(This discussion ignores the effect of trisyllabic laxing.) [26] Some of the lengthened vowels would be shortened again by or during the Middle English period; this applied particularly before the clusters beginning r. Examples of words in which the effect of lengthening has been preserved are: In Late West Saxon (but not in the Anglian dialects of the same period) io and īo were merged into eo and ēo. vowels were often lengthened in late Old English before /ld, nd, mb/; vowels changed in complex ways before /r/, throughout the history of English; vowels were diphthongized in Middle English before /h/; new diphthongs arose in Middle English by the combination of vowels with Old English w, g /ɣ/ > /w/, and ġ /j/; etc. Other sources are Early Modern English lengthening of /a/ before /l/ ("salt, all"); occasional shortening and later re-lengthening of Middle English /ɔː/ ("broad" < /brɔːd/ < brād); and in American English, lengthening of short o before unvoiced fricatives and voiced velars ("dog, long, off, cross, moth", all with /ɔ/ in American English, at least in dialects that still maintain the difference between /a/ and /ɔ/). By the time of the written Old English documents, the Old English of Kent had already unrounded /y/ to /e/, and the late Old English of Anglia unrounded /y/ to /i/. Modern English spelling originates in the spelling conventions of Middle English scribes and its modern form was largely determined by William Caxton, the first English printer (beginning in 1476). [5] For io and ie, the height-harmonic interpretations /iu/ and /iy/[who?] This period ends with the further diversification of West Germanic into several groups before and during the Migration Period: Ingvaeonic, Istvaeonic (Old Frankish) and Irminonic (Upper German). West Saxon and Kentish occurred in the south, approximately to the south of the River Thames. ī+CV,ȳ+CV, +rC (C not c,g,h); wV; C (C not c,g) +later a,o,u, ā, ō, aH, oH, eh₂, eh₃; an+K, on+K, h₂en+K, h₃en+K, The original vowel remained when followed by, This occurred before deletion of word-final, But it occurred after the raising of unstressed, This change was only sporadic at best because there were barely any words in which it could have occurred at all, since, This was later extended in Pre-Old English times to vowels before all nasals; hence Old English, The nasalization was eventually lost, but remained through the, Final-syllable short vowels were generally deleted in words of three syllables or more. Metathesis in the other direction occasionally occurs before ht, e.g. For example, Proto-Germanic *stainaz became Old English stān (modern stone) (cf. In Old English, these (except /ai/, which had been monophthongized, as noted above) developed into diphthongs of a generally less common type in which both elements are of the same height, called height-harmonic diphthongs. Examples: There was steady vowel reduction in unstressed syllables, in a number of stages: A table showing these developments in more detail is found in Proto-Germanic: Later developments. (Apparent instances of such breaking are due to the later process of back mutation, which did not apply across all consonants, cf. Standard Old English spelling did not reflect the split, and used the same letter ⟨c⟩ for both /k/ and /tʃ/, and ⟨g⟩ for both /ɡ/ ([ɡ], [ɣ]) and /j/ ([j], [dʒ]). 4The origins of Proto-Germanic ē are somewhat in dispute. Doubled consonants reduced to single consonants. modern English regale), with the first /a/ backed from /æ/ due to a-restoration. All phonological systems are complex affairs with many small adjustments in phonetics depending on phonetic environment, position in the word, and so on. Phonological change – changes in pronunciation can come in a variety of forms. The Modern English descendants sleep and sheep reflect the Anglian vowel; the West Saxon words would have developed to *sleap, *sheap. The geminates of these are written ⟨cc⟩, ⟨ċċ⟩, ⟨cg⟩, ⟨ċġ⟩. In the standard West Saxon dialect, back mutation only took place before labials (, In West Germanic times, absolutely final non-nasal *, Although vowel nasality persisted at least up through Anglo-Frisian times and likely through the time of, All unstressed long and overlong vowels were shortened, with remaining long, This produced five final-syllable short vowels, which remained into early documented Old English (back, Many instances of diphthongs in Anglian, including the majority of cases caused by breaking, were turned back into monophthongs again by the process of "Anglian smoothing", which occurred before, >! ē, ō). ī+CV,ȳ+CV, Forms between /slashes/ or [brackets] indicate, respectively, broad (, Before other front vowels and diphthongs, in the case of word-initial, For word-initial /sk/, always, even when followed by a back vowel or, feminine ō-stem nouns in the nom. An example demonstrating that it occurred after i-mutation is mæġden "maiden": If the syncopation of short low/mid vowels had occurred before i-mutation, the result in Old English would be **meġden. Thus, it has been argued that the [iy] pronunciation only applied to the instances of ie expressing the sound resulting from i-mutation. Many special cases have been ignored. The sounds /k~tʃ/ and /ɡ~j/ had almost certainly split into distinct phonemes by Late West Saxon, the dialect in which the majority of Old English documents are written. The lengthened variant is due to the Early Middle English process of open-syllable lengthening; this is indicated by (leng.). Other later loanwords similarly escaped palatalization: compare ship (from palatalized Old English sċip) with skipper (borrowed from unpalatalized Dutch schipper).[9]. Old English, Middle English, and Modern English " Old English (used until the 12th century) is so different from Modern English that it has to be approached as we would a foreign language. ēa, ēo, īo = [æə], [eə], [iə] . between vowels and between a voiced consonant and a vowel, /h/ is lost,[22] with compensatory lengthening of the preceding vowel if it is short. Short high vowels (/i, u/) are deleted in open syllables following a long syllable, but usually remain following a short syllable; this is part of the process of high vowel loss. Long vowels are noted with a macron (e.g. [7] This is called a-restoration, because it partly restored original /a/, which had earlier been fronted to /æ/ (see above). pl. It is unclear whether it occurred before or after i-mutation. The geminates rr and ll usually count as r or l plus another consonant, but breaking does not occur before ll produced by West Germanic gemination (the /i/ or /j/ in the following syllable prevents breaking). slǣpan, sċēap (< Proto-West-Germanic *slāpąn, *skāpă < Proto-Germanic *slēpaną, skēpą) versus Anglian slēpan, sċēp. In the late 8th or early 9th century, short stressed vowels were lengthened before certain groups of consonants: ld, mb, nd, ng, rd, rl, rn, rs+vowel. The ogonek (e.g. However, in a two-syllable noun consisting of a long first syllable, the length of the second syllable determines whether the high vowel is dropped. [3] This occurred after first a-fronting. The Anglo-Frisian languages underwent a sound change in their development from Proto-West-Germanic by which ā [ɑː], unless followed by /n, m/ or nasalized, was fronted to ǣ [æː]. Note that, in fact, the lack of palatalization in Northumbrian was probably due to heavy Scandinavian influence.). When both medial and final high-vowel loss can operate in a single word, medial but not final loss occurs:[19]. The only conditional development considered in detail below is Middle English open-syllable lengthening. *. morphological change (as we will see below in section 4): for instance, the Old English noun that is reflected as modern book belonged to a class that ought to yield modern *beech as its (exceptional) plural, but this feature has been lost, so that the word now forms its plural regularly as books. Englisċe "English", ǣresta "earliest", sċēawunge "a showing, inspection" (each word with an inflected ending following it). In fact, it took place only in a relatively small section of the area (English Midlands) where the Mercian dialect was spoken. Other pronunciations, although not standard, are often heard in the public domain. This appears to be necessary to explain short -jō stem words like nytt "use": If high-vowel deletion occurred first, the result would presumably be an unattested **nytte. For details of the relevant sound systems, see Proto-Germanic phonology and Old English phonology. In particular: This change preceded h-loss and vowel assimilation. This period occurred around the 2nd to 4th centuries. As an example, the vowel spelled ⟨a⟩ corresponds to two Middle English pronunciations: /a/ in most circumstances, but long /aː/ in an open syllable, i.e. Mercian constituted the middle section of the country, divided from the southern dialects by the Thames and from Northumbrian by the Humber and Mersey rivers. after various changes, irrelevant here (e.g. Also, some apparent instances of modern u for Old English y may actually be due to the influence of a related form with unmutated u, e.g. Note that in some dialects /æ/ was backed (retracted) to /a/ ([ɑ]) rather than broken, when occurring in the circumstances described above that would normally trigger breaking. Vowel changes in unaccented syllables were very different and much more extensive. The time periods for some of the early stages are quite short due to the extensive population movements