Re: [tied] Re: the glottalic theory

From: Jens Elmegaard Rasmussen
Message: 16756
Date: 2002-11-14

On Thu, 14 Nov 2002, Richard Wordingham wrote:

> --- In cybalist@..., Jens Elmegaard Rasmussen <jer@...> wrote:
> > Finally, I do
> > not consider the IE plosive system typologically impossible, for
> the
> > triad t-d-dh is very plainly accompanied by a fourth element /th/
> which
> > makes the system identical with that of Sanskrit. It does not
> matter what
> > status the two letters with which I write /th/ have, for the whole
> business
> > of "phonological typology" is one of - phonetics! Look through the
> many
> > sound systems given by Ruhlen, they are all simply phonetic and not
> based
> > on any deeper analysis, so phonetic is the level the IE stops
> should be
> > assessed on, and they are found to be all right.
> Is this the */th/ > Greek, Sanskrit /tH/, otherwise merging with
> */t/ ?

It is Greek /th/, Sanskrit /th/, Italic /{th}/, Armenian /th/, normal
reflex of /t/ elsewhere. Perhaps there is even more than one "th", if
Balto-Slavic /d/ enters one of the series.

> I have a feeling that there actually is a living language with the t
> ~ d ~ dH system, but I forget its name.  I think Igbo also comes
> close, but I can't lay my hands on a decent account of its consonant
> system.

Blust reports this for a language called Kelabit (Sarawak), cf. Hawaii
Working Papers in Linguistics vol. 5, no. 6, 1973, 49-56. I owe the
reference to Lindeman's 1997 restatement of his laryngeal Introduction
(146). It does not make the classical IE triad common and normal, but it
just may elevate to the status of a non-impossibility.

> > ... also the paucity of /b/... But these blanks may have any age,
> and they would
> > remain even after any number of putative sound shifts may have
> changed the
> > specific phonetic values of the phonemes involved.
> Would they have remained long?  The classical languages filled these
> blanks in.

They remain as weak spots at the least. In Sanskrit /th/ is markedly less
common than any of the other dentals. This in itself appears to be enough
for many to arouse suspicion; such suspicion, however, can only apply to
the age of the /th/, not to its presence in the language which is above
dispute. The forbidden root structures are deg-, dhek- and tegh- in most
languages, but in Germanic they are tek-, dex- and theg-. This makes the
long time perspective important.