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Regressive Voice Assimilation: type 2

The second type of regressive voice assimilation (RVA) entails that a fricative adopts the voice specification of a following voiced segment. An example is pofmais /pof#majs/ popcorn, which is realized as [povmajs]. This type of assimilation is the subject of this topic.


Examples of the second type of RVA are given in the following tables:

Examples of assimilation of [f]

Table 1
pofbroek [vb] knickerbockers
pofmais [vm] popcorn
it grêf yn [vi] into the grave
ja of nee [vn] yes or no
slaafeftich [vɛ] slavish

Examples of assimilation of [s]

Table 2
iisbaan [zb] skating rink
rosjokte [zj] faultfinding
it gers oer [zu.ə] over the grass
dy spûns net [zn] not that sponge
gaseftich [zɛ ] gaseous

Examples of assimilation of [x]

Table 3
liichbek [ɣb] (inveterate) liar
slachwurk [ɣv] percussion; striking mechanism
graach of net [ɣɔ] take it or leave it
in fluch jurkje [ɣj] a smart, saucy dress
in bloedichommen wurk [ɣo] a hell of a job

This kind of RVA is triggered by all voiced segments: plosives, fricatives, nasals, liquids, glides or vowels. Both single fricatives and fricative sequences are affected. And the latter not only by plosives ‒ which represent the strongest consonant type ‒, but also by the other voiced segments. Examples of the assimilation of sequences triggered by non-plosives are provided in (1):

Example 1

Examples of voice assimilation of fricative sequences triggered by non-plosive voiced segments
kriichsried [-ɣzr-] court-martial
sechsman [-ɣzm-] informant
oarlochsmonumint [-ɣzm-] war memorial
gesachsorgaan [-ɣzɔ-] instrument of state, authority
kom der dochs yn [-ɣzi-] do come in!
in foaroarlochs reauke [-ɣzr-] a prewar cup and saucer
wat dreechs oangean [-ɣzoə-] to tackle something difficult
tsjerkhôfsûle [-vzu-] barn owl
gaudiefswaar [-vzv-] very foggy weather
wat mufs rûke [-vzr-] smell something musty, stuffy
wat leafs meinimme [-vzm-] bring (someone) something dear, nice

The assimilation of a fricative sequence is of a less obligatory nature than that of a single fricative (exemplified in the first three tables of this topic) and also than the assimilation of a fricative sequence triggered by a voiced plosive (see the examples in assimilation of obstruent sequences induced by a voiced plosive below). In (kom der) dochs yn do come in!, for instance, the part dochs yn can be pronounced as [dɔɣzin] and [dɔxsin], so with and without assimilation. And the degree of voicing in [dɔɣzin] is less strong than that in (wat bist) dochs dom [dɔɣzdom] how stupid you are, where assimilation is triggered by the voiced plosive [d]. Besides, assimilation more easily applies after a long vocalic sequence than after a short vowel. So, in wat leafs [ɪəfs]meinimme bring (someone) something dear, nice and wat dreechs [e:xs]oangean to tackle something difficult, for example, a voiced fricative sequence is more likely than in, for instance, sechsman [ɛxs] informant and wat mufs [øfs]rûke smell something musty, stuffy. All this is in line with the voiced fricatives' preference for being preceded by 'something long' and the voiceless ones by 'something short' (see the obstruents: the fricatives). Voice assimilation of fricative sequences triggered by non-plosive voiced segments thus is less categorical than when triggered by voiced plosives, while it is also more susceptible to contextual influences.

The nasals /m/ en /n/ can only induce the assimilation of a single fricative or a fricative sequence, but not that of a single plosive or a plosive-fricative sequence (see (2) below). Both nasals and plosives are non-continuant segments, but the former appear to be a weaker kind of consonant than the latter.

A plosive-fricative sequence does not undergo regressive voice assimilation, unless this is triggered by a voiced plosive or, put differently, voice assimilation of a plosive-fricative sequence cannot be induced by a (voiced) non-plosive. See the examples in (2), where these sequences remain voiceless (as compared to those in (3b,d) below):

Example 2

No regressive voice assimilation of a plosive-fricative sequence to a voiced non-plosive
ryksjild governmental money [-ksj-] [*-ɡzj-]
houliksreis honeymoon (trip) [-ksr-] [*-ɡzr-]
folksaard national character [-ksa:-] [*-ɡza:-]
skiedsrjochter arbitrator [-tsr-] [*-dzr-]
godsnamme name of God [-tsn-] [*-dzn-]
koartsmiddel fever medicine [-tsm-] [*-dzm-]

Assimilation of only the fricative, as in ryksjild [*-kzj-] and godsnamme [*-tzn-], yields an ill-formed outcome. A general constraint on obstruent sequences is that the obstruents must agree in voicing (see onset: sequences of two obstruents), which [k/t] and [z] in these examples do not. Realizations in line with the obstruent constraint would be [riɡzjɪlt](ryksjild) and [ɡɔdznamə](godsnamme), but these do not occur. As noted, only a voiced plosive is capable of enforcing voice assimilation of another plosive. A plosive manifests itself as the strongest kind of consonant here.

