András Cser & Tamás Szende:
The question of [j]: systemic aspects, phonotactic position and diachrony

The systemic status of the segment [j] shows great cross-linguistic as well as theory-dependent variety. This study poses two questions concerning the atypical behaviour of [j] both diachronically and in synchronic sequence structuring as shown by several distinct languages and language groups. (i) Is there a common principle on which to base a causal explanation for the above-mentioned phenomena? (ii) What follows from a possible explanatory principle, if any, with respect to the phonological interpretation of [j]? On the basis of phonetic based investigations it is argued that, due to its special articulatory and acoustic properties, [j] is set out to a wide-range scale of variations depending mainly on the necessary level of linguistic information in individual speech processes. Diachronic changes seem to mirror this wide-range scale variation. Accordingly, the phonological interpretation of [j] must remain the subject of language-specific analysis.

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