Region: Great Britain
Time: mid 5th century - mid 12th century
|High||i iː y yː||u uː|
|Mid||e eː ø øː||ә||o oː|
|Low||æ æː||ɑ ɑː|
/io/, /iːo/, /eo/, /eːo/, /æә/, /æːә/
- The lateral /l/ in initial position was plain [l] and elsewhere velarized [ł].
- The alveolar nasal /n/ is phonetically realized as velar [ŋ] if followed by [k] (þanc) or [g] (sing).
- The voiced velar fricative [ɣ] usually occurs medially (dagas) and thus could be considered as an allophone of /g/, but since it occasionally occurs initially (as in guma) and thus contrasts with the voiceless stop /k/, the voiced velar fricative can be considered phonemic. It never appears finally, position in which only the contrast of voicing is neutralized and only /x/ appears (sorh).
- Voiceless fricatives are in complementary distribution with the voiced fricatives: /s/, /f/, /θ/ have voiced allophones medially [z],[v], [h], so that /driːfan/ is phonetically [dri:van].
- The voiceless velar fricative /x/ has a glottal allophone [h] in initial position and a palatal allophone [ç] when preceded by high front vowels.
- Permitted initial consonant clusters: /xl-, xr-, xn-, xw-/
[hl-, hr-, hn-, hw-].
- Critical issue concerns whether short diphthongs, represented by the digraphs <eo, ea, io> are monophthongal rather than diphthongal. Here we adhere to Hogg’s position, who follows Lass and Anderson (1975).
- The mid vowel /e/ and /o/ were phonetically close to [ε] and [ɔ].
- In most dialects, the opposition of roundness in front mid vowels was not present (i.e. only /e/ and /eː/ occurred).
- /yː/ and /øː/ were new phonemes introduced only after the operation of i-umlaut on /u/, /o/ and diphthongs respectively. In early manuscripts, the graphemes <y> and <oe> were often replaced by <ui> and <oi> respectively.
- In a later stage, the second member of the diphthongs was reduced to a mid central vowel [ə]: /iə/, /iːə/, /eə/, /eːə/.
Hogg, Richard M. 1992. A grammar of Old English. Vol. 1: Phonology. Oxford and Cambridge: Blackwell.
Luick, Karl. 1914-40 . Historische Grammatik der englischen Sprache. Stuttgart [Oxford]: Bernhard Tauchnitz [Basil Blackwell].
Jones, Charles. 1989. A History of English Phonology. London: Longman.
Lass, Roger and John M. Anderson. 1975. Old English Phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.