On 22 February 2018 at 09:29, Raymond Brown <[log in to unmask]>

> On 21/02/2018 18:22, And Rosta wrote:
>> On 21 February 2018 at 17:49, Raymond Brown wrote:
>> On 21/02/2018 16:47, And Rosta wrote:
>>> On 21/02/2018 16:55, And Rosta wrote:
>>> [snip]
> But it's also highly likely that subsequently /h/ and /θ, ð/
>>>> were lost again. But alas that cannot spare you the labour of
>>>> documenting their life span.
>>> Why?  / /h/ remained in French till the 15th century at least, and still
>>> remains in Picard and Walloon.
>>> Most Germanic languages have now lost /θ, ð/ - but Icelandic and English
>>> have retained them.  Breton has lost them (except one dialect that retains
>>> /ð/), but Welsh has retained them.   Why should not the inhabitants of
>>> Southern Britain (i.e. south of Gaelic speakers) likewise retain them in
>>> BART.
>> My thinking is that /h/ and  /θ, ð/ rank high on the scale of
>> susceptibility to loss. In English, many dialects lack /θ, ð/ and (not
>> quibbling about the details) /h/: what keeps them alive, I suggest, is that
>> their loss has been stigmatized and hasn't occurred in the prestige
>> dialects.
> ...and that they continue to be pronounced in some areas.
> The shift of [θ] -> [f] is, indeed, widespread in colloqiual British
> speech, as is the shift of [ð] -> [v] when medial or final.  When
> initial [ð] seems either to shift to [d] or fall silent.

I didn't know that it falls silent, but it's excellent news for my theory
of initial  ð: can you give me any pointers to examples or descriptions of
it falling silent? I know it 'drops', like h does, in many dialects,
including my own, but I hadn't known of cases of it falling silent
altogether (as can happen with initial h).

> But these seem to have spread from London and, probably, other urban areas
> during the
> last century.

The last century is all we have good knowledge of, really. Yes, changes
spread from urban areas, but I'd be skeptical about a claim that the
th-mergers or even just th-fronting have spread from London through contact.

> There is no parallel for such shifting in Romance languages.

But how many Romance languages have dental fricatives in contrast with
plosives in the first place? Spanish does exemplify merger of θ with s. PIE
to Italic gives an example of th-fronting (dh to f).

> The question of [ð] is more complicated (Portuguese and
> Spanish have it, for example), but the evidence is surely that if
> Germanic [θ] was not retained it would have shifted to [t] *at an early
> date*.
> As for /h/, yes it true that it is widely dropped in colloquial English
> and, indeed, in south Wales, but it remains in north Wales and, I think,
> largely in Scotland.  I was going to say that [h] came in with Germanic
> borrowing but did not maintain itself and was dropped just like the
> Latin /h/.   But if it held on till the 15th cent. in France and still
> holds on in Picardy and Wallonia and in the Romansh dialects, that seems
> to me a week cop-out.

It seems to me that in the early centuries of Britainese the Brittonic
substrate and the dialect geography of early Romance are the key guides and
constraints to determining the characteristics of early Britainese (that
is, of British Romance), but to divine the lineaments of its development in
the last millennium, we must recognize that chance and general tendencies
of language change will have played a much larger role. While any given
change is perhaps more likely to not occur than to occur, it is more likely
that some occur than that none occur; to model a plausible contemporary
Britainese, when it comes to possible changes, dice must be rolled.