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PIE Vowel Inventory Theories

From:Emily Zilch <emily0@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 9, 2004, 19:48
{ Jörg Rhiemeier } "Well, it is a matter of definition whether, in a
language like Sanskrit or Latin, one defines [i] and [u] as syllabic
allophones of /j/ and /w/, or conversely [j] and [w] as non-syllabic
allophones of /i/ and /u/. I would prefer the latter alternative and
count such phonemes as vowels. At any rate, the syllable nuclei [a],
[i] and [u] all occur in Sanskrit, together with a few others."

The issue to me seems to be one of theory. Why mark surface /i/, /u/ as
[i] [u] with non-syllabic variants when ALL the other resonants and
glottalics aren't? Since we write [ m ], [ n ], [ l ], [ H_1-3 ] as
consonants with syllabic forms we should mark [ y ] and [ w ] the same.

Sure, it's preference. But I think it's a systematic approach.

As for the evolution of the phonemicisation of [ e ] [ o ] from a
single vocalic origin, it was my understanding that this was due to
pre-PIE stress patterns that later shifted into the more complicated
*PIE variable stress forms. ([ a ] remains problematic.)