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Re: Why Not More Nasals!!!!?

From:Kenji Schwarz <schwarz@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 9, 1999, 21:55
On Tue, 9 Mar 1999, Brian Betty wrote:

> At 12:25 PM 3/9/99 -0500, you wrote: "Yes, Manchu is like this, at least > word-finally (the only allowable word-final consonant in native(/-ized) > words being /n/). Korean is not, however, nor is Mongolian, other Tungusic > languages, or any variety of the Turkic languages that have been spoken > around there that I know of. I think this may be 'coincidence'." > > Maybe; although I am no great fan of conspiracy theories outside of > fiction, where they rock, it seems to me that the coincidental loss of > non-nasal stops and the arrival of the Manchu under the Qing is > interesting. I am a student of both Chinese and Korean (and I've done my > share of Japanese, mostly in Japan), and it *still* feels odd to me when > the Korean word preserves the original MC stop and the Mandarin has lost it > - and that's a pretty common occurrence, too!
IIRC, Mandarin had lost the stops of the rusheng rhyme category by the 11th century or earlier -- considerably before Jurchens, let alone Manchus, had any known extensive contact with Chinese-speakers. Other known Altaic languages of the time had plenty of final stops. Finally, syllable-final consonants within words are plentiful in all Tungusic languages -- sabka, jakdan, akjan, alban, taktu, tatkit, etc.
> Or, as sometimes happens, a nut writes about something and there is a grain > of truth to what he says - always an awkward situation. The whole > Korean-Japanese link mess, for example, needs a firm, even hand to > investigate it, and since few Western linguists seem to give a rat's arse > about Asian languages if they're not spoken by some dying tribe, most work > has been done by nuts or by Japanese or Korean scholars, and subsequently
Well, we always have the ever-temperate, gracious Roy Andrew Miller. I just read his '95 book, which has all-new levels of bitter froth. I especially enjoyed his matter-of-fact statement that language is the only significant expression of human behavior (whatever that means), and that as language can _only_ be understood through historical linguistics (i.e., Neogrammarianoid vergleichende Grammatik), all other disciplines of the humanities and social sciences are at best props, and more often thick-witted fantasies. (Paraphrasing, here.) On the bright side, he doesn't hesitate to spend some of his bile on the True Nuts, which can make for some fun reading. ObConlang: Uh... well, my #1 conlang project is an archaic branch of proto-North Tungusic, lexically sandwiched between a rarified adstratum of alleged Khitan and a blue-collar substratum of Chukotkan. Kenji