Munda in Early NW India

Douglas G Kilday acnasvers at
Tue Apr 17 04:41:14 UTC 2001

Patrick C. Ryan (6 Apr 2001) wrote:

>An alternative view might be that (agreeing with Miguel), Nostratic had only
>voiceless obstruents but that they patterned as glottalized stop (*b),
>aspirated stop (*p), glottalized affricate (*bh), aspirated affricate (*ph) -
>typologically, few problems that I can see.

Not being a licensed typologist, I must ask how frequently one finds a
system with two series of affricates and no plain fricatives (or just one,
if /s/ was already hissing around in this view).

>In view of the affricates in many derived IE languages, I am amazed that
>IEists seem so unwilling to entertain the idea of affricates as a part of the
>earliest system.

The same goes for plain fricatives. For decades we've been told that PIE had
only /s/, with [s] and [z] as allophones. How realistic is this? A language
with an inventory of stops comparable to Sanskrit ought to have 3 or 4
distinct fricatives in addition to /h/.

This brings up another point. What are "laryngeals" supposed to be, if not
glottal fricatives? How realistic is a system with 4 or more distinct
(choke!) laryngeals and only one oral fricative? In "real life", [h] is
commonly the last stage in the life-cycle of an unvoiced fricative. It seems
the pileup of laryngeals in PIE owes more to the methodology of
reconstruction than to the actual habits of PIE-speakers. Unvoiced
fricatives not surviving as sibilants in attested IE are reconstructed in
their terminal state and given a numeral subscript.

Voiced fricatives, if there were any in PIE, presumably underwent rhotacism
or fortition. OTOH if the traditional (Brugmannian) voiced aspirates were
"really" voiced fricatives, the transition to voiced aspirates in Indic
could be viewed as systematic substrate-induced fortition, if the
Munda-substrate hypothesis is in the ballpark. Hellenic would require a
similar step, but here the substrate did not distinguish voicing in its
aspirate series, so nothing blocked the new aspirates from being devoiced
(which happens anyway to the "old" voiced aspirates in the traditional view
of Greek).

>It seems to me that the fricative element of the affricates has become [h] so
>that the distinction could be maintained in the glottalized series but was
>lost in the aspirated series.

Under this proposal, either the fricative element must detach itself from
the plosive element and move back toward the larynx, or [h] must arise as a
secondary articulation of the fricative element which supplants the primary
one. The former process would require some serious lingual acrobatics during
intermediate stages. The latter process is quite common with plain
fricatives and motivates my argument above. But affricates, at least in
Germanic, seem to follow the reverse behavior: a plain stop [p] becomes
aspirated to [ph], then affricated to [pf]. Of course, as a native
Germanic-speaker accustomed to heavy stress-accent and non-phonemic
aspiration, I may be over-generalizing the familiar.


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