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Phonological processes

Morphemes can have different forms in different contexts. Take the preposition yn /in/ in(to), which is realized as [in] in the phrase yn augustus in August and as [ĩ] (a nasal vowel) in the phrase yn juny in June. This pattern reflects a systematic fact about Frisian. In yn augustus in August the phoneme /i/ of yn cannot be realized as a nasal vowel, whereas it cannot be realized as an oral vowel in yn juny. The oral and the nasal realizations of /i/ have a so-called complementary distribution or, put differently, [i] and [ĩ] are allophones, or combinatorial variants, of /i/. The above is an instance of a phonological alternation. As far as these alternations are phonological in nature, that is, as far as they can be stated in phonological terms, they are accounted for here by invoking the operation of phonological processes; the latter mediate between the underlying representation of a morpheme and its surface alternants.

Languages abound in phonological alternations, of all sorts, and so does Frisian. The most important ones will be treated in this section.