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Regressive Voice Assimilation: type 2

The second type of regressive voice assimilation (RVA) entails that a fricative adopts the voice specification of a following voiced segment. An example is pofmais/pof#majs/popcorn, which is realized as [povmajs]. This type of assimilation is the subject of this topic.


Examples of the second type of RVA are given in the following tables:

Examples of assimilation of [f]

Table 1
pofbroek [vb] knickerbockers
pofmais [vm] popcorn
it grêf yn [vi] into the grave
ja of nee [vn] yes or no
slaafeftich [vɛ] slavish

Examples of assimilation of [s]

Table 2
iisbaan [zb] skating rink
rosjokte [zj] faultfinding
it gers oer [zu.ə] over the grass
dy spûns net [zn] not that sponge
gaseftich [zɛ] gaseous

Examples of assimilation of [x]

Table 3
liichbek [ɣb] (inveterate) liar
slachwurk [ɣv] percussion; striking mechanism
graach of net [ɣɔ] take it or leave it
in fluch jurkje [ɣj] a smart, saucy dress
in bloedichommen wurk [ɣo] a hell of a job

This kind of RVA is triggered by all voiced segments: plosives, fricatives, nasals, liquids, glides or vowels. Both single fricatives and fricative sequences are affected. And the latter not only by plosives ‒ which represent the strongest consonant type ‒, but also by the other voiced segments. Examples of the assimilation of sequences triggered by non-plosives are provided in (1):

Example 1

Examples of voice assimilation of fricative sequences triggered by non-plosive voiced segments
kriichsried [-ɣzr-] court-martial
sechsman [-ɣzm-] informant
oarlochsmonumint [-ɣzm-] war memorial
gesachsorgaan [-ɣzɔ-] instrument of state, authority
kom der dochs yn [-ɣzi-] do come in!
in foaroarlochs reauke [-ɣzr-] a prewar cup and saucer
wat dreechs oangean [-ɣzoə-] to tackle something difficult
tsjerkhôfsûle [-vzu-] barn owl
gaudiefswaar [-vzv-] very foggy weather
wat mufs rûke [-vzr-] smell something musty, stuffy
wat leafs meinimme [-vzm-] bring (someone) something dear, nice

The assimilation of a fricative sequence is of a less obligatory nature than that of a single fricative (exemplified in the first three tables of this topic) and also than the assimilation of a fricative sequence triggered by a voiced plosive (see the examples in assimilation of obstruent sequences induced by a voiced plosive below). In (kom der) dochs yndo come in!, for instance, the part dochs yn can be pronounced as [dɔɣzin] and [dɔxsin], so with and without assimilation. And the degree of voicing in [dɔɣzin] is less strong than that in (wat bist) dochs dom[dɔɣzdom]how stupid you are, where assimilation is triggered by the voiced plosive [d]. Besides, assimilation more easily applies after a long vocalic sequence than after a short vowel. So, in wat leafs[ɪəfs]meinimmebring (someone) something dear, nice and wat dreechs[e:xs]oangeanto tackle something difficult, for example, a voiced fricative sequence is more likely than in, for instance, sechsman[ɛxs]informant and wat mufs[øfs]rûkesmell something musty, stuffy. All this is in line with the voiced fricatives' preference for being preceded by 'something long' and the voiceless ones by 'something short' (see the obstruents: the fricatives). Voice assimilation of fricative sequences triggered by non-plosive voiced segments thus is less categorical than when triggered by voiced plosives, while it is also more susceptible to contextual influences.

The nasals /m/ en /n/ can only induce the assimilation of a single fricative or a fricative sequence, but not that of a single plosive or a plosive-fricative sequence (see (2) below). Both nasals and plosives are non-continuant segments, but the former appear to be a weaker kind of consonant than the latter.

A plosive-fricative sequence does not undergo regressive voice assimilation, unless this is triggered by a voiced plosive or, put differently, voice assimilation of a plosive-fricative sequence cannot be induced by a (voiced) non-plosive. See the examples in (2), where these sequences remain voiceless (as compared to those in (3b,d) below):

Example 2

No regressive voice assimilation of a plosive-fricative sequence to a voiced non-plosive
ryksjild governmental money [-ksj-] [*-ɡzj-]
houliksreis honeymoon (trip) [-ksr-] [*-ɡzr-]
folksaard national character [-ksa:-] [*-ɡza:-]
skiedsrjochter arbitrator [-tsr-] [*-dzr-]
godsnamme name of God [-tsn-] [*-dzn-]
koartsmiddel fever medicine [-tsm-] [*-dzm-]

Assimilation of only the fricative, as in ryksjild[*-kzj-] and godsnamme[*-tzn-], yields an ill-formed outcome. A general constraint on obstruent sequences is that the obstruents must agree in voicing (see onset: sequences of two obstruents), which [k/t] and [z] in these examples do not. Realizations in line with the obstruent constraint would be [riɡzjɪlt](ryksjild) and [ɡɔdznamə](godsnamme), but these do not occur. As noted, only a voiced plosive is capable of enforcing voice assimilation of another plosive. A plosive manifests itself as the strongest kind of consonant here.

