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Re: Nasal infixion in Indo-European languages and in Quenya

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  • Rich Alderson
    ... There is an entire class of Indo-European nouns, the r/n heteroclites, in which a nominative/accusative singular in *-r is accompanied by oblique cases in
    Message 1 of 7 , Jun 10, 2002
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      On 10 Jun 2002, "gentlebeldin" wrote in message-ID <ae2v6t+6fte@...>:

      > The root *wed-/*wod-, *wed-r- (meaning wet, water) has some cognates with
      > infixed -n-, like "unda" (wave) in Latin, or "vanduo" in Lithuanian.
      > Could it be that the proto-vowel was nasal? Since the vowel could have a
      > different quality in different derivations (vowel gradation), it's clear
      > that only some forms would have the nasal infix later, when the nasal
      > character was lost.

      There is an entire class of Indo-European nouns, the r/n heteroclites, in
      which a nominative/accusative singular in *-r is accompanied by oblique
      cases in *-n-. Cf. Benveniste's monograph _La formation des noms en indo-
      europe'en_.

      The word in question is *wodr, *wed-n-. Various daughter languages
      separated the two stems--but at a relatively late date, cf. Gothic _wato,
      watins_,Sw. _vatn_.

      The Greek evidence is confounded by the fact that many n-stem neuters
      acquired a -t- which forced the *-n- to become syllabic, then by regular
      development in Greek -a-. Thus, Greek _hudor, hudatos < *udntos < udnos_.

      Nasal infixation, on the other hand, is a phenomenon in verb-stem
      formation, deriving a class of "present" stems (demonstrated to be a
      single formation rule by Saussure in 1878, _pace_ the Indian
      grammarians). Whether it arises by an old metathesis or not cannot be
      determined from the Indo-European data alone; we must await the outcome
      of so-called Nostratic studies for evidence, if any, from the possible
      sisters of PIE.

      In any case, there is no evidence in Indo-European writ large for nasal
      vowels.

      Rich Alderson
    • p_iosad
      Hello, ... Which would then require some sort of highly irregular ablaut rule. Irregular ise of word-forming affixes looks much more likely to me than
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 11, 2002
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        Hello,
        Hans wrote:

        > Let's have a look at some examples from Quenya:
        >
        > ID- has the derivation _iire_ (desire) without nasal infixion, and
        > _indo_ (heart, mood) with an infixed -n-. (Etym., LR p. 401). This
        > could be explained by the different quality of the vowel in
        > Proto-Eldarin.

        Which would then require some sort of highly irregular ablaut rule.
        Irregular ise of word-forming affixes looks much more likely to me
        than irregular ablaut. And anyway (I think I've said it) I don't
        think there even exists this kind of ablaut in Terran languages, or
        at least in European ones.

        > Quenya doesn't have noticable traces of vowel gradation (if you
        > don't count the "irregular vocalism" in MEL- > _maalo_), but since
        > it's present in Sindarin, we must assume that it was present in
        > PE, too.

        Huh? French doesn't have palatalization as a phonologically relevant
        feature, but Romanian does. Should we assume it was there in Latin?
        A bit of a strained example, but I think it fits :-)

        > It should be emphasized that I'm speaking of nasal vowels in PE
        > here: Quenya and Sindarin have almost the same nasal infixions, so
        > the change to normal vowel + nasal consonant must have happened
        > before the splitting of both lines of development, or at the same
        > time (BAT- > _bâd_ in EN, _vanta_ in Q, LR p. 390).

        If both Quenya and Sindarin have nasal infixions, why invent nasal
        vowels, expecially when lacking explicit statements?

        > There's Occam's razor: it may be that we don't need the assumption,
        > because there are simpler explanations. In the entry AD- in Etym.
        > (LR, p. 385) _ando_ is derived from _*adno_, so the nasal infix
        > comes from a suffix (?) through metathesis. But then, it may be
        > that the suffix would be _-do_ without the nasal character of the
        > stem. :-)

        There are numerous explicit examples of such metathesis, as in
        _lambe_, "probably from _lab-mee_" (XI:416).

        > I know it's speculative, but I was reminded of Old Church Slavonian
        > with its open syllables, its short final vowel -i, and the nasal
        > vowels, explaining the "rebyonok/rebyata" (child/children) in
        > Russian.

