Dating the sound change s>h in Indo-Iranian

From: S.Kalyanaraman
Message: 8534
Date: 2001-08-15

On dating the sound change s>h in Iran and Indo-Iranian borderlands:
a simple hypothesis can be that 's' was not unknown in ancient Iran
and the sound change s>h occurred in terms BORROWED from languages of
Indo-Aryan and Assyria, in general and the words of the R.gveda in
particular. Any number of parallels can be cited for this change as
seen from many texts: R.gveda>Avesta in the tradition and evolution
of Zoroastrian faith.

Let me cite from a 1996 paper by Almut Hintze who argues against
Burrow and Witzel and in favour of his thesis that a sound change s>h
occurred nearer 1500 BCE which affected the whole of Proto-Iranian
and that the presence of Iranian people in East Iran in the middle of
the second millennium BCE is suggested by both archaeological and
linguistic evidence:

"This hypothesis (i.e. emergence of the Bactria-Margiana
Archaeological Complex was caused by the appearance of Indo-Iranian
speakers, of Proto-Indo-Aryans in particular) could find some support
from hydronomy. A number of geographical names of the R.gveda,
especially river names, corresponds to etymologically related names
in Avestan and Old Persian. These names are the Vedic river Rasa_, a
tributary of the Indus, which has its etymological equivalent in the
Avestan name of the semi-mythical Ranha_. [While Boyce, M., 1989, A
History of Zoroastrianism, Vol. I: The Early Period. Leiden/New York,
Brill (Handbuch der Orientalistik I, p. 144 identifies the
Avestan Ranha_ with the Jaxartes, Gnoli Gh., 1980, Zoroaster's Time
and Homeland. 'A study on the origins of Mazdeism and Related
problems. Naples, Istituto Universitario Orientale, seminario di
studi asiatici, Series Minor VII, p. 64 locates it 'between the
Ka_bul and the Kurram, in the region where it seems likely that the
Vedic River Rasa_ flowed.'] Apart from this, there are also two Vedic
river names, whose Avestan equivalents denote a district.
[The principles of transposition of toponyms have been studied, with
special reference to Iran, by Eilers, W., 1977, 'Einige Prinzipien
toponymischer Ubertragung', Onoma 21, pp. 277-317].One of them is
Vedic Sarayu, a river flowing into the Ganges, the Sarju-river of
today. Its correspondent in Iranian is the thematic formation YAv
Haro_iuua, OP Haraiva (<*Saraiua), NP Hare_, the present day region
of Herat. The Vedic river name Sarasvati_ has its equivalent in Av.
Haraxvaiti_, OP Harauvatis, the name of the country Arachosia. By
contract, Ved. Sindhu and its Iranian correspondent YAv. Hindu or
Hen.du and OP Hindu denote the same geographic entity, namely the
country and its river. [As was shown by Hoffmann in several
publications, the Av. form haraxvaiti instead of *haranvhaiti
contains an Arachotic dialectical feature, which is also reflected in
the Elamite writing Har-ku-(ut)-ti und har-ku-(ut)-tis. see R.
Schmitt, R., 1974, 'Neue Wege zum Altpersischen', Gottinger
Gelehrte Anzeigen 226, p. 101 n. 15; K. Hoffmann, K., 1976, Aufsatze
zur Indoiranistik, vol. 2, Weisbaden, Reichert, p. 641. Eilers 1977,
p. 288 assumes that haraxvaiti was primarily a river name which was
used later also for the country.][In RV 10.64.9 the three river names
Sarasvati_, Sarayu and Sindhu occur next to each other. The Vedic
expression sapta sindhavah (RV 8.24.27) corresponds to Av. hapta
hendu (Vd. 1.18).] ...there are many words in East-Iranian dialects
beginning with s- (<PIE *k) before a vowel. On the other hand, even
less convincing is the assumption that Proto-Indo-Aryans and Iranians
would have given the names to these places independently from each
other. It cannot be excluded that names such as sarasvati_ and, as it
was argued for (by Thieme, P., 1970, Sanskrit sindhu-/Sindhu- and
Old Iranian hindu-/Hindu-' in: WB Henning Memorial Volume, ex. M.
Boyce and I. Gershevitch, London, Lund Humphries, pp. 447-450) sindhu
were common nouns of Indo-Iranian stock which underwent the regular
phonological developments in the separate Indo-Aryan and Iranian
branches. Neither can it be ruled out that they, like e.g. the
cognates of Vedic da_nu in Europe, could have been applied to
different rivers at any place or time. Yet the fact that such names
cluster in the borderlands between India and Iran is the strongest
argument against this model. There remains, then, only the possibility
that the sound change s>h was still in progress at the time when the
Proto-Iranians moved forward from north-east to south-east Iran, and
took over the place names from the Proto-Indo-Aryan population. In
one of his earliest articles, Karl Hoffmann made such an assumption
with reference to the name hindu-. He maintained that the pan-Iranian
sound change s to h must still have been productive when the Iranians
came in contact with India. [Hoffmann, K., 1940, 'Vedische Namen',
Worter und Sachen 21, pp. 139-161 (=1975, p. 14) remarks that the
Iranian form hindu- for Rigvedic sindhu- is chronologically relevant,
because it underwent the pan-Iranian sound change s>h. He
concludes: 'Da dieser Lautwandel gesamtiranisch ist und deshalb
relativ alt sein muB,weist dies auf eine ziemlich fruhe
Bekanntischaft der Iranier mit Indien hin. Wenn wir das in Betracht
ziehen, kommen wir in die Zeit des R.gveda'.] This would then also be
true for the names IIr. *sarasvati_ and *saraiua-.

"While the names haraxvaiti_-/sarasvati_- and haro_iuua-/sarayu-
refer to different localities in India and Iran, the Iranian and Indo-
Aryan names hindu-/sindhu- refer to the same geographical
entity (the Indus-river or the Indus-area). This implies that the
Iranian sound change s>h had not been completed yet when the Indo-
Aryans moved into India and named the river. [Szemerenyi, O.,
1966, 'Iranica II', Sprache 12, p. 192f]." [Hintze, A., 'The
migrations of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranian sound change s > h' in:
Akten der X. Fachtagung der Indogermanischen Gesellschaft, Innsbruck,
22-28 September 1996, Innsbrucker Beitreage zur Sprachwissenschaft,
Bd. 93].

Is it likely that the sound change occurred only in 'borrowed' words?