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Analogy, Frequency, and Sound Change. The Case of Dutch Devoicing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 June 2008

Johan De Schryver
Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel
Anneke Neijt
Radboud University Nijmegen
Pol Ghesquière
University of Leuven
Mirjam Ernestus
Radboud University Nijmegen/Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics


This study investigates the roles of phonetic analogy and lexical frequency in an ongoing sound change, the devoicing of fricatives in Dutch, which occurs mainly in the Netherlands and to a lesser degree in Flanders. In the experiment, Dutch and Flemish students read two variants of 98 words: the standard and a nonstandard form with the incorrect voice value of the fricative. Dutch students chose the non-standard forms with devoiced fricatives more often than Flemish students. Moreover, devoicing, though a gradual process, appeared lexically diffused, affecting first the words that are low in frequency and phonetically similar to words with voiceless fricatives.*

Copyright © Society for Germanic Linguistics 2008

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