Chapter 6: Segmental change: an outline of some of the most common phonological processes 6.1. Sounds in connected speech. Coarticulation 6.2.

Feature Changes. Assimilation. Different types of assimilation 6.3. Voicing and devoicing 6.4. Nasalization 6.5. Palatalization 6.6. Lenitions and fortitions 6.7. Delitions and insertions 6.8. Metathesis

6.5. Palatalization
Another type of assimilation to the place of articulation that is very frequent in both English and Romanian is palatalization. We can hardly overestimate the importance of this type of assimilation. It ranges from contextual allophonic variants of non-palatal phonemes to different types of coalescence, the palatal semivowel and the preceding sound merging into an entirely new phonetic unit. In Romanian, the palatalization of obstruents (plosives, fricatives and affricates) nasals or liquids can mark number, gender or person oppositions in the noun, the adjective or the verb: lup/lupj, rup/rupj, hrib/hribj, sorb/sorbj bilabial plosives grof/grof j, grav/gravj labiodental fricatives j j ®em/®em , an/an nasal stops pol/polj, mor/morj liquids j alveolar fricative huhurez/huhurez j na•/na• palatoalveolar fricative hots/hotsj affricate paroh/paroç. velar fricative Alveolar obstruents get a more retracted articulation and coalesce with the palatal sound merging into a palatalized alveolar or alveopalatal fricative or affricate: cad/cazj pas/pa• j, treaz/tre¥j pot/potsj alveolar fricative palatoalveolar fricative affricate

A palatalized affricate also results from the coalescence of the inflection with a velar plosive: trek/tre± j; merg/mer®j.

Palatalized forms like:








re± j, min®j, vrc¥j pcdukj, urekj, ridikj

coronals velar

In English, too, we can have palatalized allophones of almost all consonant phonemes – obstruents, nasals and liquids – as in pure [pjjuc] tribunal [trawbjjuncl] tuna [tjjunc] duke [djju:k] future [fjjut•c], view [vjju:] suitor [sjjutc], resume [rwzjjum] cure [kjjuc], regular [regjjulc] huge [çu:d¥] immune [wmjjun], nuclei [njjuklwaw] illuminate [wljjumwnewt] bilabial plosives alveolar plosives labiodental fricatives alveolar fricatives velar plosives glottal fricative nasal stops liquids

Notice that, however, the change can be phonemic and the coalescence of an alveolar sound with the palatal semivowel - in most cases as a result of affixation - can result either into a palatoalveolar sound: t+j → • : create/creation [krwewt] / [krwew•n] , d+j → ¥: divide/division [dwvawd] / [dwvw¥n] s+j → •: press/pressure [pres] / [pre•c], z+j → ¥: seize/seizure [si:z] / [si:¥c] or into an affricate and in this case palatalization is also called affrication: t+j → ± : create/creature [krwewt] / [kri:±c] d+j → ®: grade/gradual [grewd] / [græ®ucl]; proceed/procedure [prcsi:d] / [prcsi:®c] Sometimes, when we have a sequence of an alveolar plosive and the affricate sound we can have two parallel forms, both of them acceptable: one with the palatalized plosive and one with the affricate sound: sanctuary [sæõktjυcrı] / [sæõkt•υcrw]; habitual [hcbwtjυcl] / [hcbwt•υcl] graduate [grædjυct] / [græ®υct]; individual [wndwvwdjυcl] / [wndwvw®υcl] We witness the same alternation in sequences where an alveolar fricative can be changed either into its palatalized version or into a more retracted palatoalveolar fricative: issue [wsju:] / [w•u:]

Rounding is a type of assimilation involving manner of articulation features. It affects sounds that are contextually pronounced with rounded lips because of the vicinity of a rounded vowel or the rounded glide [w]. Consider, for instance examples like twin, too, dwell, door where the alveolar plosives are rounded and, consequently, a rounded allophone will occur when the phoneme is distributed in the above mentioned positions. Dissimilation is the opposite of the phonological process we have been discussing so far: in a given environment, two sounds that have similar features come to be utterly distinct. Again, from a diachronic perspective Greek offers some illustrations of the process (Spencer, 1996:59). Thus, in a sequence that used to include two plosives, the first one loses its [+instantaneous release] feature changing into a fricative and thus becoming dissimilar to the following one: /epta/ “seven”→ /efta/ /okto/ “eight” → /oxto/ Assimilation and dissimilation are not, of course, the only phonological transformations affecting sound sequences. In the following lines we will examine how other transformations affect the features of phonetic segments in certain environments.

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