Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ    Attic   

OE diphthongs/breaking (was: Re: Germanic vowel correspondences (was: Scots.))

From:Tristan McLeay <conlang@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 22, 2008, 0:58
Benct Philip Jonsson wrote:
> On 2008-07-21 Tristan McLeay wrote: > > Yes indeed. I observed in an earlier email that > > in Australian English the phone corresponding to > > RP /au/ is very similar to the OE vowel > > i.e.a backing diphthong of which both segments > > are low. > > Also some dialects have a /ai/ > /aM/ shift! > > I don't want to spoil the fun or anything, but > this might be 'evidence' that the OE vowel > resulting from Germanic *au and written _ea_ was > actually a diphthong and not a back monophthong. > In the diphthongist--back-monophthongist debate I > am a compromissist in that I believe the so- > called 'long diphthongs' were actual diphtongs > _ea, eo, io/ie_ /&@/, /EV/ or /e7/ -- actually of
(I thought "io" was a variant of "eo", not of "ie", which is the i-mutation of "ea" and "eo", no?)
> mean mid height of course! --, /iM/ while the so- > called 'short diphthongs' were short back or > central unrounded monophthongs /3/--/6/, /V/-- > /7/, /i\/--/M/.
I probably don't know as much as you on this area, but having three low short unrounded vowels (i.e. /&/=ae /6/=ea /A/=a) seems very difficult and unlikely. I'm not aware of any language that distinguishes more than two short low vowels of the same rounding. (Forgive me, I don't know how to type ash on this Windows keyboard.) And aside from when "ea", "eo" represent palatalisation before /A, o, u/, ISTR that short "ea"/"eo" only actually actually come from breaking ... if that's right, it seems to me that the diphthong reading is the simplest and best. Eventually the vowels which result from breaking (almost always) merge back in with the original unbroken vowel, which I think makes it even more likely they're merely short diphthongs. Can short "ea", "eo" ever contrast with short "ae, e"? As for "ie" it is a sound which doesn't make much sense. It merges with y eventually --- at least in the West Saxon standard --- yet comes from unrounded vowels + i-mutation. I have seen three --- now four different readings for it (/i(:)e, i(:)y, I(:), (i:)M/). None had seemed to account for all the data --- how does the decidedly front unrounded /ie/ merge with /y/ (but not /i/)? how does i-mutation introduce rounding? (If I squint *just*so* I can see how /I(:)/ might merge with /y(:)/ but not /i(:)/, but I find it difficult to believe any language would distinguish all four of /i: i I: I/. Once again the only language I'm aware of that comes close is my dialect, although there's only three phonemes there ~[I:(@) Ii I]. Icelandic is ruled out on the grounds that the four vowels [i: i I: I] only make a two-way contrast /i I/ which permits a greater range of tactics to distinguish the two phonemes.) In short I have no idea what to consider "ie". Your notion is somewhat tempting --- as long as breaking is an ongoing change caused by the phonetic characteristics of the consonants, then [&A e7] -> [iM] -> [M] is likely enough, and then [M] and [y] sound pretty similar even if they're pretty different in how they're articulated. I just find that a bit harder to swallow for the long diphthongs.
> That the OE writing system could use the same > symbols for both should not be surprising: they > were similar if not identical and could be > construed as long--short pairs, and most > importantly breaking of long vowels **had** > probably resulted in just these diphthongal > qualities whiöle breaking of short vowels had > resulted in these short monophthongs. The *au > > /&@/ shift just increased the incidence of that > diphthong.
FWIW although I don't think any dictionary will agree with me, pairs like "vowel" and "Val" or "Powell" and "pal" are homophones or nearly so in these parts.
>Contrary to belief the OE writing > system was by no means 'perfect' or 'one to one':
Hence one reason I like it so much =) -- Tristan.


Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Daniel Prohaska <daniel@...>OE diphthongs/breaking