Linguistics Sound Change
by
Joseph Salmons
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0098

Introduction

Sound change is the usual name given to a subfield dedicated to how speech sounds become different over time, and it has one of the longest traditions in the field of linguistics. (The area is also often called “historical phonology” and sometimes “phonological change.”) Sound change is a core area of historical linguistics (see the separate Oxford Bibliographies article on Comparative-Historical Linguistics) and has been since the beginning of modern linguistics. Indeed, it is possible to find older works labeled as “historical linguistics” or the “history of” some particular language that consist more or less entirely of discussion of sound change and the closely connected area of morphological change. For many scholars, the key issue in sound change goes back to the neogrammarian principle of “sound laws,” specifically the exceptionlessness of sound laws (Ausnahmslosigkeit der Lautgesetze), which was central to the establishment of linguistics as a scientific enterprise. The issue remains a vital one today, as illustrated by work on “lexical diffusion.” The study of sound change is not only important to the fields of phonetics, phonology, and morphology (see the separate Oxford Bibliographies articles on Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology) but also so tightly connected that clear boundaries become difficult to draw. Much early work on sound change drew evidence from written texts across different periods of time, for example, from Latin to medieval and then to modern Romance languages, while other scholarship compared related languages and dialects, such as those within the Algonquian family or across German dialects, to infer patterns of change. More recently, new kinds of evidence for sound change have been developed. In particular, the field moved forward during the 1960s and since thanks to the study of “language change in progress,” which has developed into the allied field of “language variation and change” (see the separate Oxford Bibliographies article on Sociolinguistics), which has relied far more heavily on evidence from sounds and sound patterns than evidence from other areas of grammar. Other new tools have revolutionized the field as well, including computational tools, databases, and so on. This article aims to balance the core, traditional areas of the study of sound change against these innovative areas of interest. Indispensable to most of the best work on sound change today is the recognition of the need to draw on the broadest available range of information, theories, and methods, and that is reflected in the selection of references that follow.

General Overviews

There is at present no single modern monographic introduction to or textbook on sound change, but many articles provide good overviews of the field from particular perspectives, including Hualde 2011 and Bermúdez-Otero 2007 in the context particularly of phonological theory. Fisiak 1978 provides an earlier state-of-the-art view from within historical phonology. Benware 1998 is especially useful for beginning students.

  • Benware, Wilbur A. 1998. Workbook in historical phonology: Sound change, internal reconstruction, comparative reconstruction. Lanham, MD: Univ. Press of America.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book gives forty-eight exercises, all built on sound patterns, drawing on a wide array of languages of the world and concluding with brief statements about the direction of sound change, lenition, and palatalization.

    Find this resource:

    • Bermúdez-Otero, Ricardo. 2007. Diachronic phonology. In The Cambridge handbook of phonology. Edited by Paul de Lacy, 497–517. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511486371.022Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      The most current overview, focusing on how functionalist and formal approaches do and do not differ and reconciling neogrammarian regularity and diffusionist and emergentist approaches.

      Find this resource:

      • Fisiak, Jacek, ed. 1978. Recent developments in historical phonology. Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs 4. The Hague: Mouton.

        DOI: 10.1515/9783110810929Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        This volume contains more than two dozen contributions by the leading scholars of the period from various theoretical perspectives and covering many fundamental theoretical issues (regularity, acquisition, and so on) and classic empirical problems in sound change (most importantly, Stockwell’s contribution on chain shifting in vowels).

        Find this resource:

        • Hualde, José Ignacio. 2011. Sound change. In The Blackwell companion to phonology. Vol. 4. Edited by van Oostendorp Marc, Colin J. Ewen, Elizabeth Hume, and Keren Rice, 2214–2235. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          This treatment of sound change by a leading phonologist focuses especially on the issue of regularity, pivoting on a distinction between “conventionalization of a phonetic process”—regularly (i.e., not subject to lexical conditioning)—and “phonological recategorization”—which often proceeds word by word (p. 2232).

          Find this resource:

          Foundational Works

          Sound change was established and widely practiced in the early history of linguistic science, and, perhaps as result, a rich array of theoretical issues were laid bare early in the 19th century. At any rate, specialists regularly revisit the kinds of key early research presented in Baldi and Werth 1978 and, for most of us at least, always with profit.

          • Baldi, Philip, and Ronald Werth, eds. 1978. Readings in historical phonology: Chapters in the theory of sound change. University Park: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press.

            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            This volume covers almost all of the critical statements on sound change from Hermann Paul to Paul Kiparsky and William Labov, translated into English for those originally written in other languages. It is the most valuable work available on the history of the field, and most of the chapters are cited elsewhere in this bibliography.

            Find this resource:

            Nineteenth Century

            There was no dearth of discussion of sound change before the emergence of linguistics proper, but discussion of sound change qua scientific enterprise might best begin in the 19th century. We still wrestle with empirical issues identified then (or yet earlier), like the Germanic consonant shift, but it was only well after Rask and Grimm (both reprinted in Lehmann 1967) that sound change was conceived of in terms of “exceptionless laws” (Osthoff and Brugmann; see Lehmann 1967), a case for which Verner 1967 provided critical support. Paul 1970 provides a neogrammarian perspective and Schuchardt 1972 the counterpoint. Sievers 1876 is focused on the phonetics of sound change. Kruszewski 1995 (originally published in 1881) has been less incorporated into modern work, but Silverman 2012 contributes to repairing that.

            • Kruszewski, Mikołaj. 1995. On sound alternation. In Writings in general linguistics. Edited by E. F. Konrad Koerner, 7–35. Amsterdam Classics in Linguistics 11. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Kruszewski was long relatively unknown in the English-speaking world—even compared to his teacher, Jan Baudouin de Courtenay—but the editorial work and discussion by Koerner in this book and Silverman 2012 shows that he anticipated major currents of thought in the theory of sound change. Translation also available in Baldi and Werth 1978 (pp. 64–91). Originally published in 1881 as Über die Lautabwechslung.

              Find this resource:

              • Lehmann, Winfred P., ed. 1967. A reader in nineteenth-century historical Indo-European linguistics. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                While it is limited to classic work in Indo-European and not limited to sound change, this readily available collection of important early contributions on sound change in translation, from Jacob Grimm’s own formulation of the law that today carries his name (in English, though not in German) and Osthoff and Brugmann’s statement of neogrammarian principles, is often considered the prototypical formulation. Available online.

