12. OE phonetic system
The OE has inhabited the sound system of the common Germanic language. The first written monuments which survived to our days they were written in 3 types of alphabets:
The Runic alphabet
The Gothic alphabet
The Latin alphabet
VowelsThe vowel system of the OE language consisted monophthongs & diphthongs. The vowel characterized also the principal of parallelism.
Monophthongs are vowels that has a single perceived auditory quality. Old English had 7 vowels, each with a short and long version, for a total of 14 monophthongs.i, e, æ, a, o, y, u.The peculiarity of OE vowels: it showed full symmetry. Length of vowels was phonological, that is to say it could distinguish different words: gōd (=good NE) and gŏd (god NE)Diphthong is a sound formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable, in which the sound begins as one vowel and moves toward another:ie, io, ea, eo.During the process of the development a language the system of OE vowels underwent several changes as a result of this changes new phoning came into and the most important vowel changes were:
The fracture of vowels
The mutation (i-umlaut)
The lengthening of vowels.Diphthongization is process of changing the vowels concerned the influence of such consonants as c [k], sc [sk], Ʒ [j]
After these consonants the vowels turned into diphthongs with a more front closer vowels as the first element and this occurred when the consonants were followed by the vowels [e/æ]:scæmu => sceamu (MnE=shame)This process is known as diphthongization. It took place in the 6th century.e > ie : Ʒefan > Ʒiefan (to give)a > ea : scacan > sceacan (to shake)
Palatal mutation (i – umlaut)The most frequent change of a quality of vowel due to the assimilation with vowels in the following syllable was the fronting & the narrowing of the vowel brought about by the vowel “i” or the semivowel “j” was the process turned as palatal mutation or i – umlaut.a> e: sandian > sendan ( to send)æ> e: sætian > setano> e: domain > deman (to deem – осуждать)wopian > wepan ( to weel – кричать, плакать)u> y: fullian > fullan (to fill)This process is explained in the following way: the front was made narrow so as to approach the articulation of “i” that is the vowel was palatalized.
The system consisted of several correlated sets of consonants. All the consonants fell into noise consonants and sonorants. The noise consonants were subdivided into plosives and fricatives; plosives were further differentiated as voiced and voiceless, the difference being phonemic. The fricative consonants were also subdivided into voiced and voiceless; in this set, however, sonority was merely a phonetic difference. The opposition of palatal and velar lingual consonants [k] — [k'], [g]— [g'] had probably become phonemic by the time of the earliest written records It is noteworthy that among the OE consonants there were few sibilants (s,z) and no affricates.
The most universal distinctive feature in the consonant system was the difference in length. During the entire OE period long consonants are believed to have been opposed to short ones on a phonemic level; they were mostly distinguished in intervocalic position. Single and long consonants are found in identical phonetic conditions.
Place of artic
Manner Labial dental palatal velar
noise Plosive voiceless
voiced p p:
b b: t t:
d d: k’ k’:
g’: k k:
voiced f f:
v : s s:
y’ j x x:
sonorants m m:
w n n:
r l j gn
Metathesis - this term denotes such a phonetic phenomenon when sounds (consonants and vowels) and sometimes even syllables in a word exchange their places , e.g.: THRIDDA > THIRDA ‘third’, RYNNAN >IERNAN, IRNAN, YRNAN ‘to run’, ASCIAN> AXIAN ‘to ask’, WASCAN> WAXAN wash’, etc.