consonant pronunciation change: P vs Ph, T vs Th, etc

loonyloo

Member
English - Ireland
What is the name of the process whereby certain consonants undergo a change in pronunciation when they are followed by the letter h? I am thinking of the following examples:

P followed by H becomes an F sound: compare phone, and pharmacy, photo to pony, paragraph, and pot.

T followed by H also changes sound: compare thin to tin, then to ten, that to tat.

C followed by H changes too: compare churlish to curly, chocolate to cocoa, champ to camp.

What is the linguistic term for this process? I know that ph, th, and ch are examples of digraphs, but I am not asking about that - I am interested in the word for the change in sound.
 
  • loonyloo

    Member
    English - Ireland
    I see what you mean anthox, but there are other digraphs that don't involve such a radical change - for example, in white, while, and when, the w still sounds like a w (even if the h is voiced as it is in certain dialects); the g in ghost and ghastly still sounds like a hard g as it would in got and gang; the s in scene still sounds like the s in seen; n and g still sound like an n and hard g in words like beginning, walking.

    Do you see what I mean? Or am I talking rubbish?
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Are you asking what the term is for any historical shift in consonants, or the specific term for those changes? Or is your question strictly orthographic?
     

    loonyloo

    Member
    English - Ireland
    I'm talking about the specific term for those changes - something like lenition or debuccalization, but I don't think the examples I gave fall into those categories.
     

    loonyloo

    Member
    English - Ireland
    Thank you Newt. Based on my understanding of the link you gave me, I don't think that 'deaffrication' was what I was looking for, but I appreciate the help. I think perhaps I'm trying to apply my (possibly mis-)understanding of a morphological process in another language to English here, and that anthox and Myridon are right when they say I'm just confusing orthography with phonetics.

    Thanks to all 3 of you for your help.
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    @loonyloo,

    I don't know if you are only referring to the English language, but this is what is known as 'Aspirate/Spirate Mutation' in Welsh. In certain cases e.g. after the masc. cardinal number '3', after the cardinal number '6' and after the conjunction meaning 'and' then words beginning with <C> [k], <P> [p], and <T> [t] will aspirate to <Ch> [X], <Ph> [f], and <Th> [θ], respectively.

    I note that this is an English only forum so I won't go into further details and examples here. If however this is of use/interest, you may wish to proceed with this in another more appropriate forum.

    Thanks.
     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    In English, these are just spellings, and don't involve sound changes. But some of them do come from a sound change in Greek. In Ancient Greek, the ancestors of elements like 'photo' had an aspirated [p] sound, and later this changed to an [f] sound. In the Latin/Roman alphabet, the letters <ph> were used for the aspirated version of <p>. But once the Greek sound had changed, the spelling <ph> therefore represented an [f] sound. This is why we continue to have this association in English. The case of <ph> is the clearest. The other digraphs with <h> have more complicated histories.
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    Bringing together @entangledbank's comments, I can also state that Latin <c>/<cc>, <p>/<pp> and <t>/<tt> become <ch>, <ph> and <th> in Welsh. Again, examples of these could be illustrated in the Etymology forum on here.
     
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    loonyloo

    Member
    English - Ireland
    I think Aspirate/Spirate Mutation is closer to what I was thinking of albeit not applicable in English. Thanks for the etymological info!
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    P followed by H becomes an F sound: compare phone, and pharmacy, photo to pony, paragraph, and pot.

    T followed by H also changes sound: compare thin to tin, then to ten, that to tat.
    Speaking from a non-technical and personal point of view, I can detect two differences with "p" and one with "t".

    When I pronounce "p", my lips close completely and there is a mildly explosive nature to the following vowel. When I pronounce "f", the lips do not close - instead my lower lip contacts my teeth to create a partial block to the passage of air. I happen to know that in Spanish, the "f" sound happens more by lightly pressing the lips together. I can easily imagine that an incomplete closure of "p" would produce an "f"-like sound.

    With respect to "t", there is more of a similarity. "t" is sounded by blocking and suddenly releasing the airflow between the tongue and the top front teeth. The "th" sound is made by incompletely blocking the flow.

    So these are two slightly different phenomena. As to what they are called, I haven't a clue.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    A few notes:

    1. There was a sound change in English, long ago. Many vowel sounds changed. I don't know the details, but I've read about it.

    2. Writing imitates speech (spelling imitates pronunciation). Speech does not imitate writing. Before the last 100 years, most people could not read or write. For most people, speech was the language.

    3. The reason we have digraphs (two letters for one sound) in English is this: English words came from several languages (mostly Germanic, Norse, Celtic, and French/Latin), so English has about 54 phonemes. But English writing came from Latin, so it only has 26 letters. How do you write 54 sounds with 26 letters?

    4. Why do we have different ways to spell the same sound? Because English spelling was only "standardized" 100(?) years ago. Before that, everyone spelled words the way they thought was best. And we all think differently.
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ...

    3. The reason we have digraphs (two letters for one sound) in English is this: English words came from several languages (mostly Germanic, Norse, Celtic, and French/Latin), so English has about 54 phonemes. But English writing came from Latin, so it only has 26 letters. How do you write 54 sounds with 26 letters?
    ...
    That is a great insight. Thanks.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    The specific change of sound from p to f in Germanic languages is called Grimm's Law. (As said, it has nothing to do with the letter spelling. This happened hundreds of years ago when most people were illiterate. It was a change in how people talked.)

