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Denasalisation (warning, citations!)

From:Emily Zilch <emily0@...>
Date:Sunday, July 11, 2004, 7:42
{ 20040710,2348 Emily Zilch } "Presumably, as happened in Basque,
Lushootsheed & the Salishan language listed, nasals went to
prenasalised stops."

I meant to say "went to STOPS", which in the case of at least a dialect
of Hakka are reported as prenasalised. In other cases of which I am
aware where nasals become stops, normally the intermediate state is

1. As in the Chamic languages (cousins of Malay), n > tn > t - yes,
that's right, they become POST-nasalised stops, or prestopped nasals.
In the same syllable. So *[tan] > [tat] through the intermediate state
/tatn/. I'm not kidding, this happens: see Thurgood G 1999: From
Ancient Cham to Modern Dialects, Two Thousand Years of Language Contact
& Change (Oceanic Linguistics Special Publication 28), U-HI Press.

2. As in Lushootseed, where nasals > homorganic voiced stops. "Nasals
have also sometimes been assumed to be universal, but languages in
three geographically contiguous families on the Northwest Coast lack
nasals: Twana and Lushootseed of the Salishan family; Quileute (but not
Chemakum) of the Chimakuan family; and Makah and Nitinat of the
Wakashan family. In each of these languages, nasals *m, *n shifted to
voiced stops b, d within the nineteenth century. The processes involved
in these shifts are discussed in Thompson & Thompson 1972, Kinkade
1985b, and N. Thompson 1993." Mithun M 1999: Languages of North America
(Cambridge Language Surveys), Cambridge U Press. T&T is in Smith ME
(ed.) 1972: Studies in Linguistics in Honor of George L Trager, Mouton:
The Hague: "Language Universals, Nasals, and the Northwest Coast".
Kinkade is in Int'l Journal of American Linguistics 51, pp. 478-80,
"More on Nasal Loss on the Northwest Coast". Thompson is in Mattina A &
Montler T (eds.), American Indian Linguistics and Ethnography in Honor
of Laurence C Thompson (UMOPL 10) pp. 303-15, "Analysis of Diachronic
Denasalization in Twana". I don't know what UMOPL is: I think it's an
error for UOPL, which is the University of Oregon Papers in

In Basque, the oldest words show there was only one phonemic nasal,
[n]. There is free variation in the modern form of borrowed words that
had other nasals in them: i.e. original Latin #m- > modern #b-, #f-,
#m-. In modern Basque dialects there may be multiple phonemic nasals,
including [m][n][J], but these seem to derive from a growing
phonemisation (?) because of contact languages (Celtic, then Latin [&
its descendants], then Gothic, then Arabic) plus internal developments
(i.e. diminutives: this is also the origin of the multiple sibilants
[z] [s] [x] and the modern taps/trills/laterals [r][rr][l][ll] in
Basque - and Castellano, Catalan & Gascon). A good intro to this
particular topic is covered by Michelena and others in Hualde, Lakarra
& Trask 1995: Towards a History of the Basque Language (Current Issues
in Linguistic Theory 131), John Benjamins Publishing Co.