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Back to mutations again was Re: Mutations in General

From:Peter Clark <peter-clark@...>
Date:Tuesday, October 22, 2002, 18:23
Quoting Dirk Elzinga <Dirk_Elzinga@...>:

> The fact that many English speakers routinely delete the nasal in such > clusters gives support to the existence of such a tendency. Of course there > will be speakers who pronounce a full nasal; this doesn't mean that the > tendency isn't real (or "universal"), just that it's not active in that > variety of English.
Thanks for clearing up what you meant by "universal tendency"; I got bogged down on the "universal" part which tends to get equated with Greenburg's "universals," which aren't really universal at all (for the most part) and so now I tend to have a alergic reaction against "universal." My doctor has prescribed some pretty yellow pills for it... :)
> I figured the discussion of mutation would eventually get bogged down in the > particulars of English pronunciation; it seems to be one of the strange > attractors for threads on this list.
Perhaps I can steer this thread back to its original topic. BTW Dirk, thanks for the definitions of lenition, gradation, and mutation. I knew lenition, but I was not familiar with gradation. Now my question regarding mutation is how closely bound is it to the phonology of the language. You wrote that mutation is not phonologically predictable, but is there any specific tendencies *g* within mutations? For instance, Welsh has three, soft, nasal, and spiration. Soft can be generalized as follows: unvoiced stops are voiced, voiced stops are fricatized (is that a word) except for /g/ (did Welsh once have /X/ that disappeared?), and so on and so forth. In other words, there is a definite pattern that can be perceived. It is not the case that /p/ -> /b/ but /t/ -> /D/. This is what interests me. Now, here's the heart of the matter: is the tendency shown by both Welsh and Fula frequent enough to call it a "universal tendency"? Or are there some really wacky mutation systems out there (granted, mutation is wacky enough as it is...)? Where, for instance, /p/ does not mutate to /b/, /f/, /m/, or something similar, but to /t/, /S/, or /l/? If there is such a system, would it be proper to actually call it "mutation," since the underlying change is probably not phonetic? If not, what would it be called? What would be some ways in which it could develop? Thanks, :Peter


Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Tim May <butsuri@...>
Dirk Elzinga <dirk_elzinga@...>
taliesin the storyteller <taliesin@...>