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[Re: [Re: [Re: [Re: Roll Your Own IE language]]]]

From:Edward Heil <edwardheil@...>
Date:Friday, April 9, 1999, 1:50
Bryan Maloney <bjm10@...> wrote:
> Has anybody noticed that some of the speculation on PIE phonology bears=
> striking resemblence to "grunt talk" stereotypic of "barbarians"? > =
> No real vowels, lots of pharyngeal/laryngeal stuff, etc.
Well, it's the end result of a long scholarly process. At first reconstr= ucted PIE was virtually identical to Sanskrit, or rather, people tended to mere= ly set up correspondences between daughter languages, of which Sanskrit was considered the oldest and most perfect, rather than reconstructing anythi= ng at all. When the difficult problem of vowels began to be solved, people realized = that a given root tended to appear in a variety of different "grades," with vo= wel alternations between them. ("Sing/sang/sung" is a remnant of this proces= s in English.) The ultimate result of this was the theory that vowels simply weren't part of the roots, at least at an early stage; the roots consiste= d of consonant clusters and vowel patterns were applied to them, first accordi= ng to phonological and then according to morphological considerations. (This resembles the situation in Semitic langs in vague outline but not at all = in detail.) That's where the "no vowels in early PIE" idea comes from. And it doesn'= t mean that it was pronounced without vowels; if you listened to it it'd so= und more or less like any other modern natlang. It's that vowels weren't par= ts of roots the way they are in most modern languages, at least at an early sta= ge. As for the laryngeals, they were first reconstructed by De Saussure as "coefficients sonantiques," theoretical consonants which disappeared and = whose only effect was lengthening or coloring neighboring vowels. They were not called "laryngeals" or even taken very seriously until Hitt= ite was deciphered and it turned out that it preserved some of them as "h"! The name "laryngeals" comes from the early theory that they were analogou= s to the Semitic laryngeal consonants. All that we know about them is that so= me of them became h in one daughter language, they made consonants in other languages aspirated, they turned into short vowels when left alone in word-initial position in Greek (e, o, or a), and that in many languages w= hen they were after a vowel they disappeared and that vowel underwent compens= atory lengthening. So any resemblances to stereotypes are fairly coincidental. :) Ed --------------------------------------------------------- Edward Heil .......................... --------------------------------------------------------- ____________________________________________________________________ Get free e-mail and a permanent address at 1