Three-Way Contrast of Secondary Articulations in PIE

Hans-Werner Hatting hwhatting at
Mon Apr 9 15:13:39 UTC 2001

On Mon, 2 Apr 2001 22:41:34 -0500, David l. White wrote:

>So the question is, in a language with palatalized, labio-velarized, and
>"plain" consonants, what would a speaker's tongue be doing as the syllable
>/pi/, with "plain /p/", was produced?  It would have to be doing something
>other than anticipating [i] in the normal manner, or confusion with
>palatalized /p/ would be inevitable.  Putting the tongue in the position for
>[a] would result in the clearest contrast.  Or, to put it (yet) another way,
>with labials secondary articulations can hardly be realized as anything other
>than super-short diphthongs (rising or falling).  Thus /ap'i/ with palatalized
>/p/ would have to sound something like [aip] (with super-short [i]), or the
>palatalization would not be perceptible.  /ap/ with "plain" /p/ would sound
>like [ap], and /ip' with palatalized /p/ would sound like [ip].  But /ip/ with
>"plain /p/ would have to sound something like [iap].  And /pi/ with "plain"
>/p/ would have to sound something like [pai] (with rising "diphthong"],
>otherwise normal anticipation of /i/ would make it sound like /p'i/.

There's another possibility: one can shift the vowels. You mentioned Russian
before in your post. Here, we have two series of consonants - a palatised
one and a non-palatised one, with vowels realised as different allophones
depending on the preceding consonant (and to some degree also depending on
the following consonant). After a palatised consonant, /i/ is realised as
something close to IPA /i/, while after non-palatised consonants it is
realised as `barred i'. Concerning palatalisation of labials in the auslaut
position, at least Russians are able to articulate it * after * the
consonant - it's something like a slight jotation <golub'> "pigeon" is
pronounced /go'lubj/. There is no glide between /u/ and /b'/, but /u/ is
fronted a bit.

But you are right to postulate that it is hard to maintain the distinction -
e.g., Polish has lost the palatal - non-palatal distinction of labials in
absolute auslaut, while maintaining it with labials in other positions.

Best regards,
Hans-Werner Hatting

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