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On Thursday, January 8, 2004, at 07:08 PM, Joe wrote:
> I would guess that in Welsh they come from a voiceless(and preaspirated)
> approximant, but I'm probably wrong.

Sort of correct.  The starter was apparently sl- .  Initial /s/ became /h/
early on (a fairly widespread sound change; it occured in pre-historic
Greek
and IIRC ancient Persian, inter alia); thus initial sl- --> hl- and then
the
simple [K] (voiceless lateral fricative).

Eventually, all initial /l/ sounds took on the same sound.  Catalan,
interstingy, shows another example where two different initial lateral
sounds,
/l/ and /L/ (palatal lateral) have both given way to the same sound; in the
case of Catalan it is /L/.

But, to return to [sl] - it doesn't have to be initial, nor do you have to
go through [hl] for the sound to change to [K].  I remember hearing on my
bus journey a few weeks back an obviously native Brit woman, speaking with
an otherwise colloquial north Surrey accent, consistently pronouncing
'dyslexix' as [dI"KEksIk].

Ray
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