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From Cheshire (cat) (the cat which disappeared leaving only its smile) +‎ -ization. Coined by American linguist James Matisoff in 1991 in a paper titled "Areal and universal dimensions of grammatization in Lahu".


cheshirization (uncountable)

  1. (linguistics, rare) One or several sound changes which preserve a phonological distinction in a re-expressed form: transphonologization.
    Synonym: rephonologization
    • 2006, Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, Robert M. W. Dixon, Areal Diffusion and Genetic Inheritance (→ISBN), page 344:
      For example, Mandarin uses the suffix ɚ < ér 兒 'son' while Cantonese employs tone sandhi, changing the citation tone to high rising tone, the cheshirization of an earlier segmental morpheme meaning 'son'.