occurring during the Migration Period (early AD), which resulted in rapid dialect fragmentation. It apparently occurred before high vowel loss, because the preceding vocalized semivowels were affected by this process; e.g. However, the interpretations of the second elements of these diphthongs are more varied. Many exceptional outcomes occurred in particular environments, e.g. In the history of English and among different varieties of the language a change of order with /ks/ or /sk/ to /sk/ or /ks/ is frequent, e.g. y; ē+CC; ēo+CC; occ. Within each subsection, changes are in approximate chronological order. For example, the devoicing of th… These combinations mostly occurred in borrowings from, Changes affect short vowels in many varieties before an, Also affects vowels in derived forms, so that, The Southern Hemisphere varieties of English (. However, standard Old English was based on the West Saxon dialect, and when the two dialects differ, the West Saxon form is indicated with a WS in parentheses following the Anglian form. after /r/), while the latter always surfaces as -e: It is possible that loss of medial -j- occurred slightly earlier than loss of -ij-, and in particular before high-vowel loss. faran "to go" from Proto-Germanic *faraną but faren "gone" from Proto-Germanic *faranaz. Forms in Modern English with hard /k/ and /ɡ/ where a palatalized sound would be expected from Old English are due either to Northumbrian influence or to direct borrowing from Scandinavian. The main grammatical differences between Old English and Middle then Modern English are: the language is highly inflected; not only verbs but also nouns, adjectives and pronouns are inflected there is grammatical gender with nouns and adjectives one with a short vowel followed by a single consonant). When -j- and -ij- became word-final after loss of a following vowel or vowel+/z/, they were converted into -i and -ī, respectively. ask derives from Old English ascian which also showed a variant acsian. In the following description, abbreviations are used as follows: This section summarizes the changes occurring within distinct time periods, covering the last 2,000 years or so. sg. the short vowels indicated in Old English spelling as ⟨a⟩, ⟨æ⟩ and ⟨ea⟩; the long equivalents ⟨ā⟩, ⟨ēa⟩, and often ⟨ǣ⟩ when directly followed by two or more consonants (indicated by, occasionally, the long vowel ⟨ē⟩ when directly followed by two consonants, particularly when this vowel corresponded to West Saxon Old English ⟨ǣ⟩. a; æ; ea; ā+CC; often ǣ+CC,ēa+CC; occ. Note that final -z was lost already in West Germanic times. There might be a discussion about this on the, After American–British split, up to World War II, harvp error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFLabovAshBoberg2006 (, Phonological history of English consonants, Learn how and when to remove these template messages, Learn how and when to remove this template message, Proto-Germanic language § Late Proto-Germanic, Middle English phonology § Phonological processes, Department of Language and Linguistics | University of Essex, Phonological history of Old English § Summary of vowel developments, Phonological history of English § From the Middle and Modern English perspective, Phonological history of English § History of Middle English diphthongs, vowel history from Proto-Germanic to Old English, vowel history from Old English to Modern English, Phonological history of English consonant clusters, Phonological history of English low back vowels, Phonological history of English high back vowels, Phonological history of English high front vowels, English-language vowel changes before historic /r/, English-language vowel changes before historic /l/, "Reversal and re-organization of the Northern Cities Shift in Michigan", "Reversal of the Northern Cities Shift in Syracuse, New York", Escaping the TRAP: Losing the Northern Cities Shift in Real Time (with Anja Thiel), languages with more than 3 million speakers, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Phonological_history_of_English&oldid=982151483, Wikipedia articles that are too technical from September 2017, Articles needing additional references from August 2008, All articles needing additional references, Wikipedia articles with style issues from June 2020, Articles with multiple maintenance issues, Articles containing Proto-Germanic-language text, Articles containing Old English (ca. Nor did it occur in cyning ("king"), cemban ("to comb") or gēs ("geese"), where the front vowels /y, e, eː/ developed from earlier /u, a, oː/ due to i-mutation. As a result, high-vowel loss must have occurred after i-mutation but before the loss of internal -(i)j-, which occurred shortly after i-mutation. We give the exceptions below. The sounds heard in modern English were significantly influenced by the Great Vowel Shift, as well as more recent developments such as the cot–caught merger . 