--- In phoNet@y..., "richardwordingham" <richard.wordingham@m...>
> I think it may be relevant that, in English at least, [st] acts
> a 'pseudo-phoneme'. Teachers have observed that English children
> have to be explicitly taught, at least at the start of a word, that
> <s> + <t> is /st/; it often (always?) failed to shorten a preceding
> long vowel as Old English became Modern English; and 'aste' is the
> only group in which a final 'e' lengthens a vowel preceded by two
> consonants. (It is just possible the massive variation in the IE
> partial reduplication of verbs in st- is relevant here. I don't
> think there is such variation for plosive plus liquid, but there is
> significant variation for 'laryngeal' plus resonant) A more remote
> example of the combination's special nature is Classical Hebrew
> s^tayim 'two (f.)', which is one of the very few Classical Hebrew
> words to start with two consonants.

The observation that in Old English that each of 'sc', 'sp' and 'st'
alliterates only with itself is, as Piotr says in his
article 'SPecial STatus: Presigmatised Stops' evidence their phoneme-
like nature. I feel cheated when Quirk and Wrenn's 'An Old English
Grammar' says, 'By the time of Classical OE, the biliteral sc had
come to represent the single consonant source [S] occurring initially
in Mod. E. 'ship' and in the form OE 'scip'; in poetry, words
beginning with sc- could alliterate only woth other wrds beginning
with sc-.' The statement seems to claim this rule as evidence
that 'sc' was [S] rather than [sk], whereas the applicabilty of the
rule to 'sp' and 'st' greatly weakens this evidence.


P.S. Is there any out there, or has this list become an 'Ask Piotr'