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Re: THEORY: A possible Proto-World phonology

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Thursday, June 29, 2000, 21:16
>From: dirk elzinga <dirk.elzinga@...>
>Many accounts of North-West Caucasian (Abkhaz, Ubykh, >Circassian, Kabardian, etc) posit a minimal vowel system (1 or 2 >or 3) which balloons into 12-16 surface vowel qualities >depending on the environment. What Lehmann proposes is something >similar, IIRC. The contrast isn't among vowels of different >qualities, but rather between a Vowel and Not a Vowel. Where >there is a Vowel, its quality is determined solely according to >context, just as you've said. Typological reconstructionists >have used this feature (among others) to posit a link between >PIE and Proto-NW-Caucasian.
The allophonic value of the two vowel phonemes of Common NW Caucasian (which could just be called "high" and "low") depends on the preceding consonant, and you get eight (at least): Neutral: C ~ @/a Palatized: C' ~ i/e Labialized Cw ~ u/o Labiopalatized: C'w ~ y/% (?) But there might be another vowel, a:, so there may be four more phones, possibly & and A... Since Ubykh also had pharyngealized and labiopharyngealized consonants, those made six more vowels which are themselves pharyngealized. Ubykh did have three phonemic vowels, so I'd expect there to be up to 18 surface vowel qualities. Any genetic connection between IE and North Caucasian is extremely unlikely, and not a single proponent of Nostratic supports such a notion. But the neutralization of vowels and the secondary featurization of consonants based on the former vowel position occured in Indo-European, leading to k^/k/kw, so I am more sure of a pre-IE system of ke/ka/ko than I am of common origin with the other five language families considered offshoots of Nostratic. Danny ¶¦¬þ ________________________________________________________________________ Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at