chapter  1
Pages 26

The term "lenition" « L. lenis, 'weak') refers to synchronic alternations, as well as diachronic sound changes, whereby a sound becomes "weaker," or where a "weaker" sound bears an allophonic relation to a "stronger" sound. An explicit, unified characterization of this "weakening" has been a vexed question of phonological theory (see Bauer 1988); but the core idea, as applied to consonants, is some reduction in constriction degree or duration. The term thus uncontroversially includes: • degemination, or reduction of a long consonant to a short one (e.g. 1: ... t); • flapping, or reduction of a stop to a flap (e.g. t ... r); • spirantization, or reduction from a stop (or affricate) to a fricative or

approximant continuant (e.g. t ... {8, e}); • reduction of other consonants to approximants (e.g. r ... J, S ... ~); • debuccalization, or reduction to a laryngeal consonant (e.g. t ... 1, s ... h); and, at its most extreme, • complete elision (e.g. t ... 0). Voicing (e.g. t ... d), although ostensibly involving an adjustment in laryngeal specification rather than reduction of constriction, is also standardly included in this typology, for at least two reasons: (a) the contexts and conditions under which voicing occurs substantially overlap with those of the other lenition patterns, and may even occur in chain shifts with them (e.g. tt > t, t > d, d > 0, as in Gallo-Romance (Bourciez & Bourciez 1967»; and (b) as discussed in Chapter 2 section 4, voicing does in fact generally conform to the gestural reduction characterization above, upon a closer examination of the articulatory implementation of voiced vs. voiceless obstruents.