English translation by Bruna Pogliano
Consonant changes frequently take place both in the formation of the Greek lexical heritage and in the declension of nouns as well as in the inflection of verbs, as already shown with regard to vowels. Consonant changes in the formation of the Greek lexicon resulted from the diversification process of Greek from the other Indo-European languages, whereas the changes that take place in the inflection are due to the necessity of simplifying the pronunciation of sound sequences which might otherwise be unpleasant to the ear or difficult to pronounce.
The following list highlights the various mutation phenomena which can involve consonants:
- loss - it mainly affects the 9 stop consonants, yod, digamma and sigma in specific positions;
- assimilation - when a consonant is made more similar to a contiguous consonant; as it will be shown later, assimilation can be complete or partial, according to whether a consonant becomes wholly or partially similar to the other consonant; assimilation will be progressive (also called perseveratory assimilation or left-to-right assimilation) when the second consonant assimilates to the first; conversely, assimilation will be regressive (also known as anticipatory assimilation or right-to-left assimilation);
- this is the opposite of assimilation; in certain occurrences a consonant, which is originally identical to another, changes to another consonant; dissimilation can be either complete or partial;
- the word itself points to the change of a consonant into the sibilant sigma; it takes place in the transition from Indo-european to Greek and is connected mostly with the dental τ becoming σ before ι;
- metathesis - from Gr. μετάθεσις, transposition
- when two contiguous consonants or, more generally, two contiguous sounds exchange their position in certain conditions. Ex. *τί-τκ-ω > τίκτ-ω, I generate; cf. quantitative metathesis about adjacent vowels;
- epenthesis - from Gr. ἐπένθεσις, addition, insertion - either a β or a δ is added between a nasal and a liquid. The inserted consonant is called epenthetic consonant. Ex. *μέμλωκα > μέμβλωκα, I have come; *ἀνρός > ἀνδρός, of the man.
Owing to the vast extent of the topic of consonant changes, more detailed explanations are provided in the following pages: