--- In phoNet@yahoogroups.com, "Richard Wordingham"
<richard.wordingham@n...> wrote:
> What general principles are known that restrict the possible sound
changes a
> language may undergo? There seem to be tendencies, but I get the
> that the plausibility criteria are empirical rather than captured by
a few
> general principles.
> Richard.

I would like to propose some candidates. The justifications can be
found in the file which I just uploaded. It is an article published in
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 can
be seen in Figs 10-18 or so. (There are two Fig 12s. Mistake.)

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 interaction).
In other words, no shifts of the type t>a allowed. (Personally I would
also disallow k>s.)

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 that
is already in use in linguistics (as well as in many branches of

Axiom 4. When these are being used in reconstruction, make explicit
your principle e.g. are you using some kind of an averaging?

These are obviously subject to revision especially by me :-)

PS. Physical constraints etc can best be seen in the book by Sheila
Bloomstein and .... (I think I gave references in the article) and
also Stevens' works.

PPS. Avoid at all costs inventing new words constantly when a
hierarchical naming scheme (an approximation and ordering scheme) can
be used. This is especially something that would be used for
discussing grammar (e.g.various cases, and tenses).

PPPS. The article is not the latest one. It is missing an appendix or
two, but I cannot find the latest one.