Why *p>*f?

Peter &/or Graham petegray at btinternet.com
Thu Feb 4 03:34:01 UTC 1999

Larry in his posting appears to give up all hope of explaining the change
/p/ > /f/, (and other changes such as /b/ > /p/ and so on).     This is of
course a safe, classical position.   If I may again speak as one with
limited knowledge, isn't there a modern theory rather like the old "strength
values" theory of Grammont, which suggests a hierarchy, within which sound
change may move either up or down, but without jumping around?

Larry also says:
>In High German, ..., */p/ changed to /pf/ -- an
>extraordinary development, rarely if ever seen elsewhere.

This is only partly true.   In most contexts (e.g. medial when not doubled,
and final) it moved all the way to /f/, e.g. Dorf ~ thorpe, offen ~ open,
Schlaf ~ sleep etc etc etc.   /pf/ is only found initially, after
consonants, and for medial /pp/, where the process /p/ > /f/  may be seen as
being incomplete.


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