Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Voicing and Plurality

From:Pablo David Flores <pablo-flores@...>
Date:Saturday, June 15, 2002, 2:33
Tim May <butsuri@...> writes:

> _Concise Compendium of the World's Languages_ by George L. Campbell
> These appear to be suffixes rather than prefixes discussed above, but > this is obviously a very cursory treatment of the phenomenon - there > may be others that had prefixes.
I just found this buried in the depts of my hard drive, apparently from in the good ol' times when you didn't have to pay at all to read these... <article> Most Sino-Tibetan languages possess or can be shown to have at one time possessed derivational and morphological affixes--i.e., word elements attached before or after or within the main stem of a word that change or modify the meaning in some way. Many prefixes can be reconstructed for Proto-Sino-Tibetan: s- (causative), m- (intransitive), b-, d-, g-, and r-, and many more for certain language divisions and units. Among the suffixes, -s (used with several types of verbs and nouns), -t, and -n are inherited from the protolanguage. The problem of whether Proto- Sino-Tibetan made use of -r- and -l- infixes (besides perhaps semivocalic infixes) has not been solved. Whether clusters containing these sounds were the result of prefixation to roots beginning in r and l (and y) or came about through infixation is not clear. Initial consonant alternation Voiced and voiceless initial stops alternate in the same root in many Sino-Tibetan languages, including Chinese, Burmese, and Tibetan (voiced in intransitive, voiceless in transitive verbs). The German Oriental scholar August Conrady linked this morphological system to the causative s- prefix, which was supposed to have caused devoicing of voiced stops. (Voicing is the vibration of the vocal cords, as occurs, for example, in the sounds b, d, g, z, and so on. Devoicing, or voicelessness, is the pronunciation of sounds without vibration of the vocal cords, as in p, t, k, s.) Such alternating of the initial consonant cannot itself be reconstructed for the protolanguage. </article> It's clear that Sino-Tibetan languages were quite inflecting, in any case. I don't know anything about Tibetan, except that its writing system is extremely conservative and transliteration seems to follow it; I guess most of those lost affixes are still visible in the written language but not in the spoken form. Anyone? --Pablo Flores


BP Jonsson <bpj@...>