Original Research

Die ontwikkeling van [ʃ] in Afrikaans

Daniel P. Wissing
Literator | Vol 39, No 2 | a1486 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v39i2.1486 | © 2018 Daniel P. Wissing | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 February 2018 | Published: 26 September 2018

About the author(s)

Daniel P. Wissing, Center for Text Technology, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


The development of [ʃ] in Afrikaans. This is a follow-up study on a seemingly recent development of the consonant system of Afrikaans that Wissing, Pienaar and Van Niekerk (2015) reported on. They show that the voiceless alveolar fricative /s/ is produced as the [ʃ], a voiceless postalveolar or alveopalatal fricative when immediately following the rhotic /r/, but as [s] in contexts other than this. To establish whether this phenomenon is characteristic of present-day Afrikaans in contrast to the pronunciation of previous generations, a survey was conducted in which the readings of news bulletins by two groups of radio presenters were analysed regarding their acoustic properties. These groups are representative of two generations of Afrikaans speakers, characterised as Oud [Old] and Jonk [Young]. Apart from the fact that the reading by Oud were recorded one to two decades ago (2000–2006), and those by Jonk during 2017, the average ages of these groups were at the time of recording 29 years for Jonk, and 50 years for Oud. A significant difference between the acoustic properties of the fricative /s/ following /r/ of these two groups was found. More specifically, Jonk, unlike Oud, clearly produced this phoneme as [ʃ]. This shows that notable sound shifts might happen within a relatively short time span. The article is concluded by considering a possible explanation of this recent phenomenon within the realm of theories of internal sound change.



palatalisation; voiceless palatal fricative [ʃ]; acoustic analysis; sound change


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