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93. Sound Change

José Ignacio Hualde

Subject Sociolinguistics » Language Variation and Change
Theoretical Linguistics » Phonology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184236.2011.00095.x


This being a chapter on sound change in a series of volumes primarily concerned with synchronic phonology, it seems appropriate to begin by stating the relationship between synchronic and diachronic phonology that will be assumed here. As is well known, for the Neogrammarians a scientific investigation of language could only be undertaken from a historical perspective ( Paul 1880 ). More recently some scholars of phonology have expressed somewhat similar views (see Good 2008a : 11–15 for discussion). Thus Blevins (2004) has argued that historical explanations must be given priority in accounts of synchronic phonological patterns. One of Blevins's main points, also expressed by other authors (e.g. Bybee 2008 ), is that the phonetic naturalness of phonological patterns is a consequence of their origin in common mechanisms of sound change. The view that typological tendencies observable in synchronic sound patterns and (morpho)phonological alternations follow primarily from the relative frequency of different sound changes and paths of development (so that “naturalness” resides in diachrony) is not universally held. The alternative is that (in addition) there are principles of UG that dictate the shape of synchronic “phonological grammars.” Kiparsky (2008 : 52) proposes “a principled separation between true universals, which constrain both synchronic grammars and language change, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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