Re: Uto-Aztecan historical phonology
|From:||Brad Coon <bcoon@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, May 2, 2000, 0:00|
dirk elzinga wrote:
> On Mon, 1 May 2000, Nik Taylor wrote:
> > dirk elzinga wrote:
> > > Here's a partial Uto-Aztecan cognate set for *tama 'tooth':
> > > Nahuatl tlan-
> > Interesting. But, how did the Nahuatl get that way? Did the /m/ become
> > /w/, and then was lost? And where did the /l/ come from?
> I think that the *m became /n/ in Nahuatl, but I'm not sure.
> PUA *t often became /tl/ adjacent to /a/ in Nahuatl (that should
> be a voiceless lateral affricate).
> Nahuatl is the Uto-Aztecan language I know the least about; most
> of my research has been confined to Numic, with brief excursions
> to Tubatulabal, Hopi, and Takic (Luiseño and Cupeño are Takic),
> all of which are Northern Uto-Aztecan languages.
> Dirk Elzinga
The dictionary form of 'tlan-' is 'tlantli' where the -tli is
the socalled absolutive (not to be confused with the ergative::
absolute terminology to which it has no relation). Proto-Nahua
*t >tl /_a, i.e., when it was followed by an /a/. Historically,
the absolutive had become *-ta by the time Proto-Nahua emerged
and prior to *t > tl soundshift indicated above. Through a variety
of other soundshifts, the *-tla absol. become -tl, -li, and -tli
depending upon the stem. Pre-proto Nahua should have been *tama-ta
but the second /a/ was lost and the m > n due to assimilation. I am
afraid I don't recall in what order the rules requiring the vowel
The best source for Nahuatl historical phonology is Evolucion
Phonologica del Nahuatl by K. Dakin. (and I probably got the title
slightly wrong, all of my sources are at work.) Now somewhat dated,
volume 1 of Studies in Uto-Aztecan Grammar (ed. by R. Langacker) has
a good discussion of the evolution of the absolutive.
The oldest existing Nahuatl texts, the Devils' Songs of the Florentine
Codex contain some ambiguous forms with what might be -tla absolutives.
It is more likely that they represent a poorly transcribed -tlan
locative marker. Since it is hard to grasp the true meaning of
'poorly transcribed' until you have worked with the Devils' Songs
as long as I have, it is still not certain, at least in my mind.
Somedays when you wake up, its just not worth chewing through
the leather straps.