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Re: THEORY: Difthongization across Europe

From:Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>
Date:Wednesday, February 27, 2008, 15:06
On 27.2.2008 John Vertical wrote:
 > > vowel system -- probably because PIE *h2 and *h3 had
 > > merged
 > > >alteady back when in the dialects leading up to
 > > >Germanic and Balto-Slavic!
 > I haven't previously seen the merger suggested as going
 > THAT far back. And if these were still buccal consonants I
 > wonder why would those two merge but not much else in the
 > consonant system?

Well, why did the Laryngeals disappear? Probably because
they had become oddballs in the system anyway, although I'm
inclined to se the Hittite reflexes as sharpenings rather
than the vocalic reflexes in other langs as weakenings --
except that *Hy seams to be 'sharp' everywhere. NB we see at
least partial *h2 *h3 merger in Hittite.

 > Anyway, yes, stuff like this WILL happen. It's the
 > synchronity I'm wondering about. There's much less
 > correlation for, say, a: > o: or a: > e: all across
 > Europe.

It's not all that synchronic: the OHG and Romance
diphthongization happened between the 7th and 11th
centuries, while the Fennic may have been as late as the
16th -- Michael Agricola significantly writes _ie öö oo_
for modern _ie yö uo_, which may have been graphic
conservatism and/or interference from Swedish, but shows
that at least for some people _öö oo_ were still
acceptable spellings -- and the West Scandinavian
diphthongization falls somewhen inbetween. The Fennic
diphthongization and the West Germanic second wave are
contemporaneous, but not geographically contiguous and
differently patterned.

 > I notice your Q: is going upwards unlike everything else.

My a: goes 'upwards' too. They should probably be [Q3\] and
[a3], in which case they above all centralizing and pattern
well. The point is that you have a centralizing
diphthongization first, with [@] later merging with various
peripheral values which are adjacent to but not identical to
the first element of the diphthong, which agrees well with
the OHG pattern. Also it seems peripheralization of [@] is
variable and gradual.

 > Are you getting a *third* wave of A: > o: in there? :)

Stockholmers tend to think so, but we down here keep things
apart just dandy. It just so happens that they have nothing
comparable so they tend to merge these sounds in their
perception. The absence of means to make the distinctions in
standard spelling promotes confusion too. Dialect literature
of course uses the circumflex as a centralizing diacritic
(mainly ô for /3\/, but also â /a/ and û /8/, and
unphonemically ê where /e/ corresponds to Standard /i/. If
anything ê should be [@].)

/BP 8^)>
Benct Philip Jonsson -- melroch atte melroch dotte se
   "C'est en vain que nos Josués littéraires crient
   à la langue de s'arrêter; les langues ni le soleil
   ne s'arrêtent plus. Le jour où elles se *fixent*,
   c'est qu'elles meurent."           (Victor Hugo)