On the Divergence of a Proto-Indo-European Velar Syllabic Nasal in Indo-European Languages

Introduction. The proposed article critically examines the explanation of the origin of nasal vowels in Slavic languages by incorporating an open syllable law. It is shown that the convergence of many closed syllables, ending with nasal consonants, into two kinds of open syllables with nasal vowels contradicts a number of facts of evolution in the opposite direction, e. g., evolution of nasal vowels towards combinations ”a vowel – a nasal consonant“ in Balkan Slavic languages (Bulg. пент ”five“, вънзел ”knot“), as well as to the observed interpretation of Slavic nasal vowels in acts of borrowing by languages without nasal vowels, e. g. OCS дѫбрава ”oak forest“ > Rom. dumbrávă. Methodology and sources. The proposed model results from generalization of the data of instrumental phonetical research, which show that the articulation of palatal consonants is unstable leading to there divergent evolution, i. e. transformation to sounds with more definite zones of articulation, e. g. palatal lateral approximant *[ʎ] split into palatalized lateral liquid [l'] and fricative [j]. In the proposed model Proto-Indo-European (PIE) syllable velar nasal consonant *ŋ̍ in the process of its phonetic evolution in Indo-European (IE) languages split into a variety of nasal vowels with different articulations, which further on irregularly transformed into vowels without nasalization or into combinations of vowels with nasal consonants (e. g. OInd. paŋktíṣ, OIsl. fimt, Lith. penkì, OCS пѩть, OHG finf, fimf, funf "пять", etc., from the common PIE prototype with syllable nasal *ŋ̍). Results and discussion. Examples of PIE prototypes of lexemes meaning “water bird”, “tooth, sharp edge”, “five”, as well as lexemes, related to Russ. нутро, ядро, неясыть, уж, угорь, нагой, нога, ноготь are presented. All prototypes contain a nasal syllabic, which is split producing four types of reflexes in IE languages. Newly discovered etymological links, such as the connection between Russ. Lexemes meaning “leg” and “corner”, are discussed. Conclusion. The proposed model permits to uniformly explain the facts of synchronous existence of related Rus. недро ”insides“ and ядро ”nucleos“, related нутро и утроба ”belly“, related OCS ѫты, Lith. ántis and AGr. Att. νῆττα “duck”, related Rus. неясыть “a kind of owl; pelican” and ненасытный “insatiable”, etc., using the notion of divergent evolution of the PIE syllable velar nasal *ŋ̍.

Authors: Georgiy M. Telezhko

Direction: Linguistics

Keywords: velar syllabic nasal, nasal vowels, divergence, diphthong-like combinations, articulation

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