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Consonant alternation

In Afrikaans the voiceless velar fricative /x/ in some rare instances is replaced by the voiced plosive [g].


    The most well-known, and widely used example of this process is [bærgə], the plural form of berg /bɛrx/ [bærx] mountain. Similarly, burger(s) citizen(s) regularly is pronounced as /bœrgər/, also present in nouns denoting inhabitants of places with burg /bœrx/ as final constituent, as in Johannesburger(s) /juɦɑnəsbœrgər(s)/, thus showing /g/ in the preferred position "stressed short vowel + [r] __ [ə]. This to happens in other place names, for example Fouriesburger(s), Rustenburger(s), Sasolburger(s), Middelburger(s), Lichtenburger(s), Ventersburger(s), Winburger(s), Pietermaritzburger(s), Boksburger(s) and Trompsburger(s).

    The alternation /x/ ~ [g] in burgemeester [bœrxəmiəstər] ~ [bœrgərmiəstər] is interesting. In the former, burge – not resembling an existing word – has [x]; in the latter, burger – as above – does, and therefore complies with the ingeburgerde uitspraak.

    Only a small number of other cases exist in Afrikaans, of which the fricative /x/ in derivations of the adverb erg /ɛrx/ [ærx] bad (adverb) becomes a voiced plosive /g/ whenever followed by schwa. Examples are:

    • erge /ɛrxə/ ['ærgə] bad (attributive adjective)
    • erger /ɛrxər/ ['ærgər] worse (comparitave form of the attributive adjective)
    • vererger /fərɛrxər/ [fər'ærgər] exacerbated (verb)
    • ergernis /ɛrxərnəs/ ['ærgərnəs] annoyance (noun)

    In a small subgroup of words containing /ɔ/ in the relevant phonetic context the alternation of /x/ with [g] is present, viz. borge [bɔrgə] plural of borg /bɔrx/ sponsor, verborge (from verberg) /fərbɔrxə/ [fər'bɔrgə] hide, morge [mɔrgə] plural of morg /mɔrx/ morgan and gevolge [xəfɔlgə] consequences (also ingevolge [ənxəfɔlgə] in terms of). Evidence of underlying /x/ in the latter two cases is found in volg /fɔlx/ follow, from which they are derived. A similar case in question is the alternation of /x/ with /g/ in sorg [sɔrx] care ~ besorger [bəsɔrgər] caretaker.

    Le Roux and Pienaar (1927), also Le Roux and Pienaar (1971) mention the archaic forms, not likely to be heard any more: wilge(r)boom /vəlxə(r)bom/ [vəlgə(r)buəm] willow tree as well as terge /tɛrxə/ ['tærgə] to-tease from terg [tærx]. nege /nexə/ ['niəgə] nine is still heard in the language use of older people.

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