Homorganic Cluster Lengthening, Pre-Cluster Shortening and Preference-based change in Early English
This paper discusses the processes of Homorganic Cluster Lengthening (HCL) and Pre-Cluster Shortening (PCS) occurring in the late Old English and Early Middle English periods. These processes are responsible, respectively, for vowel-lengthening before voiced homorganic consonant clusters (OE bindan, feld, hund > LOE/EME bīnd, fēld, hūnd) and vowel shortening before other clusters (OE cēpte, fīfta, brōhte > ME kepte, fifte, brohte). This paper builds on reassessments of data by Minkova (2014) to contribute an account of HCL within the system of “preference laws” articulated by Vennemann (1988). This account attributes the motivation for HCL to preferences for syllable-internal transitions between nucleus and coda in order to explain the fine details of HCL; namely, the fact that HCL applies with higher frequency to high vowels followed nasals than to low/mid vowels and in a sporadic manner to front vowels followed by /l/ compared to back vowels. These differences are attributed to the application of the Coda and Nucleus Laws (Vennemann 1988: 25, 42), with additional proposals about the effect of velarization of /l/ in Old English, with comparison to PCS providing important context throughout.
Keywords: Old English, Middle English, homorganic cluster lengthening, pre-cluster shortening, preference laws, sound change
Published online: 25 May 2020
Eliason, Norman E.
Lass, Roger[ p. 109 ]
Mailhammer, Robert, David Restle & Theo Vennemann
Malsch, Derry L.
Minkova, Donka & Robert P. Stockwell
Murray, Robert W. & Theo Vennemann
Parker, Stephen G.
Phillips, Betty S.
Prokosch, E.[ p. 110 ]
Smirnitsky, A. I.