#3675. kn から k が脱落する音変化の過程[pronunciation][phonetics][sound_change][consonant][phonotactics][assimilation][dissimilation]


 knead, knee, knell, knife, knight, knob, knock, knot, know などに見られる <kn> のスペリングは,発音としては [n] に対応する.これは,17世紀末から18世紀にかけて [kn] → [n] の音変化が生じたからである.この話題については,本ブログでも以下の記事で扱ってきた.

 ・ 「#122. /kn/ で始まる単語」 ([2009-08-27-1])
 ・ 「#1290. 黙字と黙字をもたらした音韻消失等の一覧」 ([2012-11-07-1])
 ・ 「#1902. 綴字の標準化における時間上,空間上の皮肉」 ([2014-07-12-1])
 ・ 「#3482. 語頭・語末の子音連鎖が単純化してきた歴史」 ([2018-11-08-1])
 ・ 「#3386. 英語史上の主要な子音変化」 ([2018-08-04-1])

 この音変化は,数世代の時間をかけて [kn] → [xn] → [hn] → [n] という段階を経ながら進行したと考えられている.Dobson (Vol. 2, §417) より,解説箇所を引用する.

In OE and ME [k] in the initial group kn- in, for example, knife had the same pronunciation as before the other consonants (e.g. [l] in cliff), and is retained as [k] by all sixteenth- and most seventeenth-century orthoepists. The process of loss was that, in order to facilitate transition to the [n] (which is articulated with the point of the tongue, not the back as for [k]), the stop was imperfectly made, so that [k] became the fricative [χ], which in turn passed into [h]; the resulting group [hn] then, by assimilation, became voiceless [n̥], which was finally re-voiced under the influence of the following vowel.

 この音変化の時期については,Dobson は次のように考えている.

[T]he entry of this pronunciation into educated StE clearly belongs to the eighteenth century. The normal seventeenth-century pronunciation was still [kn], but the intermediate stages [hn] and/or [n̥] were also in (perhaps rare) use.

 この音変化のタイミングは,「#1902. 綴字の標準化における時間上,空間上の皮肉」 ([2014-07-12-1]) で示唆したとおり方言によって早い遅いの差があったので,いずれにせよ幅をもって理解する必要がある.
 関連して,gnarr, gnash, gnat, gnaw, gnome における [gn] → [n] の音変化についてもみておこう.一見すると両変化はパラレルに生じたのではないかと疑われるところだが,実際には「#1290. 黙字と黙字をもたらした音韻消失等の一覧」 ([2012-11-07-1]) で記したように両者のタイミングは異なる.[gn] → [n] のほうが少し早いのである.
 しかし,Dobson (Vol. 2, §418) は精妙な音変化の過程を想定して,両変化はやはり部分的には関連していると考えているようだ.

Initial [gn] had two developments which affected educated speech in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the first the [g] was lost by a direct process of assimilation to [n]; too early opening of the nasal passage would tend to produce [ŋn], which would forthwith become [n]. In the second [gn] by dissimilation becomes [kn], the vibration of the vocal chords being delayed fractionally and coinciding, not with the making of the stop, but with the opening of the nasal passage; thereafter it develops with original kn- through [χn] and [hn] to [n̥] and [n].

 ・ Dobson, E. J. English Pronunciation 1500--1700. 1st ed. Oxford: Clarendon, 1957. 2 vols.

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