LINGUIST List 8.1207

Wed Aug 20 1997

Disc: Low Vowels in PIE

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>


  1. Patrick C. Ryan, Re: 8.137, Disc: Low vowels in PIE

Message 1: Re: 8.137, Disc: Low vowels in PIE

Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 18:27:41 +0000
From: Patrick C. Ryan <>
Subject: Re: 8.137, Disc: Low vowels in PIE wrote:

> Subject: 8.137, Disc: Low vowels in PIE
> Editor for this issue: Susan Robinson <>
> =================================Directory==================

> 1)
> Date: Mon, 27 Jan 1997 20:33:15 +0000
> From: "Miguel Carrasquer Vidal" <>
> Subject: Re: 8.113, Sum: Low vowels in PIE

>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.

I am truly surprised that the question of the original vowel quality
of IE <i> and <u> can arise again and again.

There is not a single good argument for not regarding IE <i> and <u>
as reductions from <y> and <w>:

1) If <i> were an IE vowel, why is it that an IE dictionary like
Pokorny has an I-section with two entries (both of which have Slavic
cognates in jV-) BUT 35 entries under y-?

2) If <u> were an IE vowel, why is it that an IE dictionary like
Pokorny has an U-section with eight entries (most of which have Slavic
or Italic cognates in vV-) BUT 141 entries under w-?

3) Compare this to 146 beginning with A- (He) and 95 under E- (He) and
43 und O- (He).

4) If IE <i> or <u> were original, when initial, we would have to
reconstruct Hi/u, the same "laryngeal" that, with <e>, yields IE e-,
i.e. one which does not change the quality of the vowel. It is not
reasonable to Hi and Hu the source of these ten entries (combined) and
attribute the some vowelhood to i/u that e has (95 entries).

5) The 189 entries beginning with A- and O- cannot arise from *Hi or
*Hu (at least no one has seriously suggested this to my knowledge),
therefore must arise from a different combinations of He under
different circumstances. This gives us 284 entries for (H)e as against
10 entries (combined (H)I- and (H)U-), a very strange distribution of

6) I will not bother to cite AA cognates for IE words with CVi(C) or
CVu(C) because many list readers do not accept the Nostratic parentage
of IE and AA but for those who can entertain such a heresy, we find
that IE CVi and CVu correspond to AA CVy/$[ain] and CVw.

7) Typology has been severely abused in this question. Whatever Old
Indian may have been, as we find it, it has one vowel, <a>, and every
other "vowel" is simply derived from a+H/y/w. Why IE could not have
been such a language, in which the H/w/y had not yet been resolved
into other vowel qualities (a:/e:/o:/i/u, etc.) simply escapes me.

Pat Ryan

 (501) 227-9947; FAX/DATA (501)312-9947
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 hvers hann af rotum renn.' * (Havamal 138)

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