Notker's anlautgesetz and the neutralization of contrasts

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Abstract: In Notker's writings, <p, t, k >are found in word-initial position if the word is preceded by an obstruent. The graphs <b, d, g >representing Old High German /b, d, g°/ and <t >representing Old High German /t/ are found word-initially following vowels and sonorant consonants. In a radically new interpretation of Notker's Anlautgesetz, Lahiri/Kraehenmann (2004) argue that Notker used the graphs <b d g >word-initally for derived geminate allophones after sonorants and <p, t, k >elsewhere for underlying geminates. In contrast to Lahiri/Kraehenmann (2004), the present article argues for the traditional analysis that Notker's rendering of initial OHG /b, d, g/ as <p, t, k >reflects a neutralization of the contrast between OHG lenis /d/ and fortis /t/ when preceded by an obstruent, the same pattern found in modern Swiss German (Moulton 1986). It will be argued on the basis of graphemic and historical evidence that Notker maintained a three-way contrast between /d, t, tt/. Therefore, phonological length alone is not sufficient to describe the contrasts between stops in Notker's dialect of Old High German.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-534
Number of pages20
JournalBeitrage zur Geschichte der Deutschen Sprache und Literatur
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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