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Re: Korean (was Re: Alphabet)

From:Kenji Schwarz <lehelejui@...>
Date:Friday, November 2, 2001, 21:08
--- Dirk Elzinga <Dirk_Elzinga@...> wrote:
> At 2:22 PM -0500 11/02/01, John Cowan wrote: > >Frank George Valoczy wrote: > >Altaic languages are big on vowel harmony too, and > nobody can quite > >agree whether Altaic is just {Turkic, Mongolian, > Tungusic} or includes > >Korean and Japanese too. Some people think it's > not even a family > >but a Sprachbund: the connections between Turkic > and Mongolian on > >the one hand, and between Mongolian and Tungusic on > the other, being > >a lot more compelling than any direct > Turkic-Tungusic link. > > Is Chukchi considered an Altaic language? I had > understood it to be > an isolate. It also has vowel harmony, but it is > tongue root harmony > and not rounding/backing harmony. > > Nez Perce also has tongue root harmony which is very > similar to that > of Chukchi. Many African languages have tongue root > harmony. Some > argue that Javanese (and other Western Austronesian > languages) have > vowel harmony as well.
Vowel harmony in the Tungusic languages also is one of tongue root advancement/retraction, rather than "front/back" as in the Turkic languages, and Mongolian too, I guess. Though in the latter, it really seems to me to be a matter of rounding/unrounding harmony for some sets of vowels (the u & o vowel sets, I mean). Part of the confusion has been that the traditional Mongolian writing system was borrowed from Uighur, and Turkic orthographic habits came with it. Modern scholars (19th-20th century) of Mongolian have almost all been philologists above all else, who have strongly resisted these newfangled ideas (that is, post-1900) about linguistics. What little fieldwork that gets done has often been fit into or around the 12th-13th century imported orthography of classical Mongolian. A depressing field... I couldn't stomach it any more and came back to research administration. Anyway, like Dirk suggests (not to put words in your mouth, Dirk!) vowel harmony is a dubious criteria for "genetic relatedness" -- especially when there's also no single form of harmony *within* the putative Altaic family. Kenji (a dang "splitter", obviously) __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Find a job, post your resume.