Alliteration and Sound Change in Early English

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Overview

This study uses evidence from early English poetry to determine when certain sound changes took place in the transition from Old to Middle English. It builds on the premise that alliteration in early English verse reflects faithfully the identity and similarity of stressed syllable onsets; it is based on the acoustic signal and not on the visual identity of letters. Examination of the behavior of onset clusters leads to new conclusions regarding the causes for the special treatment of sp-, st-, sk-, and the chronology and motivation of cluster reduction.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book offers a thorough analysis of alliteration in early English, with an eye to using the data to shed light on long-standing problems of English historical phonology. Furthermore, it synthesizes traditional philology with current formal approaches to phonology, namely, a phonetically informed version of Optimality Theory. The book should therefore appeal to both students and scholars of English metrics and to theoretical phonologists." - Marc Pierce, University of Texas
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521032247
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2006
  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Linguistics Series , #101
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Donka Minkova is Professor of English Language at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has published widely in the fields of English and Germanic historical phonology and syntax, historical dialectology and English historical metrics. She is the author of The History of Final Vowels in English (1991) and of English Words: History and Structure (with Robert Stockwell, Cambridge University Press, 2001). She is also co-editor, with Robert Stockwell of Studies in the History of the English Language: A Millennial Perspective.

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Table of Contents

List of figures
List of tables
List of abbreviations
Preface
1 Social and linguistic setting of alliterative verse in Anglo-Saxon and Medieval England 1
2 Linguistic structures in English alliterative verse 22
3 Segmental histories: velar palatalization 71
4 Syllable structure 135
5 Onset and cluster alliteration in Old English: the case of sp-, st-, sk- 192
6 Onset and cluster alliteration in Middle English 238
7 Verse evidence for cluster simplification in Middle English 311
References 371
Index of names 389
Subject index 393
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