Re: Does Koenraad Elst Meet Hock´s Challenge?

From: tgpedersen
Message: 17140
Date: 2002-12-12

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "P&G" <petegray@...>
> To: <>
> Sent: Wednesday, December 11, 2002 9:12 PM
> Subject: Re: [tied] Does Koenraad Elst Meet Hock´s Challenge?
> > >Why did all IE branches except Hittite drop the laryngeals,
leaving only
> > traces in the
> > >vowels?
> >
> > That's a fascinating question. But there are more traces than
just in the
> > vowels - sufficient for us to know that each dialect dropped the
> > independently.
> > (a) Skt needs laryngeals early on to explain various things (eg
> > scansion, present tense formations, vowel length);
> > (b) Latin needs laryngeals early on to explain the apparently
> > perfects in -ui (all of which without exception [I think!] are on
stems with
> > laryngeals - but the -u- perfects are not even proto-Italic!
> > (c) Greek needs them likewise.
> > So why did they all decide that laryngeals were just for
> >
> > Peter

--- In, Piotr Gasiorowski
<piotr.gasiorowski@...> wrote:
> Balto-Slavic needs laryngeals too (the different development of
VRHC and VRC sequences). Some linguists would dispute the assertion
that the laryngeals were lost in all branches (Hamp has long argued
that some Albanian /h/'s reflect laryngeals [not that I'm convinced],
and there are also some unexplained /h/-onsets in Armenian). The
parallel dropping of the laryngeals in the various branches can be
treated as a manifestation of the natural life cycle of dorsal,
pharyngeal or glottal fricatives. They are dropped more easily than
other consonants, being already close to the end of the usual
lenition trajectories (/x/ > /h/ > zero). Latin (secondary) aitches
were lost in Proto-Romance; French ("tertiary") h aspiré in Germanic
loanwords was quickly lost; Greek lost its spiritus asper a long time
ago; Middle English preconsonantal [x] and [ç] are now mainly
reflected as vowel length, and some accents ave lost the phonemic
haspirate haltogether. In many Iranian languages /h/ < *s has
disappeared, etc., etc., etc. All these changes are certainly
independent and have affected /h/ (or /x/) of various origin. The
evidence suggests that aitch-dropping is in (typically ?) just a
matter of time. Old aitches go and new ones arise from new lenitions,
then these too are lost.
> In several branches of IE consonantal laryngeals must have existed
in some form ca. 2000 BC or later, so Hittite is not so exceptional;
it was merely recorded sufficiently early. This means that the
lenition-cum-loss was a long process, which was still incomplete in
some lineages many hundred years (or even a few millennia) after the
disintegration of PIE.
> Piotr
All true.
Let me try to recapitulate. I wondered why IE, unlike AfroAsiatic,
has done away with their laryngeals. You, Piotr, then assure me, with
many examples from various IE branches, that the loss of laryngeals
is a natural process. It seems to me that you have thereby declared
the AfrAs languages to be unnatural, which I don't think was your
intended purpose? Which takes me back to my original question: why IE
and not AfrAs?

But the fact that they disappeared separately in separate IE branches
is interesting. If I were to hold on to the hypothesis that loss of
laryngeals is caused by conquered substrate, I'd have to claim that
the AfroAsiatic languages were spread by dispersion, the IE ones by

Question: did x-loss occur in Northern English dialects first? If
yes, one might put it down to Norse influence. My next guess would be
that x-loss spread to the south during the wars with the Dutch, and
my third that Dutch at that time generalized g -> G.