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Thread: Speaking the f and v sounds was enabled by eating soft foods

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    What could have been the cause of certain words, perhaps relatively suddenly, evolving towards the /f/ sound?
    Turning a /p/ or /ph/ into a /f/ instead of a /φ/ (like /f/, but with the lips together and without the upper teeth against the lower lips). Some languages have /φ/, like Maori, where it is spelled "wh".

    • Proto-Indo-European *p became Proto-Germanic /φ/, and then /f/.
    • Proto-Indo-European *bh likewise became Proto-Italic /φ/, and then /f/.
    • Classical Greek /ph/ (written φ) became Medieval Greek /f/.
    • Proto-Uralic *p (likely /p/) became Hungarian /f/
    • Proto-Semitic *p (likely /p/) became Arabic /f/

    Exactly how the PIE stop consonants were voiced is somewhat controversial, because the traditional reconstruction is very atypical of stop-consonant voicing. Glottalic theory discusses some alternatives. In the glottalic theory, *p is /p(h)/, *bh is /b(h)/, and *b is /p'/.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    ...There is a complication, a f-like sound that is not labiodental. I sometimes find /ɸ/, a bilabial version of labiodental /f/, a voiceless /w/. Maori has that sound, where it is spelled "wh".

    So here goes, with /f/ or /ɸ/ present being bolded
    ...
    • Japanese
      ...
    Japanese has /ɸ/, or at least that's how our teacher told us to pronounce words like "Fujitsu". I don't know how feasible it is to reconstruct proto-Japanese, but the sound probably evolved from an H sound.

  3. Top | #13
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Here goes. Japanese language, Japanese phonology, Early Modern Japanese, Late Middle Japanese, Early Middle Japanese, Old Japanese, Japonic languages

    Proto-Japonic had phoneme /p/.
    Old Japanese: /p/
    Early Middle Japanese: /ɸ/, between vowels becoming /w/
    Late Middle Japanese: /p/ reintroduced in borrowings from Chinese
    Early Modern Japanese: /ɸ/ unchanged only before /u/. Before other vowels, it becomes /h/. Like in English, before /i/ and /j/, it becomes /ç/.
    That is where we are now with the sound.

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