Why *p>*f?

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal mcv at wxs.nl
Sun Feb 7 02:43:27 UTC 1999


>>In any case, neither the Grimm nor the High German shifts are
>>cases of a direct shift [p] > [(p)f].  In both cases the
>>precondition, which may be a necessary precondition for this
>>sound shift, was an aspirated pronunciation of /p/ as [ph].

>Precondition?  That's hard to prove.  The fact that Germanic languages (other
>that Dutch) lacking this shift do have the aspirates does not prove that
>aspiration was in fact a precondition.

I said it *may be* a precondition, because in every example I
could think of, aspiration seemed to play a part.

>PIE *bh yields Latin f only initially; medially we find b.  As for the Greek,
>we should remember that the change did not occur in isolation, as it were:
>there were two series of voiceless stops,

As in Proto-Germanic.

>and the development of one series to
>fricatives led to greater acoustic differentiation. -- Look, I'm not trying to
>*deny* that aspiration may have *favored* these developments, but I don't see
>how we can prove that it was in any sense a necessary condition.

Disprove it.  My bald assertion was in fact a veiled invitation
for someone to come up with counterexamples.

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal
mcv at wxs.nl

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