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Lenition and its Accompanying Constraints - Essay Example

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Lenition and its Accompanying Constraints

Lenition refers to the synchronic and diachronic sound alterations. In lenition, sounds may become weaker or weak sounds assume an allomorphic relation to stronger sounds. The weakening of sounds has been an area of concern for most scholars. Lenition has and continues to draw great literature over the decades. However, the general idea is that it implies some reduction in constriction degree or duration.Two other scholars, Ashby and Maidment (2005), seem to support Odden’s view of lenition. According to Ashby and Maidment, lenition is “also called weakening” (2005: 141). They go ahead to plot consonants on the scales of strength: a consonant is stronger the more it differs from a vowel, but becomes weaker when it begins to resemble a vowel. The idea of grading consonants on a scale of strength also features prominently in Trask’s Dictionary of Historical and Comparative Linguistics. Trask states: “A shift in character from left to right along any of the scales…may be regarded as lenition…” (Trask 2000: 190).The considerations of articulatory efforts may also lead to the concept of lenition. It is generally accepted that what causes the sound alterations that result into lenition is laziness. Scholars also observe that many of the world’s languages have undergone many changes. These changes find relevance in the context of weakening or lenition (Hock 1991: 80). This occurs under the framework of Autosegmental phonology where there is an obvious attempt to scale down lenition to a feature-spreading assimilation. ...Show more
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This paper “Lenition and its Accompanying Constraints” seeks to analyze the various definitions of lenition as well as its accompanying constraints. The paper will also attempt to explain why lenition cannot occur in all positions in a word or phrase…
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