LINGUIST List 8.137

Thu Jan 30 1997

Disc: Low vowels in PIE

Editor for this issue: Susan Robinson <suelinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Miguel Carrasquer Vidal, Re: 8.113, Sum: Low vowels in PIE
  2. Peter Daniels, Re: 8.113, Sum: Low vowels in PIE

Message 1: Re: 8.113, Sum: Low vowels in PIE

Date: Mon, 27 Jan 1997 20:33:15 +0000
From: Miguel Carrasquer Vidal <mcvpi.net>
Subject: Re: 8.113, Sum: Low vowels in PIE

A short comment Steven Schaufele's summary:

> This relevant distinction was brought up by another
> respondent, who noted that, at least in terms of its impact on Indo-
> Europeanist studies, in spite of its title Lubotsky's paper really
> addresses the question of the existence in PIE of an actual phonetic
> [a], not a phoneme /a/. (Obviously, if PIE really was a monovocalic
> language it would, by definition, be meaningless to ask whether it had
> a `phoneme' /a/, as distinct from a `phoneme' /i/, /u/, /e/, or /o/;
> it would be more accurate to say that it had a `phoneme' /V/, or
> /+vocalic/, or something like that.)

Actually this respondent (i.e. me) had not thought of that.
It is of course a completely valid point if PIE ever had a single 
vowel phone. 

My criticism of Lubotsky's paper's title ("Against a PIE phoneme *a") 
was in fact that what Lubotsky actually tried to disprove was the 
existence of the reconstructed entity *a (however it was pronounced), 
not whether PIE had a phoneme /a/. IF we accept Lubotsky's 
argument, PIE is left with two vowels *e and *o (besides *i and *u). 
Such a reconstruction cannot be attacked on typological grounds for 
its lack of /a/, since one of the two (*o is the obvious choice) can 
be allowed a phonological realization /a/ with no change at all from 
the comparative point of view. *a is not the same as /a/.

If we further merge *e and *o into a pre-Ablaut **a, Pre-PIE still 
emerges with a three vowel system (**a, **i, **u). There is no 
reason to deny *i and *u vowelhood before the emergence of Ablaut 
(IF there is after Ablaut). In conclusion: (Pre-)PIE never had a 
single vowel "phoneme". Not only is it typologically implausible, it 
does not follow from the reconstruction.

- --------------------------
Miguel Carrasquer Vidal
mcvpi.net
- --------------------------
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Message 2: Re: 8.113, Sum: Low vowels in PIE

Date: Mon, 27 Jan 1997 22:43:07 -0600
From: Peter Daniels <pdanielspress-gopher.uchicago.edu>
Subject: Re: 8.113, Sum: Low vowels in PIE

Szemerenyi's Einfuehrung is about to be published in English
translation by Oxford University Press. The announced price is rather
high, but not, I think, as high as the present US price of the German
original.
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