Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2210-2116
  • E-ISSN: 2210-2124
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper presents an analysis of two interacting sound changes in the extinct West Slavic language Polabian. Polabian is known to have two types of vowel innovations: (i) the incorporation of acoustic properties from consonant secondary co-articulations (either palatalization or velarization) and (ii) a systematic rotation of vowels (Timberlake 1995). This paper argues that the innovation in (ii) is a vowel chain shift similar to those analyzed in Labov (1994). Unlike the other languages surveyed in Labov (1994), Polabian has phonologically predictable exceptions to the general direction of vowel movement through the acoustic space. Unlike previous work on Polabian, this paper proposes that the vowel chain shift operated simultaneously with the innovation in (i) resulting in phonologically predictable exceptions. This paper tests Timberlake’s (1995) proposal and the current proposal in a Harmonic Grammar (Flemming 2001) which uses Purcell’s (1979) acoustic data from Russian as a proxy. The model only captures the correct distribution of vowel reflexes under the assumption that co-articulatory based innovations and vowel chain shifting were active at the same time.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Ahn, Sang-Cheol
    2001 An Optimality Approach to Chain Shifts. Language Research37:2.359–375.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. 2002 An Optimality Approach to the Great Vowel Shift. Korean Journal of Linguistics27:2.153–170.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Ahn, Sang-Cheol & Gregory Iverson
    2007 Structured imbalances in the emergence of the Korean vowel system. Selected Papers from the 17th International Conference on Historical Linguisticsed. by Joseph Salmons & Shannon Dubenion-Smith , 275–293. Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/cilt.284.21ahn
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.284.21ahn [Google Scholar]
  4. Arlotto, Anthony
    1972Introduction to Historical Linguistics. Washington D.C.: University Press of America.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Boersma, Paul & Joe Pater
    2008 Convergence Properties of a Gradual Learning Algorithm for Harmonic Grammar. Rutgers Optimality Database (ROA)no.970. roa.rutgers.edu/
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Bolla, Kálmán
    1981A Conspectus of Russian Speech Sounds. Köln: Böhlau.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Bloomfield, Leonard
    1984Language. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Burns, Roslyn
    2016 New World Mennonite Low German: An Investigation of Sound Changes in Progress. Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Campbell, Lyle
    2013Historical Linguistics: An Introduction. 2nd ed.Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Carleton, Terence R.
    1991Introduction to the Phonological History of the Slavic Languages. Columbus, OH: Slavica.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Comrie, Bernard & Greville Corbett
    1993The Slavonic Languages. London / New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Crist, Sean Jacob
    2001 Conspiracy in Historical Phonology. Doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Crowley, Terry & Claire Bowern
    2010An Introduction to Historical Linguistics. 4th ed.Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Derksen, Rick
    2008Etymological Dictionary of the Slavic Inherited Lexicon Vol 4. Leiden: Brill.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Flemming, Edward
    1995 Auditory Representations in Phonology. Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. 2001 Scalar and categorical phenomena in a unified model of phonetics and phonology. Phonology18.7–44. 10.1017/S0952675701004006
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0952675701004006 [Google Scholar]