    Grimm's law - Wikipedia

    the observation that certain Indo-European consonants (mainly stops) undergo regular changes in the Germanic languages that are not seen in non-Germanic languages such as Greek or Latin. Examples include p becoming f so that Latin pedem corresponds to English foot and German Fuss .​
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    What is the name of the process whereby certain consonants undergo a change in pronunciation when they are followed by the letter h? I am thinking of the following examples:

    P followed by H becomes an F sound: compare phone, and pharmacy, photo to pony, paragraph, and pot.

    T followed by H also changes sound: compare thin to tin, then to ten, that to tat.

    C followed by H changes too: compare churlish to curly, chocolate to cocoa, champ to camp.

    What is the linguistic term for this process? I know that ph, th, and ch are examples of digraphs, but I am not asking about that - I am interested in the word for the change in sound.
    The spellings ph, th and ch are Latin transcriptions for Greek aspirated stops. Classical Greeks had three series of stops: voiced, unaspirated unvoiced and and aspirated unvoiced. Latin had only two, voiced and (unaspirated) unvoiced. For a language that does not have aspirated stops but has an h sound, it is easy to understand why they would perceive aspirated stops as a sequence of a plain stop and an h. That is why they transcribed the aspirated stops of Greek, Φ, Θ and Χ, were transcribed PH, TH and CH, respectively.

    In a later development stage of Greek, the aspirated stops underwent a process called spirantization, converting stops into fricatives, which shifted /pʰ/, /tʰ/ and /kʰ/ into /f/, /θ/ and /x/, respectively.

    In English, ph sounding f is used Greek loans only, or, more precisely in direct or indirect loans from Latin that were itself loans from Greek. Late Middle English started to use the digraph th to represent the native English sound that had previously been represented by the runic letters þ and ð. There is no underlying process in English itself (though it originated in a similar shift at en earlier stage in common Germanic). The (unvoiced version) of the English sound just happened to match the spirantized Greek Θ. The sound of Greek Χ, /x/, was originally represented by the letter h in Old English and in Middle English by the letter ȝ. In late Middle English this letter was replaced by gh to represent /x/. Other Germanic languages, like Scots, Dutch or German, used ch instead, again borrowing the modern pronunciation of Greek Χ. The use of the digraph ch in English to represent a palatalized /k/, as in church, developed under French influence in Middle English. This palatalized /k/ existed already in Old English but was not represented by any special letter. It was just considered a variant pronunciation of the the ordinary /k/ sound that was written with the same letter, viz. c.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The spellings ph, th and ch are Latin transcriptions for Greek aspirated stops. Classical Greeks had three series of stops: voiced, unaspirated unvoiced and and aspirated unvoiced.
    Late Middle English started to use the digraph th to represent the native English sound that had previously been represented by the runic letters þ and ð.
    I wonder if it's a coincidence, though. As far as I remember, Byzantine Greek was basically the standard of Classical Greek pronunciation in West Europe before the works of Reuchlin and Erasmus in the late 15th and the early 16th century, so the relationship "th" - /θ/ must had been already present in culture.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    I wonder if it's a coincidence, though. As far as I remember, Byzantine Greek was basically the standard of Classical Greek pronunciation in West Europe before the works of Reuchlin and Erasmus in the late 15th and the early 16th century, so the relationship "th" - /θ/ must had been already present in culture.
    But notice Thomas, Thames, Theresa, Anthony, thyme (where /t/ remains) and author, apothecary, authentic, throne, amaranth (which are now pronounced with /θ/). In Renaissance Latin orthography, the H after T was added at will, essentially as an ornament to make the word look Greek, and had no influence on pronunciation as far as I can tell. This appears to be the origin of these English spellings and consequently, pronunciations.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I wonder if it's a coincidence, though. As far as I remember, Byzantine Greek was basically the standard of Classical Greek pronunciation in West Europe before the works of Reuchlin and Erasmus in the late 15th and the early 16th century, so the relationship "th" - /θ/ must had been already present in culture.
    Absolutely. I am almost certain the people who came up with the idea of replacing þ and ð with th (probably monks) did so because they were familiar with both, Latin and Greek, and regarded th as a natural choice.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    However the words were borrowed not from Greek but from French, with a /t/, and were later respelled.
    But not "essentially as an ornament to make the word look Greek" but the etymologically correct h was restored. Much of this happened in French itself. The 16th and 17th centuries saw in both languages a good deal of re-loaning from Latin.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    But not "essentially as an ornament to make the word look Greek" but the etymologically correct h was restored.
    That was said in reference to Renaissance Latin; this practice was quite obviously also applied to English - I don't know about French, but it seems the situation was the same there, with the difference that the Greek-looking spelling had no influence on pronunciation.
    Much of this happened in French itself. The 16th and 17th centuries saw in both languages a good deal of re-loaning from Latin.
    In any case, the two cases are not mutually exclusive, but one leads to another - the etymological h was added in spelling because this made the words look Greek, which was felt to be elegant and desirable. The desire was so great that it resulted in false-etymological h being added to some words, with or without accompanying mistaken etymologies to justify the spelling. In that sense, the etymologyically correct cases are useful coincidences; the real motivation was aesthetic.

