Me, on the early Late IE schwa:
>The *e/*o alternation is, as I already mentioned, the product of a
>single vowel in early Late IE, *@ (schwa), becoming long before voiced
>segments. The lengthened schwa ultimately became *o.
>Why is this influence of voiced segments only seen in the thematic vowel?
The "thematic vowel" is the early Late IE schwa. The schwa was the
"reduced" vowel, so it was phonemically shortest. The length of a
long schwa was probably not on a par with the full long vowels like
*e: or *o:.
To be more exact, if you wish, I mean a difference between plain and
_half-long_ (marked with a single dot in IPA). The phenomenon of
half-lengthening before voiced segments is mirrored in English, but
in English the half-long variants are still allophonic with the plain, afaik
(eg: /bA.g/ "bag" versus /bA?k/ "back". In IE, the plain and half-long
schwas eventually became distinct, going their seperate ways. Perhaps
this is the path English will eventually take.
The process could conceivably have affected the full short vowels in
Late IE, giving them half-long variants on the phonemic level as well
-- I didn't say otherwise. However, I don't go into the topic of half-long
full vowels because I see no direct evidence of it as of yet. Though, it
would be a natural conclusion from this idea, I admit.
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