Greek question & the pre-history of *nekwt

Patrick C. Ryan proto-language at
Sat Feb 27 04:57:58 UTC 1999

Dear Rich and IEists:

-----Original Message-----
From: Patrick C. Ryan <proto-language at>
Date: Friday, February 26, 1999 5:18 PM

>This is neatly explained by *negh-w-, the *-w- of which apparently in
>carried over into the first syllable in some cases in Greek (perhaps
>through -*gw-). In any case, you have to be able to explain the -u- of the

>[ Moderator's comment:
>  But the stem in question has a labiovelar, not a palatal+labial cluster.
>  And Cowgill's Law explains the development of *o > u quite nicely.
>  --rma ]

I know of no reflex that suggests a palatal (^) + labial combination. Are you
suggesting that I am considering g[^]h-w-? I am not. I think -gh-w- is still
the likeliest termination.

[ Moderator's comment:
  Perhaps I am confused about what you mean when you write <gh-w->:  To me,
  this suggests a segment *gh followed by a segment *w, especially when you
  write about the latter being "carried over into the first syllable".  My
  point is that the symbol used in all Indo-Europeanist literature which is
  not limited to ASCII has a superscript <w>, which in my TeX-influenced way
  I would write as *g{^w}h (or less preferably *gh{^w}).  I'm afraid that the
  sloppy manner in which labiovelars get written has misled you into thinking
  that the -u- of the Greek word _nuks, nuktos_ is metathesized from after a
  palatal (or simple velar, if you allow three series of dorsals).
  --rma ]

But, let me ask a question: are you saying that Hittite does *not* suggest
that the final element before the [w], glide or extension, was voiced? That
is a perfectly legtimate position but I was not aware it was very
well-represented these days.

[ Moderator's response:
  I've not addressed this issue before.  Sturtvant himself noted a *tendency*
  for single vs. double writing of (mostly voiceless) stops to correspond to
  a voiced vs. voiceless distinction in the rest of Indo-European (or, as he
  would have it, in Indo-European proper).  However, as I remember what he
  said about Hittite _nekuz_, he considered the spelling <ku> to represent a
  labiovelar which could not otherwise be written in cuneiform--and since it
  thus appears before another consonant, the single/double writing tendency
  would not be germane.
  --rma ]


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