  17. Fortson, Benjamin W.
    2010Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction. 2nd ed.Chichester, UK / Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Garrett, Andrew & Keith Johnson
    2013 Phonetic Bias in Sound Change. Origins of Sound Change: Approaches to Phonologizationed. by Alan Yu , 51–97. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573745.003.0003
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573745.003.0003 [Google Scholar]
  19. Gnanadesikan, Amalia
    1997 Phonology with Ternary Scales. Doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Guion, Susan Guignard
    1998 The Role of Perception in the Sound Change of Velar Palatalization. Phonetica55:1–2.18–52. 10.1159/000028423
    https://doi.org/10.1159/000028423 [Google Scholar]
  21. Hayes, Bruce & Colin Wilson
    2008 A Maximum Entropy Model of Phonotactics and Phonotactic Learning. Linguistic Inquiry39:3.379–440. 10.1162/ling.2008.39.3.379
    https://doi.org/10.1162/ling.2008.39.3.379 [Google Scholar]
  22. Hock, Hans Henrich
    1991Principles of Historical Linguistics. 2nd ed.Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110219135
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110219135 [Google Scholar]
  23. Hombert, Jean-Marie , John J. Ohala & William G. Ewan
    1979 Phonetic Explanations for the Development of Tone. Language55:1.37–58. 10.2307/412518
    https://doi.org/10.2307/412518 [Google Scholar]
  24. Iskarous, Kahil & Darya Kavitskaya
    2018 Sound Change and the Structure of Synchronic Variability: Phonetic and Phonological Factors in Slavic Palatalization. Language94:1.43–83. 10.1353/lan.2018.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2018.0001 [Google Scholar]
  25. Kaiser, Eleonore
    1968Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Stammsilbenvokalismus im Dravänopolabischen. Auf der Grundlage des toponomastischen Materials. München: Trofenik.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Kavitskaya, Darya , Khalil Iskarous , Aude Noiray & Michael Proctor
    2009 Trills and Palatalization: Consequences for Sound Change. Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics17.97–110.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Kiparsky, Paul
    2016 Labov, Sound Change, and Phonological Theory. Journal of Sociolinguistics20:4.464–488. 10.1111/josl.12196
    https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12196 [Google Scholar]
  28. Kirchner, Robert
    1996 Synchronic Chain Shifts in Optimality Theory. Linguistic Inquiry27:2.341–350.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Kisseberth, Charles
    1970 On the Functional Unity of Phonological Rules. Linguistic Inquiry1:3.291–306.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Ko, Seongyeon
    2013 The End of the Korean Vowel Shift Controversy. Korean Linguistics15:2.199–221. 10.1075/kl.15.2.02ko
    https://doi.org/10.1075/kl.15.2.02ko [Google Scholar]
  31. Kortlandt, Frederick
    2010Polabian Accentuation. Frankfurt am Main: Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Labov, William
    1994Principles of Linguistic Change: Internal Factors. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Ladefoged, Peter & Keith Johnson
    2015A Course in Phonetics. 7th ed.Stamford: Cengage Learning.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Lass, Roger
    1997Historical Linguistics and Language Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511620928
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511620928 [Google Scholar]
  35. Law, Franzo & Winifred Strange
    2015 Acoustical Analysis of Canadian French Word-Final Vowels in Varying Phonetic Contexts. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America138:1.EL71–EL76. 10.1121/1.4922762
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4922762 [Google Scholar]
  36. Legendre, Géraldine , Yoshiro Miyata & Paul Smolensky
    1990Harmonic Grammar: A Formal Multi-Level Connectionist Theory of Linguistic Well-Formedness: Theoretical Foundations. Boulder, CO: University of Colorado, Department of Computer Science.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Lindblom, Björn
    1986 Phonetic Universals in Vowel Systems. Experimental Phonologyed. by John J. Ohala & J. Jaeger . Orlando, 13–44. Orlando, FL: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Lionnet, Florian
    2016 Subphonemic Teamwork: A Typology and Theory of Cumulative Coarticulatory Effects in Phonology. Dissertation: University of California, Berkeley.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Litvin, Natallia
    2014 An Ultrasound Investigation of Secondary Velarization in Russian. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Victoria.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Maclagan, Margaret & Jennifer Hay
    2007 Getting Fed up with our Feet: Contrast Maintenance and the New Zealand English “Short” Front Vowels. Language Variation and Change19.1–25. 10.1017/S0954394507070020
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954394507070020 [Google Scholar]
  41. Miglio, Viola & Bruce Morén
    2003 Merger Avoidance and Lexical Reconstruction: An OT model of the Great Vowel Shift. Optimality Theory and Language Changeed. by Eric Holt , 191–228. Dordrecht: Kluwer. 10.1007/978‑94‑010‑0195‑3_8
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-010-0195-3_8 [Google Scholar]
  42. Minkova, Donka & Robert Stockwell
    2003 English Vowel Shifts and ‘Optimal’ Diphthongs. Optimality Theory and Language Changeed. by Eric Holt , 169–190. Dordrecht: Kluwer. 10.1007/978‑94‑010‑0195‑3_7
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-010-0195-3_7 [Google Scholar]
  43. Nobre, Maria Alzira & Frances Ingemann
    2011 [1987] Oral Vowel Reduction in Brazilian Portuguese. InHonor of Ilse Lehisteed. by Robert Channon & Linda Shockey , 195–206. Dodrecht: Foris.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Ohala, John J.
