> I would like to propose some candidates. The justifications can be
> found in the file which I just uploaded. It is an article published
> the Journal of the Inter. Quant. Ling. Association circa 1999.
> Here are the axiom(s) (axiom candidates)
> Axiom 0. Most changes are co-articulation effects of various kinds.
> Axiom 1. The changes go from less sonorant to more sonorant. These
> be seen in Figs 10-18 or so. (There are two Fig 12s. Mistake.)
[f] > [v] and [v] > [f] are both known. Word initially, [f] >
known from Dutch and English West Country dialects.
[v] > [f] seems to have occured in the development of Tai dialects
from Proto-Tai; the evidence lies in the tone development, which
indicates initial voicing. (The Thai letter is a modified Indic <b>;
the original Indic letter is now pronounced [ph] in Simaese and Lao,
[p] in the Northern dialects, and and has the same association with
the tone as the letter for *v.) It may be relevant that the Tai
change is part of a general set of changes whereby voicing contrasts
were lost. For example, <hm> and <m> now both represent [m]
Intervocally, [f] > [v] is unremarkable; word-finally, [v] > [f] is
Ok. What I am referring to is one of the two kinds of change (1) physiological,
coarticulation changes (2) changes due to new language learners.
IT may be compared to water flowing downhill naturally, unless forced uphill
forces (e.g. pumps). These two have to kept separate to get a better correlation
languages and movement of peoples, and role of substrates.
> Axiom 2. The specific mechanism is (to the simplest approximation)
> nearest neighbor shift. (A similar phenomenon (!) (actually analysis
> of the phenomenon) in physics is called nearest-neighbor
> In other words, no shifts of the type t>a allowed. (Personally I
> also disallow k>s.)
We may have to be careful with our metrics here. The Latin to
Romanian shift -[kt]- > -[pt]- (also -[ks]- > -[ps]- and -[Nn]-
(<gn>) > -[mn]-) and Celtic -[pt]- > -[kt]- do not look like
neighbour shifts. A plosive contrast of [p] ~ [k] ~ [t] can be
represented by 3 binary features, though obviously 2 will do. I've
seen a paper where the Romanian development was put forward as an
argument that [p] and [k] should be separated by a single feature, so
the contrast is [t] ~ ([p] ~ [k]).
The frequent change [k_w] > [p] is not a nearest neighbour shift in
articulatory terms. (I'd accept [k_p] > [p] as such, but I don't
think anyone has seriously suggests that Latin <qu> represented
[k_p].) I'm not sure what to make of the Greek development [k_w] >
[t] before a front vowel either. Potentially nasty is proto-Semitic
*w- > Hebrew [y]-. (_w&-_ 'and' is about the only native looking
word Hebrew has starting with /w/.) I'd be very dubious about [H]
(the semivowel in French _huit_ 'eight') as an intermediate stage.
This has to be understood in terms of above. If p>t>k is natural flow,
then something else
happened. Or did it? Maybe a different dialect took over.
> Axiom 3. The system should be hierarchical e.g. get the commonest
> changes to form a kind of a skeleton and add the more exotic ones on
> top of these. This is not much more than an approximation scheme
> is already in use in linguistics (as well as in many branches of
Is this an axiom or a principle for organising our knowledge?
> Axiom 4. When these are being used in reconstruction, make explicit
> your principle e.g. are you using some kind of an averaging?
Averaging is in general unsafe, especially in the presence of
That's right. That is why I am so concerned about "direction" of flow due
There are also loss and gain changes. Initial [j] > [dj] and [w] >
[gw] are (in progress in Spanish) the most obvious examples of gains,
but we also have vowel prothesis, e.g. Latin st- > Western Romance
est- and consonant prothesis - almost mandatory in Slavic.