Re: [tied] *es- or *h1es- ?

From: Richard Wordingham
Message: 41157
Date: 2005-10-08

--- In, "etherman23" <etherman23@...> wrote:
> --- In, "Richard Wordingham"
> <richard.wordingham@...> wrote:
> >
> > --- In, "etherman23" <etherman23@...> wrote:
> > >
> > > --- In, "Patrick Ryan"
> > > wrote:
> > > >
> > > > ***
> > > > Patrick:
> > > >
> > > > No PIE root may begin with a vowel.
> > >
> > > That's the standard theory but not a single IE language lacks native
> > > words with initial vowels.
> >
> > I had always understood that Farsi was an IE language. (I don't know
> > whether the Daric variant of Modern Persian has initial vowels; it
> > still has syllable-initial consonant clusters, whereas Farsi doesn't.)
> If Farsi lacks vowel initial words it must be an innovation.

I agree - I presume this is Arab influence rather than Turkic influence.

> The oldest attested languages has vowel initial words.

It depends on what you mean by 'oldest'. If you mean 'oldest' in each
group, then Old English appears to have had initial glottal stops in
stressed words written as beginning with vowels. The evidence for
this is that words beginning with vowels alliterated with one another
in poetry. Without the specifics, which I don't know, this does not
help with unstressed words, which _(e)am_/_(e)om_ 'am' and _is_ 'is'
will have been. Old English may well have been the same as German in
this regard.

I have taken Old English as the oldest Germanic language as I am not
aware of a useful amount of material composed in Gothic.

> > > Hittite, which generally retains
> > > laryngeals, has no attested laryngeal for PIE *es.
> >
> > What attestation could you possibly expect for Hittite if the *h1
> > were a glottal stop? Do we have ancient texts describing the
> > pronunciation of Hittite?
> Do glottal stops have a magical property that they can't have a
> written letter associated with them?

Phonetic cuneiform writing is generally based on symbols having CV, V,
VC or CVC sounds. It does not have pure consonant symbols. The
systems for Hittite derives ultimately from the Sumerian system - it
is not a native creation. This question is therefore irrelevant for
Hittite, but I will answer it regardless.

Another question is how difficult it would be for a scribe to use a
symbol for say 'ek' as both the second part of a syllable and as the
start of a word. I see three pieces of evidence for these questions:

1. In Khmer, one of the first SE Asian languages without vowel initial
words, the Indic letters for initial vowels are used for combination
of glottal stop and vowel, whether word-initial or word internal.
Khmer did not establish new symbols for combinations of glottal stop
and vowels not occurring in Indic languages; instead it analysed
initial a: as initial a plus dependent vowel a:, and therefore the
initial a has become the Khmer letter qa. (Khmer glottal stop being
generally transliterated as 'q'.) The Indic initial vowel letters
generally function as ligatures of qa and vowel, even to the extent of
taking subscript consonants and themselves being subscripted. In some
words the spelling is (or was before Year 0) in free variation between
qa plus vowel and initial vowel letter.

2. In Tagalog, words start with a consonant, be it only a glottal
stop. Glottal stops are not shown in the Tagalog spelling system, be
they initial or final. (By contrast, final glottal stops are written
in Malay, even when they are automatic.) In some Philippine languages
with a tradition of being written in the Roman alphabet, glottal stops
are not shown even though they can occur at the start or end of
consonant clusters.

On the basis of these two instances, the glottal stop does indeed have
the property of not needing a specific consonant when a foreign
writing system is adopted.

3. In the Vai syllabary, a long vowel /aa/ is written as CA + HA where
C is the initial consonant of the syllable. The same goes for the
other long vowels. I am assured that VAI does not have word-initial
glottal stops.

This answers the issue of the functioning of the VC symbols in Hittite.