LOSS OF CONSONANTS IN VARIOUS PHONETIC ENVIRONMENTS IN MIDDLE ENGLISH

1. OE /j/, when appearing in the prefix spelled ge-, was reduced to ME /I/.

2. Final consonants following the vowel of an unstressed syllable were sometimes lost in ME.

i. OE /c</. E.g., OE ic "I" /ic</ > ME I /i/; OE suffix -lic "-ly" /li:c</ > ME -ly /li/.

ii. OE /n/, when in final position following an unstressed vowel, was lost. This occurred, for example, in various positions in the paradigms of verbs and pronouns, and in the indefinite article an (to produce a).

3. Certain consonants were lost in consonant clusters.

i. ME /b/, when in final position after /m/, was lost in pronunciation but not in spelling ( e.g., climb). Medial /mb/ was retained.

ii. OE /h/ was lost in the clusters /hl/, /hn/, and /hr/. In some dialects, /h/ was lost before /w/; but in some words, PDE retains /hw/, spelled wh.

iii. ME /l/ was sometimes lost in the vicinity of /c</.

iv. ME /v/ was sometimes lost before a consonant or vowel + consonant.

v. ME /w/ was sometimes lost after /s/ or /t/ (though the spelling is sometimes retained, as in sword).

4. OE /h/ was sometimes lost in unstressed positions. For example, OE hit "it" /hit/ > ME it /It/.