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English plural -(e)s

From:Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>
Date:Friday, November 26, 2004, 13:32
Ray Brown wrote:

> But what I was saying in the second paragraph is that at the time of the > Viking/Danish settlement the sound that is conventionally transcribed _R_ > when transcribing runes, and later merged with /r/, was still pronounced > [z] and thus to them /s/ and /z/ would be separate phonemes. But the > English speakers could identify their plural ending /s/ with the > new-comers plural ending /z/, because to the English it was the same sound! > the effect also, it seems to me, would be to confirm the sound of the > plural ending as [z].
I beg to differ slightly. I think that the /z/ phoneme had already developed into /r\/ in Common Scandinavian of the viking age, i.e. there was a fricative/approximant /r\/ contrasting with a rolled /r/. It is true they later merged, but into what sound or allophonic alteration is impossible to tell. However any bilingual(*) could easily figure out that OE -as and CS -aR corresponded to one another. Moreover -as was the only ending in the two languages that was unambiguously a nom/acc plural ending. This helped to establish it no doubt! (*Actually these two languages differed less than many dialects of modern languages. The 13th century Icelander Snorri Sturluson explicitly said that in viking times Scandinavia, England and northern Germany had all one language -- i.e. so it still seemed to contemporaries.) -- /BP 8^) -- Benct Philip Jonsson -- melroch at melroch dot se Solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant! (Tacitus)


Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>