                Find this resource:

                • Paul, Hermann. 1970. Principles of the history of language. 2d ed. Translated by Herbert A. Strong. College Park, MD: McGrath.

                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  This contains a classic statement of neogrammarian views, in the context of other mechanisms of change (analogy, borrowing). Paul anticipated many facets of contemporary discussion (e.g., the focus on the listener’s role in sound change). It was originally published in 1880. Translation of the chapter on sound change also available in Baldi and Werth 1978 (pp. 3–22.)

                  Find this resource:

                  • Schuchardt, Hugo. 1972. On sound laws: Against the neogrammarians. In Schuchardt, the neogrammarians, and the transformational theory of phonological change. Edited by Theo Vennemann and Terence Wilbur, 1–72. Frankfurt: Athenäum.

                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Schuchardt was a famous critic of the neogrammarians, often considered a forerunner of modern exemplar and lexical diffusionist approaches. Also includes the article in the original German. Originally published in 1885 as Über die Lautgesetze: Gegen die Junggrammatiker (Berlin: Oppenheim). Available online.

                    Find this resource:

                    • Sievers, Eduard. 1876. Vom lautwandel. In Grundzüge der lautphysiologie: Zur einführung in das studium der lautlehre der indogermanischen sprachen. Edited by Eduard Sievers, 196–216. Bibliothek Indogermanischer Grammatiken 1. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel.

                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      Sievers published extensively on historical linguistics, but the diachronic chapter of this classic early book on phonetics provides a broad survey of his views on sound change. (This book is more widely cited in the 1881 edition, known as Grundzüge der Phonetik.)

                      Find this resource:

                      • Silverman, Daniel. 2012. Mikołaj Kruszewski: Theory and vision, Part One. Language and Linguistics Compass 6.6: 330–342.

                        DOI: 10.1002/lnc3.336Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Part 2 of the article appears in Language and Linguistics 6.5: 296–309. This is the clearest statement of just how important Kruszewski’s work is to contemporary work on sound change in the key contexts of phonetics, phonology, and morphology.

                        Find this resource:

                        • Verner, Karl. 1967. An exception to the first sound shift. In A reader in nineteenth-century historical Indo-European linguistics. Edited by Winfred P. Lehmann, 132–163. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          Verner accounts for a large class of apparent exceptions to Grimm’s Law, supporting the regularity of sound change by drawing evidence from the position of Indo-European accent. Brilliantly argued and supported, Lehmann’s introduction to this piece declares this article to be perhaps “the single most influential publication in linguistics” (p. 132). Originally published in 1875 as “Eine Ausnahme der ersten Lautverschiebung,” Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung 23:97–130. Another translation is available in Baldi and Werth 1978.

                          Find this resource:

                          Twentieth Century

                          The study of sound change into the second half of the 20th century was dominated by views widely and not unreasonably considered “structuralist”: In Europe, Jakobson 1931 and Martinet 1955 pursued the understanding of sound change within the phonological system. Bloomfield 1933 illustrates efforts within the United States, and Hockett 1965 gives a late defense of the position against the emerging generative tradition. At the same time, Gauchat 1905 was distinctly in the tradition that has become associated with the term “lexical diffusion.” King 1969 provides an early generative perspective, and Anderson 1985 surveys the development of phonological theory with attention to sound change.

                          • Anderson, Stephen R. 1985. Phonology in the twentieth century: Theories of rules and theories of representations. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            Part 3 of this work argues that “principles originally suggested by Kiparsky as governing historical change . . . are shown to be important for the organization of synchronic phonology as well” (p. xv). This work illustrates the intimate connection between diachronic and synchronic phonology through the last century.

                            Find this resource:

                            • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1933. Language. New York: Henry Holt.

                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              A classic statement of the American structuralist position on sound change, especially in the chapters on “Phonetic Change” and “Types of Phonetic Change,” but relevant threads run throughout discussions of synchronic linguistics, dialects, and sociolinguistics.

                              Find this resource:

                              • Gauchat, Louis. 1905. L’unité phonétique dans le patois d’une commune. In Aus romanischen sprachen und literaturen: Festschrift for Heinrich Morf. Edited by Heinrich Morf, 175–232. Halle, Germany: Niemeyer.

                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                An important challenge to the neogrammarians and in some ways a model for modern work on variation, in particular the apparent time construct, showing the presence of innovative forms in a community alongside older ones.

                                Find this resource:

                                • Hockett, Charles F. 1965. Sound change. Language 41:185–204.

                                  DOI: 10.2307/411873Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  This work provides a statement of late American structuralist views on sound change with a defense of the regularity of sound change, arguments for the origin of sound change in use rather than in formal properties of grammar and a response to early generative views.

                                  Find this resource:

                                  • Jakobson, Roman. 1931. Prinzipien der historischen phonologie. Travaux du Cercle Linguistique de Prague 4:247–267.

                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    Jakobson interpreted sound change in terms of structuralist principles, notably the fit of elements within the overarching system. His (and his colleagues’) notions of markedness have continued to influence discussions of sound change through Vennemann and into Optimality Theory. (Partial translation in Baldi and Werth 1978, pp. 103–120.)

                                    Find this resource:

                                    • King, Robert D. 1969. Historical linguistics and generative grammar. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      A classic early overview of generative historical linguistics, overwhelmingly devoted to sound change.

                                      Find this resource:

                                      • Martinet, André. 1955. Economie des changements phonétiques. Bern, Switzerland: Francke.

                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Martinet remains a particular influence among functionalist approaches to sound change, and for the notion of functional load, still under discussion today. (Partial translation, “Function, Structure, and Sound Change” in Baldi and Werth 1978), pp. 121–159.

                                        Find this resource:

                                        Basic Types

                                        Current work and the currently most relevant work in sound change resists simple classification, but a handy way of taxonomizing some of it is in terms of its targets, namely segmental change, prosodic and metrical change, and tonal change, including the rise of tonal distinctions. Most of the works here are notable for their broad empirical foundations and wide theoretical perspectives.

