LINGUIST List 16.451

Tue Feb 15 2005

Qs: Indo-European Palatals; English/Romantic 'you'

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        1.    Andrew Jarrette, Indo-European Palatals Versus Velars
        2.    Patrick Novak, English and Romantic Use of

Message 1: Indo-European Palatals Versus Velars

Date: 11-Feb-2005
From: Andrew Jarrette <>
Subject: Indo-European Palatals Versus Velars

I am aware that there is disagreement among the major scholars of the past
and present as to whether Proto-Indo-European actually had a series of
palatal consonants that was distinguished from an entirely separate velar
series. Some scholars say that there was only one series, and it was
probably velar, the palatal sounds having arisen later in the satem
languages. The problem with this is that the satem languages display
palatals in the vicinity of both front and back vowels, and even before
other consonants. Hence the palatalization seems to be independent of
surrounding sounds. This would suggest that either the consonants in
question were palatal to begin with, or they were palatalized in all
environments, independent of neighbouring sounds. The latter strikes me as

But evidence for an independent velar series is also not very convincing,
as those posited as having original velars by e.g. Julius Pokorny or Stuart
Mann are often rather uncommon words which might not be actual cognates,
they just chance to resemble each other. Often they are designated as
velars where the languages which have apparent cognates are not languages
that distinguish palatals from velars, i.e. are centum languages and
therefore the consonants could have been velar or palatal. In many cases
where the centum languages have non-labialized velars and the satem
languages have apparent cognates with velars rather than palatals, the
consonants in question are followed by *a, which suggests that the
consonants may have had velar allophones before this vowel (or contrarily
*a may have been an allophone of *e or *o in the vicinity of original
velars - but Stuart Mann has evidence of palatals occurring before *a as
well). Also it is sometimes pointed out that words that seem to have velar
consonants in both the centum and satem languages are often before or after
*u, or before *r. Nevertheless, Mann supplies examples of cognates that
point to palatals occurring before and after *u, thus negating the
proposition that velars in this position were allophones of the palatals.
Some of these examples seem to show alternation between palatals and
velars, as for example Sanskrit rokas "light, brilliance" vs. rushat
"bright" (I use sh to represent the palatal fricative of Sanskrit, since I
cannot produce diacritics with my email provider), the former indicating an
original velar, the latter an original palatal. So perhaps at some time in
the history of the satem languages there was only one series of
nonlabialized gutturals, which developed palatal and velar allophones,
either of which became generalized, sometimes in environments that did not
seem conducive to the allophone adopted. It is noteworthy also that in
Stuart Mann's lengthy dictionary of Indo-European cognates, velar *k is
almost never contrastive to palatal *k'. The two seem to be in an almost
complementary distribution, and the same seems to be the case for *g versus
*g' and *gh versus *g'h. I suspect that one might observe the same
phenomenon in Pokorny's Indo-European vocabulary.

My question is, has the question of whether Proto-Indo-European actually
had both palatals and velars (in addition to the separate labiovelars) been
settled as of yet? What is current accepted thinking on this question? I
know many recent scholars seriously question the veracity of an original
palatal series, yet in their reconstructions many continue to use the
symbols for palatal consonants out of deference to the classical paradigm
of consonants that included original palatals. I agree with those who
argue that in a primitive form of speech velars are much more likely to be
original than are palatals. They also point out that among the firmest
cognates there is a preponderance of palatals over velars, which is not to
be expected given the incidence of palatals in modern and attested ancient
languages. In other words, it simply "feels right" that
Proto-Indo-European should have had only velars (beside the labiovelars),
which developed palatal varieties later in the history of the satem
languages, but not in the centum languages. But there is little solid
evidence to back this view, it is still more of a suspicion than a doctrine.

Has there been any resolution of this issue?

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Language Family(ies): Indo-European

Message 2: English and Romantic Use of

Date: 13-Feb-2005
From: Patrick Novak <>
Subject: English and Romantic Use of

I am in search of literary/research sources/references regarding the
comparison of Romantic ''yous'' (e.g.: Fr. ''vous'' vs. ''tu'') to English,
which now uses only ''you'' - once ''thou'' and ''you''. My academic paper
(independent study) will focus on - but is not limited to - comparison of
English/Romantic use of ''you'' at the lexical and syntactic levels, including

Formal and informal register
Cellular phone chat
Non-standard colloquial (AAVE, etc.)
Chatspeak, such as ''RUOK?'' and e-guffaw ''LOL!''
Verb tailoring, such as ''you gonna''
''You'' deletion: ''Going with me?''
and, of course, simply using improper grammar, e.g., ''you and me.''

I must also incorporate authentic text, and plan to use the genre of
poetry, given that the motivation to write a poem is not much different to
than the motivation to personally relate to the reader with oral speech.
As such, I am also on a hunt for modern poems that incorporate such

Lastly, it would be best if I could cite ''real English''-type grammar
books that offer prescriptive rules for informal register, and what not.
Every book advertised on the Internet claims to be an authority in this
matter. Please let me know of any good books that would offer prescriptive
grammar rules at the lexical/syntactic levels.

Any help is appreciated.

Thank You,
Patrick C. Novak
Graduate Student, Linguistics
Southern Illinois University

Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics
                            Text/Corpus Linguistics

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