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NATLANG: A Romanian Sound Change

From:JS Bangs <jaspax@...>
Date:Monday, April 4, 2005, 3:00
There is an interesting change that occurs in rural Moldovan dialects
of Romanian whereby labials become palatalized velars before the vowel
/i/. I have verified that this change occurs before all labial

Standard 	Dialect 	Orthography
[co'pi][co'k_ji] 	copii (children)
['] 	[' 	bine (well)
[fi] 	[Si] 	fii (sons)
[vin] 	[Zin] 	vin (wine)

I'm not sure exactly what the environment for this change is, and I
don't have the data to figure it out. What I do remember is hearing in
my Linguistics class that this sort of change shouldn't be possible.
It has to do with feature geometry–the [labial] feature is a lip
gesture, which the tongue position can't affect. Obviously this isn't
the case, because this sound change *does* take place, but I'm
wondering if any one knows of any similar examples or can shed light
on this particular change.
(Note: Cross-posted to my blog at

JS Bangs

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