• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
Breaking: phonological aspects
quickinfo

It can be shown that the diphthongization of the half open and half close monophthongs was an essential, historical, phonological 'pre-process' for Breaking. It is the subject of this topic.

readmore
[+] Diphthongization of the low mid and high mid long monophthongs as an essential preliminary stage of Breaking

Breaking entails a relation between the centring diphthongs /iə, yə, uə, ɪə, oə/ and the 'corresponding' glide + vowel sequences [jɪ, jø, wo, jɛ, wa]. Centring diphthongs therefore play a crucial role, both with respect to the synchronic pattern of Breaking and its genesis. As to the latter, the diphthongization of the half open and half close monophthongs was an essential historical 'pre-process' for Breaking. Van der Meer (1985:13) assumes the historical course of events provided in the list below, which has generally been adopted in Frisian linguistics:

  1. the long monophthong /a:/ raises one level, to /ɛ:/;
  2. the long monophthongs /ɛ:, ɪ:, ɔ:, o:/ diphthongize by raising their first, stressed, component one level: /ɛ:, ɪ:, ɔ:, o://'ɪɛ, 'iɪ, 'oɔ, 'uo/;
  3. outside the context of shortening, the unstressed second component of these new diphthongs reduces to schwa, yielding a centring diphthong: /'ɪɛ, 'iɪ, 'oɔ, 'uo//ɪə, iə, oə, uə/
  4. in the context of shortening − in 'longer forms' −, stress shifts from the first to the second component, followed by the reduction of the unstressed first component to a glide: /'ɪɛ, 'iɪ, 'oɔ, 'uo//ɪ'ɛ, i'ɪ, o'ɔ, u'o//jɛ, jɪ, wɔ, wo/

[hide extra information]
x

Due to its rarity, the centring diphthong /yə/ is left out of consideration from here on.

[hide extra information]
x

Raising of the long monophthong /a:/ resulted in the front vowel /ɛ:/. At the time of raising then /a:/ must have been a front(-like) vowel as well. Note that the short central vowel /a/ is part of the falling diphthong /aj/ only, but not of /aw/. The earlier distinction between /aw/ and /ɔw/ has been in favour of the latter (see Visser (1997:26-27)).

[hide extra information]
x

The glide + vowel sequence /wɔ/ has turned into /wa/, so that doar[do.ər]door now alternates with doarren[dwarn̩]doors, and not with [dwɔrn̩] (see Hoekstra (1988)). For the sake of exposition, however, /oə/'s broken counterpart is represented as /wɔ/ in the overview of the historical course of events above.

The broken and non-broken forms thus develop from one and the same source, which seems to be a sound point of departure for an insightful analysis. By assuming the long monophthongs to turn into centring diphthongs (/ɛ:, ɪ:, ɔ:, o://ɪə, iə, oə, uə/), several aspects of Breaking fall in place. First of all, if a derived form or a compound with Breaking has a related, non-derived form, the latter always has a centring diphthong. Van der Meer (1985:7) notes: The alternation is apparently between centring diphthongs on the one hand (so diphthongs ending in schwa), and on the other hand sequences of semivowels (j plus ɛ or ɪ, and w plus a or o). We do not find any cases of Breaking where the non-broken member of the alternating pair has a monophthong. In the second place, long monophthongs are prone to turn into centring diphthongs when preceding /r/. The latter also provides a context which heavily favours Breaking. Van der Meer (1985:31) gives an overview of the contexts in which Breaking is exceptionless, all of which are final clusters with /r/ as their first member, see the examples in (1):

Example 1

Examples of Breaking preceding /r/ (after Van der Meer (1985)
koark /kwark/ cork
bjirk /bjɪrk/ birch(tree)
doarp /dwarp/ village
soarch /swarɣ/ care; concern

Moreover, /r/ is part of the contexts in which the number of exceptions to Breaking is relatively small. Preceding /r/, the centring diphthongs <ie> /iə/ and <ea> /ɪə/ (both from /e:/) and <oe> /uə/ and <oa> /oə/ (both from /o:/) may alternate, as may their broken counterparts /jɪ/ and /jɛ/ and /wo/ and /wa/. The pattern is exemplified in (2) (see Visser (2014:258)) for an exhaustive list):

Example 2

Examples of the alternation between some centring and the corresponding broken diphthongs preceding /r/
a. With the centring diphthongs
rier(e) /riər/ ~ rear(e) /rɪər/ stir
tsjoar /tsjoər/ ~ tsjoer /tsjuər/ tether
b. With the broken diphthongs
djerre /djɛrə/ ~ djirre /djɪrə/ (egg) yolk
fuort /fwot/ ~ foart /fwat/ gone; away; immediately

These identical patterns of alternation thus sustain the assumption that broken diphthongs developed from centring ones (it should be noted that djerre and fuort no longer have counterparts with a centring diphthong). In the third place, there is distributional evidence. The combination of vowel sequences and word-final consonants is subject to phonotactic restrictions. Some consonants do not allow for centring diphthongs, or hardly so. The velar fricative /ɣ/ is a case in point. Of the centring diphthongs it can only be preceded by /ɪə/ (see Word-final single consonants), so it can hardly be coincidental that simplex words ending in /ɣ/ do not have complex counterparts with broken diphthongs (see Van der Meer (1985:30)).