13 Latin –bilis was borrowed into English via French words (e.g., change changeable). Hence, final high vowels are dropped. The processes took place chronologically in roughly the order described below (with uncertainty in ordering as noted). Compare, for example, the modern doublet shirt and skirt; these both derive from the same Germanic root, but shirt underwent Old English palatalization, whereas skirt comes from a Norse borrowing which did not. Dropping old sounds. used by a language for signaling grammatical categories like tense, number, person;. Specifically: Old English diphthongs also arose from other later processes, such as breaking, palatal diphthongization, back mutation and i-mutation, which also gave an additional diphthong ie /iy/. Not all potential words to which metathesis can apply are actually affected, and many of the above words also appear in their unmetathesized form (e.g. This implies that final high-vowel loss must precede medial high-vowel loss; else the result would be **strengþ, hēafd. The phenomenon occurred in most Germanic languages. : PG, neuter a-stem nouns in the nom./acc. Only sound changes that had an effect on one or more of the vocabulary items are shown. Many of the changes that occurred were areal, and took time to propagate throughout a dialect continuum that was already diversifying. After breaking occurred, short /æ/ (and in some dialects long /æː/ as well) was backed to /a/ ([ɑ]) when there was a back vowel in the following syllable. These included a number of vowel shifts, and the palatalization of velar consonants in many positions. For the most part, phonetic changes are examples of allophonic differentiation or assimilation, that is, sounds in specific environments acquire new phonetic features or perhaps lose phonetic features they originally had. The differences occurred mostly in the front vowels, and particularly the diphthongs. Reconstructions are only given for solidly reconstructible Proto-Indo-European roots. This table describes the main changes from Late Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Germanic up through Old English, Middle English and Modern English. In general, long vowels were reduced to short vowels (and sometimes deleted entirely) and short vowels were very often deleted. Modern English retains almost all Anglo-Saxon consonant sounds, however a number of differences in orthography or pronunciation exist: Ð/ð and Þ/þ (eth and thorn) both sounded as [ð], [θ] Ƿ/ƿ (wynn) came from runes to make a [w] sound C was only pronounced [k], [t∫] (before e or i) or [dʒ] (in ‘cg’) [r] was rolled in OE J, k, q, v, z added to regular use in Modern English spelling the [x], [ç] and [ɣ] sounds … This was the period that existed after the East Germanic languages had split off. c can be pronounced either as a hard "c" sound, represented in Modern English by "k," or as the sibilant that is represented in Modern English by "ch." The phonological system of the Old English language underwent many changes during the period of its existence. (The phoneme /ɡ/ at that time had two allophones: [ɡ] after /n/ or when geminated, and [ɣ] everywhere else.) West Germanic gemination didn't apply to /r/, leaving a short syllable, and hence /j/ wasn't lost in such circumstances: By Sievers' law, the variant /ij/ occurred only after long syllables, and thus was always lost when it was still word-internal at this point. sg. An empty cell means no change at the given stage for the given item. This normally only occurred when the next following consonant was s or n, and sometimes d. The r could be initial or follow another consonant, but not a vowel. The umlaut is responsible for such modern English forms as men, feet, mice (compare the singulars man, foot, mouse), elder, eldest (compare old), fill (compare full), length (compare long), etc. A similar change happened in the other West Germanic languages, although after the earliest records of those languages. There are analyses that treat all of these diphthongs as ending in a schwa sound [ə]; i.e. Analogy took place between related forms of a single lexical item, e.g. It also probably occurred after a-restoration; see that section for examples showing this. Importantly, a-fronting was blocked by n, m only in stressed syllables, not unstressed syllables, which accounts for forms like ġefen (formerly ġefæn) "given" from Proto-Germanic *gebanaz. This order is necessary to account for words like slēan "to slay" (pronounced /slæːɑn/) from original *slahan: /ˈslahan/ > /ˈslæhan/ (a-fronting) > /ˈslæɑhɑn/ (breaking; inhibits a-restoration) > /ˈslæɑ.