    Moreover, I have a feeling that the German lenthening h in Thal, Goethe, Jhesus etc. has the same motivation, and the historical loss of /h/ between vowels which resulted in long vowels (Stahl, sehen) is also a useful, justifying coincidence. In fact in the aesthetic, Greek-inspired case, the h is added after the consonant, while in the etymological case, after the vowel.
     
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    Platytude

    Member
    English - AU
    Back to the OP question, does the choice of digraphs (or any orthography) by speakers of a language for foreign sounds have a term? Or, at least, a term for the way the speakers of the borrowing language hear the original sound?
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Back to the OP question, does the choice of digraphs (or any orthography) by speakers of a language for foreign sounds have a term? Or, at least, a term for the way the speakers of the borrowing language hear the original sound?
    Well, the OP question has been about sound change processes and not about reasons for choosing certain spelling conventions for existing sounds. The answer to that was:
    In a later development stage of Greek, the aspirated stops underwent a process called spirantization, converting stops into fricatives, which shifted /pʰ/, /tʰ/ and /kʰ/ into /f/, /θ/ and /x/, respectively.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    Back to the OP question, does the choice of digraphs (or any orthography) by speakers of a language for foreign sounds have a term? Or, at least, a term for the way the speakers of the borrowing language hear the original sound?
    The first is transliteration; the second is phonetic adaptation/approximation/nativisation.
     

    ioanell

    Senior Member
    Greek
    P followed by H becomes an F sound: compare phone, and pharmacy, photo to pony, paragraph, and pot.
    There is no underlying process in English itself, as Berndf notes. In case you didn’t notice or don’t know, all the ph- words in your examples are Greek. That’s why they are pronounced with a starting /f/. Even the word digraph (“digraf”) you are using contains -ph-, because it’s Greek and renders the word δίγραφον (=δίγραμμα). As for the word scene you mentioned, it came from Gr. σκηνή (tent, stage) → Lat. scaena/scena → Engl. scene and following a silencing of c /k/ and a subsequent lengthening of e, viz. /i:/, it came to sound like seen.

    The spellings ph, th and ch are Latin transcriptions for Greek aspirated stops. Classical Greeks had three series of stops: voiced, unaspirated unvoiced and and aspirated unvoiced. Latin had only two, voiced and (unaspirated) unvoiced. For a language that does not have aspirated stops but has an h sound, it is easy to understand why they would perceive aspirated stops as a sequence of a plain stop and an h. That is why they transcribed the aspirated stops of Greek, Φ, Θ and Χ, were transcribed PH, TH and CH, respectively.
    :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
    It should be noted that all words starting with ph- (either nouns/adjectives or proper names or verbs) are Greek. The Romans didn’t have words starting with the digraph ph-, and all such words in their language are Greek loans or, in a few cases, words that were created by Greek-derived morphemes (e.g. phaenion, phagedaena, phalacrocorax) or even, also in very few cases, words rendered in a Greek-looking form (such as Phacelinus, Phaliscus, phala), obviously after the spirantization of the Greek ph-, although they had a normal Latin form starting with the fricative f. When the Romans, especially after the conquest of Greece, wanted to transfer into their language Greek words starting with aspirated stops (Φ, Θ, Χ / lower case φ, θ, χ for convenience), they transliterated them with a sequence of a plain stop and an h, because that was the way they heard and perceived them, that is starting with Ph (e.g. Φίλιππος > Philippus), Th (e.g. Θεόφιλος > Theophilus) and Ch (e.g. Χριστός > Christus). In a later development stage of Greek , as Berndf writes, the aspirated stops underwent a process called spirantization, converting them into fricatives, which shifted /pʰ/, /tʰ/ and /kʰ/ into /f/, /θ/ and /x/, respectively.

    Ancient epigraphic evidence, along with analogous phonological developments in Modern Greek dialects, led to the very probable hypothesis that the aspirated consonants changed into fricatives through an intermediary articulating grade, in which the aspirate h sound was replaced each time by the corresponding fricative, that is ph → pff, th → tθθ, kh → kxx, the whole process having been completed by the end of the Hellenistic period (3rd c. A.D.). So, Latin, already aware of this phonological developments in the Koine Greek language, passed all the Greek words starting with ph, th and ch into the Germanic and the Romance languages, whenever they were born. Some of these languages adopted the digraphs, others not. Those which adopted ph adopted the /ph- f/pronunciation [e.g. Philipp], some of those which adopted the digraph th also adopted the /th-θ/ pronunciation in most cases (as English did [e.g. Theodore]), some others not, pronouncing just /t/ (as French [e.g. Théodore] or Italian [e.g. Teodoro] did), and none, I think, (either adopted or not the digraph ch) adopted the /ch-x/ pronunciation, pronouncing just /k/. All these refer just to Greek words.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    It should be noted that all words starting with ph- (either nouns/adjectives or proper names or verbs) are Greek.
    Surprise :)
    The Romans didn’t have words starting with the digraph ph-, and all such words in their language are Greek loans or, in a few cases, words that were created by Greek-derived morphemes (e.g. phaenion, phagedaena, phalacrocorax) or even, also in very few cases, words rendered in a Greek-looking form (such as Phacelinus, Phaliscus, phala), obviously after the spirantization of the Greek ph-, although they had a normal Latin form starting with the fricative f.
    Even before the Greek aspirates spirantised, Latin had words like triumphus, sulphur that weren't borrowed from Greek, but were spelled with ph. This represents a stylised pronunciation of /p/ and probably imitates the Etruscan accent more than Greek (cf. the gorgia toscana).
    When the Romans, especially after the conquest of Greece, wanted to transfer into their language Greek words starting with aspirated stops (Φ, Θ, Χ / lower case φ, θ, χ for convenience), they transliterated them with a sequence of a plain stop and an h, because that was the way they heard and perceived them
    It wasn't anything specific to the Roman hearing, the Greeks used the same term “aspiration” for H and for ΦΘΧ. Early Greek alphabets sometimes used digraphs for the aspirates, especially KH (p.122 sqq).
    So, Latin, already aware of this phonological developments in the Koine Greek language, passed all the Greek words starting with ph, th and ch into the Germanic and the Romance languages, whenever they were born. Some of these languages adopted the digraphs, others not.
    You seem to be mixing up direct and learnèd borrowing here. The pronunciation of Greek words borrowed via New Latin as an intermediary weren't passed onto these languages through speech and then stylistically spelled; they were borrowed and pronounced according to the local rules of reading Latin. Some languages like Italian later dropped the h when it was purely graphic (as they did in the rest of their vocabulary), others didn't.