                                        Segmental Change

                                        The studies included here simply represent a few notable examples of the kinds of important work going on today, including studies of classic problems from contemporary perspectives (Blevins and Garrett 1998, Kavitskaya 2002, Labov 1994). Hajek 1997 surveys a particular general problem cross-linguistically, while Howell 1991 and Murray and Vennemann 1983 do that for a family, and Schreier 2005 treats a general type of change within many varieties of a single language.

                                        • Blevins, Juliette, and Andrew Garrett. 1998. The origins of consonant–vowel metathesis. Language 74.3: 508–556.

                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                          Metathesis is a longstanding problem in sound change, assigned by some to a class of “sporadic” changes. Another major issue has long been the effort to motivate changes as “phonetically natural,” a view countered in this paper, which distinguishes two types of metathesis, one perceptual and one compensatory.

                                          Find this resource:

                                          • Hajek, John. 1997. Universals of sound change in nasalization. Publications of the Philological Society 31. Oxford: Blackwell.

                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            This study advances our understanding of sound changes involving nasalization drawing on extensive cross-linguistic evidence, using experimental phonetic methods and placing things in the context of then-current phonological theorizing.

                                            Find this resource:

                                            • Howell, Robert B. 1991. Old English breaking and its Germanic analogues. Tübingen, Germany: Max Niemeyer.

                                              DOI: 10.1515/9783111356501Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              Using contemporary dialect data from across Germanic, Howell is able to advance the analysis of numerous early Germanic sound changes, starting with Old English breaking but building data and arguments that have been extended in later literature to many others.

                                              Find this resource:

                                              • Kavitskaya, Darya. 2002. Compensatory lengthening: Phonetics, phonology, diachrony. New York: Routledge.

                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                Compensatory lengthening is a classic problem in sound change and synchronic phonology. Kavitskaya provides a detailed survey of compensatory lengthening patterns in fifty-eight languages. She constructs a listener-oriented account of how the process arises, distinguishing sound change and the synchronic reflexes of sound change.

                                                Find this resource:

                                                • Labov, William. 1994. Principles of linguistic change. Vol. 1, Internal factors. Oxford: Blackwell.

                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  While this tome does indeed engage with principles of linguistic change, its real focus is the study of vocalic change shifts, surveying historical cases of them and providing new data on chain shifts underway in American English.

                                                  Find this resource:

                                                  • Murray, Robert W., and Theo Vennemann. 1983. Sound change and syllable structure in Germanic phonology. Language 59.3: 514–528.

                                                    DOI: 10.2307/413901Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    This paper uses syllable structure preferences to provide a unified account of a seemingly independent set of segmental sound changes. (See the closely related work in Vennemann 1988, as well as Dresher and Lahiri 1991, both cited under Prosodic and Metrical Change.)

                                                    Find this resource:

                                                    • Schreier, Daniel. 2005. Consonant change in English worldwide: Synchrony meets diachrony. Palgrave Studies in Language History and Language Change 3. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

                                                      DOI: 10.1057/9780230513327Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Varieties of English from past and present and around the world provide ample data for this detailed survey of consonant cluster reduction in English. Schreier pursues the issue with respect to both variation and change and with attention to the social history of the varieties in question, especially language and dialect contact.

                                                      Find this resource:

                                                      Prosodic and Metrical Change

                                                      The historical development of prosodic and metrical systems has been the focus of considerable work in recent decades. Dresher and Lahiri 1991 and Bethin 1998 show the influential work done within two branches of Indo-European (Germanic and Slavic, respectively), while Halle 1997 highlights issues of reconstruction and stress/accent in Indo-European itself. Lahiri, et al. 1999 provides an important survey of diachronic prosody, and Hyman 2006 provides the best current typology of prosodic systems, with discussion of how diachronic claims do and do not fit, and Vennemann 1988 on syllabic preference laws has been widely influential in the field.

                                                      • Bethin, Christina Y. 1998. Slavic prosody: Language change and phonological theory. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511519765Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        This study uses formal phonological approaches to the syllable to develop a broad and unified account of sound change from Common Slavic into the daughters.

                                                        Find this resource:

                                                        • Dresher, B. Elan, and Aditi Lahiri. 1991. The Germanic foot: Metrical coherence in Old English. Linguistic Inquiry 22.2: 251–286.

                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          This classic article shows how foot structure can unify a set of superficially unrelated patterns from Germanic, especially in Old English. (See the syllabic approach to some similar patterns in the same languages in Murray and Vennemann 1983, cited under Segmental Change.)

                                                          Find this resource:

                                                          • Halle, Morris. 1997. On stress and accent in Indo-European. Language 73:275–313.

                                                            DOI: 10.2307/416020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            Drawing on then-new advances in understanding prosody, this paper provides an economical account of Indo-European stress and accent with developments into a variety of daughter languages.

                                                            Find this resource:

                                                            • Hyman, Larry M. 2006. Word-prosodic typology. Phonology 23.2: 225–257.

                                                              DOI: 10.1017/S0952675706000893Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              Framed as a synchronic typology, this paper is rich in implications for work on accentual types and systems in diachrony.

                                                              Find this resource:

                                                              • Lahiri, Aditi, Tomas Riad, and Haike Jacobs. 1999. Diachronic prosody. In Word prosodic systems in the languages of Europe. Edited by Harry van der Hulst, 335–422. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                A valuable cross-linguistic survey of changes in accentual systems from across Europe and a useful introduction to the area.

                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                • Vennemann, Theo. 1988. Preference laws for syllable structure and the explanation of sound change: With special reference to German, Germanic, Italian, and Latin. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  In seeking the motivations for sound change, Vennemann draws on syllable structure and develops a set of “preference laws,” which in some sense anticipate the development of optimality theory.

                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                  Tonogenesis

                                                                  As important as diachronic prosody has become, the study of tone change and particularly the rise of tonal distinctions has become important for sound change generally, including both for the role of transphonologization (transfer of features from earlier codas onto tone on the syllable) and for the role of “register.” The entries here trace the history of the development of work on tonogenesis (from Haudricourt 1954 to Hombert, et al. 1979 to Thurgood 2002). Hyman 1978 and Ratliff 1992 are two important studies of how tonal systems can change; the first is a general survey and the second focuses on some striking case studies.