ɑn/ (h-loss) > /slæːɑn/ (vowel coalescence, compensatory lengthening). One of the most noticeable differences among the dialects is the handling of original Old English /y/. A number of changes took place during the Middle English period which altered the sound structure inherited from Old English. Hence: Note that in Proto-Germanic, the non-Sievers'-law variant -j- occurred only after short syllables, but due to West Germanic gemination, a consonant directly preceding the -j- was doubled, creating a long syllable. But … In the West Saxon area, /y/ remained as such well into Middle English times, and was written u in Middle English documents from this area. The second part of a-fronting, called Anglo-Frisian brightening or First Fronting, is very similar to the first part except that it affects short a instead of long ā. This occurred after breaking, since PG *barwaz was affected, becoming OE bearu, while words in PG *-uz were not. This table omits the history of Middle English diphthongs; see that link for a table summarizing the developments. The phonology of the open back vowels of the English language has undergone changes both overall and with regional variations, through Old and Middle English to the present. H refers to any laryngeal sound. PrePG *pōdes > PG *fōtiz > *fø̄ti > OE fēt "feet (nom.)". Old English is English from before 1100 AD that nobody uses anymore except the language freaks. Only later, when the. A similar loss of -(i)j- occurred in the other West Germanic languages, although after the earliest records of those languages (especially Old Saxon, which still has written settian, hēliand corresponding to Old English settan "to set", hǣlend "savior"). 450-1100)-language text, Articles containing Middle English (1100-1500)-language text, Articles containing Old Saxon-language text, Articles containing Old Norse-language text, Articles with unsourced statements from July 2014, Articles with unsourced statements from December 2014, Articles with unsourced statements from March 2012, Articles with unsourced statements from March 2017, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Unstressed syllables: owo > ō, ew > ow, e > i, ji > i, a; æ; ea; ā+CC; often ǣ+CC,ēa+CC; occ. Similarly, give, an unpalatalized Norse borrowing, existed alongside (and eventually displaced) the regularly palatalized yive. Many of the words have come down to Modern English in their unmetathesized forms. The table is organized around the pronunciation of Late Middle English c. 1400 AD (the time of Chaucer) and the modern spelling system, which dates from the same time and closely approximates the pronunciation of the time. There is one significant fact that would be known to many of us. In many instances where a ċ/c, ġ/g, or sċ/sc alternation would be expected within a paradigm, it was leveled out by analogy at some point in the history of the language. The above two mergers did not occur in many regional dialects as late as the 20th century (e.g. followed by a single consonant and then a vowel, notated aCV in the spelling column. [6] Long /iː, æː/ similarly broke to /iːu, æːa/, but only when followed by /h/. are controversial, with many (especially more traditional) sources assuming that the pronunciation matched the spelling (/io/, /ie/), and hence that these diphthongs were of the opening rather than the height-harmonic type. It is possible that in Anglo-Frisian, Proto-Germanic /ɛː/ simply remained a front vowel, developing to Old English ǣ or ē without ever passing through an intermediate stage as the back vowel [ɑː] [2] However, borrowings such as Old English strǣt from Latin strāta (via) and the backing to ō before nasals are much easier to explain under the assumption of a common West Germanic stage *ā. Proto-Germanic /ai/ was monophthongized (smoothed) to /aː/ ([ɑː]). Mercian and Northumbrian are often grouped together as "Anglian". It focuses on the Old English and Middle English changes leading to the modern forms. Some changes merely affect the way a single word is pronounced: older speakers across the UK tend to stress the first syllable in the word controversy, for instance, while younger speakers increasingly place the main stress on the second syllable, controversy. Note that, in the column on modern spelling, CV means a sequence of a single consonant followed by a vowel. This period is estimated to be c. AD 1725–1945. [24] Many occurrences were due to h-loss, but some came from other sources, e.g. The Old English consonant X - technically a “voiceless velar fricative”, pronounced as in the “ch” of loch or Bach - disappeared from English, and the Old English word burX (place), for example, was replaced with “-burgh”, “-borough”, “-brough” or “-bury” in many place names.