Vowel Sonants and Semivowels
- Chart of phonemic correspondences
- Transcription of symbols
- Linguistic comment
- More info
|Celtic||an, en (4)||am, em (4)||ri, ar (5)||li, al (5)||ná||má||rá||lá||-||w (11)|
|Italic||en||em||or, ur||ol, ul||ná||má||rá||lá||j||v|
|Hellenic||a||a||ra,ar,ro (7)||la, al||ná||má||rá||lá||h, dz (9)||w (10)|
|Albanian||un, en||um, em||ur, ir, ri||ul, il, li|
|Thracian||un, an||um, am||ur, ir||ul, il||u||a||v|
|Slavic||e, (1)||e, (1)||ir, ur (2)||il, ul (2)||e, (1,3)||e, (1,3)||ir (3)||il (3)||j||v|
|Baltic||in, un||im, um||ir||il||in||im||ir (3)||il (3)||j||v|
|Indic||an||am||r., ir, ur||r.||á||á||ír, úr||ír, úr||y||v|
|Iranian||an||am, @m||@r, @[email protected]||r.||á||[email protected]||[email protected]||y|
|Anatolian||ar, er (6)||al, el (6)||y||w|
|Tocharic||@||w, y (8)|
Transcription of symbols:
á, é, í, ó, ú - long [a],
[e], [i], [o], [u]
e, - Slavic nasal [e]
r., l., n., m. - short syllabic sonants
r.', l.', n.', m.' - long syllabic sonants
@ - schwa
1. IE *n., *n.' and *m., *m.' > Proto-Slavic
and *im > Old Church Slavonic *e,.
2. It is difficult to distinguish what was the Common Slavic form of Indo-European *r., *l. because most Slavic languages again developed syllabic sonants later.
3. Baltic and Slavic languages make a distinction between reflexes of Indo-European long and short sonants in the intonation (e.g., IE *r. > Lithuanian ir, ur with circumflex intonation, IE *r.' > Lithuanian ir, ur with acute intonation).
4. Celtic reflexes of Indo-European *n. and *m. are quite complicated to put them into one single chart.
5. IE *r., *l. > Irish ri, li, Gaulish ar, al.
6. IE *r., *l. > Anatolian ar, al in the middle of the word, er, el in initial position.
7. IE *r. > ro in Mycenaean Greek, ar, ra in later dialects.
8. IE *w > Tocharian A w, Tocharian B y.
9. IE *y gives different reflexes in Greek: it can give h (*yekwr- > hépar 'liver'), dz (*yugom > *dzugon 'yoke'), or disappear completely (*phulakjó > phulattó 'I guard'). It was preserved in Mycenaean Greek.
10. IE *w disappears in Greek or gives h at the beginning, but it is kept in Doric and Aeolian dialects.
11. IE *w > Common Celtic *w > Gaulish v, Irish f, Welsh gw.
12. IE *y in Celtic > j in Brythonic and Gaulish dialects, but disappears in Goidelic.
There were two varieties of sonants in Proto-Indo-European: their consonant variant appeared between vowels (*wíro- 'a man'), while syllabic sonants were actually pronounced like vowels, therefore forming a syllable. This could happen between consonants (*wr.mi- 'a worm') or at the end of the word after a consonant. In the 19th century linguists first paid attention to the fact that in some Indo-European dialects combinations like an, un correlate with a sometimes (like Germanic *un- vs. Hellenic a- 'not'). There could be only one conclusion - in Proto-Indo-European there were syllabic, vowel sonants. After the split of the Proto-language they were preserved partly only in Indic and Iranian languages, while most dialects turned them into combination of a sounds.
Syllabic sonants had an interesting destiny in Slavic languages. In Proto-Slavic, right after it moved apart the Balto-Slavic unity, the reflection of syllabic sonants looked like *ir, *il, but later in Old Church Slavonic and other Slavic dialects these combinations again became syllabic due to a special law of open sounds in Slavic. Nowadays, several Slavic languages (Serbo-Croatian, Slovene, Czech) use syllabic r as a usual vowel sound.
The presence of two actual sets of syllabic sonants is easily identified: long and short sonants produce completely different reflections in various Indo-European dialects.
The semivowels *w and *y are originally allophones of vowels *u and *i respectively (see Short Vowels). The *w sound used to be bilabial in Proto-Indo-European, and its pure descendant is preserved only in Germanic (like English water). In other languages this sound either disappeared (Greek), or was changed into labio-dental sound *v (Balkan, Italic, Baltic, Slavic, Armenian, Indic). A faringal reflex is clearly seen in Armenian and Brythonic Celtic languages.
The sound *y becomes a palatal j practically
everywhere. It is even more interesting to see it disappearing in Greek.