Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 211
Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.

Page 211
from the same word as pronounced by the French. On the other hand, the long, heavy vowel in the third syllable and the final position of the “zh” sound (like z in azure) are distinctly un-English, just as, in Middle English, the initial j and v 4 must have been felt at first as not strictly in accord with English usage, though the strangeness has worn off by now. In all four of these cases—initial j, initial v, final “zh,” and unaccented a of father—English has not taken on a new sound but has merely extended the use of an old one.
  Occasionally a new sound is introduced, but it is likely to melt away before long. In Chaucer’s day the old Anglo-Saxon ü (written y) had long become unrounded to i, but a new set of ü-vowels had come in from the French (in such words as due, value, nature). The new ü did not long hold its own; it became diphthongized to iu and was amalgamated with the native iw of words like new and slew. Eventually this diphthong appears as yu, with change of stress—dew (from Anglo-Saxon deaw) like due (Chaucerian ). Facts like these show how stubbornly a language resists radical tampering with its phonetic pattern.
  Nevertheless, we know that languages do influence each other in phonetic respects, and that quite aside from the taking over of foreign sounds with borrowed words. One of the most curious facts that linguistics has to note is the occurrence of striking phonetic parallels in totally unrelated or very remotely related languages of a restricted geographical area. These parallels become especially impressive when they are seen contrastively from a wide phonetic perspective. Here are a few examples. The Germanic languages as a whole have not developed nasalized vowels. Certain Upper
Note 4.  See page 206. [back]


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