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PIE -> Sanskrit

From:Steven Williams <feurieaux@...>
Date:Saturday, February 12, 2005, 19:02
I'm skimming through this enormous reference work on
Proto-IE, "Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans" by
Gamkrelidze and Ivanov, and it brought up some rather
fascinating points.

('Gamkrelidze' sounds familiar, for some reason...)

I was wondering how the Sanskrit retroflexes came
about, since PIE had no contrast between those and
dental phonemes. In one chapter, it points out that
the Sanskrit retroflex plosives were the result of the
erosion of medial [st] and [sd]-type clusters; the [s]
was an alveolar phoneme and quite handily imparted its
alveolar qualities onto the following dental phoneme.
Thus (and I'm just making up an example here):

*nis-dha -> nis-.dha -> niz-.dha -> nih-.dha ->

Or something like that.

I could understand that, although I'd be more inclined
to believe that in [st]-type clusters, where the [t]
is dental, it would remain dental, as in the Romance

What I'm wondering is how the retroflex fricatives
came about. My first thought is that they could have
come about through [rs]-type clusters, since that's
how it works in Norwegian, and the [r] in Sanskrit
seems to make following coronals retroflex anyways (as
in 'krsna', where the entire medial consonant cluster
[rsn] is retroflex, if I'm not mistaken).

Are there any other ideas as to how a retroflex series
could have originated without using such processes?
And how on Earth did Sanskrit get a series of
voiceless aspirates, when, according to both major
theories of PIE phonology, there were none in the
first place?


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Bryan Parry <bajparry@...>
Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>