Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton
pne

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To make pronunciation easier / it sounds better that way

I’m always amused when I read about the morphophonology of a language and come across a note describing the purpose of a morphophonological alternation as “to make pronunciation easier”.

It always seems like a cop-out to me: the native speaker has no idea why the alternation is there, but can’t imagine it being any other way, and so imagines that the pronunciation must be easier that way.

“Easier for whom?” is just the first problem with that :) Different people (influenced by their native languages) have different ideas of what’s “easy”, especially when it comes to consonant clusters.

A related amusement is when a different grammatical construction in particular cases is explained with “it sounds better that way”, which also begs the question (it only sounds better because of the Sprachgefühl of someone who’s grown up with the language; a foreign learner may well have different opinions of which grammatical construction would “sound better” in a given situation).

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