Tracy Alan Hall
March 11, 2021
The present study investigates the multiple reflexes of historical + [sk] clusters in Low German (Westphalian/Northern Low German) dialects. Original descriptions of over thirty varieties of those dialects spoken between the end of the 19 th century to the present day reveal that there are a number of realizations of [sk] (e. g. [sk], [sx], [sç], [ʃx], [ʃç], [s]), whose occurrence depends on both the position within a word (initial, medial, final) and geography (the location of the dialect within a broad region in northwest Germany). The synchronic patterns are argued to reflect a series of diachronic stages: The change from any one of those stages to the next is shown to involve either the emergence of a new sound change (rule addition) or the extension of a preexisting change to a new context (rule generalization). A secondary goal of the present contribution is to show how the treatment of Low German sheds light on the change from historical + [sk] to [ʃ] in High German. In particular, it is argued – contrary to the position taken by the overwhelming majority of Germanicists – that the High German change involved the coalescence of two sounds into one without any intermediate stages.