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Reconstructing the articulation of Early Germanic *r

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The seemingly contradictory influences of r on neighboring sounds in the early Germanic languages have fueled controversy over r’s articulation in Proto-Germanic and later dialects. In this paper, we examine a number of these early Germanic sound changes and compare their effects to those observed in recent phonetic studies of the coarticulation of different types of r on adjacent vowels. We conclude that an apical trill and a central approximant r are phonetically the most likely conditioners of the earliest Germanic sound changes, while later changes can be accounted for by rhotics which were phonetically related to these earlier articulations.

Keywords: Germanic; Old English; Old High German; breaking; historical phonetics; rhotics; sound change

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Baylor University

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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  • International Journal for Historical Linguistics

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