                                                                  Evidence for Sound Change

                                                                  Since the 19th century, there has been tension between examining sound change as a result—through written texts over time—versus drawing on living languages and dialects for data. Four examples of how and from where historical phonologists draw their data should give an idea of how rich our options are: written texts, real and apparent time studies, databases of attested or posited sound changes, and simulations of sound change.

                                                                  Writing

                                                                  Even after we have conquered the obvious problems of interpreting (alphabetic) orthography in the study of sound change, written texts provide particular challenges as data for the field. These papers exemplify some of the ways that linguists have engaged those challenges: Ferlus 2009 for written evidence in a nonalphabetic writing system, Goddard 1973 for languages often first recorded by nonnative speakers, and Minkova 2003 for how much information can be gleaned from poetic texts written in an alphabetic system that did not capture the contrasts of the language at hand very well at all.

                                                                  • Ferlus, Michael. 2009. What were the four divisions of Middle Chinese? Diachronica 26:184–213.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1075/dia.26.2.02ferSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    A nonalphabetic writing system such as Chinese might seem to the uninitiated to provide little or no useful information on sound change, but Ferlus uses such evidence as Chinese “rime books” and “rime tables” to draw new insights into the history of vowels and r lenition in Chinese.

                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                    • Goddard, Ives. 1973. Philological approaches to the study of North American Indian languages: Documents and documentation. In Current trends in linguistics, Vol. 10. Linguistics in North America. Edited by Thomas A. Sebeok, 727–745. The Hague: Mouton.

                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      This paper outlines some key difficulties in the interpretation of early existing written documentation of Native American languages, covering both the original documents and earlier interpretations placed on them, both real issues in positing and analyzing sound changes.

                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                      • Minkova, Donka. 2003. Alliteration and sound change in early English. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511486968Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        This study uses the relatively simple device of alliteration in English to sharpen our understanding of the chronology of sound changes. Minkova’s work is striking and important for its combination of poetics and philology with current theoretical approaches to phonology and sound change.

                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                        Real and Apparent Time

                                                                        The study of sound change in contemporary settings—that is, sound change in progress—is typically divided by the type of evidence brought for the change. The availability of sound recordings over more than a century allows real-time study. A remarkable example of such work is Harrington 2006, which analyzed the speech of the Queen of England over decades, showing changes in her pronunciation. Easier to do are apparent-time studies, based on the assumption of “age-grading,” that is, that differences between older and younger speakers at one point in time reflect change in progress. Labov, et al. 2006 provides the largest and best known of these studies, surveying vowel changes across North America, while Jacewicz, et al. 2011 uses much denser sampling in three selected areas to complement and provide contrast to broad surveys.

                                                                        • Harrington, Jonathan. 2006. An acoustic analysis of “happy-tensing” in the Queen’s annual Christmas broadcasts. Journal of Phonetics 34.4: 439–457.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/j.wocn.2005.08.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Most real-time studies are limited by the available recordings; it is difficult to match speakers’ social characteristics, speech styles, and so on. Harrington brilliantly avoids this by taking a set of closely parallel recordings from a single speaker to trace sound change.

                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                          • Jacewicz, Ewa, Robert Allen Fox, and Joseph Salmons. 2011. Cross-generational vowel change in American English. Language Variation and Change 23.1: 45–86.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/S0954394510000219Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            This study exemplifies one kind of large-scale apparent-time investigation underway with vowel change, using large numbers of speakers across a full range of ages from three focused and quite distinct regions of American English.

                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                            • Labov, William, Sharon Ash, and Charles Boberg. 2006. The atlas of North American English: Phonetics, phonology, and sound change. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              The culmination of decades of research, this volume, with accompanying CD including sound files and analysis, documents and develops the core interest of North American variationists: vowel change. Available as a searchable PDF through many libraries.

                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                              Databases

                                                                              A number of database projects are currently underway that stand to radically improve our catalog of sound changes. Two exemplify distinct types: DiaDM is a typological database covering the languages of the world, while Sound Comparisons is focused specifically on providing comparable data from Germanic languages.

                                                                              Simulations and Computation

                                                                              Still controversial among some traditional historical phonologists, the use of simulations and computational models of sound change is rapidly gaining in sophistication and value. Baker 2008 offers an accessible work for students, while Blevins and Wedel 2009 offers a case study and Kirby 2010 a deeper investigation of another issue. (See also Wedel 2006, cited under Exemplar Theory and Emergentist Approaches.)

                                                                              • Baker, Adam. 2008. Computational approaches to the study of language change. Language and Linguistics Compass 2.3: 289–307.

                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                A general introduction to modeling and computational work on language change generally and contextualizing such work on sound change.

                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                • Blevins, Juliette, and Andrew Wedel. 2009. Inhibited sound change: An evolutionary approach to lexical competition. Diachronica 26.2: 143–183.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1075/dia.26.2.01bleSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  This paper models patterns of homophony avoidance as an inhibitor of sound change and integrates the modeling with historical data from human languages.

                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                  • Kirby, James P. 2010. Cue selection and category restructuring in sound change. PhD diss., University of Chicago.

                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    A modeling approach to issues of maintenance and loss of phonological contrast, drawing on listener-oriented work on sound change.

                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                    Sound Change in Context

                                                                                    Sound change is intimately integrated with other subfields of linguistics to the point that interfaces, generally important in linguistics in recent decades, play a particularly central role, illustrated here with work on acquisition, morphology, and the social context of sound change, but the list could be extended to many other fields.

                                                                                    Acquisition

                                                                                    The role of language acquisition in sound change has been stressed by generative linguists but has been considered a factor since the neogrammarians. These studies offer distinct perspectives on first-language acquisition and sound change: Vihman 1980 is a seminal early study of how acquisitional data match, or do not match, attested sound changes. Payne 1980 shows that even exposure to a dialect at an early age hardly ensures full acquisition, while Sankoff and Blondeau 2007 provides evidence for change even among adults. Salmons, et al. 2012 deals not with acquisition per se but rather cross-generational transmission, arguing for a role for caretaker speech in sound change.

                                                                                    • Payne, Arvilla C. 1980. Factors controlling the acquisition of the Philadelphia dialect by out-of-state children. In Locating language in time and space. Edited by William Labov, 143–178. New York: Academic.

                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      This study presents data on dialect acquisition children moving to a new area. Younger children generally acquire more new features, but even locally born children of nonlocal patterns do not acquire the full set.

                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                      • Salmons, Joseph, Robert Fox, and Ewa Jacewicz. 2012. Prosodic skewing of input and the initiation of cross-generational sound change. In The initiation of sound change: Perception, production, and social factors. Edited by Maria-Josep Solé and Daniel Recasens, 167–184. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Using acoustic evidence from American English dialects, this study proposes that one kind of sound change, vocalic chain shifts, appear to be initiated and sustained over generations by “skewed” input presented to young learners in child-directed speech.

                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                        • Sankoff, Gillian, and Hélène Blondeau. 2007. Language change across the lifespan: /r/ in Montreal French. Language 83:560–588.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1353/lan.2007.0106Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          This paper presents real-time data (see Real and Apparent Time) on a rapid, community-wide shift from apical [r] to dorsal [R], showing that while most speakers remain stable after the critical period, a number of speakers adopt the innovative pronunciation of /r/.

                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                          • Vihman, Marilyn M. 1980. Sound change and child language. In Papers from the 4th International Conference on Historical Linguistics. Edited by Elizabeth C. Traugott, Rebecca Labrum, and Susan Shepherd, 303–320. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            After a long tradition of sometimes wild speculation about the connections between sound change and children’s acquisition of phonology, this paper provided one of the first empirical studies, beginning to show mismatches and complexities still being explored today.

                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                            Morphology

                                                                                            Neogrammarian thought strictly distinguishes between sound change and analogy (along with borrowing) as types of change, and the basic relationship between them is often captured in Sturtevant’s Paradox (see Sturtevant 1947). A vast recent literature challenges and refines this view in many ways. Other works illustrate the more active roles assigned to morphology in this interchange: Wurzel 1980 and Joseph and Janda 1988 cover the types of transitions we find between sound change and morphological structure.

                                                                                            • Joseph, Brian D., and Richard Janda. 1988. The how and why of diachronic morphologization and demorphologization. In Theoretical morphology: Approaches in modern linguistics. Edited by Michael Hammond and Michael Noonan, 193–210. New York: Academic.

                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              The authors survey movement into and out of morphology in language change, arguing for rich interactions (e.g., increased phonological conditioning of morphological rules). The discussion of demorphologization broadens the perspective given in Wurzel 1980.

                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                              • Sturtevant, Edgar H. 1947. An introduction to linguistic science. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                Other works by the same author are more directly diachronic, but this one is the source of what is now widely known as “Sturtevant’s Paradox” (p. 109): Phonetic laws are regular but produce irregularities; analogic creation is irregular but produces regularity.

                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                • Wurzel, Wolfgang Ullrich. 1980. Ways of morphologizing phonological rules. In Historical morphology. Edited by Jacek Fisiak, 443–462. The Hague: Mouton.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1515/9783110823127Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  A discussion of how sound change feeds morphological structure and interacts with morphological change from the perspective of natural morphology.

                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                  Social Setting

                                                                                                  A common claim is that neogrammarians and structuralists regarded sound change as unobservable. Weinreich, et al. 1968 directly and forcefully attacked this notion and with that launched the modern variationist enterprise. Labov 2001 shows how much detail has been sifted out in the meantime about the social dimensions of sound change as it moves through a community, and Kerswill 2001 provides an overview of the particularly important patterns of change under dialect contact.

                                                                                                  • Kerswill, Paul. 2001. Koineization and accommodation. In The handbook of language variation and change. Edited by J. K. Chambers, Peter Trudgill, and Natalie Schilling-Estes, 669–702. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Accessible introduction to how dialect contact shapes linguistic varieties, especially new ones, over the course of time.

                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                    • Labov, William. 2001. Principles of linguistic change, Vol. 2, Social factors. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Drawing evidence overwhelmingly from sound changes, many in progress at present, this tome presents a contemporary variationist perspective on social correlates of language change and integrates them into a broader model of change presented in the other volumes of this trilogy.

                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                      • Weinreich, Uriel, William Labov, and Marvin I. Herzog. 1968. Empirical foundations for a theory of language change. In Directions for historical linguistics: A symposium. Edited by Winfred P. Lehmann and Yakov Malkiel, 97–195. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        This founding statement on language variation and change is anchored firmly in sound change and contrasts that view with structuralist and generative views explicitly. While sometimes thought of (and occasionally practiced as) excluding structural factors, the paper concludes that explanations confined to either linguistic or social factors will fail.

                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                        Areal Diffusion

                                                                                                        Dialectology has long provided critical data for charting the course of sound change, and areal linguistics has again come to the fore. Labov 2007 directly treats the theory of sound change as it connects with geography, while Murray 2010 provides a view contextualized in terms of the 19th-century tradition and Nerbonne 2009 shows the promise that recent and sometimes still-emerging quantitative and computational tools can bring to the geography of sound change.

                                                                                                        • Labov, William. 2007. Transmission and diffusion. Language 83:344–387.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1353/lan.2007.0082Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          This paper distinguishes two ways that sound change spreads over space, geographical, and social. Transmission involves change of a traditional sort as language is passed down over generations, while diffusion reflects change across communities, so across the branches of a Stammbaum.

                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                          • Murray, Robert W. 2010. Language and space: The neogrammarian tradition. In Language and space: An international handbook of linguistic variation: Theories and methods. Edited by Peter Auer and Jürgen Erich Schmidt, 70–87. Berlin: de Gruyter.

                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            A contemporary statement from the perspective of historical phonology on sound change and geography, anchored in classic theoretical questions.

                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                            • Nerbonne, John. 2009. Data-driven dialectology. Language and Linguistics Compass 3.1: 175–198.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-818X.2008.00114.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              Work like this in dialectometrics is beginning to provide far sharper pictures of areal variation in ways that directly inform the diffusion of sound changes over space.

                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                              Theoretical Perspectives

                                                                                                              The section on Foundational Works treats the key early theories of sound change—most notably neogrammarian, structuralist, and generative approaches. Many working specialists in sound change today still align themselves with one or more of those, especially the fundamental principles of the neogrammarians, exemplified here by Janda and Joseph 2003.

                                                                                                              • Janda, Richard D., and Brian D. Joseph. 2003. Reconsidering the canons of sound-change: Towards a “Big Bang” theory. In Historical linguistics 2001. Edited by Barry J. Blake and Kate Burridge, 205–219. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                This model emphasizes the brevity of the phonetic inception of sound change (thus “big bang”) before change is reinterpreted by speakers in terms of phonological and morphological generalizations.

                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                Phonetic Approaches

                                                                                                                Phonetic work on sound change is particularly important at present. Browman and Goldstein 1991 develops the framework of articulatory phonology, while Purnell 2008 exemplifies instrumental articulatory work on sound change. Ohala 1993 is credited for pioneering work in perceptually oriented work on sound change (see Ohala 1993). Guion 1998 provides a perceptual study of a classic problem in sound change. Increasingly, work involves both, as in the important work Beddor 2009. Solé and Recasens 2012 provides a collection of the major current perspectives, including most of these just named.

                                                                                                                • Beddor, Patrice S. 2009. A coarticulatory path to sound change. Language 85.4: 785–821.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1353/lan.0.0165Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  This study explores how vowel plus nasal sequences become nasalized vowels, arguing that gestures that begin in coarticulation can come to be interpreted as distinctive parts of another segment.

                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                  • Browman, Catherine P., and Louis Goldstein. 1991. Gestural structures: Distinctiveness, phonological processes, and historical change. In Modularity and the motor theory of speech perception. Edited by Ignatius G. Mattingly and Michael Studdert-Kennedy, 313–338. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Work by these authors, including the notion of gestural overlap, has resonated in the study of sound change.

                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                    • Guion, Susan G. 1998. The role of perception in the sound change of velar palatalization. Phonetica 55.1–2: 18–52.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1159/000028423Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Palatalization of velars (e.g., [k] becoming [tʃ]) before front vowels is among the most widely attested sound changes cross-linguistically, and it was traditionally accounted for by reference to coarticulation—fronting of the velar due to the frontness of a vowel. Guion provides strong evidence that perceptual factors drive the change in articulation.

                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                      • Ohala, John J. 1993. The phonetics of sound change. In Historical linguistics: Problems and perspectives. Edited by Charles Jones, 237–278. London: Longman.

                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        A detailed and relatively early overview of the author’s approach to sound change that “locates the mechanism centrally in the phonetic domain and primarily within the listener” (p. 263). These views have been influential, among other places, in the development of Evolutionary Phonology.

                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                        • Purnell, Thomas. 2008. Pre-velar raising and phonetic conditioning: Role of labial and anterior tongue gestures. American Speech 83.4: 373–402.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1215/00031283-2008-028Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          A fine-grained investigation of the articulatory correlates of the raising of /æ/ before /g/, a widely discussed but ill-understood feature of some American dialects. A surprising finding is that raising co-occurs with lip rounding.

                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                          • Solé, Maria-Josep, and Daniel Recasens, eds. 2012. The initiation of sound change: Perception, production, and social factors. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            The most current statement of the early stages of sound change from primarily (though not exclusively) phonetic points of view.

                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                            Lexical Diffusion and Frequency

                                                                                                                            The most fundamental challenges to neogrammarian principles have come on the front of regularity, in particular claims that sound changes can proceed word by word rather than uniformly by phonetic environment. Alongside numerous important attempts to reconcile regularity and apparent lexical change, represented here by the influential exchange between Labov 1981 and Kiparsky 1995, a number of scholars argue directly for lexical diffusion over regularity, from the early effort of Wang 1969, drawing data from Chinese tonal changes, to the more recent, forcefully diffusionist work in Phillips 2006, drawing especially from the richly attested history of English. (See also especially Bybee 2001 and Pierrehumbert 2001, both cited under Exemplar Theory and Emergentist Approaches.)

                                                                                                                            • Kiparsky, Paul. 1995. The phonological basis of sound change. In The handbook of phonological theory. Edited by John A. Goldsmith, 640–670. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              A generative perspective on sound change, specifically from lexical phonology, treating the question of regularity versus lexical diffusion.

                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                              • Labov, William. 1981. Resolving the neogrammarian controversy. Language 57.2: 267–308.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/413692Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                An important proposal from a variationist perspective ultimately defending the neogrammarian notion of regularity by distinguishing core, regular sound change as “low-level output rules” versus lexically diffuse patterns in “abstract word classes.”

                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                • Phillips, Betty S. 2006. Word frequency and lexical diffusion. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1057/9780230286610Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  One of the most detailed recent accounts of lexical diffusion and particularly notable for the exploration of the role of frequency.

                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                  • Wang, William S.-Y. 1969. Competing changes as a cause of residue. Language 45:9–25.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/411748Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Wang argues specifically that sound change can be “phonetically abrupt but lexically gradual” (p. 9) with competition among sound changes playing a key role. Also reprinted in Baldi and Werth 1978 (cited under Foundational Works, pp. 236–257).

                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                    Exemplar Theory and Emergentist Approaches

                                                                                                                                    A major current challenge to phonological work on sound change comes from what Bermúdez-Otero 2007 (cited under General Overviews) reasonably characterizes as “functionalist phonology,” specifically built on the notions of exemplars and the emergence of categories through use, akin to earlier work in prototype theory. Bybee 2001 and Pierrehumbert 2001 give key early formulations of these views. Mielke 2008 develops the perspective typologically, with attention to synchrony and diachrony, while Wedel 2006 develops simulations that help model how this works.

                                                                                                                                    • Bybee, Joan. 2001. Phonology and language use. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511612886Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      This book is perhaps the most widely cited and most general statement of “usage-based” approaches, drawing especially on connectionism and frequency effects (see Lexical Diffusion and Frequency).

                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                      • Mielke, Jeff. 2008. The emergence of distinctive features. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        Drawing on an extensive cross-linguistic survey and with much attention to “unnatural” patterns in phonology, Mielke argues that traditional distinctive features are not innate but instead the product of phonological patterns.

