Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: German sibilants and consonant clusters.

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Tuesday, June 20, 2006, 22:21

On Tue, 20 Jun 2006 00:45:17 +0200, Steven Williams wrote:

> Several years ago, as I was beginning my study of > German, I noticed that no native word (at least in > Hochdeutsch) had a cluster of any kind that had [s] + > consonant; it was always [S]. > > I'm curious as to why this is so. I was told by my > linguistics professor that Old High German had two > variants of /s/ — an apical and a laminal, most > likely, he said.
Yes. They were spelled with different letters: apical |s| and laminal |z|.
> This makes sense, if the laminal became reinterpreted > as a postalveolar [S] after /sk/ palatalized to [S].
Most, if not all such clusters involve the apical, not the laminal sibilant.
> Is this so, and if it is indeed so, how did this > original opposition between apical and laminal > sibilants evolve from the original PIE consonant inventory?
The laminal fricative written |z| in Old High German came from Proto-Germanic *t (which in turn is, in most cases, from PIE *d). The shift *t > z was part of the High German consonant shift, which is not to be confused with the Germanic consonant shift or Grimm's Law, which (among other changes) changed *d into *t. The apical sibilant /s/ is unchanged from PIE. ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf