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Proto-Altaic Phonology (inc. Vowel Harmony)

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 12, 2000, 8:18
I've been analyzing A LOT of linguistic data, from Sergei Starostin's website:

He's got nice databases dealing with language comparison and reconstruction of
Proto-North Caucasian, Proto-Sino-Tibetan, Proto-Altaic, Proto-Dravidian, and a
few others.  Not only are the databases online, but they can be downloaded and
viewed and manipulated with Sergei's own program.  The online data requires a
special TrueType font called Times New Roman Star (which is a Latin-Cyrillic
font with phonetic symbols -- I use it myself for transliteration of Tech among
other things.

The DOS-based downloadable data contained a phonetic analysis (and synthesis)
of the member groups/languages of Altaic, with a reconstructed Proto-Altaic
consonant and vowel system.  The results:


Labials: p' p b m
Dentals: t' t d n r l s z
Palatals: ^c' ^c ^3 'n 'r 'l ^s j
Velars: k' k g N (= eng)
Vowels: a e i o u "a "o "u
(the last three could also be ja, jo, ju)

Distinction between initial and non-initial is made for all consonants except
r, z, 'r and j.  Each of the vowels is shown with the five simple vowels in the
following syllable, thus a-a, a-e, a-i, a-o, a-u, e-a, e-e... i_u-o, i_u-u.
This demonstrates patterns of vowel harmony in Turkish (and Mongolian and
Tungusic to a lesser degree).

Turkic has patterns of front-back vowel pairs: a <> e, i <> I, o <> "o, u <>
"u.  The following vowel affects front-back status.  Rarely, round-unround
status is also affected.

The five groups are listed: Turkic, Mongolian, Tungusic, Korean and Japanese.


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