    There were also words borrowed from Greek into classical-age Latin by converting aspirated stops into simple ones, and then passed down into Germanic and Romance languages directly, in speech. Unless these words were later etymologically respelled and re-pronounced, they should preserve the Latin stops.
    none, I think, (either adopted or not the digraph ch) adopted the /ch-x/ pronunciation, pronouncing just /k/
    German has some words with /x~ç/, and others with /k/. These probably reflect different pronunciation traditions and the progress of German classical philology, though whether Greek or Latin I don't know. In all honesty it could reflect the difference between the then-current pronunciation of Latin and Greek.
     
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    Ihsiin

    Senior Member
    English
    Late Middle English started to use the digraph th to represent the native English sound that had previously been represented by the runic letters þ and ð. There is no underlying process in English itself (though it originated in a similar shift at en earlier stage in common Germanic).

    Just a little interesting aside here: <th> for /θ/ was actually quite common in Old English throughout the Anglo-Saxon period, and this the usual orthography found in earlier Northumbrian texts. In later West Saxon texts <þ> and <ð> were generally used, and these predominated until they were replaced once again by <th> in Middle English. The usage of <th> undoubtably comes from Latin renditions of Greek <θ>, but this originates much earlier than the Middle English period.
     
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    ioanell

    Senior Member
    Greek
    I think you surely misunderstood. You referred me to a list of "English terms containing ph not derived from Ancient Greek", but I didn't claim that the words starting with ph in every language are Greek. I just talked about the Latin language as it is easily understood by the immediately following "The Romans..." and by the whole of my comment. On the contrary, I said (you probably didn't notice that) there were words rendered in a Greek looking form (e.g. Phacelinus, Phaliscus, phala), probably after the spirantization of the Greek ph, although they had these words already written with the fricative f.

    It wasn't anything specific to the Roman hearing, the Greeks used the same term “aspiration” for H and for ΦΘΧ.
    The Greeks didn't use any term "aspiration'". The matter is how the Greeks pronounced the aspirates before their "spirantization" and how the Romans perceived their pronunciation.

    Early Greek alphabets sometimes used digraphs for the aspirates, especially KH
    That is true for the alphabet of Melos, Sikinos and Anaphe, where they used ΠH in place of Φ and ΚΗ in place of X, and for the alphabet of Thera and Kyrene, where they used ΠΘ in place of Φ and ΚΘ in the place of X.

    You seem to be mixing up direct and learnèd borrowing here. The pronunciation of Greek words borrowed via New Latin as an intermediary weren't passed onto these languages through speech and then stylistically spelled; they were borrowed and pronounced according to the local rules of reading Latin.
    I don't think I mixed anything up, as by "Latin... passed all the Greek words..." my intention was just to point out the major development and not to differentiate between direct and learned borrowing.
     

    ioanell

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Even before the Greek aspirates spirantised, Latin had words like triumphus, sulphur that weren't borrowed from Greek, but were spelled with ph. This represents a stylised pronunciation of /p/ and probably imitates the Etruscan accent more than Greek
    Just for chronological orientation: The spirantization of the Greek aspirates had started in many places well before the 2nd c. B.C.. and was completed by the end of the Hellenistic Period (3rd c. A. D.)

    The quotations below to a considerable extent don't seem to agree with the above view. Exactly copied lemmata from these reliable and named dictionaries are as follows:

    LIDDELL-SCOTT-JONES, A GREEK-ENGLISH LEXICON
    θρίαμβος, ο: 1. ...
    2. = Lat. triumphus (which is borrowed fr. θ. through Etruscan), ...(For the termination perh. cf. ἴαμβος, διθύραμβος, but the origin of θρι- is unknown.)

    LATIN DICTIONARY BY LEWIS & SHORT
    triumphus: (in the earliest period written triumpus;...)
    sulfur: (in MSS. also sulphur and sulpur), ~uris, n.masc....

