Dakotan gw/gm

Rory M Larson rlarson at unlnotes.unl.edu
Sun Aug 27 15:57:15 UTC 2006

> Lakota has a modest number of examples of gm-clusters - relying here only
> the words starting with gm, and not looking further.  This would seem to
> imply a Proto-Mississippi Valley cluster *kw followed by a nasal vowel.
> There are also a few cases of gw, implying *kw.  The problem with this
> implication is that corresponding forms seem not to occur.
> The main cases of *kw with any cognate are wagmuN' 'squash' and igmuN'
> 'cat', where the cognates show up with gdh in Dhegiha, dw in Ioway-Otoe,
> and c^Vw in Winnebago.  Both words are likely to be loans - or areally
> widespread forms.

Couldn't this cluster be reconstructed as *kyw, a combination velar stop,
fronting of the tongue, and pursing of the lips, all roughly simultaneous?
I think French recognizes a semivowel consisting of the latter two
phonotactic factors, basically the consonantal form of u-umlaut, as in

By this model, Dakotan would have lost the tongue fronting (*kyw -> *kw);
Dhegihan would have lost lip-pursing, or had it absorbed into following
[uN] (*kyw -> *ky -> *kr); and Ioway-Otoe and Winnebago would have
cancelled *k and *y by fronting *k as a palatalized stop (*kyw -> *c^w),
progressing to c^Vw in Winnebago and dw in Ioway-Otoe.

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