Henrik Theiling wrote:
> Hi!
> Yesterday I was wondering what interesting stuff could happen to an
> /y/ phoneme?  Same question about the lax variant /Y/.
> The only (boring) thing I could come up with was /y/ > /i/ unrounding
> as seen in so many languages (German dialects, Icelandic, Greek,
> Kreyol Ayisyen, to name only a few).
> This question came up when I thought about sound shifts where
> labialisation spreads to vowels, e.g. when German 'schlimm' is
> pronounced [SlYm] (instead of [SlIm]) or 'bischen' like ['bYSn=]
> (instead of [bIsC@n]).  So with [I] > [Y], a shift to [I] is really
> boring, so I was searching for something else for additional
> spiciness.

Didn't /y:/ become something like /2y/ in Dutch along with a similar
change to /i:/ ? ISTR our Swedish friends saying there's some frication
in some dialects of Swedish, something like /i/ > [z=] and /y/ to
[z=_w]. Probably I'm forgetting some other diacritic, too. And I have no
idea what a syllabic /z/ would change into anyway, possibly epenthetic
vowels along the lines of /i/ > [iz] and /u/ > [uz]. But then: why bother?

But, both of these have parallel changes with the unrounded vowel so it
merely puts off the decision :( You could have a regular anti-clockwise
chain-shift, and allow unrounded vowels to lower more than round vowels
(because low vowels and rounded vowels don't usually mix, especially in
the front). But that's a long way to go down...

Some cases of /y/ in OE have become /e/ or /U/ (> /V/) in ME, e.g.
merry, bury; much, church. AFAIK these are always conditioned changes,
but that doesn't necessarily mean it can't happen in other languages