S-Space Language Education Institute (언어교육원) Language Research (어학연구) Language Research (어학연구) Volume 38 Number 1/4 (2002)
Consonantal Changes in the Inventory of English: A Constraint-Based Analysis
- Moon, An-Nah
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 언어교육원
- 어학연구, Vol.38 No.3, pp. 801-825
- English consonants; inventory structure; historical changes dispersion theory; optimality theory; constraints
- The aim of this study is to analyze the inventories of phonemic consonants in the three periods of English under the model of dispersion theory (Flemming, 1995) formalized in terms of Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky, 1993) and to show how a constraint-based approach can account for inventory structure and its historical change in a more comprehensive and coherent way. In this study, I focus on the inventory of English fricatives and nasals because historical change had occurred only to them. I attempt to explore why the inventories of the three periods were as they were and to find a pattern which dominates historical change. As predicted by Flemming's dispersion theory, the inventory structure of English is also described mainly in terms of three kinds of constraints, "Maintain contrasts," "Mindist" and "LAZY." It is shown in this study that a balance among them, which is different depending on the periods of history, shapes the inventory structure of each period. In this analysis, it is also clearly noted that English consonants had moved toward the inventory structure which prefers multiple contrasts over a large auditory distance and/or effort minimization.