Re: [tied] Sanskrit /r/

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 7732
Date: 2001-06-23

As X-ray images show, the contrast in Swedish is between laminal dentals and apical postalveolars. The latter are only moderately "retroflex" (not distinctively subapical, at any rate):
Languages in which coronal obstruents and nasals are typically dental rather than alveolar often show allophonic retraction and apicalisation next to an /r/ (for physiological reasons a dental trill or tap is ruled out, so the anterior-most coronal trills are alveolar, and apical rather than laminal). The retracted allophones may be phonologised in the right circumstances. In Swedish, therefore, /r/ patterns with the "retroflex" sounds, all of them being apical and retracted with respect to the dental series.
Perhaps Old Indic was like that, too. The question is really just how retroflex the "cerebrals" were. In terms of distinctive features, the most important difference between them and the "dentals" was that the latter (as well and the "palatals") were laminal. Phonologically, the "cerebrals" were in the same class as /r/, so if they were emphatically retroflex (subapical), it's likely that /r/ was also truly retroflex. If they were alveolar or postalveolar but not strongly retroflex, neither was /r/. At any rate, the fact that /r/ was an active participant of consonant-harmony processes suggests that it had at least one marked feature capable of spreading -- it was [+X], where X was whatever made the cerebrals cerebral (dentals being [-X]).
Lastly, different dialects of Old Indo-Aryan may have had different degrees of retroflexion and different r-sounds. English shows that most varieties of rhotics known to phoneticians can be found in accents of one and the same language. :))
----- Original Message -----
From: Miguel Carrasquer Vidal
Sent: Saturday, June 23, 2001 5:57 PM
Subject: Re: [tied] Sanskrit /r/

On Sat, 23 Jun 2001 10:35:20 +0200, "Piotr Gasiorowski"
<gpiotr@...> wrote:

>But postalveolar sounds are made behind the upper teeth as well. If the flapped or tapped /r/ was retracted but not subapical,
>and if the retroflex variant was only slightly so, how would a naive observer have known the difference? I think the phonological
>argument remains very strong: /r/ triggers retroflex place assimilation

So does Swedish /r/.  Is the Swedish phoneme alveolar or retroflex?

>as well as retroflex consonant harmony across an
>intervening vowel. I can't imagine an ordinary alveolar doing such things.