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Speaking American: A History of English in the United States

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Language, Literacy, and Technology

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Academic Paper


Title: Lenition revisited
Author: Laurie Bauer
Institution: Victoria University of Wellington
Linguistic Field: Phonology
Abstract: The definition of lenition remains problematic, with several competing and at times incompatible definitions being current. What is more, some of these definitions seem to lead to paradoxes. In this paper, some of these paradoxes are considered, and a revised definition of lenition is suggested which, while being compatible with the spirit of earlier definitions, arguably avoids the problems to which those other definitions give rise. The relationship of lenition to assimilation is considered, as is the relationship between lenition and position. An argument is made that position, while important in determining where lenition might occur in individual cases, is not in itself causally linked with the processes of lenition. The question of whether strength can be equated with resistance to change is also considered, and answered in the negative.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 44, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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