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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents an account of historical phonology as understood in terms of classical generative phonology, and argues for the continuing relevance of rules and derivations in providing insightful analyses of phonological change. It relates how this theory differs from neogrammarian and earlier structuralist approaches, and shows how a generative perspective can shed new light on changes that are difficult to explain in previous theories. These points are illustrated with a series of examples from Old and Middle English. I also show how synchronic patterns and learnability considerations influence change. Departing a bit from the theory of Chomsky and Halle (1968), the last part of the chapter argues that sound change can be sensitive to representations in the form of contrastive feature hierarchies that influence the patterning of phonological systems.

Keywords: phonological rules, derivations, Old English, Middle English, learnability, contrastive feature hierarchies

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