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Гос филология / Гос филология / 37. Phonetic Changes in Middle English

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Phonetic Changes in Middle English

Changes in unstressed vowels

Changes in ME affected the system of unstressed vowels – neutralization of unstressed vowels (weakening, leveling and reduction). In late OE unstressed vowels tended to loose their quality. The tendency became especially strong in ME in respect of unstressed vowels in final syllable.

5 short OE unstressed vowels: e, i, a, o, u > [] or sometimes [i] (later it was lost).

In unstressed position could appear only [ ]. Weakening also affected morphology.

Changes in stressed vowels

Qualitative

Quantitative

  1. Rising of new phonems (XXI – XIII c.)

  2. Monophthongization of OE diphthongs

  3. Growth of new diphthongs

  1. Lengthening of vowels

  2. Shortening of vowels

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