Three-Way Contrast of Secondary Articulations in PIE

Rich Alderson alderson+mail at
Tue Apr 10 02:28:51 UTC 2001

On 2 Apr 2001, David L. White wrote:

> I am not concerned with phonological theory (and running out of energy, under
> the delusion that I am perhaps getting a life).

Ah.  Therein, I believe, lies our apparent problem.  I am very much concerned
with phonological theory, accepting that our reconstructions must as far as we
can possibly arrange it be phonologically acceptable.

> And if I have adopted a phonological theory that does not allow negatives, it
> is news to me.

My apologies.  I got carried away.

> "Not having secondary articulations" to my mind means "having normal
> coarticulation".  By "normal" is meant what is most energetically efficient,
> as in fronting velars to some (variable) extent before front vowels, doing a
> bit of anticipatory rounding before round vowels, etc.  (The lips take a
> while to get going, which is why u-umlaut in Norse has a longer leftward
> range than i-umlaut.)

Having read the remainder of your posting, it becomes clear to me that we are
speaking of two different level, the phonetic and the phonological.  Your
concerns are entirely valid at a phonetic level; at the level of phonology,
they appear to me to be moot, since no two languages have the same phonological
system, though all are subject ot the same phonetic processes and contraints.

In the languages in question (Abkhaz, Kabardian, Ubykh, Lehmann's earliest pre-
PIE), *there* *is* *no* phoneme /i/ or /u/ to trigger coarticulation of the
sort you have in mind.  Rather, the impoverished vowel system has a wide range
of allophonic variation triggered by the secondary articulations on neighbour-
ing obstruents.

And I think that such languages have little to say to the Old Irish situation,
now that we make that distinction.

								Rich Alderson

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