laryngeals and alternatives

manaster at manaster at
Thu Feb 25 18:45:29 UTC 1999

I don't think our moderator's comment re Pat Ryan's
rejection of the laryngeal theory is quite right,
but that is presumably because I have had the
benefit of Pat explaining to me some of his thinking.

I don't understand it all yet, but Pat can explain
a number of things in his terms which normally are
taken as an argument for the laryngeal theory.  It
is also interesting that his views are quite similar
(though actually superior) to those published by
Shevoroshkin and Kaiser regarding the fate of Nostratic
vowels in PIE.  Superior because he explains
whereas they merely stipulate why (now we
are in their unvierse of discourse, so don't
nobody yell at me for this) it looks as though
Nostratic vowel retained their qualities next to
laryngeals but lost them (merging into *e) elsewhere.
So, without for a minute endorsing these hypotheses,
I must say that I personally don't want to dismiss
them w/o a hearing.

Of course, I also think the difficulty is that we have not had
either Shevoroshkin and Kaiser or Pat present
a detailed point-by-point analysis of the entire
IE system, showing how they handle each of the
so many things that the laryngeal theory handles
so well.  I think until such is offered, we
are free to suppose that their proposals are
not in the ballgame, but if such an analysis
is produced, then we would have to do more
than merely say that the laryngeal theory is
obviously right.

I have no particular view here, except that
I do accept as obviously true the fact that
PIE had "laryngeal" consonants numbering three
but one of my own pet ideas had long been that
there are many languages in which such consonants
can themselves originate from the weakneing of
vowels in certain positions.  Southern Paiute
is a classic example of this, and so I have
an uncompleted draft somewhere entitled
'Where did the laryngeals come from?", which
(in adition to endorsing the old idea that
one or two cases of *H1 come from *d) points out
that many laryngeals could be assumed to come from
the weakening of long vowels and argues that
the old assumption, going back to Mo/ller, that
if PIE is related to something (e.g.,
Afro-Asiatic), then this something will have
consonants corresponding to *H1, *H2, and *H3
is fallacious.  We could just as well find that
the lgs related to IE (if any) would have
long vowels instead.


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