"Syllabic rhotics" in Polish

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 9558
Date: 2001-09-18

Miguel, here's the first (and easiest) instalment of the promised story.
For convenience, I have divided this exposition into three parts: "Syllabic rhotics" (including a general introduction containing spelling conventions, etc.), "Syllabic laterals", and "Discussion", each to be sent as a separate posting. In this part, I simply assume that the Proto-Slavic "syllabic liquids" were *Ir/Ur and *Il/*Ul combinations. Alternative solutions will be evaluated in the last part.
Pre-Polish reconstructions (asterisked):
*I, *U = yers (lax high vowels)
*& = schwa (lax mid central vowel)
*C’ = palatalised *C (palatality is automatic and therefore not marked before front vowels; in clusters, only the palatality of the last element is marked)
*C^ (*s^, *ts^, *z^, *dz^) = palatoalveolars
*E = open front vowel (from PIE *ai, *oi, *e:)
*V~ = nasal vowel
Vowel length and intonation ignored
Old and Modern Polish (italicised):
rz = Old Polish fricative trill (*r’) > postalveolar fricative
l/ = dark lateral (< non-palatalised *l) > Mod. [w]
w = [v] (voiced labiodental fricative)
sz, cz, z., dz. = palatoalveolars > Mod. postalveolars
c = [ts]
C’ = palatalised consonant; before vowels, [C’..] is spelt Ci..;
palatalisation is automatic (and therefore not marked) before i
s’, c’, z’, dz’ = palatalised dentals > Mod. alveopalatals
a~ = Old Polish nasal [a] > Mod. e,, a, = [eN, oN]
*c^i, etc., *tsi, *dzi, *ri > Polish czy, ... cy, dzy, rzy (dispalatalised)
*kU, *gU > ke, ge > kie, gie [k’e, g’e]
*ky, *gy > ki, gi
Mainstream development of tautosyllabic (that is, preconsonantal) yer-plus-rhotic combinations:
*Ur > *&r > ar
*Ir > *’&r’ > ’irz ~ ’erz, palatalising the preceding consonant (spelt i(e)rz)
*’&r’ > *&r > ar before any coronal consonant followed by a non-front vowel. The change took place before the loss of yers.
Original *Ur
*kUrkU ‘neck’ > *k&rk& > kark
*gUrdlo ‘throat’ > *g&rdlo > gardl/o
*tUrgU ‘market’ > *t&rg& > targ
*gUrbU ‘hump’ > *g&rb& > garb
*gUrstI ‘handful’ > *g&rst’& > gars’c’
Original *Ir, palatalisation lost:
*tIrnU ‘thorn-bush’ > *t&rn& > tarn
*zIrno ‘grain’ > *z&rno > zarno (Mod. ziarno)
*sIrna ‘roedeer’ > *s&rna > sarna
*c^IrtU ‘fiend’ > *c^&rt& > czart
*tvIrdU ‘hard’ > *tv&rd& > tward(y)
Original *Ir, palatalisation retained:
*sIrpU ‘sickle’ > *s’&r’p& > si(e)rzp (Mod. sierp)
*vIrxU ‘top’ > *v’&r’x& > wi(e)rzch (Mod. wierzch)
*tIrnI ‘thorn’ > *t’&rn’& > ci(e)rzn’ (Mod. ciern’)
*zIrnE ‘grain [Loc.]’ > *z’&rnE > zi(e)rznie (> ziernie, Mod. ziarnie)
*sIrs^enI ‘hornet’ > *s’&rs^en’& > si(e)rzszen’ (Mod. szerszen’)
Typical alternations caused by dispalatalisation:
*pUrst- ‘finger’
*pUrst-en-I ‘ring’ > *p’&rst’en’& > pi(e)rzs’cien’ (Mod. piers’cien’)
*na-pUrst-Uk-U ‘thimble’ > *nap&rst&k& > naparstek
*mIr- ‘die’
*sU-mIr-tI ‘death’ > *s&m’&rt’& > s’mi(e)rzc’ (Mod. s’mierc’)
*mIr-tv-U ‘dead’ > *m’&rtv& > martw(y)
Typical examples of later analogical levellings:
zarno (Nom.) : zir(z)nie (Loc.) > ziarno : ziernie > Mod. ziarno : ziarnie
sarna (Nom.) : sir(z)nie (Loc.) > Mod. sarna : sarnie
(1) rz [r^] > r consistently before coronals and less consistently (in Old Polish variably) before labials; rz is retained before velars.
(2) Increasing tendency to replace ir(z) with ier(z) already in Old Polish.
(a) cirn’ ‘thorn’, wircic’ ‘drill’, c’wirdza ‘fortress’, dzirz.yc’ ‘hold’ (here, r and z. stand for separate phonemes!), czyrnic’ ‘paint black’
(Mod. ciern’, wiercic’, twierdza, dzierz.yc’, czernic’)
(b) wirzba ‘willow’, pirzwy ~ pirwy ‘first’, czyrzw’ ~ czyrw’ ‘worm’, cirzpiec’ ~ cirpiec’ ‘suffer’, sirp ‘sickle’
(Mod. wierzba, pierwszy, czerw, cierpiec’, sierp)
(c) zmirzk ‘twilight’, wirzch ‘top’
(Mod. zmierzch, wierzch)