conditioning of Uto-Aztecan *p in Nahuatl

Nathan Hill nathanwhill at
Fri Nov 30 10:34:15 UTC 2012

Dear Historical Linguists,

In a paper about Tibetan I am criticizing someone for proposing that
the same segment became one thing in nouns and another thing in verbs.
My neogrammarian heart tells me that sound changes are aware of
phonetic environments only and not part of speech categories. Such a
thing is thus only possible if verbs are phonetically different than
nouns in a systematic way (which is of course possible).

Anyhow, a reviewer tells me that proto-Uto-Aztecan initial *p becomes
zero in Nahuatl nouns but is preserved in verbs and cites the pair
(.-tl "water" vs "to wash"). The reviewer does not cite a
discussion of this and I am totally at sea in the Uto-Aztecan
literature. But, if this is an uncontroversial part of Uto-Aztecan
historical phonology surely it has given rise to the same
methodological concerns that I raise (sound change should apply

I would be very grateful for any discussion of this or advice on
treatments of this question in literature.

with gratitude,
Histling-l mailing list
Histling-l at

More information about the Histling-l mailing list