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PHONOLOGY: a process of weakening. The diachronic development in (i) can be analyzed as a case of lenition (Hooper (1976), Katamba (1989)):

(i)       Latin	 Italian  Spanish  French
	  vita	 vita	  vida	   vie	  'life'
            t  ->  t   ->   d   ->    0	
Lenition can be explained by referring to the sonority hierarchy: the progression down the sonority hierarchy is from a voiceless stop to a voiced stop before deletion takes place. Lenition can also occur in one language.
LIT. Hooper, J. (1976)
Katamba, F. (1989)