When did /k/ become /tʃ/? Hi! I was reading an article about different (Italian, Germanic...) pronunciations of Latin and have some questions now — but, unfortunately, Google doesn't seem to understand me... Not sure if my question makes any sense at all, but does anyone know when some languages descended from Latin like Italian/Spanish changed "c" pronounced as /k/ in Latin (as in "Caesar"), into /tʃ/ (or /s/, or /θ/), as in different pronunciations of the name "Cesare"? Or did it all happen in Vulgar Latin? Maybe someone could tell me what this process is called so that I could read more about it?
Aug 9, 2019 4:18 PM
Answers · 11
Specifically, you are referring to "palatalization". Basically, vulgar latin replaced /k/ before /i/ and /e/ with /kj/, and later Romance languages resolved that /kj/ sound in several different ways. However, note that Sardinian retained the classical Latin /k/. A similar process led to /g/ becoming /gj/ in Vulgar Latin before becoming /ʒ/ in French, /x/ in Spanish, and /dʒ/ in Italian. You might be interested in these resources to get started: https://www.quora.com/What-caused-the-palatalization-of-the-k-sound-and-consonantal-i-sound-in-all-romance-languages-before-e-and-i http://www.nativlang.com/romance-languages/grammar/pronunciation.php https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJiYIA_OZyw
August 9, 2019
This is called palalatization. Commonly, /k/ has the allophone [kj] before front vowels. The [kj] can move further forward to become [tɕ] or [tʃ] and can become the phoneme /tɕ/ or /tʃ/. Some related information here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_and_soft_C This alternation is caused by a historical palatalization of /k/ which took place in Late Latin, and led to a change in the pronunciation of the sound [k] before the front vowels [e] and [i].[2][3] Later, other languages not descended from Latin, such as English, inherited this feature as an orthographic convention.
August 9, 2019
Thanks Michael, "phonological change" makes perfect sense. Maybe the term is a little too broad, but they do mention "the velars */k/ and */g/" that "acquired distinctively palatal articulation before front vowels", I just didn't realise that this particular change can be called palatalisation, too. Thank you for your help!
August 10, 2019
That's an interesting question. I definitely couldn't answer it, but it is called "phonological change": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonological_change
August 9, 2019
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