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Language change that complicates the syllable structure

From:Arnt Richard Johansen <arj@...>
Date:Wednesday, August 27, 2003, 16:56
What are some plausible diachronic processes that can expand the syllable
structure of a language?

My main conlang, Ciktal, must at one time have had a very simple syllable
structure, perhaps restricted to (C)V, due to its syllabic writing system
that only really works well with simple syllables. At the present time, it
obviously has acquired consonant clusters. So what I'm trying to do is to
create a proto-language, make some regular sound changes, and end up with
the present-time version of the language. And maybe etabnannimise the
orthography while I'm at it.

What little I've read of historical linguistics suggests that weakening
and elision of consonants is much more common than elision of
vowels and epenthetical insertion, which by the way are the only two
syllable-complicating processes I know of. Can other kinds of language
change (ie. non-phonological) influence the syllable structure in a
complicating way? The arise of compounding? Cliticization of particles,
and subsequent incorporation in an inflectional/derivational system?

I only know the history of one language that was mostly (C)V. That is
Japanese. The only change in its syllable that I'm aware of, is the
occasional loss of high vowels word-finally, thus creating a closed
syllable ((C)VC). Are simple syllable structures really that stable? It
would be intriguing if language change inevitably lead to a (C)V syllable
structure, but given that most languages that exist today have more
complicated syllable structures, that's not very plausible.

I know many of you have started out with a present-time language, and
worked youselves backwards to a proto-language. That seems difficult,
almost impossible. Tell me how you did it!

Arnt Richard Johansen                      
Someone just called to say he loved you?!


JS Bangs <jaspax@...>
Isidora Zamora <isidora@...>
Roger Mills <romilly@...>
Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>
Peter Bleackley <peter.bleackley@...>