Daniel Recasens
Phonetic Causes of Sound Change. The Palatalization and Assibilation of Obstruents
Oxford University Press, 2020. 240 p. (Oxford Studies in Diachronic and Historical Linguistics)

Presents a new articulation-based account of the processes of velar and labial softening in the world’s languages

Combines descriptive dialect data with findings from articulatory, acoustic, and perceptual studies

Provides extensive examples from a wide range of language families, including Romance, Bantu, Slavic, and Germanic



This book provides an integrated account of the phonetic causes of the diachronic processes of palatalization and assibilation of velar and labial stops and labiodental fricatives, as well as the palatalization and affrication of dentoalveolar stops. While previous studies have been concerned with the typology of sound inventories and of the processes of palatalization and assibilation, this volume not only deals with the typological patterns but also outlines the articulatory and acoustic causes of these sound changes.

In his articulation-based account, Daniel Recasens argues that the affricate and fricative outcomes of these changes developed via an intermediate stage, namely an (alveolo)palatal stop with varying degrees of closure fronting. Particular emphasis is placed on the one-to-many relationship between the input and output consonant realizations, on the acoustic cues that contribute to the implementation of these sound changes, and on the contextual, positional, and prosodic conditions that most favour their development. The analysis is based on extensive data from a wide range of language families, including Romance, Bantu, Slavic, and Germanic, and draws on a variety of sources, such as linguistic atlases, articulatory and acoustic studies, and phoneme identification tests.

Author information

Daniel Recasens, Full Professor, Department of Catalan Philology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Daniel Recasens is Full Professor of Catalan Philology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and Director of the Phonetics Laboratory at the Institut d’Estudis Catalans. His research interests include the interarticulatory mechanisms in speech production, the phonetic causes of sound change, and the phonetics-phonology interface. He is currently Associate Editor of Phonetica and a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of the International Phonetic Association, and has served as Chair of the 15th International Congress of the Phonetic Sciences (2003) and as Vice-President of the International Phonetic Association (2007-2011). His books include oarticulation and Sound Change in Romance(Benjamins, 2014) and The Production of Consonant Clusters (De Gruyter, 2018) and his work has appeared in journals such as Journal of Phonetics and Phonetica and in edited volumes from OUP, Benjamins, and De Gruyter.