Re: [tied] Glen's Strange Rule

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 8652
Date: 2001-08-21

A vowel may become "unstressable" for various reasons. Your "Strange Rule" is less strange than many I have seen. Imagine a hypothetical language in which the folowing principles operate:
(1) As few underlying vowels as possible should be realised.
(2) Underlying /a/ is the preferred target of elision.
(3) Stress must be word-initial.
There will be other constraints as well, defining permissible syllable structure and minimal word shapes (e.g. "The stressed syllable must contain a vowel") and therefore preventing the deletion of some vowels, but I'm interested here only in the interaction of (1), (2) and (3). An underlying sequence like /tiruki/ will be realised as ['tirki] (if, say, final clusters like [-rk] are not permitted), but /taruki/ will be realised as ['truki], since *['tarki] would violate (2) while satisfying (1) and (3) to the same extent as ['truki]. In cases like /taraki/, ['tarki] and ['traki] are equally well-formed and the resulting tie may be resolved by constraints not discussed here (e.g. if the language avoids complex onsets, ['tarki] may turn out to be preferable to ['traki]). I wonder what happens to such words in your model.
Such a state of affairs could arise in a language in which stress was originally initial, and in which vowels underwent reduction depending not only on the position of stress but also on their quality. The impression one gets after the system has been implemented is that initial stress has been shifted to the second syllable in some words. Actually, the stress remains initial, only its original carrier disappears so it finds a new one. A similar cases is Proto-Slavic, in which short *i and *u underwent gradual reduction via lax *I and *U (the "yers") to zero. We could say that in a typical early Slavic language a word contained as few yers as possible. But in words containing _only_ such vowels, e.g. *sUnU 'sleep' < *supnu < *supnos there was a conflict between this principle and pronounceability requirements (*sn was ruled out). Since final weak vowels were _preferentially_ dropped, the optimal compromise was [sUn] (Russian son, Polish sen, Serbian/Croatian san, etc., with the second yer lost but the first granted full-vowel status). In inflected forms, however, the second syllable usually contained a full vowel and then it was the first yer that was weakened and lost: *supnoi (Loc.) > *sUne^ > sne^.
----- Original Message -----
From: Marc Verhaegen
Sent: Tuesday, August 21, 2001 5:06 PM
Subject: Re: [tied] Tyrrhenian and its relation to IE

-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: erobert52@... <erobert52@...>

BTW I think your suggestion:
>a strange rule I've detected
>in Tyrrhenian whereupon, if the first vowel is *a, the
>otherwise initial accent is placed on the _second_ syllable.
is really interesting. I've been wondering about this
strange aphaeretic/prothetic /a-/ (and /e-/ too?) that keeps
coming and going. This feature may be of relevance relating
to /pan-/ etc.     Ed. Robertson

Yes, it's a very strage rule. Are there comparable examples in other languages? Why with *a-?