Second Consonant Shift

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The Second or High German Consonant Shift is a sound change that took place in around AD 500 and which affected the southern or High German dialects. In these dialects initial, medial, and final West-Germanic */p, t, k/ shifted to fricatives and affricates.

The following table illustrates the effect of the Second Consonant Shift (shifts of initial, medial and final p, t, k):

High German Low German English Dutch
p Pfeife Piep pipe pijp
Apfel Auppel apple appel
Schaf Schoop sheep schaap
t Zeit Tiet tide tijd
setzen setten set zetten
groß groot great groot
k Kalb Kaulf calf kalf
machen moken make maken
Dach Dack thatch dak

Note: Initial /k/ only shifted in the extreme southern dialects (e.g. Swiss German Kchriesi ‘cherry’, cf. German Kirsche).