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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach

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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"


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Academic Paper


Title: Fundamental Regularities in the Second Consonant Shift
Author: Gregory K. Iverson
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.uwm.edu/~iverson
Institution: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Linguistic Field: Phonology; Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: German
Abstract: Recent studies, by us and others, have argued that the Second Consonant Shift began medially after stressed short vowels, triggered by a segmental interpretation of aspiration in interaction with Germanic syllable weight requirements. The most striking empirical support came from the dialect of Wermelskirchen, where shift of fortis stops is attested only following short vowels. But is Wermelskirchen an isolated dialect or part of a general pattern? We review selected dialect data supporting this new account of the shift and show the Wermelskirchen evidence to be cut from a broader regional fabric that is marked also by biases in place of articulation among stops and, to some extent, their following vowels. We take these data to reflect the archaic nature of the modern distributions, concluding that the apparent idiosyncrasies obscure an original, fundamental regularity whose structural motivations come into clearer focus under the principles of Evolutionary Phonology.

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This article appears IN Journal of Germanic Linguistics Vol. 18, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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