A voiced plosive induces assimilation of all occurring obstruent sequences: a) of two fricatives, b) of a fricative and a plosive (in whichever order), c) of two plosives, and d) of three obstruents (fricative + ts, plosive + st). Examples with all these sequences are given in (3):

Example 3

Assimilation of obstruent sequences induced by a voiced plosive
a. fricative + fricative
hy hat it dochs dien [-ɣzd-] he did it all the same
sok foaroarlochs gedoch [-ɣzɡ-] such pre-war fuss
wat leafs dwaan [-vzd-] do something dear, nice
oan wat dreechs begjinne [-ɣzb-] set about something difficult
b. fricative + plosive and plosive + fricative
ien in japs besoargje [-bzb-] give someone a cut
hy woe de wesp deameitsje [-zbd-] he wanted to kill the wasp
op 'e fyts gean [-dzɡ-] go by bicycle
op it nêst gean [-zdɡ-] go and sit on its nest
waskbak [-zɡb-] washbasin
de geit hat de biks beskiten [-ɡzb-] the goat has shitted on its dry feed
út 'e krêft groeie [-vdɡ-] outgrow oneself, overgrow oneself
hy kin it wol wer rjocht bûge [-ɣdb-] he can bend it straight
c. two plosives
hy bakt bôle [-ɡdb-] he bakes bread
hy stapt gewoan troch [-bdɡ-] he just keeps going
wat hasto mei ús Ypk dien [-bɡd-] what did you do to our daughter/sister Ypk?
d. three obstruents
nei rjochts gean [-ɣdzɡ-] go to the right
it roer nei lofts bûge [-vdzb-] bend the rudder to the left
jins takst berêde [-ɡzdb-] to finish ones task
mei in nije tekst begjinne [-ɡzdb-] start with a new text
in gewûpst baaske [-bzdb-] a sturdily built fellow

As noted, obstruents in a sequence must agree in voicing, a pattern brought about by this kind of voice assimilation.

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In front of vowel-initial suffixes, the underlying voice specification of stem-final obstruents is preserved, as in the following examples:

Example 4

Examples of the preservation of the underlying voice specification of stem-final obstruents in front of vowel-initial suffixes
hefferij /hɛf+ərɛj/ lever (cf. heff(e) /hɛf/ to lift, to raise )
graverij /ɡra:v+ərɛj/ digging (cf. grav(e) /ɡra:v/ to dig )
moedich /muəd+əɣ/ brave (cf. moed /muəd/ courage )
paffich /paf+əɣ/ doughy; puffy (cf. paff(e) /paf/ to puff )
ferver /fɛrv+ər/ house painter (cf. ferv(je) /fɛrv/ to paint )
pisser /pɪs+ər/ prick (cf. pis(je) /pɪs/ to urinate, to piss )

The above suffixes begin with schwa or they have schwa as their only vowel. Since a word must contain at least one full vowel and since it cannot begin with schwa, they are cohering suffixes by their very form.

Suffixes with (also) a full vowel, on the other hand, have the outward appearance of words. In a phonological sense, then, they also behave as words. This implies that they can trigger RVA, examples of which are given below:

Example 5

Examples of RVA triggered by the initial segment of word-like suffixes
rykdom /rik+dom/ [riɡdom] wealth; riches
waaksdom /va:ks+dom/ [va:ɡzdom] growth; growing pain
piseftich /pɪs+ɛftəɣ/ [pɪzɛftəx] piss-like
famkeseftich /famkəs+ɛftəɣ/ [famkəzɛftəx] girlish, girl-like
nachtguod /naxt+ɡwod/ [naɣdɡwot] nightclothes, nightwear
jurksguod /jørks+gwod/ [jørɡzgwot] cloth, fabric for a dress
fleisleas /flajz+lɪəz/ [flajzlɪəs] meatless, without meat
ferweechleas /fərve:ɣ+lɪəz/ [fəve:ɣlɪəs] without movement, moving
reismannich /rajz+manəɣ/ [rajzmanəx] a few times, some times
gefoelsmjittich /ɡəfuəls+mjɪtəɣ/ [ɡəfuəlzmjɪtəx] instinctive
getalsmjittich /ɡətɔls+mjɪtəɣ/ [ɡətɔlzmjɪtəx] numerical
baasommen /ba:z+omən/ [ba:zomən] terrific, fantastic, wonderful
fiifresom /fi:v+rəzom/ [fi:vrəzom] the five of them/you/us
humusryk /hyməs+rik/ [hyməzrik] rich in humus

Most of these suffixes begin with a consonant.

In cases like fleisleas[flajzlɪəs]meatless, without meat, ferweechleas[fəve:ɣlɪəs]without movement, moving, reismannich[rajzmanəx]a few times, some times, baasommen[ba:zomən]terrific, fantastic, wonderful, and fiifresom[fi:vrəzom]the five of them/you/us, the final fricative of the base word of the derivation is subjected to Final Devoicing (see final devoicing), the effects of which are made undone by regressive voice assimilation.

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Since it only contains the vowel schwa, the suffix -ber (see -ber) is not expected to be able to trigger either place nor voice assimilation. But it does, as shown by the following examples:

Example 6

Examples of RPA and RVA triggered by the suffix -ber
a. Place assimilation
ûnútsteanber /unytstɪən+bər/ [unytstɪəmbər] unbearable, insufferable
b. Voice assimilation
ûnberikber /unbərɪk+bər/ [umbərɪɡbər] inaccessible, unreachable
ûnmisber /unmɪs+bər/ [umɪzbər] indispensable, essential

The suffix -ber might be assumed to have a full vowel in underlying representation − confer -baar in Dutch and -bar in German −, which turns into schwa at a later phonological level.

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