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
> *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
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
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
I don't know - but I doubt it.
> be that [y] is more common than [u]. In order for the opposite to be
> the language would've had to've conspired to delete consonants all over
> 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
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:
> 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'.
"A mind which thinks at its own expense will always
interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760