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Re: Proto-Semitic (was Re: markjjones@HOTMAIL.COM)

From:Rob Haden <magwich78@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 8, 2005, 19:55
Here is my hypothesis about the Proto-Semitic stops.  It seems that there
was a three-way opposition between voiceless, voiced, and glottalized
stops.  However, there was probably not a glottalized bilabial stop, as
that phoneme is extremely marked and thus very rare in language.  So, we
get the following:

Glottalized: *(p') *t' *k'
Voiceless: *p *t *k
Voiced: *b *d *g

Later on, it seems as though *k' became *q.  In Arabic, *p > f and *g > j,
probably via phonetic (> phonemic) aspiration and then lenition.  There was
also aspiration and lenition in Hebrew and Aramaic.

I think it's also possible that Proto-Semitic, or its ancestor at some
point, had an earlier uvular stop series, with at least *q and *q' (the
voiced uvular stop is extremely marked).  These may have become the
phonemic glottal stop and/or (one of?) the pharyngeal fricatives.

- Rob