Re: Satem shift

From: tgpedersen@...
Message: 8633
Date: 2001-08-21

--- In cybalist@..., "Piotr Gasiorowski" <gpiotr@...> wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: tgpedersen@...
> --- In cybalist@..., "Piotr Gasiorowski" <gpiotr@...> wrote:
> > Your "regularisation of paradigms" has nothing to do with either
> > change. They are phonological, not morphophonological.
> [Torsten:] Phonology and morphophonology may have different numbers
in the Dewey
> decimal system, but rules of either type have one thing in common:
> they affect words.
> [Piotr:] Actually, phonological change affects segmental and
environment. It may be sensitive to word boundaries and word-internal
morphological boundaries but is not conditioned lexically or
semantically (i.e., it doesn't affect names of animals as opposed to
names of plants, or adjectives as opposed to adverbs, or nominatives
as opposed to genitives). Morphophonological change such is analogy-
driven and usually consists in the levelling-out of irregularities
created by earlier phonological changes. Irregularities arise
precisely because phonological change is blind to paradigmatic
patterns and tend to play havoc with them.

I never disputed that phonological and morphophonological changes
have different causes. I just don't see why that distinction should
be relevant to my proposal.

> > > But the whole raison d' for the *k-series, distinct from the
> > and
> > > *kW, apart from the inconclusive Albanian evidence, was that
> > > went *s in some satem-languages and *k in others? Which is
> exactly
> > > what you would expect with a sloppy pre-literate generalisation?
> > I don't think you understand the Satem developments. The *k
> > did not change into sibilants anywhere.
> [Torsten:] I don't think you understood what I'm saying. The *k-
series does not
> change into sibilants anywhere because it was posited to account
> the cases where centum -k- corresponds to satem -k-. Arguing for
> reason d' of something assuming the existence of that something is
> called begging the question, and that's what you're doing here.
> [Piotr:] Your original wording (cited above) was hardly helpful.
What does "they" refer to?

I recall from my English grammar book in the Gymnasium: "the
police ... they" as an example of a plural pronoun referring to a
singular, but collective noun.

The procedure that leads to reconstructing the *K series is the
standard application of the comparative method. The method is not
foolproof and MAY lead to an erroneous reconstruction of phantom
three-way contrasts (cautionary examples are given in most handbooks
of historical linguistics) in cases where there happens to be a
mismatch between two-way contrasts in the daughter languages and no
daughter language shows clear traces of three different series.
Because of this danger, many IEists are sceptical about
reconstructing three series rather than two. So was I, until I
reconsidered the evidence. (See below.)
I checked with Møller (of course) and found (surprise!) that he had
raised the question himself, whether (the "vor-indogermanisch-
semitisch" ancestor of) plain /k/ didn't cause the following /e/ in
Latin to become /a/.
H. Møller:
"Semitisch und Indogermanisch"
Kopenhagen 1906
p 231 footnote
and who am I to argue?

> > The reason why we reconstruct
> > *k as distinct from *k^ and *kW is that some instances of Satem
> > correspond to *k, not *kW, outside the Satem group. There are
> > more recently discovered "triple reflexes" of the three series
> > in "centum" languages; perhaps the most convincing case is Latin
> > (Schrijver 1991, discussed here ca. 3500 messages ago).
> [Tortsten:] I checked the discussion, and you didn't seem much
convinced then,
> but you are now?
> [Piotr:] Yes, more than I was at that stage of the dispute. I'm
more optimistic now about the reality of the three-way contrast. If
you read the rest of the thread in question, you'd see how I
gradually abandoned much of my former scepticism. Peter and Miguel
offered some good arguments for the independent existence of the *K
series, and I accepted them. While it is clear that many Baltic and
Slavic *K's are due to messy development, interdialectal borrowing
and special phonetic conditioning, there also seems to be an
irreducible residue of "original" *K's justifying the multiplication
of dorsal phonemes in PIE.
> [Torsten:] Since you didn't understand it the first time, I'll be
nice and
> explain again my idea of how VASTLY, ENORMOUSLY banal, trivial
> palatalisation, and after that paradigm regularisation might
> for the centum/satem phenomenon.
> In the followig, WLG (without loss of generality) let k stand for
> g, gh (pre-glottalic theory).
> Assume we have two k-series: *k and *kW
> Most word are inflected in PIE. As to vowel, they can have e-grade,
> grade and zero grade (I'll leave out the extended grades; the
> important thing here is the front/back feature). So we have in a
> paradigm:
> CeC-
> CoC-
> CC-
> or, in the case the first is a velar stop:
> keC-
> koC-
> kC-
> which becomes, by palatalisation
> c^eC-
> koC-
> kC-
> Suddenly, social upheaval. The word-smiths and druids are killed
> they fall out over some grammatical or other silly question; other,
> more serious reasons are of course more likely). Two groups arise.
> One generalizes the /k/. They are centum people.
> keC-
> koC-
> kC-
> Another generalizes the /c^/. They are satem people:
> c^eC-
> c^oC-
> c^C-
> And they take the c^ futher down the road towards s^ and s.
> But, as Piotr pointed out, in a pre-literate society these
> cannot be carried out to perfection. So in some cases the satem-
> people generalize the wrong way, faultily:
> keC-
> koC-
> kC-
> After this, the satem people have very few k's left. So they are
> to go *kW > *k.
> Enter the linguist. What does he find?
> The "correct" correspondence
> centum satem
> k- s-
> the "faulty" correspondence
> centum satem
> k- k-
> and the kW correspondence
> centum satem
> kW- k-
> What does he do? He posits three *k-series: *k', palatal, k^ plain
> and kW labiovelar, while fretting over why it is that the k- k-
> correspondence varies in extent in Baltic and Slavic.
> But there needs only have been two k-series in the beginning, as I
> have demonstrated.
> [Piotr:] There are several difficulties with an argument like this.
First, what made the two groups of people regularise just about every
paradigm in the same direction? (Variation, such as we find in Baltic
and Slavic, is a marginal phenomenon, way below the expected level of
messiness resulting from morphophonological generalisation.) Such
regularity is typical of sound change but not of paradigmatic
levelling, which is not a sweeping mechanical process but a tendency
that affects word after word independently, sensitive to
extragrammatical factors like frequency of use of a given lexeme and
its forms, its social significance, etc. In English, for example, the
past participle and the past tense of strong verbs have been levelled
out one way or the other quite at random.