        But Old Church Slavonic nasals come precisely from simple vowels (I
        guess I'm restating here). Also, the examples you cited earlier
        (German _denken_ vs. _dachte_) also have to do nothing with nasal
        vowels, as this ariation is due to the common Germnaic proces of the
        loss of [N] before [h], cf. thincan > think, but thunxte > thuuxte >
        thought.

        Overall, I think there's no evidence for nasal vowels in PQ or CE.

        Pavel
        --
        Pavel Iosad pavel_iosad@...

        'I am a philologist, and thus a misunderstood man'
        --JRR Tolkien, _The Notion Club Papers_

        [OK, Hans asked an interesting question and posed a thoughtful hypothesis,
        which has been explored and found wanting (as Hans himself made clear he
        recognized might be the case). We all learned something along the way.
        So thanks, Hans; and thanks to all who have participated. Carl]
      • anthonyappleyard
        ... Pronouncing Latin C and G soft before front vowels, and J as [dzh], did not happen in Julius Caesar s time, but it did when the Western Empire fell, and it
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 11, 2002
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          --- In lambengolmor@y..., "p_iosad" <pavel_iosad@m...> wrote:

          > ... palatalization as a phonologically relevant feature, but
          > Romanian does. Should we assume it was there in Latin? ...

          Pronouncing Latin C and G soft before front vowels, and J as [dzh],
          did not happen in Julius Caesar's time, but it did when the Western
          Empire fell, and it got into all the Romance languages except
          Sardinian. The next stage was analogical levelling across declensions
          and conjugations.
        • hglundahl
          ... declensions ... Well, the grammarians did not recognise palatalization in Latin in Caesar s time, but there was palatalization in an extinct Italic
          Message 4 of 7 , Jun 14, 2002
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            --- In lambengolmor@y..., "anthonyappleyard" <Anthony.Appleyard@u...>
            wrote:
            > --- In lambengolmor@y..., "p_iosad" <pavel_iosad@m...> wrote:
            >
            > > ... palatalization as a phonologically relevant feature, but
            > > Romanian does. Should we assume it was there in Latin? ...
            >
            > Pronouncing Latin C and G soft before front vowels, and J as [dzh],
            > did not happen in Julius Caesar's time, but it did when the Western
            > Empire fell, and it got into all the Romance languages except
            > Sardinian. The next stage was analogical levelling across
            declensions
            > and conjugations.

            Well, the grammarians did not recognise palatalization in Latin in
            Caesar's time, but there was palatalization in an extinct Italic
            language (Oscan, I think) and it might have come that way to rustic
            Latin (and rustic pronunciation of cultured Latin) already then.

            You should not say "when the Western Empire fell", but "when Odoacar
            deposed Romulus Augustulus", which did not mean the complete downfall
            of the Empire even in the West. Syagrius kept on the Empire in Gaul,
            St Rémi kept up his work, and when he crowned Clovis, the first King
            of France was accorded the title of Roman Consul by the Eastern
            Emperor.

            Hans Georg Lundahl
          • hglundahl
            To return to the main issue: there was a theory about, claiming that nasal infixion was originally a nasal suffix in IE, like fingo from *fig-n-o. When JRRT
            Message 5 of 7 , Jun 15, 2002
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              To return to the main issue: there was a theory about, claiming that
              nasal infixion was originally a nasal suffix in IE, like fingo from
              *fig-n-o. When JRRT wrote the original Proto-Eldarin background for Q
              and S, he might very well have taken account of that theory, though
              it is abandoned. So, maybe the nasal suffix theory of nasal infixion
              in Q should be abandoned as well - or retained as an optional
              explanation in IE too.

              As for palatals, they are between the dentals and the velars and the
              tyelpetéma becomes dental (telpe) in Telerin, velar in Sindarin
              (celeb). I do not know of any historic language having originally any
              distinction between palatals and both velars and dentals, but
              palatals may come from either. In Rom. languges they come from velars
              (compare Church Latin and Italian "Caesar" with Gk "Kaisar") but in
              Gaelic they come from dentals: "is" (pron. ish) "teine" (pron.
              chayney). So they are between velars and palatals, just as velars are
              between palatals and labialised velars: in Satem-languages the
              labialised series become velar, in Centum-languages the palatalised
              velars (not pure palatals! or?) become pure velars.

              The old and abandoned theory held PIE had all three series - and,
              once again, JRRT may have used that in Proto-Eldarin "reconstruction".

              Right?

              Hans Georg Lundahl
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