                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                        • Pierrehumbert, Janet B. 2001. Exemplar dynamics: Word frequency, lenition and contrast. In Frequency and the emergence of linguistic structure. Edited by Joan Bybee and Paul Hopper, 137–158. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          This paper treats one of the most common patterns of sound change, lenition, using positive feedback within an exemplar-based approach. (Also see related work under Lexical Diffusion and Frequency.)

                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                          • Wedel, Andrew B. 2006. Exemplar models, evolution and language change. The Linguistic Review 23.3: 247–274.

                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            Wedel uses simulations to develop an understanding of how variation can lead to sound change, drawing on parallels from evolutionary biology.

                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                            Evolutionary Phonology

                                                                                                                                            Evolutionary phonology has found appeal among numerous specialists in sound change, perhaps because of its basic premise: “Principled diachronic explanations for sound patterns have priority over competing synchronic explanations unless independent evidence demonstrates, beyond reasonable doubt, that a synchronic account is warranted” (Blevins 2004, p. 23). An example of how the framework has developed can be found in Hansson 2008; a variety of evaluations are provided in Blevins 2006, and a more specifically (and sometimes traditional) diachronic perspective is in Smith and Salmons 2008.

                                                                                                                                            • Blevins, Juliette. 2004. Evolutionary phonology: The emergence of sound patterns. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511486357Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              The cornerstone of work in this framework, Blevins builds a model of synchronic phonology, which not merely reflects diachrony but also has been overwhelmingly shaped by historical changes.

                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                              • Blevins, Juliette, ed. 2006. Special issue: A theoretical synopsis of evolutionary phonology. Theoretical Linguistics 32.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1515/TL.2006.009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                This volume contains a target article by the editor, expanding on her 2004 book, and seven responses to it, including a number of critical voices, closing with the editor’s response.

                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                • Hansson, Gunnar Ólafur. 2008. Diachronic explanations of sound patterns. Language and Linguistics Compass 2.5: 859–893.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-818X.2008.00077.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Hansson explores how phonetics shapes phonology especially through historical change, with a welcome focus on typology. He also provides a comparison of evolutionary phonology, Ohala’s listener-based approach, and optimality theory.

                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                  • Smith, Laura Catharine, and Joseph C. Salmons. 2008. Historical phonology and evolutionary phonology. Diachronica 25.3: 411–430.

                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Much of the work in evolutionary phonology has been undertaken by primarily synchronically oriented phonologists and others, but this review article provides a specifically diachronic perspective on the theory.

                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                    Optimality Theory

                                                                                                                                                    Widely used in phonology, morphology, and, to an extent, phonetics, optimality theory (OT) has been less applied to historical problems. The works included here show the key perspectives: Holt 2003 for a general OT perspective on sound change and language change, Kiparsky 2010 for a defense of traditional approaches, and McMahon 2000 for a critique of OT.

                                                                                                                                                    • Holt, D. Eric, ed. 2003. Optimality theory and language change. Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 56. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1007/978-94-010-0195-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      The most extensive and important single work on the diachronic possibilities of optimality theory, with considerable attention to sound change.

                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                      • Kiparsky, Paul. 2010. Compensatory lengthening. In Handbook of the syllable. Edited by Charles E. Cairns and Eric Raimy, 33–70. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        This paper addresses the fundamental problems of monostratal optimality theory in accounting for sound change. (For another take on this problem, see Kavitskaya 2002, cited under Segmental Change.)

                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                        • McMahon, April M. S. 2000. Change, chance, and optimality. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          This book provides an extensive critique of OT with ample attention to its treatment of sound change.

                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                          Individual Languages and Families

                                                                                                                                                          The study of sound change, while hardly lacking in proposals for sweeping generalizations, remains especially rich in the analysis of individual languages and genetic groupings, where fuller context and finer-grained analysis is possible. The set of works listed here surveys some of the best-studied languages and families and some languages and families in which the work on sound change is particularly well developed.

                                                                                                                                                          Algonquian

                                                                                                                                                          More than many families in the Americas, and indeed many around the world, Algonquian has a very strong history of diachronic research, with particular strengths in sound change, as well as morphological change. The works here showcase the depth and breadth of historical phonological research on the family, beginning with Bloomfield 1925 on Central Algonquian and then Bloomfield 1946, a broader sketch of the family. Hockett 1981 and Goddard 1974 are key studies of individual languages, the former of one of the best studied and the latter of two that differ greatly from Central Algonquian. Goddard 1979 and Pentland 1979 provide more recent perspectives on the family as a whole.

                                                                                                                                                          • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1925. On the sound-system of Central Algonquian. Language 1.4: 130–156.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/409540Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Although restricted to one branch of the family, this early work laid the foundation for later comparative research.

                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                            • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1946. Algonquian. In Linguistic structures of native America. Edited by Harry Hoijer, L. Bloomfield, E. E. Newman, et al., 85–129. Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology 6. New York: Viking Foundation.

                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              Later and more detailed treatment of the family as a whole.

                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                              • Goddard, Ives. 1974. An outline of the historical phonology of Arapaho and Atsina. International Journal of American Linguistics 40.2: 102–116.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1086/465292Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                While much work has gone into the Central Algonquian languages, this paper treats two of the more divergent and challenging branches from further west.

                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                • Goddard, Ives. 1979. Comparative Algonquian. In The languages of native America: Historical and comparative assessment. Edited by Lyle Campbell and Marianne Mithun, 70–132. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

                                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  The first third of this long chapter covers sound change and phonological reconstruction, much of it devoted to “remaining problems” left after work by Bloomfield 1925, Bloomfield 1946, and other work.

                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                  • Hockett, Charles F. 1981. The phonological history of Menominee. Anthropological Linguistics 23.2: 51–87.

                                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    An in-depth investigation of one member of the Central branch of Algonquian covering both sound change per se and morphophonological developments. The paper should be consulted together with the errata published later the same year (Anthropological Linguistics 23.7: 326–327).

                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                    • Pentland, David H. 1979. Algonquian historical phonology. PhD diss., University of Toronto.

                                                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      This work covers the historical phonology of five Algonquian languages from across the family (Cree, Shawnee, Nawathinehena, Narragansett, and Nanticoke), with a long treatment of Proto-Algonquian and development into daughters.

                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                      Austronesian

                                                                                                                                                                      As Blust 2011 notes, Austronesian provides “a vast laboratory for the study of sound change” (p. 545), based on the sheer number of distinct languages in the family.

