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Re: Phonology Help (Aramaic and Pashto)

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Wednesday, November 20, 2002, 17:56
From: "Eamon Graham" <robertg@...>

> Danny, > > A million times thank you! I needed this! Finding info on Pashto > was so difficult. (Our library here has Dari, but not Pashto) I > had to piece together most of what I knew from various sources that > really didn't have much to say. > > (For any one who's interested in why I became interested in Pashto > when I was so unable to find out anything about it: when I was > deciding on how I wanted this project to sound, I went to > and and listened to their broadcasts in various languages. > Pashto caught my ear and the rest is history! My interest in Modern > East Aramaic can be explained in about the same way. Anyone else > use similar methods when deciding how they want something to sound?)
Interest in Pashto should be very timely, since it's been in the news a lot in the last year-and-change in the US, being the focus of the hunt for bin Laden and his associates. Pashto replaced Dari Persian as national language fairly recently, but many other languages including Uzbek (Southern dialect) can be found there. The phonology and language description got mentioned in _The World's Major Languages_, ed. Bernard Comrie, which I used in my post. It is the last IE language given attention, right after Persian and before Hungarian. They need to put out a new edition (at least to reflect post-Soviet political changes), and this time, include a few American languages like Quechua and Nahuatl. The Omniglot website covers A LOT of languages, and other Iranian languages, including Kurdish, which should get a lot more attention as a de facto national language of northern Iraq and major minority in Turkey and elsewhere. It also happens to be a rare case of a language written in three scripts: Arabic, Latin (Turkish) and Cyrillic. Kurdish phonology isn't as elaborate as Pashto (no retroflexes), but does contain both a /v/ and a /w/, not to mention two rhotics and two laterals. The phonology of the nearly twenty year-old project that has come to be known as Tech (which STILL hasn't gotten past the phonology stage!) is inspired by Proto-Semitic and Proto-Indo-European mostly, with a lot of ideas drawn from the phonologies of the diverse families of Caucasian languages, especially Kartvelian. I wanted ejectives like Georgian, retroflexes as found in Dravidian and Indo-Aryan, the pharyngeals of Arabic, palatized and labiovelarized units like the "soft" and "hard" consonants of Old Church Slavonic, and lenis and nasal mutations of Celtic. The next experiments involves applying a Nostratic-based phonology to a mixture of, among other things, Semitic (especially Hebrew and Arabic) and Indo-European (especially Greek and Sanskrit) vocabulary items.