    OXFORD LATIN DICTIONARY
    triumphus, i, m....ORTHOG.: triumpus...1 The ritual cry 'triumphe!"
    triump(h)e, interj. (perh. Etr., fr. Gk. θρίαμβος)
    sulpur, ~uris, n. Also sulphur (sts. written sulfur)

    M. DE VAAN, ETYMOLOGICAL DICTIONARY OF LATIN
    triump(h)us: Non-existent entry
    sulpur, -uris: "sulphur" [n,]...Derivative: sulpureus...The best spelling is sulpur.....

    triumph | Search Online Etymology Dictionary

    triumph | Search Online Etymology Dictionary​

    The online etymology dictionary (etymonline) is the internet's go-to source for quick and reliable accounts of t...



    triumphus - Wiktionary

    triumphus - Wiktionary​



    The above confirm the Roman conversion of the simple p into the Greek-looking form with ph, as I said earlier, although some authors (like Pliny, for instance) went on using both styles. Specifically, for the Latin word triump(h)us, the dictionaries accept -as we can see- the borrowing, via Etruscan, from the Greek θρίαμβος, a word much much earlier used in Greek religion than its Latin counterpart, even in Old Latin.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    If should be noted that this list contains quite a few words that are not directly taken from Greek but are ultimately derived from a Greek source, like the pf in pamphlet, which is due to the Greek word φῐ́λος occurring in the etymology of pamphlet.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    Just for chronological orientation: The spirantization of the Greek aspirates had started in many places well before the 2nd c. B.C.. and was completed by the end of the Hellenistic Period (3rd c. A. D.)
    I only remember there being evidence for early spirantisation in Laconia. What are these many places? Could you offer citations/evidence?
    The quotations below to a considerable extent don't seem to agree with the above view. Exactly copied lemmata from these reliable and named dictionaries are as follows:

    The above confirm the Roman conversion of the simple p into the Greek-looking form with ph, as I said earlier, although some authors (like Pliny, for instance) went on using both styles. Specifically, for the Latin word triump(h)us, the dictionaries accept -as we can see- the borrowing, via Etruscan, from the Greek θρίαμβος, a word much much earlier used in Greek religion than its Latin counterpart, even in Old Latin.
    Is the “above view” what I wrote about triumphus and sulphur? I see nothing in your quotations that disagrees with it. triumphus was borrowed from Etruscan, had no /f/ sound but /p/, and <ph> spelled a stylised, aspirated pronunciation of it, probably characteristic of Etruscan primarily, and Greek only secondarily. sulphur is homegrown Latin, with /p/.

    The <ph> in these words appeared before the Koiné spirantisation and they (or any genuine Greek words) aren't ever spelled with <f> before the ~3rd c. AD. The Romans certainly thought they were making the word look more stylish because more Greek-looking, but the phenomenon of aspirating native words in speech probably goes back to Etruscan and is likely related to/continued by the modern gorgia toscana - and notice how the Tuscans never spell or mix their spirantised /p/ with /f/.

    Also please notice that manuscript spellings don't constitute direct evidence about any classical writer's spelling habits - they're all either late antique or medieval. Nor did most of them write personally, but employed a scribe.
     
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    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't know if you are only referring to the English language, but this is what is known as 'Aspirate/Spirate Mutation' in Welsh. In certain cases e.g. after the masc. cardinal number '3', after the cardinal number '6' and after the conjunction meaning 'and' then words beginning with <C> [k], <P> [p], and <T> [t] will aspirate to <Ch> [X], <Ph> [f], and <Th> [θ], respectively.
    Loonyloo uses the word “lenition”, the term for a very comparable “mutation” in Irish. (Scare quotes because I think Irish grammars avoid the term “mutation”.)

    I fear that post #1 is based on a false presumption that something similar happens or has happened in English.
     

    ioanell

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Sorry for the delayed response, but it was due to serious technical problems in my laptop.

    I only remember there being evidence for early spirantisation in Laconia. What are these many places? Could you offer citations/evidence?
    The start of this spirantization dates back to the 4th c. B.C. for the Doric/Laconic dialect, but, of course, all consonants did not change at the same time in all dialects; pamphylian φίκατι (είκοσι=twenty) instead of Fίκατι since the 2nd c. B.C. -which also presupposes that aspirate φ has already become a “continuous” consonant, in order to be used for rendering the fricative F-, is just one piece of the evidence you asked for.

    I see nothing in your quotations that disagrees with it. triumphus was borrowed from Etruscan
    Of course, I agree with points of your overall comment, but if you don’t see in the quoted named dictionaries what they say, viz. that the Latin word triump(h)us derives, via Etruscan, from the Greek θρίαμβος and if, by questioning these dictionaries, you insist that it was borrowed from Etruscan, I’m afraid I can do nothing about it.
    Anyway, as I can see neither “side” is going to convince the other “side” on this matter; nevertheless, thank you for posting your comments on the subject. 🙂
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    The start of this spirantization dates back to the 4th c. B.C. for the Doric/Laconic dialect, but, of course, all consonants did not change at the same time in all dialects; pamphylian φίκατι (είκοσι=twenty) instead of Fίκατι since the 2nd c. B.C. -which also presupposes that aspirate φ has already become a “continuous” consonant, in order to be used for rendering the fricative F-, is just one piece of the evidence you asked for.
    This makes for two isolated places so far, and they might not be independent - one plausible explanation that readily presents itself is that Pamphylia simply had settlers from Laconia, and that Doric Greek was spoken there.
    Of course, I agree with points of your overall comment, but if you don’t see in the quoted named dictionaries what they say, viz. that the Latin word triump(h)us derives, via Etruscan, from the Greek θρίαμβος and if, by questioning these dictionaries, you insist that it was borrowed from Etruscan, I’m afraid I can do nothing about it.
    I'm not in the least questioning the fact that the word was borrowed into Etruscan from Greek - that would be absurd, and I assure you I'm not an absurdist. What I'm challenging is this:
    The Romans didn’t have words starting with the digraph ph-, and all such words in their language are Greek loans or, in a few cases, words that were created by Greek-derived morphemes (e.g. phaenion, phagedaena, phalacrocorax) or even, also in very few cases, words rendered in a Greek-looking form (such as Phacelinus, Phaliscus, phala), obviously after the spirantization of the Greek ph-
    The words triumphus and sulphur (just like many other words with CH and TH in them) have not been borrowed by Latin from Greek; the former word was borrowed from Etruscan, the latter was native. The PH in these words cannot represent /f/, and is not evidence for the spirantisation of Φ in Greek. I'm not aware of any evidence from Latin for such an early spirantisation. In these words, the H was added to Latin stops, obviously to look more Greek. But these stops were already commonly pronounced in some special way referred to as “aspiration”. The “aspirated” /p/ was clearly different from the /f/ of Latin.

