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

From:Rob Haden <magwich78@...>
Date:Thursday, March 10, 2005, 16:21
On Wed, 9 Mar 2005 03:38:28 +0100, Steven Williams <feurieaux@...>

>--- Rob Haden <magwich78@...> wrote: >> Sorry, what's the difference between laminal and >> apical? > >I believe apicals are pronounced with the tip of the >tongue, while laminals are pronounced with the broad >surface of the tongue. English and German both have >apical [s] and [z]; I believe some dialects of Spanish >have a laminal [s], which gives the silibants a >'lispy' feel. Basque, IIRC, tells between both laminal >and apical [s] as phonemes. > >'Retroflex' can be an extreme case of apicality, by >the way. In one conlang sketch, I had an apical velar >fricative; a 'retroflex' [x], with the tip of the >tongue approaching the velum (I have a very flexible >tongue). Can't think of any natlangs with that >phoneme.
Thanks for the explanation. :)
>> If there was */ts/, */dz/, and */s/, then we could >> say that */K/ became /S/ in Arabic (rather than >> merging with /S/). > >For my current conlang, I tried to get away with using >/shiyn/ for [K], since IIRC, it was possibly >[K]anyways at one point. Didn't 'look' right, so I >decided to use /saad/ (using the logic that /saad/ is >a mere variant of /siyn/, which is an easy and typical >step to make, since I don't expect the speakers of my >language to be expert phonologists). > >> However, the South Arabian languages have both /K/ >> and /S/. Perhaps */s/ > /S/, */ts/ > /s/, and >> */dz/ > /z/ there. But what would cause /s/ to >> become /S/? > >Palatalization? But in a root language like the >Semitics, it would mean that [s] and [S] would >alternate; it would stand to reason that other >consonants would fall under the influence of >palatalization as well; i.e., [z] becoming [Z] or [dZ] >and so on.
Right; and from what I know, we don't see that.
>I feel like I'm beating a dead horse when I say that >laminal [s] can easily become postalveolar [S]; that's >what happened in German, at least. > >> I don't mean to sound pretentious, but I wonder if >> the traditional interpretation of written Akkadian >> is a little incorrect. Not only does Akkadian show >> |š| in the S-stems, where Arabic shows ?- and >> Hebrew h-, but it also has |š| in the personal >> pronouns: šu: 'he', ši: 'she' (cf. Arabic >> huwa 'he', hiya 'she'). So the question is, did >> Akkadian retain an earlier /S/ where Arabic and >> Hebrew did not? > >Good question. I'm going to have to look into that; >like I don't have enough to think about already. >Today, at work, I was trying to figure out what an >object with negative mass would be like. I lead a very >rich inner life :).
>The alternation between [h] in Hebrew and [s/S] in >Akkadian makes some sense ([s] leniting to [h] is >pretty common in languages, IIRC), but how does Arabic >get away with [?]? > >Then again, it could be that Arabic dropped [h] under >certain circumstances (in most dialects, it's a voiced >glottal approximant, and therefore, very weak indeed) >and replaced it with [?], since words in Arabic cannot >begin with an empty onset.
It seems that /h/ was dropped in morphemes.
>I heard it posited that the definite article /al-/ was >/*hal-/ at some point in both Hebrew and Arabic, and >the two langauges just dropped a different phomene in >each of their respective cases. Makes some sense, at least...
Is the definite article reconstructed for Proto-Semitic, or just 'Central Semitic' (i.e. Canaanite and Arabian)? - Rob