A voiced plosive induces assimilation of all occurring obstruent sequences: a) of two fricatives, b) of a fricative and a plosive (in whichever order), c) of two plosives, and d) of three obstruents (fricative + ts, plosive + st). Examples with all these sequences are given in (3):

Example 3

Assimilation of obstruent sequences induced by a voiced plosive
a. fricative + fricative
hy hat it dochs dien [-ɣzd-] he did it all the same
sok foaroarlochs gedoch [-ɣzɡ-] such pre-war fuss
wat leafs dwaan [-vzd-] do something dear, nice
oan wat dreechs begjinne [-ɣzb-] set about something difficult
b. fricative + plosive and plosive + fricative
ien in japs besoargje [-bzb-] give someone a cut
hy woe de wesp deameitsje [-zbd-] he wanted to kill the wasp
op 'e fyts gean [-dzɡ-] go by bicycle
op it nêst gean [-zdɡ-] go and sit on its nest
waskbak [-zɡb-] washbasin
de geit hat de biks beskiten [-ɡzb-] the goat has shitted on its dry feed
út 'e krêft groeie [-vdɡ-] outgrow oneself, overgrow oneself
hy kin it wol wer rjocht bûge [-ɣdb-] he can bend it straight
c. two plosives
hy bakt bôle [-ɡdb-] he bakes bread
hy stapt gewoan troch [-bdɡ-] he just keeps going
wat hasto mei ús Ypk dien [-bɡd-] what did you do to our daughter/sister Ypk?
d. three obstruents
nei rjochts gean [-ɣdzɡ-] go to the right
it roer nei lofts bûge [-vdzb-] bend the rudder to the left
jins takst berêde [-ɡzdb-] to finish ones task
mei in nije tekst begjinne [-ɡzdb-] start with a new text
in gewûpst baaske [-bzdb-] a sturdily built fellow

As noted, obstruents in a sequence must agree in voicing, a pattern brought about by this kind of voice assimilation.

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In front of vowel-initial suffixes, the underlying voice specification of stem-final obstruents is preserved, as in the following examples:

Example 4

Examples of the preservation of the underlying voice specification of stem-final obstruents in front of vowel-initial suffixes
hefferij /hɛf+ərɛj/ lever (cf. heff(e) /hɛf/ to lift, to raise )
graverij /ɡra:v+ərɛj/ digging (cf. grav(e) /ɡra:v/ to dig )
moedich /muəd+əɣ/ brave (cf. moed /muəd/ courage )
paffich /paf+əɣ/ doughy; puffy (cf. paff(e) /paf/ to puff )
ferver /fɛrv+ər/ house painter (cf. ferv(je) /fɛrv/ to paint )
pisser /pɪs+ər/ prick (cf. pis(je) /pɪs/ to urinate, to piss )

The above suffixes begin with schwa or they have schwa as their only vowel. Since a word must contain at least one full vowel and since it cannot begin with schwa, they are cohering suffixes by their very form.

Suffixes with (also) a full vowel, on the other hand, have the outward appearance of words. In a phonological sense, then, they also behave as words. This implies that they can trigger RVA, examples of which are given below:

Example 5

Examples of RVA triggered by the initial segment of word-like suffixes
rykdom /rik+dom/ [riɡdom] wealth; riches
waaksdom /va:ks+dom/ [va:ɡzdom] growth; growing pain
piseftich /pɪs+ɛftəɣ/ [pɪzɛftəx] piss-like
famkeseftich /famkəs+ɛftəɣ/ [famkəzɛftəx] girlish, girl-like
nachtguod /naxt+ɡwod/ [naɣdɡwot] nightclothes, nightwear
jurksguod /jørks+gwod/ [jørɡzgwot] cloth, fabric for a dress
fleisleas /flajz+lɪəz/ [flajzlɪəs] meatless, without meat
ferweechleas /fərve:ɣ+lɪəz/ [fəve:ɣlɪəs] without movement, moving
reismannich /rajz+manəɣ/ [rajzmanəx] a few times, some times
gefoelsmjittich /ɡəfuəls+mjɪtəɣ/ [ɡəfuəlzmjɪtəx] instinctive
getalsmjittich /ɡətɔls+mjɪtəɣ/ [ɡətɔlzmjɪtəx] numerical
baasommen /ba:z+omən/ [ba:zomən] terrific, fantastic, wonderful
fiifresom /fi:v+rəzom/ [fi:vrəzom] the five of them/you/us
humusryk /hyməs+rik/ [hyməzrik] rich in humus

Most of these suffixes begin with a consonant.

In cases like fleisleas [flajzlɪəs] meatless, without meat, ferweechleas [fəve:ɣlɪəs] without movement, moving, reismannich [rajzmanəx] a few times, some times, baasommen [ba:zomən] terrific, fantastic, wonderful, and fiifresom [fi:vrəzom] the five of them/you/us, the final fricative of the base word of the derivation is subjected to Final Devoicing (see final devoicing), the effects of which are made undone by regressive voice assimilation.

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Since it only contains the vowel schwa, the suffix -ber (see -ber) is not expected to be able to trigger either place nor voice assimilation. But it does, as shown by the following examples:

Example 6

Examples of RPA and RVA triggered by the suffix -ber
a. Place assimilation
ûnútsteanber /unytstɪən+bər/ [unytstɪəmbər] unbearable, insufferable
b. Voice assimilation
ûnberikber /unbərɪk+bər/ [umbərɪɡbər] inaccessible, unreachable
ûnmisber /unmɪs+bər/ [umɪzbər] indispensable, essential

The suffix -ber might be assumed to have a full vowel in underlying representation − confer -baar in Dutch and -bar in German −, which turns into schwa at a later phonological level.