    When you say “by questioning these dictionaries, you insist that it was borrowed from Etruscan”, it's clear that you misinterstand what is meant by “borrowing” - these dictionaries and I are saying the same thing. As soon as the word θρίαμβος was borrowed from Greek and became an Etruscan word, it was now an Etruscan word like any other to the Latins, and the fact that it was originally Greek had no influence on how it was borrowed into Latin. Thus the word triump(h)us ultimately derives from Greek, but was borrowed from Etruscan, and it represents the shape it had in Etruscan, not Greek, including the sound that Latin speakers spelled as P(H). “Borrowing” only refers to the immediate source language, which was Etruscan. The source language of that immediate source language is irrelevant in etymology, although it can happen that a word is borrowed from two languages at once and conflated under a single form; dictionaries often describe this as “influenced by” or “contaminated” or the like. In this case it's clear that Greek had nothing to do with the Latin PH because Greek θρίαμβος has no Φ in it.
    Anyway, as I can see neither “side” is going to convince the other “side” on this matter; nevertheless, thank you for posting your comments on the subject. 🙂
    You're being too pessimistic here. I'm taking no ideological “sides”, and can be easily convinced of anything by anybody should they provide sufficient evidence. So far you've provided evidence for the spirantisation of Φ in a single region of the Greek-speaking world other than Laconia, and I regard it as sufficient to suppose that the spirantisation did indeed affect that region after the 2nd century BC. If you wish to convince me that it happened in many other regions and/or did so earlier, you simply need to provide the corresponding evidence and you shall behold me likewise convinced.
     
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    Uncreative Name

    Member
    English - United States
    (This is a response to the OP, unrelated to the "Ph/Φ" arguement.)

    The letter H is used in English orthography to avoid the use of diacritics and non-standard symbols; we COULD use <φ>, <š>, <þ>, and <ċ> instead of <ph>, <sh>, <th>, and <ch>; the latter, however, can be written with any typewriter or keyboard that uses the Latin alphabet.

    For some time, English DID use non-standard letters (including <æ>, <ð>, <þ>, and <ƿ>); these letters had to be replaced with other letters (like <a> and <w>) and diagraphs (like <th> and <wh>), however, because most typewriters (which were typically made in Germany, I believe) didn't have such letters.

    To answer your question, these changes are purely orthographic, not phonetic; however, a change from an aspirated plosive to a fricative (such as [pʰ] > [f] in Romance languages, or [tʰ] > [θ] in Hellenic languages) is common.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    For some time, English DID use non-standard letters (including <æ>, <ð>, <þ>, and <ƿ>); these letters had to be replaced with other letters (like <a> and <w>) and diagraphs (like <th> and <wh>), however, because most typewriters (which were typically made in Germany, I believe) didn't have such letters.
    At the risk of tiring everyone with my corrections, this orthographic change happened in the 14-15th centuries, way before the invention of the typewriter around 1870. The reason thus must have been first the French orthography, and then the printing press together with the first printed language, Latin, in which diacritics served scribal abbreviations but only the nasal ã, ẽ, ũ etc. made it into print. The Poles can safely blame their hair-raising orthography on German, though :)
    To answer your question, these changes are purely orthographic, not phonetic; however, a change from an aspirated plosive to a fricative (such as [pʰ] > [f] in Romance languages, or [tʰ] > [θ] in Hellenic languages) is common.
    Actually, I'm not so sure it is. Besides Hellenic it might have happened in Germanic with its consonant shift (Grimm's law), assuming the proto-Germanic voiceless stops were aspirated, and then a second time in High German (assuming the post-shift voiceless stops reacquired the aspiration). The High German consonant shift is affrication /pf, ts, kx/ followed by lenition. But Romance never had phonemic aspirated plosives, which, again, were stylistic variants of voiceless plosives, and these remain as such in all cases where the fricative wasn't taken directly from late Koiné Greek. I.e., the Romance and Greek [pʰ] > [f] should be reduced to just Greek.

    Importantly, the Greek and Germanic shifts are not limited to aspirated plosives - voiced plosives became fricatives just as well. So these are examples of a stop > fricative chain-shift (probably originating as lenition), and the fact that some stops were aspirated is only coincidental. Finally there's your generic intervocalic lenition via fricativisation, as happened in Hebrew (see following link), where aspiration is likewise uninvolved.

