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Aspirate clusters (was: Hellenish oddities)

From:BP Jonsson <bpj@...>
Date:Sunday, November 26, 2000, 18:13
At 08:45 2000-11-25 -0800, SMITH,MARCUS ANTHONY wrote:

>The other option that nobody is mentioning is the possibility that there >was an epenthetic vowel inserted between them. This is not an uncommon way >to do things in American Indian languages -- I've heard it in Chickasaw, >Pima, and been told about it in Salishan languages. It is not restricted >to aspiration, but is used anytime a cluster is difficult to pronounce.
An ephenthetic voiceless schwa [@_0] is indeed the only way I can manage two aspirated plosives in succession, so that [p^ht^h] is effectively [p@_0t^h], which makes sense if one considers that [h] or [^h] is essentially a non-syllabic voiced version of the adjacent vowel. At 07:47 2000-11-26 +0000, Raymond Brown wrote:
>It seems more credible to me that the former with written with two >aspirates because that's how they were pronounced (regressive >assimilation); but the latter were written as pi-phi, tau-theta and >kappa-khi because aspiration did not occur until the geminate plosive was >released. That is, the spelling reflected the actual pronunciation and the >ancient greeks were not guilty of a bizarre & illogical spelling convention.
OK, I'll grant that, per Marcus' proviso that an ephenthesis might actually have been present. It occurs to me that Sanskrit had phonemic schwa while greek hadn't, which might be of some relevance here. It also occurs to me that the first of the two aspirations may actually have been pre-aspiration, tho that does not help much when the cluster is word initial... / B.Philip Jonsson B^)> -- (delete .nospam) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "If a language is a dialect with an army and a navy, of what language, pray, is Basque a dialect?" (R.A.B.)