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Re: Distribution of Front Rounded Vowels

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Wednesday, August 25, 2004, 5:37
On Tuesday, August 24, 2004, at 07:42 , David Peterson wrote:

> Related to French, are there any French historians out there?  Because if > all > *u's became [y], and sequences of *ou became [u],
The condition is false. You are being misled by spelling convention. The sequences of *ou never became [u]. /ou/ was not a normal combo in VL. It did, however, develop in proto-French (or Gallo-Romance) from VL /o/ and /U/ (= CL /o:/ and /u/) in stressed, unblocked syllables. It subsequently became [øu] and then simply [ø] by the end of the 12th century and is spelled in the modern language either |eu| or |œu]. The sound written |ou| and pronounced [u] is derived for the most part from from stressed VL /o/ and /U/ in blocked syllables and from _unstressed_ VL /o/ and /U/ (whether blocked or not). It was throughout its history a simple vowel. As we've seen above the Latin 'short u' became either [ø] or [u], but not [y]. However, what I've said above is a simplification. The presence of /j/ or a nasal after the vowel might modify it, as did a following /l/ in blocked syllables. Post-vocalic /l/ was clearly 'dark', as in English 'field', 'bill' etc, in early French and in northern French became [w] as in modern London speech. This caused the creation of a whole set of diphthongs and triphthongs in Old French, which have all been monophthongized in the modern language. In particular, VL /O/, /o/ and /U/ (= CL /o/, /o:/ and /u/) + /l/ in blocked syllables _all_ became [ow] in Old French, written |ou|. This had become [u] by the end of the 12th cent. The process would've started earlier and probably helped create the convention of writing /u/, whatever its origin, as |ou|. The French [y] developed, probably as early as proto-French, from VL /u/ (= Cl /u:/), whether in stressed or unstressed, blocked or unblocked (or before 'dark /l/'). It was always spelled |u|.
> it would seem to me that > [y] would be more common in the present language than [u]. 
This doesn't follow from the actual scenario, however - indeed, more sounds surely give rise to modern /u/.
> Is this the > case? 
I don't know - but I doubt it. [snip]
> be that [y] is more common than [u].  In order for the opposite to be > true, > the language would've had to've conspired to delete consonants all over > the > place so that /o/ and /u/ appeared next to each other. 
Except that [u] never AFAIK developed from /o/ + /u/!
> To an extent that > happened, if I'm thinking about it right (*totus > tous [tu], etc.), but > that can't > have happened enough for [u] to supplant [y], could it have?
No, it couldn't. Nor does French _tout_ ( _tous_ is plural) derive from CL _to:tus_ otherwise we'd have *teu. The Italian _tutto_ should make one wary. The French form is derived from VL *tottU, the blocked, stressed /o/ becoming /u/ in the normal way. The geminate /tt/ also accounts for the survival of /t/ in French; a single intervocalic /t/ became /D/ in early Old French before becoming silent (and unwritten). ========================================================== On Tuesday, August 24, 2004, at 04:46 , Roger Mills wrote: [snip]
> so duce-, unu/a- luna- > /y/ (Fr. duc, une, lune - but 'duc' is odd in > retaining /k/)
> but dulce- > /u/ via [duwke-],
No - *[duwke] would never have occurred. The palatalization of /ke/ --> /kje/ --> /tç/ happened in VL. ProtoFrench /dOlts@/ --> Old French /dowtS@ / --> /duts@/ --> modern /dus(@)/.
> and totu- > todu > tou = /tu/
No! *tou ain't French! The singular is _tout_ because the final /t/ was pronounced in Old French. For the etymology of _tout_, see above.
> also tour 'tower' < turre-, gout < gustV-
Yep, from VL /tUrre/ and /gUstU/
> Not sure where "fou" or "roux" come from, though...."folle" and "folie"
_fou_ from Latin 'folle(m)' by quite regular sound change. Don't be misled by the final -x of _roux_; modern French has a habit of writing -ux after a vowel where in earlier times they just had -us. Remember the feminine of _roux_ is _rousse. _roux_ (feminine: rousse) --> Latin 'russu(m)' [rUssU], by regular sound change. The Italian 'rosso' is also regularly derived from the same Latin word and our English 'russet' comes from Old French 'rousset', a diminutive of 'rous/roux'. Ray =============================================== (home) (work) =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760