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Primary split revisited

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Textbook treatments generally state that primary split, or split-merger leads to positional neutralization, but has no effect on phoneme inventory. However, if the phonemes affected by a primary split have a defective distribution at the time of the change the result may be loss of contrast, or inventory reduction. This potential is illustrated with artificial data, but involves no assumptions that are contrary to common types of sound change.
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Keywords: defective distribution; neutralization; phoneme inventory; phonemic redistribution; reductive primary split; sound change; split-merger

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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  • International Journal for Historical Linguistics
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