Old English Consonants

Вересень 30th, 201110:28 am

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Old English Consonants

1. Only 14 phonemes: p, b, m, f, t, d, n, s, r, 1, þ, (ð), c, ƺ, h.
2. OE voiceless cons, surrounded by voiced sounds becomes voiced, and a voiced cons, when final is unvoiced.
3. Absence of affricates and fricatives (tʃ, dƺ, ƺ).
4. Dependence of quality upon environment:

Among the 14 consonant phonemes that existed in Old English there were at least 5 that gave us positional variants which stand rather wide apart.

1. The phonemes denoted by the letters f, þ, ð or s are voiced or voiceless depending upon their phonetic position. They are generally voiced in the so-called “intervocal position” that is between vowels, and voiceless otherwise.

2. The phoneme denoted by the letter c also gave at least two variants – palatal [k’] and velar [k]. In the majority of cases it was a velar consonant and palatal generally before the vowel i:
cild (child), scip (ship); can (can), climban (to climb).

Old English Consonants

3. Similar remarks can be made about the phoneme denoted by the letter ƺ:

a) we have the voiced velar plosive variant [g] of it at the beginning of the word before back vowels or consonants or in the middle of the word after n: ƺōd (good), ƺretan (to greet, to address), ƺanƺan (to go);
b) the voiced velar fricative variant [λ] in the middle of the word between back vowels: daƺas (days);
c) the voice palatal fricative variant [j] before and after front vowels: dæƺ (day), ƺēar (year).

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