Three-Way Contrast of Secondary Articulations in PIE

proto-language proto-language at
Wed Apr 18 14:20:05 UTC 2001

Dear David and IEists:

----- Original Message -----
From: "David L. White" <dlwhite at>
Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2001 4:05 PM


> I think something similar happened with the retroflex series in
> Sanskrit, for as I hinted recently, it seems there is no good internal cause
> for this to have become phonemic.  The "phonemicness" in both cases is, I
> suggest, carried over from sub-strate.


I would differ here. The problem for Old Indian was that Nostratic [a], [e],
and [o] all became [a]. Obviously, this entailed a substantial loss of semantic
integrity. Modifying some apicals to a retroflex articulation helped
disambiguate somewhat since they indicated a Nostratic root with [o] not [a] or
[e]; in exactly the same way, dorsals were palatalized before Nostratic [e] but
not [a] or [o]. These were small helps to keep original CaC, CeC, and CoC roots


PATRICK C. RYAN | PROTO-LANGUAGE at (501) 227-9947 * 9115 W. 34th
St. Little Rock, AR 72204-4441 USA WEBPAGES: PROTO-LANGUAGE: and PROTO-RELIGION: "Veit ec
at ec hecc, vindgá meiði a netr allar nío, geiri vndaþr . . . a þeim
meiþi, er mangi veit, hvers hann af rótom renn." (Hávamál 138)

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