Differentiating velar versus labial Dravidian voice derivations

Peter Hook peter.e.hook at gmail.com
Tue Apr 8 18:56:27 UTC 2008

Hi Jess,

       Maybe an argument could be made for the analysis of some rhyming
stems in Hindi into some kind of phonaesthetic root (incorporating a
sonicizer?) plus a *velar* mobilizing suffix: *ph-aT-ak-naa *'smack, dash (X
onto Y)', *c-aT-ak-naa *'snap, crackle, pop; get angry', *kh-aT-ak-naa
rankle', *jh-aT-ak-naa* 'jerk, jolt; shake off', *uc-ak-naa* 'be jerked up;
spring up', *ch-aT-ak-naa *'slip (from Z's grasp)', *s-aT-ak-naa *'slip
away, vanish; scoot over; thrash', *aT-ak-naa *'catch (on X); be
checked', *m-aT-ak-naa
*'make flirtatious gestures' *l-aT-ak-naa *'dangle, swing'.  But the more
examples one includes, the diluter the semantics!

All the best,  Peter

PS: Could you let me know the Haiman reference?  ("...according to Haiman,
different preferences for alliteration versus rhyming...")   Thanks.

On 4/8/08, jess tauber <phonosemantics at earthlink.net> wrote:
> Hopefully someone on the list will know whether anyone has observed this
> before, or if I can plant my flag here.
> Dravidian has for me been one of the hardest families to understand from
> the perspective of root analysis phonosemantically. This started to change
> after a near exhaustive examination of materials from Santali (Munda) over
> the past few months.
> Picking up a copy this past week of Burrow and Emeneau's 2nd ed. of A
> Dravidian Etymological Dictionary, looking for anything similar to the
> Santali materials, I began noticing that derived stems seemed to have
> similar semantics. After compiling all the Tamil -kk-, -ngk-, and -k-
> derivatives, specifically from the subset of shape (as listed)
> (C)VCV(N)C(C)u (comb. form in -i), it was clear that a large majority of
> derivations appeared to encode the notion of beating (or being beaten) into
> submission, literally or figuratively, and socially or materially.
> The labial sets, which I'm still compiling, have the opposite sense of
> throwing off unwanted burdens, freeing oneself, and so on. Why others may
> not have noticed this before is a mystery to me (for instance Krishnamurti
> in his 1997 piece on these suffixes), but I can speculate that people were
> looking for GRAMMATICAL, rather than what might be more lexical (or even
> expressive) senses in the system. On a more abstract level, the semantic
> differences between the labial and velar positions could be thought of as
> marking CONTROL differences (as for instance seen in Salishan voice
> suffixes).
> The various acute-featured voice forms (established dentals,
> sandhi-affected retroflexes and alveolars, and also palatals (but are SOME
> of these perhaps original??) seem more to have a linear-hierarchical sense
> to them, but I am far from finishing work on these.
> These semantic differences may also have something to say about why the
> graves were used (according to Krishnamurti), in the protolanguage, for
> nonpast, and the acutes for past. The graves connote unbalanced forces
> between participants (one winning), and noncooperation (even WITH
> acquiescence as with velars- giving in is not the same as joining in), while
> the acutes seem much more about creating continuity and sharing of
> responsibility. I won't be sure until more of the system is analyzed (and
> for more languages in the family as well). But there may be something of a
> split between negative vs. positive reinforcement, and irrealis vs. realis
> senses, which would then go towards tense interpretations.
> Santali data changed the way I was looking at the Dravidian materials- as
> I've posted ad nauseum around the WWW, Santali has a great deal of
> phonosemantic transparency, especially for expressive adverbs, verbs,
> adjectives, etc.
> What IS really interesting here is that the Dravidian derivational
> suffixes appear to share largely the same types of senses as do, in many
> cases, the initial consonants in Santali forms. Is it possible that many
> Santali initials are originally prefixes? Going through the dictionary one
> can collect many forms that differ in initial but contain the same second or
> third consonant (where the second may also be nasalized, etc.)- for instance
> many different forms for 'splash' that have C1VbVr, etc.
> If so, do the differences in morpheme order go back to morphosyntactic
> typology, constituent order preferences particularly, and their effects
> (much as one sees for instance, according to Haiman, different preferences
> for alliteration versus rhyming).
> And if there is positional differentiation semantically within derived
> Dravidian stems (as there definitely seems to be in Santali, just as with
> Bantu, Japanese, and Korean ideophones), then the root-initials may convey
> more spatial/pathway information that is not necessarily vital to meaning,
> and can be omitted.
> If people are interested in discussing this I'd be happy to provide the
> list with examples from DEDR, or reference numbers if they want to look
> things up on their own, or online.
> Finally, if anyone knows the current contact information for Professor
> Krishnamurti (assuming he's still active), please let me know. Thanks.
> Jess Tauber
> phonosemantics at earthlink.net
> _______________________________________________
> Histling-l mailing list
> Histling-l at mailman.rice.edu
> https://mailman.rice.edu/mailman/listinfo/histling-l
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