Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 200
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Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.
 

Page 200
 
serve or restore the fundamental phonetic pattern of the language; (3) A preservative tendency which sets in when a too serious morphological unsettlement is threatened by the main drift. I do not imagine for a moment that it is always possible to separate these strands or that this purely schematic statement does justice to the complex forces that guide the phonetic drift. The phonetic pattern of a language is not invariable, but it changes far less readily than the sounds that compose it. Every phonetic element that it possesses may change radically and yet the pattern remain unaffected. It would be absurd to claim that our present English pattern is identical with the old Indo-European one, yet it is impressive to note that even at this late day the English series of initial consonants:
ptk
bdg
fthh

corresponds point for point to the Sanskrit series:
bdg
bhdhgh
ptk

The relation between phonetic pattern and individual sound is roughly parallel to that which obtains between the morphologic type of a language and one of its specific morphological features. Both phonetic pattern and fundamental type are exceedingly conservative, all superficial appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. Which is more so we cannot say. I suspect that they hang together in a way that we cannot at present quite understand.
  If all the phonetic changes brought about by the phonetic drift were allowed to stand, it is probable that

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