Synchronic variation and historical change in language
Variation In the sequence /Cju/ (as In nubile, issue) Is manifested In the phonemic variants, gilded [Cj], ungLided ECI, coalesced ENJ)1. Of the 17 possible C, variation mainly occurs In the set of E+cor]E+antl consonants. The origins of the sequence are traced to OE and Angto French sources. The former created /Cju/,, the tatter began the modification to variants. The primary Linguistic causes of change were stress In borrowed suffixes shifting to native patterns, leading to some categorical variants with ECI In /t ds z/; and phonotactic constraints on word Initial clusters In /r I/ producing ungLLded ECL Lexical diffusion proceeds within the preceding consonant by subenvironments, defined by word Initial position or by suffix, rather than by frequency. Empirical, testing of Linguistic constraints on the distribution and selection of variants, took place In 2 boys schools In Liverpool, with 77 subjects aged 12-13 and 17-18 years. Elicitation was by reading passage and word list (k = 65). Dialects from the urban baslLect Scouse (used Largely In the city centre school), to adopted RP (found In the suburban school) were examined. Results confirmed the variability among coronat consonants but with categorical subenvIronments, mainly In the coatescents /t ds z/. In British English while the continuants /s z/ access aLL variants, stops are restricted to +gLide and C. The complex patterning of variants for /s z/ was resolved. After /1/, Loss was pervasive Lexically and socially. The presence of palatalized variants In 1h n I/ was noted. Glide loss was recorded In the basliect after word initial /n/. Minor areas of loss occurred in some non coronal, consonants, when /u/ reduced to shwa. Generally there was little Idiolectal variation In spread of variants, Of the synchronic Linguistic explanatory variables, (including syllabification and word position), stress was the most useful, sometimes working with the others. For the coalescents, i-stress] operates In conjunction with stress In contiguous syllables.