                                                                                                                                                                      Bantu

                                                                                                                                                                      Hombert and Hyman 1999 provides a collection by leading specialists. This diverse and well-studied family is richly enough inflected that sound change in Bantu often provides insights into connections between morphology and sound change, as illustrated here by Bostoen 2008 and Hyman 2006.

                                                                                                                                                                      • Bostoen, Koen. 2008. Bantu spirantization: Morphologization, lexicalization and historical classification. Diachronica 25.3: 299–356.

                                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        Spirantization in Bantu interacted with an ultimately independent sound change, namely reduction of the vowel system from seven to five, and this paper explores the results not only in terms of morphologization or dephonologization of the process but also implications for Bantu classification.

                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                        • Hombert, Jean-Marie, and Larry M. Hyman, eds. 1999. Bantu historical linguistics: Theoretical and empirical perspectives. Stanford, CA: CSLI.

                                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Heavily focused on sound change—segmental and tonal—and connected issues in morphology, this volume offers a broad survey of Bantu historical work.

                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                          • Hyman, Larry M. 2006. Sound change, misanalysis, and analogy in the Bantu causative. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 24:55–90.

                                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            The author examines one sound change—the frication of Proto-Bantu į before high vowel—in one morphological context—į as a causative suffix. From this starting point, he charts a remarkable range of morphological effects through both misanalysis and analogy across the family.

                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                            Basque

                                                                                                                                                                            Isolates (i.e., languages without known genetic relatives) provide particular challenges for understanding sound change. Basque is one of the best-known isolates, and Michelena 1976 provides a comprehensive study of available material on its phonetic/phonological development.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Michelena, Luis. 1976. Fonética histórica vasca. 2d ed. San Sebastián, Spain: Diputación Provincial de Guipúzcoa.

                                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              This study uses available data—dialectal and earlier attested forms of the language, as well as borrowings—and available tools—internal reconstruction and dialect comparison—to shed light on the prehistory of Basque sounds.

                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                              Chinese

                                                                                                                                                                              Sound change is in some sense conceived differently for Chinese (and other languages of the region), with a focus on “initial,” “rime,” and “tone” rather than segmental and suprasegmental elements. Baxter and Sagart 2012 reflects important, ongoing collaboration between two leading specialists, while Pulleyblank 1984 provides the key work on Middle Chinese.

                                                                                                                                                                              • Baxter, William H., and Laurent Sagart. 2012. Reconstructing the *s- prefix in Old Chinese. Language and Linguistics 13.1: 29–59.

                                                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                These authors have both individually shaped our understanding of Old Chinese and have created an online list of reconstructions.

                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                • Pulleyblank, Edward G. 1984. Middle Chinese: A study in historical phonology. Vancouver: Univ. of British Columbia Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  An important complement to works by Baxter and Sagart and others on Old Chinese.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                  Indo-European

                                                                                                                                                                                  Indo-European is perhaps the best-studied language family and the family on which many early specialists in sound change cut their professional teeth. These works provide guidance beyond the first-level textbooks and handbooks on Indo-European phonology and sound change. For details of Indo-European historical phonology, Sihler 1995 is the starting point, along with Mayrhofer 2004 for those who read German. Collinge 1985 places notable changes and correspondences in the context of the history of research since the 19th century.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Collinge, N. E. 1985. The laws of Indo-European. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    This introduction not only covers the sound laws of this family but does it in a way engaging to a broader audience of historical linguists.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Mayrhofer, Manfred. 2004. Die Hauptprobleme der indogermanischen Lautlehre seit Bechtel. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, Sitzungsberichte 709. Vienna: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      The most recent broad overview of Indo-European phonology by a specialist. See especially pp. 6–16.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                      • Sihler, Andrew Littleton. 1995. New comparative grammar of Greek and Latin. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        This reworking of a classic volume by C. D. Buck provides a wealth of information on Indo-European phonology and sound change into the daughters.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                        Daughter Languages

                                                                                                                                                                                        These few titles showcase some of the range of important recent work. Two on less widely studied daughters—Melchert 1994 on Hittite and its Anatolian cousins and Ringe 1996 on Tocharian—are by leading Indo-Europeanists with specialization in these branches. Others treat some of the best-studied daughters—Weinrich 1958 gives the broadest picture of Romance while Baldi 2002 gives a more modern account of the best-known daughter, Latin; Ringe 2006 provides an encyclopedic account of sound change from Indo-European to Germanic.

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Baldi, Philip. 2002. The foundations of Latin. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1515/9783110807110Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          Though not strictly about Romance, this work provides a general treatment of the prehistory of Latin, with much attention to sound change and morphophonological change.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Melchert, H. Craig. 1994. Anatolian historical phonology. Leiden Studies in Indo-European 3. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            This is the standard work on the Anatolian branch.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Ringe, Donald A., Jr. 1996. On the chronology of sound changes in Tocharian. Vol. 1, From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Tocharian. New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              As the title suggests, this volume not only treats the sound changes connecting the most geographically removed branch to Indo-European but also works out the relative chronology of those changes.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Ringe, Don. 2006. A linguistic history of English. Vol. 1, From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199284139.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                A detailed and traditional treatment of sound change into Germanic, along with treatment of especially inflectional morphology.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Weinrich, Harald. 1958. Phonologische studien zur romanischen sprachgeschichte. Forschungen zur Romanischen Philologie 6. Münster, Germany: Aschendorff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Working both in the rich previous literature on this family and in the European structuralist tradition of Martinet (see Twentieth Century), Weinrich covers segmental change across the family, along with various prosodic changes (e.g., vocalic and consonantal quantity).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Uralic

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Given highly controversial recent efforts to argue against the genetic unity of this family, it is worth noting that the sound correspondences and patterns of sound change are relatively well understood. Sammallahti 1988 provides a reliable overall view.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Sammallahti, Pekka. 1988. Historical phonology of the Uralic languages. In The Uralic languages: Description, history, and foreign influences. Edited by Denis Sinor, 478–554. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    An introduction to issues of sound changes within the Uralic family, concentrating on the less widely discussed and often more divergent branches of the tree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    back to top

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Article

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Up

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Down