    I know that pronouncing /kʰ/ as [χ~x] can be heard in some varieties of English, as mentioned in this thread, but no other shift that strictly turns aspirates into fricatives comes to mind, and I would appreciate it if someone can offer such unambiguous examples.
     
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    Uncreative Name

    Member
    English - United States
    At the risk of tiring everyone with my corrections, this orthographic change happened in the 14-15th centuries, way before the invention of the typewriter around 1870. The reason thus must have been first the French orthography, and then the printing press together with the first printed language, Latin, in which diacritics served scribal abbreviations. The Poles can safely blame their hair-raising orthography on German, though :)
    This is actually pretty interesting; I remember hearing somewhere that the <þ> letter was used until typewriters came along (when it was replaced with <y>; this became confusing, and it was subsequently replaced with <th>), and I had assumed that the other archaic letters had similar stories.
    Besides Hellenic it might have happened in Germanic with its consonant shift (Grimm's law), assuming the proto-Germanic voiceless stops were aspirated, and then a second time in High German (assuming the post-shift voiceless stops reacquired the aspiration). But Romance never had phonemic aspirated plosives, which, again, were stylistic variants of voiceless plosives, and remain as such in all cases where the fricative wasn't taken directly from late Koiné Greek. I.e., the Romance and Greek [pʰ] > [f] should be reduced to just Greek.

    Importantly, the Greek and Germanic shifts are not limited to aspirated plosives - voiced plosives became fricatives just as well. So these are examples of a stop > fricative shift, and the fact that some stops were aspirated is only coincidental.
    I may have worded my part a bit weirdly, but I just meant that aspirated plosives can commonly shift to fricatives. This is not a set-in-stone rule, of course; not all aspirated plosives will become fricatives (most voiceless plosives in English are aspirated, but have not become fricatives). On the other hand, it isn't particularly impossible for unaspirated or voiced plosives to become fricatives as well, but it's most common when aspiration is present. On a related note, I should probably elaborate that PIE [pʰ] became Romance [f] in certain words (For example, Latin fabula is ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bha); the [pʰ] phoneme (or any aspirated consonant, for that matter,) did not occure in the Romance languages.
     

    ioanell

    Senior Member
    Greek
    The words triumphus and sulphur (just like many other words with CH and TH in them) have not been borrowed by Latin from Greek; the former word was borrowed from Etruscan, the latter was native.
    If you notice carefully, I never claimed the word “sulphur” was Greek. My quotations above in #32 just meant to show that the word “sulphur” you mentioned was as well written (and pronounced?) as “sulpur” and “sulfur”, viz. with the fricative f. In #28 above, I remind you, I only spoke about Latin words starting with the digraph ph- and nothing more. Perhaps I would have been more accurate if I had added “except a “handful or so” of purely Latin words”, as there aren’t many. (BTW, as you’re challenging my view, if you have available to quote some of these purely Latin words, words not influenced in any way by Greek, starting with ph- (with either capital P or lower case p), that would be very welcome.)

    it's clear that you misinterstand what is meant by “borrowing” - these dictionaries and I are saying the same thing.
    I would readily agree with you on the meaning of “borrowing”, but

    When LIDDELL-SCOTT-JONES says “2. = Lat. triumphus (which is borrowed fr. Θ. (ρίαμβος) through Etruscan)”, you think you are saying the same thing?

    When “etymonline.com” says “triumph…from Latin triumphus … from Old Latin triumpus, probably via Etruscan from Greek thriambos”, you think you are saying the same thing?

    When Wictionary says “From Old Latin triumpus, via Etruscan …, ultimately from Ancient Greek θρίαμβος (thriambos), you think you are saying the same thing?

    When the Oxford Latin Dictionary says “triump(h)e, interj.(ection) [perh.(aps, which simply means “maybe yes, maybe no”) Etr. fr.(om) Gk. θρίαμβος], you think you are saying the same thing?

    You seem to ignore that all the dictionaries don’t say “from Etruscan”, but (and this not surely, but probably) via Etruscan” from Greek.

    Given the above, you are not saying the same thing.

    The PH in these words cannot represent /f/
    But how it comes and the dictionaries, along with “sulpur” and “sulphur”, also give “sulfur”? Doesn’t this mean that all pronunciations were in practice?

    LATIN DICTIONARY BY LEWIS & SHORT
    sulfur: (in MSS. also sulphur and sulpur)…

    The Lewis & Short Dictionary gives “sulfur” as the normal, basic form and in parentheses it gives (in MSS. also sulphur and sulpur); according to your excerpt above “Also please notice that manuscript spellings don't constitute direct evidence about any classical writer's spelling habits - they're all either late antique or medieval. Nor did most of them write personally, but employed a scribe.” Consequently, according to your words, you agree that “sulfur” is the earlier, basic, normal form of the word.

    contrarily, the OXFORD LATIN DICTIONARY gives “sulpuras the basic form and “sulfur” as a secondary, sometimes written, form.

    I'm not aware of any evidence from Latin for such an early spirantisation. In these words, the H was added to Latin stops, obviously to look more Greek. ...The “aspirated” /p/ was clearly different from the /f/ of Latin.
    Consequently, the Latins continued pronouncing “sulpur” with the plosive /p/, or the “aspirated” /p/, regardless of whether they wrote “sulphur”, as the ‘h’ -according to this view- was added just for “aesthetic” reasons and had no effect on the pronunciation?

