Re: The Swedish Chef

From: caraculiambro
Message: 14311
Date: 2002-08-13

--- In cybalist@..., "Milos Bogdanovic" <milos@...> wrote:

> Why in some cases palatalisation happened in Dalarne (K-TS)
> but in the standard Swedish dialect it did not happened (K).

It did! The LETTER <k> before a "soft" vowel letter and in the
combination <kj> represents the SOUND [S] (from earlier [tS], which
apparently survives in Dalarna), not to [k]. Again, don't confuse
letters with sounds.

> How do you explain that in some Indoeuropean languages
> palatalisation happened, but in some IE languages, under
> the same conditions it did not happened?

Because all sound change is tendential, not deterministic. If all
frequent sound changes applied whenever possible, any language would
become incomprehensible to its own native speakers overnight.
Palatalisation is one of the most common forms of assimilation, and
most sound changes are assimilatory. But every language exists is a
kind of homeostasis, as if trying to maintain its stable internal
environment (so as to make communication easy); this means that
change is in principle resisted rather than encouraged. The more
natural a phonetic change is the more often it will occur in casual
speech, and the greater chance it has to slip into the normative
pronunciation. But this does not _have_ to happen, and as with all
inherently stochastic processes you can't know in advance when and
where it _will_ happen.

> Did not the various psychophysical attributes of the population
> with the various forms of palatalisation?

I find no reason to think so. All the initial stages of the Swedish
palatalisation were identical in Dalarna and in standard Swedish.
Dalarna is now "one step behind" the standard accent, which has
evolved further, losing the stop element in [dj] and [tS]; Dalarna
may or may not develop along the same trajectory in the future --
nobody can tell for sure whether it will. Differences between
dialects are due to a great variety of reasons, the phenotypical
features of speakers playing a minimal role at best; otherwise we
would typically have "racialects" rather than regional of social
varieties -- and that does not appear to be the case.

> Why the sounds palatalized in the last 1000-2000 years,
> and not at the beginning of the forming of the languages?

But palatalisations and other common-or-garden assimilations have
occurred since the emergence of language in humans. What is common
cross-linguistically does not have very often in one and the same
linguistic lineage. People are "frequently" killed by cars
(statistically speaking), which fortunately doesn't mean that you --
a concrete pedestrian -- will be ran over every month. The
distribution of palatalisations in space and time is not restricted
in any way. The Indo-Iranian palatalisation of *ke (> *k'æ > ca) took
place ca 4000 years ago, for example, and the Slavic languages
palatalised their velars more than once during their history. If you
insist that your "Nilotic" genes had something to do with the
process, why has it happened in so many places where your map doesn't
show any characteristic markers (England, most of continental Europe,