[hide extra information]
x

Markey (1975:184) asserts that long monophthongs which resulted from the historical process of Open Syllable Lengthening cannot turn into centring diphthongs, a claim he substantiates with the forms dagen/da:ɣən/days, bôgen/bɔ:ɣən/bows; arcs, smoke/smo:kə/smoke, bûge/bu:ɣə/bend; bow, brêge/brɛ:ɣə/bridge, wegen/ve:ɣən/roads; ways, and lige/li:ɣə/tell a lie. With the exception of smoke, however, the long monophthong in these words precedes /ɣ/. The most plausible analysis therefore is that diphthongization was prevented from applying here for purely structural reasons.

The centring diphthongs /oə/ and /uə/ can be followed by coronal consonants only Sytstra and Hof (1925:39,41); Woude (1949); Visser (1997:19-20, 120-121). The same goes for the broken counterparts /wa/ and /wo/ (cf. Hof (1933:14,15)). This parallellism once more denotes the close ties between centring and broken diphthongs.

[hide extra information]
x

/o/ itself is allowed to precede non-coronals, as in sok/sok/such, som/som/sum, and op/op/(up)on. It is only as part of the broken diphthong /wo/ that /o/ is confined to coronals.

In the fourth place, there is dialectal evidence. In the dialect of Hindelopen, centring diphthongs are only found preceding /r/, so they are likely to be combinatorial variants of long monophthongs (as is the case in Dutch). At the same time, there are no genuine forms with Breaking in this dialect. All in all, there seems to be ample evidence that the diphthongization of the half close and half open monophthongs made for an essential preliminary stage of Breaking.

[hide extra information]
x

The dialect of North-east Fryslân displays the broken diphthong /wo/ in words which have /u/ in the rest of the language area (see Woude (1949)). This pattern is illustrated below:


Table 1
North-eastern form General form Translation
buotter/bwotər/ bûter/butər/ butter
buosse/bwosə/ bûse/busə/ pocket
muolle/mwolə/ mûle/mulə/ mouth
puodde/pwodə/ pûde/pudə/ bag; sack
muots/mwots/ mûtse/mutsə/ hat; bonnet
duo/dwo/ doe/du/ then
huo/vwo/ hoe/hu/ how

In order to arrive at the the forms with /wo/, the forms with /u/ must be assumed to have undergone diphthongization.

[hide extra information]
x

Breaking resulted in a huge increase in initial consonants and consonant sequences followed by the glides [j] and [w], which no doubt is a striking feature of Frisian phonotactics. The phonological interpretation of these sequences is a matter of debate. The question is whether the glides they contain belong to the syllable onset, the syllable nucleus, or to neither of the two. The question behind this is how Breaking, viz. shortening of the syllable nucleus, proceeded, either through nucleus shortening or nucleus contraction. Shortening implies that the left-hand part of the diphthong is removed from the nucleus and is incorporated into the syllable onset, where it is interpreted as a glide. Contraction implies that the vowels which make up the diphthong are contracted onto a single structural phonological position, so that they both remain part of the nucleus. Shortening results in glide + vowel sequences, contraction in rising diphthongs. See the syllabic affiliation of prevocalic glides for an oveview of the occurring sequences and a discussion of the syllabic affiliation of the glides.

References:
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1988Wêrom brekt [o.ə] ta [wa]?Tydskrift foar Fryske Taalkunde448-53
  • Hof, Jan Jelles1933Friesche dialectgeographieMartinus Nijhoff
  • Markey, T. L1975WEST FRISIAN -wV-/-jV- BREAKING: A GENERATIVE APPROACHFolia Linguistica7181-207
  • Meer, Geert van der1985Frisian breaking: aspects of the origin and development of a sound changeEstrikkenGrins/GroningenStifting FFYRUG
  • Meer, Geert van der1985Frisian breaking: aspects of the origin and development of a sound changeEstrikkenGrins/GroningenStifting FFYRUG
  • Meer, Geert van der1985Frisian breaking: aspects of the origin and development of a sound changeEstrikkenGrins/GroningenStifting FFYRUG
  • Meer, Geert van der1985Frisian breaking: aspects of the origin and development of a sound changeEstrikkenGrins/GroningenStifting FFYRUG
  • Meer, Geert van der1985Frisian breaking: aspects of the origin and development of a sound changeEstrikkenGrins/GroningenStifting FFYRUG
  • Sytstra, Onno H. & Hof, Jan J1925Nieuwe Friesche SpraakkunstLeeuwardenR. van der Velde
  • Visser, Willem1997The Syllable in FrisianVrije Universiteit AmsterdamThesis
  • Visser, Willem1997The Syllable in FrisianVrije Universiteit AmsterdamThesis
  • Visser, Willem2014Hoe stom is de stomme /r/?Philologia Frisica anno 2012. Lezingen fan it njoggentjinde Frysk Filologenkongres fan de Fryske Akademy op 13, 14 en 15 juny 2012243-268
  • Woude, Goasse van der1949Brekking fan 'e oe-lûdenDe Pompeblêdden: tydskrift foar Fryske stúdzje2088-92, 108-113
  • Woude, Goasse van der1949Brekking fan 'e oe-lûdenDe Pompeblêdden: tydskrift foar Fryske stúdzje2088-92, 108-113
Suggestions for further reading ▼
phonology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
morphology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
syntax
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
cite
print