Re: [tied] Thoughts on the existence of *H1

From: Glen Gordon
Message: 9425
Date: 2001-09-13

>Don't worry, you aren't the only disbeliever :). Phonetically, *h1 is the
>most enigmatic laryngeal. You in fact imply that *h1 = [&] must be
>interpreted as the weak counterpart of *e word-initially,
>since we have alternations like *esti : *&sonti.

Not quite, but close. Basically *H1 is a combination of two
things: Sometimes it's nothing more than a fancy way to write a
macron (ie: extra length), and sometimes it's a weak vowel
(originally unstressed in MidIE) that may or may not be

Now, of course, I agree with you that syllabic *r is not purely
vocalic as it exists in English. Syllabic *m, *n, *r and *l were
probably pronounced as *[&m], *[&n], *[&r] and *[&l]. The consonantal
*r would have been a flap sound.

>You mean the 3sg. present of what is usually reconstructed as *g^noh3-
>'know'? Well, the present stem is normally reduplicated and either suffixed
>as in *g^i-g^noh3-sk^e- or
>athematic (in *-ti). Same for the preterite (*g^noh3-t). *(g^e-)g^no:u
>looks like a possible sandhi variant of the 3sg. perfect after contraction
>(*-g^noh3-e > *-g^no-e > *-g^no:(u), using standard transcription), though
>there might be attestation

Oh right. Hmmm. Well, I'll save that thought for later. Due to
a bias for my own pet theories, I find *-aXe > *-aX > *-a: > *-o:
>*-o:u far more attractive than:

*-oH3-e > *-o-e (where did *xW go??) > *-o:(u).

More Piotr:
>I don't think this will always work. Think of combinations like *-eRh1C-.
>If here *h1 is some sort of weak vowel, why does the zero-grade counterpart
>behave as if *-R- had _first_ become syllabic and _then_ affected by the
>laryngeal? In other words,
>liquids, nasals and glides are vocalised more readily than *h1.
>Strange, if *h1 should have been a vowel in the first place.

Damn you and your clever devil's advocate skills!

Okay, take a hypothetical *-CrH1C- then. The pronunciation could
have been *[-C&r&C-] since a syllabic *r equals *[&r] and *H1
theoretically equals *[&] for the most part. If Late IE was truely
a language with tonal accent, I'd imagine, as in French, that each
syllable is pronounced with the same amount of length (disgarding
long vowels for the moment) regardless of accentuation. In English,
unlike French, our heavy stress accent does affect the length of a
syllable. Long vowels, of course, are worth two syllables, as
we find in Japanese.

So if IndoEuropeans did pronounce each syllable with equal length,
why should it be surprising that an unstable sequence like *[&r&]
should eventually become either *[r&:] or *[&:r] � la compensatory
lengthening? In fact, I've been detecting a reduction of intervocalic
liquids like *[&r&] to *[&r] (syllabic *r) from Mid IE to Late IE
as well (eg: Mid IE *[k&m&t�n&] > Late IE *[k&mt�m] "hundred").
It's a complex mess.

>In all these it's clear that either a cluster-breaking vowel was
>epenthesised early _between_ *r and *h1 (and then was lengthened as the *h1
>was lost: *-Crh1C- > -Crah1C- > -Cra:C-),

Alternatively, we might say that the "epenthesised vowel" was
there already. Then we can do away with a senseless *H1 altogether, thereby
simplifying our theory while maintaining an equally
acceptable chain of changes:

*C&r&C- (-CrH1C-) > *-Cr&:C- > *-Cra:C-

>More arguments could be cited, but the one above looks particularly
>convincing. Unless you resort to some form of special pleading, it is
>difficult not to conclude that *h1 was some kind of consonant (inherently
>less "vocalic" than liquids and nasals). [h] or [?] (or both) would do, but
>[&] wouldn't.

I find myself still unconvinced. In terms of internal reconstruction,
Semitoid loans and Nostratic comparisons, *H1 (as a glottal stop or
[h]) doesn't seem to be really there.

And what of the interpretation that stems like *g^enH1- are in fact
simply disyllabic stems (ie: *g^ene-)? The added advantage: IE
looks more like an everyday language with both monosyllabic AND
disyllabic roots at its disposal just like almost every other
human language on the planet.

I await your rebuttal.

- gLeN

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