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date: 22 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Digital corpora have revolutionized research on historical morpho-syntax and lexicology, but so far have had little impact on the study of phonological change. This can be explained in part by the fact that the relationship between spelling and phonology is not very straightforward. Focusing on Middle English, this article shows how corpus data can be exploited to investigate historical phonology: from the distribution and frequencies of morphemes, conclusions can be drawn about phonological systems and the changes they underwent even without directly investigating phonemes or larger phonotactic configurations. Two cases are presented to demonstrate the line of reasoning. The first example concerns stress assignment in English nouns and verbs, while the second concerns the long term implementation of a specific sound change.

Keywords: digital corpora, spelling, phonology, phonological change, sound change, verbs, nouns, Middle English, phonemes, technology, linguistics

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