Alternation (linguistics)

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In phonology, alternation , alternation , mutation or sound change refers to the regular change in the pronunciation of a morpheme depending on the context. This phenomenon is also known as morphemalternance . The different ways of pronunciation are called alternants or allomorphs of the morpheme concerned. When which realization of a morpheme occurs can be predicted by phonetic rules. The term change of sound is to be distinguished from change of sound , as the latter describes diachronic changes in pronunciation, alternation / change of sounds, on the other hand , describes synchronous changes.

One differentiates:

  • Phonetic alternation , for example the final hardening in German: The underlying phoneme / d / is articulated voiceless or voiced depending on the environment, e.g. B. in [hun t ] ("dog", sg.) Versus [hun d ə] ("dogs", pl.) The underlying voiced plosives or obstruents are therefore pronounced voiceless at the end of the word.
  • morphological or formal alternation , for example the different forms of the plural morpheme in English: / -s / ( cats ), -z ( dogs ), -iz ( horses ), -en ( oxen ) and nullallomorph ( sheep ).
  • grammatical alternation , for example, the volume change between word forms such as "father" - "fathers" marks the difference in number between singular ( singular ) and plurality ( plural ), and the volume change in the strain of the strong verbs as in the case of "bleib- (s ) ”-“ remained ”has a grammatical function and shows different tenses .

In the mental lexicon , for reasons of economy of description, only the assumed underlying form (e.g. / dog / for "dog") is listed, while the respective alternative forms are derived from it by phonological rules.

See also:


  • Hadumod Bußmann (Ed.): Lexicon of Linguistics. 3rd updated and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-520-45203-0 (keyword: "Lautwechsel").
  • Günther Grewendorf, Fritz Hamm, Wolfgang Sternefeld (eds.): Linguistic knowledge, an introduction to modern theories of grammatical description. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1987, ISBN 3-518-28295-6 , p. 77.
  • Helmut Glück (Ed.), With the collaboration of Friederike Schmöe : Metzler Lexikon Sprache. 3rd, revised edition. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2005, ISBN 3-476-02056-8 (keyword: "Lautwechsel").
  • Ludwig Sütterlin: The German language of the present. Voigtländer, Leipzig 1907, chapter: Lautwechsel , pp. 77–83.
  • Werner Welte: Modern Linguistics: Terminology / Bibliography. Volume I: AM. Hueber, Munich 1974, DNB 740388363 , pp. 56-58.