Synchronic and diachronic accounts of phonological features in Central Chumash languages

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Synchronic and diachronic explanations of phonological processes are, by necessity, often treated as mutually exclusive phenomena within any language; we accept that diachronic sound changes are not actively applied to any underlying forms. Extinct languages complicate this arrangement since distinguishing between synchronic and diachronic phonological processes can be difficult without access to native, fluent speakers. In this paper, I examine previously proposed synchronic accounts of several Central Chumash phonological alternations and suggest alternate diachronic explanations. I concur with others (such as Wang 1969) that, when synchronic rules fail to describe a phonology, our concept of sound change must enlarge and allow us to consider the role of diachronic processes in observable synchronic phenomena.


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