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Re: THEORY: A possible Proto-World phonology

From:Ed Heil <edheil@...>
Date:Friday, June 30, 2000, 14:43
>===== Original Message From Constructed Languages List > >How does Lehmann argue that his model is better than one that says > > The language probably had 3 to 10 different vowel phonemes, > like languages usualy do --- but the data do not allow us to > tell them apart, so we just write **@ for all of them. > >?
I'm not sure he would say his model is "better than" that one, or even different from that one. Historical linguists differ in the degrees to which they think of their reconstructions as successfully describing an actual ancient reality, or whether they think of them as opaque symbols for a reality that is unknowable beyond a certain point. And a single historical linguist may display different attitudes at different times. An example of going too far in the "reality" direction, IMHO, is Lehmann's use of IPA symbols to represent the PIE laryngeals. This is wild speculation. I am much more comfortable calling them H1, H2, and H3, for the non-coloring, a-coloring, and o-coloring laryngeal, and leaving the question of their phonetic values open to discussion. Another example of this issue coming up is the difference between the Glottaltheorie and the Laryngealtheorie. Positing laryngeals seriously affects how you do a reconstruction. The Glottaltheorie's change to your reconstructions is almost entirely cosmetic: you write d(h) instead of dh, t' instead of d, and t(h) instead of t, and that's the end of it. You could do a search and replace with a word processor to convert a book of traditional reconstructions to Glottaltheorie reconstructions. Less "phonetic reality-minded" historical linguists, therefore, do not feel compelled to worry too much about which notation they are going to use. Traditional works; if you prefer Glottaltheorie you can mentally substitute them and that's all it takes. Lehmann falls into the "less phonetic reality-minded" on this score, at least in the one book of his I've read, _Theoretical Bases of Indo-European_ or something like that. He uses d/dh/t just for notational convenience. Ed ------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------