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Quoting Eric Christopherson <[log in to unmask]>:
> 
> On the other hand, [j] sometimes comes from [s] -- at least if you  
> believe that hypothesis regarding Italian (and there may be other  
> examples); [C] might be an intermediary.

Maybe I should've mentioned this earlier, but the whole idea behind this "palatalization" is that the last phoneme of the word "assimilates" towards the [j], becoming as close as possible. Of course, in this case, a palatal place of articulation is the most perfect. Since [C] is the closest fricative to [j] (as palatal fricative+palatal approximant), i think that it could be a "middle-state" of [s] and [j]. 
 
> I have a language where pre- and post-vocalic [s] becomes [i_0]. I  
> like that change a lot, but I'm not sure it's likely that it would  
> happen to the [s] in *both* positions. In the same language, there is  
> some synchronic alternation between [si_0] and [hi_0].

Umm, I don't really get what you mean with [i_0]...