Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 191
Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.

Page 191
“short” vowels in the old oo- words will not seem quite as erratic as at the present transitional moment. 9 We learn, incidentally, the fundamental fact that phonetic laws do not work with spontaneous automatism, that they are simply a formula for a consummated drift that sets in at a psychologically exposed point and gradually worms its way through a gamut of phonetically analogous forms.
  It will be instructive to set down a table of form sequences, a kind of gross history of the words foot, feet, mouse, mice for the last 1500 years: 10
  1. fot: foti; mus: musi (West Germanic)
  2. fot: föti; mus: müsi
  3. fot: föte; mus: müse
  4. fot: föt; mus: müs
  5. fot: fet; mus: müs (Anglo-Saxon)
  6. fot: fet; mus: mis (Chaucer)
  7. fot: fet; mous: meis
  8. fut (rhymes with boot: fit; mous: meis (Shakespeare)
  9. fut: fit; maus: mais
  10. fut (rhymes with put): fit; maus: mais (English of 1900)
  It will not be necessary to list the phonetic laws that gradually differentiated the modern German equivalents of the original West Germanic forms from their English cognates. The following table gives a rough idea of the form sequences in German: 11
Note 9.  It is possible that other than purely phonetic factors are also at work in the history of these vowels. [back]
Note 10.  The orthography is roughly phonetic. Pronounce all accented vowels long except where otherwise indicated, unaccented vowels short; give continental values to vowels, not present English ones. [back]
Note 11.  After I. the numbers are not meant to correspond chronologically to those of the English table. The orthography is again roughly phonetic. [back]


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