    1993 The Phonetics of Sound Change. Historical Linguistics: Problems and Perspectivesed. by Charles Jones , 237–278. London / New York: Longman Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Olesch, Reinhold
    1962Juglers Lüneburgisch-Wendisches Wörterbuch. Köln: Böhlau.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. 1974Der dravaenopolabische Wortakzent: Teil II. Mainz: Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Oliver-Rajan, Julia
    2007 Mobility and its Effects on Vowel Raising in the Coffee Zone of Puerto Rico. Selected Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguisticsed. by Jonathan Holmquist , Augusto Lorenzino & Lotfi Sayahi , 46–52. Sommerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Operstein, Natalie
    2010Consonant Structure and Prevocalization. Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/cilt.312
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.312 [Google Scholar]
  49. Padgett, Jaye
    1991 Contrast Dispersion and Russian Palatalization. The Role of Speech Perception in Phonologyed by Keith Johnson & Elizabeth Hume , 187–218. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. 2003 The emergence of contrastive palatalization in Russian. Optimality Theory and Language Changeed. by Eric Holt , 307–335. Dordrecht: Kluwer. 10.1007/978‑94‑010‑0195‑3_12
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-010-0195-3_12 [Google Scholar]
  51. Parkinson, Frederick
    1996 The Representation of Vowel Height in Phonology. Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Polański, Kazimierz & James Allen Sehnert
    1967Polabian–English Dictionary. The Hauge: Mouton.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Polański, Kazimierz
    1993 Polabian. The Slavonic Languagesed. by Bernard Comrie & Greville G. Corbett , 795–824. London / New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Purcell, Edward
    1979 Formant Frequency Patterns in Russian VCV Utterances. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America66:6.1691–1702. 10.1121/1.383641
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.383641 [Google Scholar]
  55. Schenker, Alexander
    1993 Proto-Slavonic. InThe Slavonic Languages, ed. by Bernard Comrie & Greville G. Corbett , 60–121. London & New York: Routledge Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Schleicher, August
    1967Laut- und Formenlere der polabischen Sprache. Wiesbaden: Martin Sändig.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. Schwartz, Geoffrey
    2016 On the Evolution of Prosodic Boundaries – Parameter Settings for Polish and English. Lingua171.37–73. 10.1016/j.lingua.2015.11.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2015.11.005 [Google Scholar]
  58. Shih, Stephanie & Sharon Inkelas
    2014 A Subsegmental Correspondence Approach to Contour Tone (Dis)Harmony Patterns. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting on Phonology1:1.1–12. 10.3765/amp.v1i1.22
    https://doi.org/10.3765/amp.v1i1.22 [Google Scholar]
  59. Swan, Oscar E.
    2009Polish-English=English-Polish. Retrieved from: https://lektorek.org/polish/.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. Timberlake, Alan
    1995 Mechanisms and Relative Chronology of Polabian Sound Changes. Wiener Slawistischer Almanach35.281–296.
    [Google Scholar]
  61. Trubetzkoy, Nikolai
    1929Polabische Studien. Wien / Leipzig: Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky.
    [Google Scholar]
  62. Walker, Rachel & Michael Proctor
    2016 Gestural Coordination and Blending among Liquid Consonants and Vowels in American English. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America140:4.3222. 10.1121/1.4970167
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4970167 [Google Scholar]
  63. Yu, Alan & Hyunjung Lee
    2014 The Stability of Perceptual Compensation for Coarticulation within and across Individuals: A Cross-Validation Study. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America136:1.382–388. 10.1121/1.4883380
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4883380 [Google Scholar]
  64. Zhou, Xinhui & Carol Y. Espy-Wilson
    2008 A magnetic resonance imaging-based articulatory and acoustic study of “retroflex” and “bunched” American English /r/. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America123(6): 4466–4481. 10.1121/1.2902168
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.2902168 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error