edsel at glo.be
Sat Dec 18 11:39:20 UTC 1999
[ moderator re-formatted ]
From: Larry Trask <larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk>
Date: Saturday, December 18, 1999 7:48 AM
>Ed Selleslagh writes:
>> Iberian has two sibilants (and also rhotics) that might very well be the
>> same as the Basque ones, including the affricated varieties.
>Iberian certainly had two contrasting sibilants (at least), but the phonetic
>nature of the contrast is entirely unknown. Aquitanian probably had at least
>four, and perhaps six, of the things, but the Roman orthography was defective,
>and the various sibilants were not written in any very consistent manner.
The nature of the contrast of the two Iberian sibilants is not entirely
unknown, as some toponyms have survived: e.g. Saitabi(a) > Xa'tiva, which
indicates that the S must have been rather closer to Basque (apical) s than z.
Some Iberian words are extremely similar to some Basque words (I know you don't
accept this to be anything but coincidence), and these similarities always
point to a systematic correspondance of the two Iberian sibilants and Basque s
>From toponyms and other words one can deduce that Aquitanian and Iberian also
had the corresponding affricates (ts and tz). In Iberian script these are
written exactly as the non-affricated ones. In other scripts and in Aquitanian
in Latin script orthography is pretty confusing, but often resembles later
I don't know where you found that Aquitanian may have had two additional
>> The Castilian s and z/c (theta) are the descendants of the old Basque-type
>> distinction, I believe.
>I don't follow. Castilian /s/ simply continues Latin /s/, except that it is
>apical, whereas the Latin /s/, on the Basque evidence, was probably laminal.
>But the Castilian theta derives ultimately, in most cases, from Latin /k/
>before a front vowel; this is thought to have become some kind of affricate
>before developing into theta (or into /s/, according to region).
In derivations from Latin this true, but in all other cases it is not. I didn't
mean that the Castilian s/z distinction is descended directly from the Basque
apical/laminal opposition, as a parallel evolution in particular words, but
that its very existence is due to a pre-existing awareness of such a
phonological distinction (it did in Iberian), something most European languages
don't have (and ditto for the rhotics).
>> What about Arabic? It certainly has various sibilants.
>Yes, but it does not have an apical/laminal contrast, and I know of no
>evidence that Arabic phonology had any effect on Castilian phonology, still
>less on Basque phonology.
As far as Castilian is concerned, I am not so sure: does any one have any
references or information on that subject?
In Basque, it is rather the opposite: e.g. kuttun < kitab, i.e. Arabic words
were adapted to Basque phonology.
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