen in H-dropping, many of these areas also drop /ɦ/ altogether. The West country pronunciations vane (Old English fana), vat (Old English fæt) and vixen (Old English fyxen) made their way into standard usage.
A similar phenomenon happened in both German and Dutch.
The sip–ship merger is a phenomenon occurring in some Asian and African varieties of English where the phonemes /s/ and /ʃ/ are not distinguished. As a result, pairs like "sip" and "ship", "sue" and "shoe" etc. are homophones.
The ship–chip merger is a phenomenon occurring for some speakers of Zulu English and Chicano English where the phonemes /ʃ/ and /tʃ/ are not distinguished. As a result, "ship" and "chip" are homophones.
The zip–gyp merger is a phenomenon occurring for some speakers of Indian English where /z/ and /dʒ/ merge to [dʒ], making "zip" and "gyp" homophonous as /dʒɪp/.
- Phonological history of the English language
- Phonological history of English consonants
- intervocalic alveolar flapping
- t glottalization
- rhotic and nonrhotic accents
- Hard and soft c
- Harper, Douglas. "V". Online Etymology Dictionary.
- "Annexe 4: Linguistic Variables". Arts.gla.ac.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
- "Honk Kong English" (PDF). Waseda.jp. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
- "Legacies of Colonial English: Studies in Transported Dialects - Google Boeken". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-08-01.
- Rodrik Wade, MA Thesis, Ch 4: Structural characteristics of Zulu English at the Wayback Machine (archived May 17, 2008)