    But these stops were already commonly pronounced in some special way referred to as “aspiration”. The “aspirated” /p/ was clearly different from the /f/ of Latin.
    I guess you’re saying this as a possible linguistic assumption, but, as long as there can’t be any live phonological evidence, what else could prove this “special way”? How did finally the Latins pronounce the word, and if originally they pronounced it with the stop /p/ and then with the aspirated /p/, when did they switch over to the fricative /f/, taking into account that “sulfur” (with f) is earlier, as “Lewis & Short” shows? Were there two parallel pronunciations, if “sulphur” wasn’t pronounced like “sulfur”?

    it's clear that Greek had nothing to do with the Latin PH because Greek θρίαμβος has no Φ in it.
    Of course, there's no Φ in θρίαμβος. The most possible development is that the Etruscans took θρίαμβος,” and, as they had no voiced stops, they "changed” the voiced bilabial stop /β/ into the unvoiced plosive /p/ and for their religious reasons formed the exclamation (*𐌈𐌓𐌉𐌀𐌌𐌐𐌄 (*θriampe), which passed into Latin as a ritual cry "triumpe", giving basis for the noun "triumpus" (older form); this later -according to your view as well- permanently incorporated the /h/ and finally acquired the Greek-looking form "triumphus". A plausible explanation, don’t you think?

    I'm taking no ideological “sides”
    That’s good. Anyway, regardless of whether you wish to respond to the above or not, I again thank you for your postings and I am terminating my participation in this long thread -which tends to become boring, if not already- here. Thank you for this interesting, in any case, exchange of views. 🙂
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    This is actually pretty interesting; I remember hearing somewhere that the <þ> letter was used until typewriters came along (when it was replaced with <y>; this became confusing, and it was subsequently replaced with <th>), and I had assumed that the other archaic letters had similar stories.
    Well, clearly for this to be true “typewriters” should be replaced with “the printing press”, i.e. it's the same thing as what I describe. The English orthography was first standardised during the 16th century in print, and this is when the use of the letter <þ> was dropped for good.
    I may have worded my part a bit weirdly, but I just meant that aspirated plosives can commonly shift to fricatives. [...] On the other hand, it isn't particularly impossible for unaspirated or voiced plosives to become fricatives as well, but it's most common when aspiration is present.
    See, I don't think aspirated stops are any more likely than voiced stops to become fricatives; in fact I would give the edge to voiced stops, due to how common intervocalic lenition is. Notice that Germanic aspirated stops are fortis not lenis! A lenition chain-shift would result in their de-aspiration and net a voiced or voiceless obstruent, as in the GA intervocalic t-d merger.

    As for voiceless stops, I'm simply not sure for lack of examples where one can say for certain than they weren't allophonically aspirated, which is only possible to say when the language has a plain-aspirated opposition like Ancient Greek did. In it, the plain stops indeed stayed stops; nevertheless they regularly become voiced after nasals, so these too participate in the chain-shift.

    One way to think about this is that aspirated and voiced stops are cross-linguistically marked – if a language has one stop series, it will necessarily be plain voiceless stops with possible allophonic voicing (Estonian, Finnish, many Micronesian ones). It may be possible to connect these chain-shifts into fricatives to this markedness so that plain stops are not affected, using some theoretical framework.
    On a related note, I should probably elaborate that PIE [pʰ] became Romance [f] in certain words (For example, Latin fabula is ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bha); the [pʰ] phoneme (or any aspirated consonant, for that matter,) did not occure in the Romance languages.
    The sound you transcribe as [pʰ] is traditionally transcribed as /bʰ/, i.e. a breathy-voiced stop - there's ongoing disagreement over the exact phonetic value of the PIE aspirates, because a breathy-voiced stop series without a corresponding aspirated stop series is cross-linguistically very odd. Breathy-voiced is still a type of aspiration, of course, but in the vast majority of daughter branches /bʰ, dʰ, gʰ/ weren't affected by any fricativisation - Italic seems to be the only one. This shift was accompanied by complex reshuffling (mergers and splits) with different results in the different Italic languages, specifically in Latin as opposed to Osco-Umbrian.
     
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    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    no other shift that strictly turns aspirates into fricatives comes to mind, and I would appreciate it if someone can offer such unambiguous examples.
    Found a tentative example, but ultimately too tentative. This related thread mentions just this type of fricativisation in Iranic, which apparently didn't affect any other stop series. This page gives their origin as follows:
    PIr. voiceless fricatives *f, *ϑ, and *x as a result of spirantisation of consonant clusters, of voiceless aspirated stops pʰ, tʰ, kʰ, assimilation of aspiration, or PIIr. *s before *u̯ in initial position
    The “voiceless aspirated stops” is actually an unnecessary extrapolation - in fact these reflect PIE consonant clusters of voiceless stops + laryngeal, i.e. /ph, th, kh/. Therefore it's possible to subsume this case under “spirantisation of consonant clusters”, like in /ps > fš/, /kt > xt/, and this looks like lenition of plain voiceless stops or some other sort of cluster assimilation, more than anything else (just as happened in Celtic or, indeed, Germanic!). Granted, it's also possible to say that plain stops were allophonically aspirated in these clusters, and this aspiration caused their fricativisation, but the bottom line is that the Iranic example is too uncertain.
     
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