Three-Way Contrast of Secondary Articulations in PIE

proto-language proto-language at
Sun Mar 11 04:50:47 UTC 2001

Dear Rich and IEists:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Rich Alderson" <alderson+mail at>
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 8:36 PM


> 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.

But is not /I-/ a high/mid central vowel? opposed to /a/, a low central vowel.

I would be inclined to regard /I-/ as an allophone of /a/ in specified
phonological environments.

As you rightly observe, vocalic contrasts are the common pattern in the world's
languages but the commonest contrast set is front-central-back.

> 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.)

I still harbor the feeling that Lehmann was correct; and I have written to that
effect extensively on this list and at my website.

Without rehearsing my arguments, why do you not tell us a few IE words in which
you believe /i/ and /u/ are primary?


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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