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

From:Steven Williams <feurieaux@...>
Date:Wednesday, March 9, 2005, 2:38
--- 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.
> 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. 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. 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... ___________________________________________________________ Gesendet von Yahoo! Mail - Jetzt mit 250MB Speicher kostenlos - Hier anmelden:


Steg Belsky <draqonfayir@...>