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Synchronic vs. Diachronic Naturalness: Hyman & Schuh (1974) revisited


In this paper I present and update some of the major points Russell Schuh and I made in our 1974 Linguistic Inquiry paper concerning universals of tone rules. Emphasis is on the distinction we made between synchronic and diachronic naturalness. Any diachronic change can be a synchronic rule while the reserve is not the case. We suggest(ed) that it is profitable to talk about natural synchronic rules that could not be (phonetically motivated) sound changes. This includes tone shifting, tonal polarity, and tonal downstep among possibly other commonly occurring tonal phenomena.

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