Sound Change/Law/Shift

Sound Change/Law/Shift



Terms used in historical linguistics to describe the changes in a language’s sound system over a period of time. Many types of sound change have been recognized, e.g. whether the change affects the total number of phonemes or affects only the allophones of a phoneme. When a series of related sound changes takes place at a particular stage of a language’s history, the change is known as a sound shift. A regular series of changes is traditionally referred to in comparative philology as a sound law - one hypothesis about such ‘laws’ (the neogrammarian hypothesis) being that they had no exceptions, i.e. at a given time all words containing a sound in a given phonetic environment would change in the same way, and any which did not could be explained by reference to a further law.