--- In nostratic@yahoogroups.com, "Richard Wordingham"
<richard.wordingham@...> wrote:
> --- In nostratic@yahoogroups.com, "etherman23" <etherman23@...>
wrote in
> Message 927:
> > Some issues to be addressed:
> >
> > How many laryngeals and what was their manner of articulation?
> There seems to be a general consensus that there were three of
> them, with some inconclusive evidence of voicing to complicate the
> picture. Precise phonetic articulation is difficult to identify.
> I'm not even sure we can disprove the hypothesis that the vowel
> colouring we see is in fact the preservation of original vowel
> contrasts otherwise lost in the development
> of qualitative ablaut.

Three seems to be standard but there's still plenty of room for
disagreement. It's partially tied to how many vowels you assume. If
you assume only one then it seems you're stuck with at least 6.
Bomhard proposes 2 vowels (with i and u as resonants) and 4
laryngeals (which apparently breaks up into 6). Szemerenyi proposes 5
vowels plus schwa but only one laryngeal. The standard is apparently
2 vowels and 3 laryngeals but I'm not sure that's really workable
(there are certain problems in Hittite). My pet idea is is 4
vowels /i u a @/ without length contrasts and one laryngeal, at least
for PPIE. I'm still woking out the bugs on that one.

> > Was there a feminine gender?
> I thought it was generally agreed that Indo-Hittite had animate v.
> inanimate and that Indo-European proper innovated the feminine
> gender.

I think that's the general opinion but I don't know if the door has
really been closed on the Anatolian languages losing feminine gender.
However, I go with majority opinion on this one.

> > How many vowels were there?
> A 3-vowel system, short and long, can be used as a basis which also
> explains some consonant alternations. Less ambitiously, one can
> also work with a 4-vowel system (2-vowel if you regard /i/ and /u/
> as syllabic consonants), without original length. Such analyses
> cry out for Nostratic material to constrain them.

As I said, this is pretty much my opinion. I've begun looking at the
Uralic languages and I've found a small number of candidates for
cognates with PIE. In most cases PIE *e/o corresponds with PU *a.

> > What was the origin of e~o alternation?
> If you trawled Cybalist, you'd find a consistent set of
> explanations with at least 3 different origins for /o/:
> 1) For the thematic vowel, /o/ before voiced consonants, /e/ before
> voiceless consonants, so the nominative singular animate ending
> should be *z.

Not sure if I can buy into this one. Why would this effect only the
thematic vowel? And do we really want to propose *z just to explain
*-os endings?

> 2) Influence of stress.

This one is most appealing to me. I would derive *e from stressed *a
and *o from unstressed *a. But for this to work I'd have to
completely rework the PPIE stress system so as to explain PIE
stressed *-os. With roots in *ou or *oi the *o can be explained by
original stress on the *i or *u element, or perhaps analogy (which
would also explain roots in *o).

> 3) A strong suggestion that is some formations /o/ derives from an
> infixed element that was originally prefixed.

I hadn't thought of that (although I'm looking at infixing to explain
some long grades). I like the idea though.

> Another alternative is that the ablaut is a very ancient
> morphological contrast, not to be explained by accent effects.

I don't know if it could be too ancient. Most likely post-Nostratic
since ablaut seems to be absent from most Nostratic languages. PIE
ablaut is quite different from PAA ablaut and Uralic doesn't show
signs of it that I know of. Perhaps it's a combination of accent and
areal influences from the NW Caucasian languages.