Friday, December 2, 2016

Palatalization in English

Palatalization is the term for a sound change in which a consonant becomes a palatal consonant or becomes palatalized. This is a common phonological process in not only English but in fact all languages. The term palatal vowel is often used to refer to front vowels. Palatal consonants and vowels are articulated near the palatal region of the oral cavity.

Palatalization in English exhibits three alternations that are types of palatalization. They are coronal palatalization, velar softening and spirantization. 

Coronal palatalization involves an alternation between alveolars and alveopalatals. The alternation involves changes in both the manner and place of articulation. Here are examples:

perpetuity perpetual
please pleasure
residue residual

Velar softening exhibits alternations between velar plosives and coronals. This alternation also involves changes in both the manner and place of articulation. Here are examples:

analogue analogy
critic criticize
medication medicine

Spirantization exhibits alternations between the voiceless alveolar plosive and either the voiceless alveopalatal fricative or voiceless alveolar fricative. This alternation involves a change in the manner of articulation, i.e., secret secrecy or both the manner and place of articulation, i.e., part partial. Here are examples:


Palatalization is a common phonological process. The sound change usually applies to consonants but can also apply to vowels articulated near the palatal region. English palatalization can be exemplified by three phonological alternations.

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