Three-Way Contrast of Secondary Articulations in PIE

Robert Orr colkitto at
Sat Mar 10 18:33:58 UTC 2001

Somewhere (I think in a recent edition of Folia Linguistica Historiographca)
Alexis Manaster Ramer suggests a similar analysis for Gothic, Arabic, etc.

But perhaps this is an artifact of the method, rather than anythng about the
actual language(s).

Robert Orr

-----Original Message-----
From: Rich Alderson <alderson+mail at>
Date: Saturday, March 10, 2001 5:45 AM

>In response to the presence of palatalization and labialization in NW
>Caucasian languages in combination with small vowel inventories, David L.
>White wrote on 2 Mar 2001:

>> Fair enough, but what we need is a THREE-way contrast of palatalization,
>>labio-velarization, and whatever "[a]-quality" would be called, probably
>>"uvularization", a problem being that no such thing as uvularization (as far
>>as I know) occurs.

>This sort of thing occurs in Abaza/Abkhaz, Adyghe/Kabardian, and Ubykh.  One
>reasonably accessible account is Aert Kuipers' monograph on Kabardian in the
>_Janua Linguarum Series Minor_, in which he first analyses three series in the
>obstruent system (palatalized, labialized, and plain) which cause rounding and
>fronting in the single vowel.

>He then proceeds to re-analyze the plain series as having a feature "open",
>which he symbolizes with a superscript <a> to match the superscript <j> and
><w> of the palatalized and labialized series respectively, and postulates that
>with the addition of this feature, we need not have any phonemic vowel at all
>in Kabardian.

>This analysis flies in the face of everything we know about permissible phono-
>logical systems and naturalness.

>Later studies of the language have found that the proper analysis requires
>that there be two vowels, /a/ and /I-/ ("barred i").  The major proponent of
>this analysis is, as I recall, John Colarusso; see his grammar of Kabardian
>for more details.

>25 years ago, I used Kuipers, W. S. Allen on Abaza, and Dum'ezil on Ubykh as
>the props for a completely improper analysis of the IE vowel system, as I then
>saw it based on Lehmann's monovocalic analysis.  (It took me nearly 15 years
>to see where Lehmann and I had got it all wrong:  *i and *u are primary, not
>*y and *w.)

>In my opinion, we can put this notion aside for PIE.

> Rich Alderson

>"Of course, that's just my opinion--I could be wrong."  --Dennis Miller

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