As I've heard it, the tendency in American English today is for the
past participle to be used everywhere eg.: "I have went", "I have
As I described in

Danish has experienced a "retrograde" development c^ > k, dy > g, s^
> sk before front vowel (I thought of writing "Did you read it at
all?", but that would be rude) under the influence of the German of
the ruling classes. But where you would (I suppose) see this as a
purely mechanical sweeping process, I see it as the result of
uncertainty and wavering of the German-speaking classes (who were
suddenly forced to take sides between German and Danish) faced with
the irregular paradigms caused by the purely phonetic change /k/
> /c^/, /g/ > /dj/, /sk/ > /s^/. In the ensuing muddle (also
linguistically), and with a number of once German-speakers trying to
estabilsh themselves as Danish patriots, /s^/ became associated with
Germanness, /sk/ with Danishness (and Scandinavism). Therefore, in
what seems at first glance to be a purely mechanical change, the
first seed were sown by the irregular paradigms, and consequently
paradigm regularisation ("morphophonological change") was the real
driving force here.

As to the unidirectionality of change: The Danish example is
unidirectional, except for a few misidentified samples (Fr. jus > Da.
sky). The morphophonological paradigm levelling of Russian nouns is
unidirectional, to my knowledge (Cz. Praha - v Praze, Ru. Praga - v
Prage). I don't know of any examples in Russian where the levelling
has gone the other way (there are no nom. *noza or *ruca).

> There is another, more devastating counterargument: the Satem shift
takes place also in environments where front vowels are absent, e.g.
preconsonantally: *k^lewos, *ok^to:, *tek^s-, *g^noh3-, and also in
words like *(d)k^mtom (why "satem" rather than "katem"?). The *o-
grade *k^omt- is attested, but **k^emt- is not. Without addressing
such issues and analysing concrete linguistic material your scenario
is an exercise in armchair linguistics.
As I understand you you are saying that


may be regularised


but never


That does not make any sense. I must have misunderstood you
As for satemisation in words that do not inflect and thus are, I
think the process is, that once a phoneme pair, in casu k/c^(> s)
becomes a shibboleth, using the wrong one becomes downright
dangerous, so that these words also become "infected" with the change.

> Last, but not least, I don't believe in a primary split
between "Centum" and "Satem" (such an idea has long been abandoned),
so I also object to the sentence "Two groups arise". There was a
Satem innovation, and what we call "Centum" is simply the primitive
state of affairs within IE. In evolutionary terms, the "Centum"
languages do not form a valid genetic counterpart of "Satem.
I never proposed such a primary split. Of course the standard idea
now is for the satemisation to have spread outwards. But in any case,
in the given case two people have faced each other, one of which
decided to go with the linguistic flow of the time, saying c^ for k,
also where they were not phonetically warranted, and the other one
opposing him, using k for all c^'s. I believe dialects arise as
An example: /hw/ vs. /w/ was once a shibboleth between Swdish and
Danish. /w/ spread northwards. But Norwegian went /hw/ > /kw/ as if
in protest against the disappearance of the /h/.
> Piotr