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Re: Umlaut

From:Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Date:Monday, June 23, 2003, 15:47

"Mark J. Reed" <markjreed@...> writes:
> Quick terminology question: > > I thought umlaut was a specific variety of ablaut - a consistent featural > change.
Hmm, ablaut is a quite arbitrary shift of the stem vowel (at least today). I don't know what motivated it, but probably very ancient phonology rules that inserted two different parenthetic vowels like in Old Greek (e vs. o vs. consonantal stem variants). Umlaut is newer. Some kind of phonological harmony. E.g. the German umlaut is an i-umlaut technically as it shifted all preceding vowels of the word to the front in front of an /i/ in an appended ending.
> But it doesn't seem to be; in German, for instance, while umlaut > does always move a vowel from back to front,
Right. In ancient times this happend because there was an /i/ following the umlauted vowels.
> it has an inconsistent effect on the height: