LINGUIST List 7.1735

Mon Dec 9 1996

Disc: Tonkawa, Zuni & Vocabulary Comparison

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  1. John E. Koontz, Re: 7.1654, Disc: Tonkawa, Zuni & Vocabulary Comparison

Message 1: Re: 7.1654, Disc: Tonkawa, Zuni & Vocabulary Comparison

Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 09:01:38 MST
From: John E. Koontz <>
Subject: Re: 7.1654, Disc: Tonkawa, Zuni & Vocabulary Comparison
Lloyd Anderson ( writes:

>Similarly, among "towo", "tio", and "ter", the first two are much
>closer, as there is a match of one vowel, and the intervening
>semivowel "w" can easily drop. A greater change would be the
>loss of "r", which is quite likely to not be AS weak a consonant
>as a semivowel between vowels. If we had to choose one of the
>three as intermediate, it would be "tio" with palatal vowel "i"
>possibly matching the "e" of "ter" it would not be "towo", which
>is nearly at an opposite extreme from palatality. (Perhaps some
>kind of an "r" could have yielded a darkening of the end of a
>vowel, cognate with the "o" of "tio"???)

With deference to Anderson's wide experience, I'd like to state,
based on my own experience of American languages, especially
Siouan, though I believe there are similar developments elsewhere
- e.g., Caddoan, Algonquian, Athabascan - there are many
languages in which r and y are not in contrast, or function as
related sounds, and in such languages an r (or even an n) often
functions as the epenthetic palatal semivowel in such sequences
as io. For example, cf. the adverbial + adverbial sequence in
verb initial position in Mississippi Valley Siouan *iro-,
attested in Teton iyo- : Omaha-Ponca udhu- (dh = edh,
functionally an r) : Hochank hiro- < Proto-Mississippi Valley i
APPLICATIVE + o LOCATIVE. In this case Teton y is actually the
regular development of *r, *y becoming *c^h. Omaha-Ponca edh is
from *r, *y becoming z^. In Hochank *r and *r fall together as
r, a common circumstance in Siouan. (There are several such
epenthetic *r sets across the sub-family, and a number of
additional unreconstructable reflexes in each modern dialect
group. Other sets include the parallel *ira- < *i + *a
SUPERESSIVE, and -*rE in the causative.)

The point is, though even I would prefer *y as the epenthetic
semivowel here, within Proto-Mississippi Valley Siouan it was
clearly *r, even with *y available. I rather suspect an original
**y was tapped in intervocalic position, but except, perhaps, in
second person pronominals, where Proto-Siouan *ya, etc., switch
arbitrarily to PMV *ra, etc., but without a consistent
conditioning previous high vowel, there is no actual evidence for
such a **y: *r is all that it "attested," and I take any **y from
naturalistic conceptions and internal reconstruction, not

John E. Koontz
NIST:CAML:DCISD 887.01 (Devaney); Boulder, CO
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