The evolution of dispersion in the sibilants of the Scandinavian languages
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Williams, Paul Jonathan
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This dissertation investigates the evolution of dispersion in sound inventories by extending Boersma & Hamann’s (2008) model to the sibilant inventories of some of the modern Scandinavian languages. I show that the Icelandic and central Swedish sibilant inventories fit the predictions of the model, and that the model also correctly predicts the gradual development of the Faroese system. In the case of standard east Norwegian, I show that some additions are required to account for the influence of the non-sibilant phoneme /ç/ and of two diachronic mergers. The effect of /ç/ can be modelled by adjusting for its particular articulatory properties, and the results of the mergers are reliably predicted by removing a category from the system. The results demonstrate the predictive power of the model’s framework if suitable extensions are implemented.