2 Jul 2008

Updating my Pre-IE pdf (already!)

Considering that I made my aforementioned pdf of Pre-IE changes on the fly, it's expected that I have much work to do before I can be reasonably satisfied that all the errors are ironed out and that it properly reflects my current views. Odd as it may seem, all these ideas and theories were off the top of my head and boy oh boy, did I ever feel a great weight lifted off my half-shattered brain as I poured them into that file!

Here is the second version of my file. I know it's rather soon but it's necessary to fix some errors Besides, I get off on being obsessive-compulsive, LOL!

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Now to explain the changes of my second draft of my Pre-IE theory. I recently remembered that the last time I had left the topic of Indo-Aegean Sibilantization, I had already renamed it Word-Final Lenition because word-final *-k may also have been reduced to a glottal stop at around the same time. Miguel Vidal had theorized something similar and I've come to grow fond of this spin on his ideas[1].

I then rearranged the order of some changes in the Indo-Aegean section and added a very important sound change: Centralization. Centralization is the idea that an originally 3-dimensional vowel system was "centralized" and reduced to a 2-dimensional system. This new system that had developed would have had only a contrast in height between *a and . This is also the point at which labialized stops first surface in the language. I suspect that this was an innovation spurred on by contact with an ancestral form of Proto-Abkhaz-Adyghe (aka Northwest Caucasian). This hypothesis is largely based on Allan Bomhard's theories on Nostratic and Pre-IE[2] with a few notable twists and extra details which I've mentioned in the newest version of the pdf.

For Phoenix, I've added a few PIE examples (*wástu and *márḱos) to add support to the Labial Dissimilation Exception of Vowel Shift at the end of Late IE. Time will tell whether there are good objections against my hypothesis though.

I also corrected my error concerning "Root Aorists" in the Post-IE section since, based on the example I provided, obviously I meant to say "Thematic Aorist". Mea culpa. Thank you, Rob, for spotting that and asking questions. Verb forms like *likʷét "she left" and *widét "she knew" are now considered by Indo-Europeanists as a later innovation that can't be reconstructed for the Proto-IE stage.

[1] Miguel Carrasquer Vidal, "Re: [tied] Dissimilation of gW/kWVw to gVw/kVw", Cybalist (Yahoogroups) (Apr 19 2005) (see link). Here, he proposed that *-ku > *-kʷ > PIE *-h₃ while final *-ki > *-h₁. I feel that this is unnecessarily complex but that the idea of the dual ending evolving as *-ak > *-aʔ > PIE *-(i)h₁/*-e (via Laryngeal Vocalization) entoxicates me since it could potentially explain the relationship between PIE's dual on the one hand and Uralic *-k(V) & EA *-k on the other. Lenition already explains the connection between PIE *-es and Uralic plural marker in *-t.
[2] Bomhard, Indo-European and the Nostratic Hypothesis (1996).


  1. You've got uvulars and velars instead of velars and palatals, which makes sense, but I'm not sure how the rest of your plosives line up with the traditional accounts. Do you have creaky voice instead of voiced stops?

  2. Goofy: "Do you have creaky voice instead of voiced stops?"

    Yep. Think of it as "Glottalic Theory with a twist". Like that camp, I believe that PIE originally had ejectives but unlike that camp, I now believe that there was an intermediary stage with creaky stops that are traditionally referred to as "plain voiced stops". I also feel that PIE's plain voiced stops were still creaky while the aspirated voiced stops only had plain phonation at the time that the language was fracturing into the familiar dialects. So then only some dialects would have undergone "phonation shift" to the breathy voiced stops while others (like Germanic) would have failed to do so.

  3. The 'Vowel Harmony' explanation of ablaut is far from ideal, but absolutely has its charm. It's 'cool' at any rate.

    Personally I played with the idea of an 'i-umlaut' where *a would be the default root vocalism and '*ä' as the umlauted form. It might not agree with your reconstructions where the endings come from, though technically speaking your *ə can come from *i.

    I find the i-umlaut more elegant than the 'vowel harmony analogy'.

    Now we're on the subject, I'm not much of a Altaicist(Is that a word? lol), but I seem to remember to've read that Altaic vowel harmony is actually thought to have come from an original i-umlaut as well.

    The i-umlaut theory would put this arrival of ablaut at a completely different point in time though, because it must have been before the vowel centralisation.

  4. Phoenix: "Personally I played with the idea of an 'i-umlaut' where *a would be the default root vocalism and '*ä' as the umlauted form."

    Yes. I presume you are pointing to a "pre-Indo-Aegean" stage then? I call that stage "Proto-Steppe", the ancestor of Indo-Aegean, Boreal (Uralic, EA, Chukchi-Kamchatkan) and Altaic. In the Proto-Steppe stage, I'd reconstruct transitive personal endings *-im (1ps), *-it (2ps) and *-i (3ps) plus intransitive endings *-uh (1ps), *-un (2ps) and an endingless 3ps. Since Steppe *u > IAeg *a and Steppe *i > IAeg via Centralization, your i-umlaut idea almost works and was something that I initially thought of.

    However, since Centralization and the concommitant transfer of labialization from the vowel to the neighbouring consonant is naturally heavily dependant on vocalism, I would have to oppose i-umlaut at the Proto-Steppe stage unless you can find a different formulation of Centralization that works to explain the rise of labialized consonants in PIE.

    If this ablaut preceded Centralization, we would find verb stems alternating between labialized (eg. *kʷ) and non-labialized consonants (eg. *k). This is why I opt for vowel harmony *after* the dissolution of the Proto-Steppe speech area and after the Centralization rule had already taken place, circa 8500 BCE or so. This hypothesis is in alignment with Allan Bomhard's views in Indo-European and the Nostratic Hypothesis (1996).

    Phoenix: "[...] I'm not much of a Altaicist(Is that a word? lol),"

    Oddly enough it is! Lol! And a wonderful word it is, I must say.