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Sound change and alternation

In phonology and historical linguistics, cluster reduction is the simplification of consonant clusters in certain environments or over time.

In some dialects of English such as AAVE certain historical consonant clusters reduce to single consonants at the ends of words: friend rhymes with Ben, and cold is homophonous with coal. In both cases, a historical cluster of homorganic consonants loses a stop: /ˈfrɛn/, /ˈkoʊl/ However, in colder, where the consonant cluster falls between vowels, the /d/ remains: /ˈkoʊldɚ/. The similar word-final reduction of */mb/ to /m/ and */ŋɡ/ to /ŋ/ is complete in standard English (e.g. lamb, long), as it is in many other Germanic languages (e.g. Swedish lamm, lång).

Italian is well known to have undergone cluster reduction, where stop clusters have become geminates. For example, Victoria has become Vittoria. In other words, articulation but not length has reduced. A similar occurrence is observed in Portuguese as well, but gemination is absent. Cluster reduction also takes place in Catalan, and in a similar way as it happens in English. Certain consonant clusters placed at the end of a word are reduced: cent /sen/ instead of /sent/, although they recover the reduced consonant when the cluster falls between vowels: centenar /səntəˈna/. This phenomenon does not exist in Valencian, though: cent /sent/ and centenar /senteˈnaɾ/.


  • Crowley, Terry. (1997) An Introduction to Historical Linguistics. 3rd edition. Oxford University Press.

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6 news items

New York Times
Mon, 13 Jul 2015 02:16:25 -0700

Consonant cluster reduction: This occurs when the sound of one consonant in a series, such as "t'' or "d," is reduced. (For example, "bes' buddy" instead of "best buddy.") Used by young and old, the feature is likely to remain a part of West Virginia ...


Tue, 21 Jul 2015 21:04:32 -0700

Consonant cluster reduction: This occurs when the sound of one consonant in a series, such as “t'' or “d,” is reduced. (For example, “bes' buddy” instead of “best buddy.”) Used by young and old, the feature is likely to remain a part of West Virginia ...

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Tue, 19 May 2015 12:27:51 -0700

Here and there on the net in forums and on Facebook sites there are numerous posts that discuss the case for liquid water on Mars. The NASA rover photos are often shown in false color which can make some areas look like they are wet or contain standing ...

Reason (blog)

Reason (blog)
Thu, 07 May 2015 09:44:13 -0700

"It is my hope that we will finally achieve what the great founders and visionaries of the civil rights movement taught us, and that is that your race and your ethnicity really shouldn't count for anything, whether it's college admissions or jobs ...
ADVANCE for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (blog)
Tue, 15 Jun 2010 08:17:24 -0700

If a child continues to demonstrate such cluster reduction, he or she may have a phonological process disorder". In addition, ASHA provides the following information as a resource for those affected by a phonological disorder(s) and in need of ...
Sunday Times.lk
Sat, 15 Nov 2008 00:00:00 -0800

Children, from the moment of birth, are constantly learning and developing their abilities and skills - including that of speech and language. The way parents and caregivers interact with them will determine the path that language development takes in ...

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