4. The Indo-European Language Family and Proto-Indo-European

1. Speculate on why it makes sense to reconstruct a phonologically balanced system (p.116).

PIE was rich in consonants:

plosives (voiceless, voiced + voiced aspirated plosives)

velar plosives (+ palatal-velar, labio-velar)

but only one fricative [s]

nasal [m] [n]

liquids [l] [r]

glides [j] [w]

western set (germanic, italic, celtic, hellenic) = palatal and velar [k] merged as one sound (k in latin)

eastern set (indo-iranian, albanian, armenian, balto-slavic) = the sounds are distinct, the palatal k becoming a fricative (e.g. [s] in Avestan).

Moreover, nowadays scholars reconstruct new sound of the Indo-European called “laryngeal

Saussure, in order to account for the occurrence of long vowels in certain positions predicted the existence of a special class of sounds in PIE = these sounds were sounds called laryngeals and were probably fricatives (one of them is h) → language hittie discovered in 20th century → there was correspondence between Saussure's prediction. This provides reassurance to the linguists of the accuracy of their reconstructions, it makes the reconstruction of PIE more regular and predictable.

if the existence of laryngeals is accepted, it could be argued that there was only one original vowel [e], whose quantity changed when laryngeal followed and quality when it preceded.

It may make sense to reconstruct a phonologically balanced system because it gives the language greater scale for expression, especially when employing pairs like short X long vowels, fortis X lenis consonants

2. Consider the three types of typological classification presented in the book and their respective foci. How is each of the classifications a product of its time and place?

- three different ways of classifying languages by type:

1) the number of morphemes per word (early 19th century) century:

a. isolating language- one morpheme per word, words do not vary their form, use no affixes, frequently monosyllabic, strict word order; e.g. Vietnamese

b. agglutinating language- several morphemes per word; every word has a root and a number of affixes, each morpheme is distinct and identifiable, one meaning is expressed per morpheme, the parts of the word are basically ‘glued together’; e.g. Turkish

c. inflecting language- it has a number of morphemes per word, a root and affixes, the morphemes may be fused, modified, or irregular, and each affix expresses a number of different meanings; e.g. Latin

- this classification assumes a progression from a ‘primitive’ isolating language to a more sophisticated agglutinating type to a most ‘advanced’ inflecting type, but there is nothing primitive about isolating languages

- English has developed from a highly inflected language to one which has more agglutinating and isolating characteristics

2) based on the way how the grammatical relations are expressed, (1921)

a. analytic language- it does not combine inflectional morphemes, grammatical relations are indicated primarily by word order and function words, only to a limited extent by affixing; e.g. Modern English,

b. synthetic language- grammatical relations expressed by affixing, both inflecting and agglutinating languages are synthetic; e.g. Czech

c. polysynthetic language- it combines a large number of morphemes, including the major parts of a sentence, into a single word, but keeps the morphemes distinct.

- this classification is useful for defining the changes the languages undergo

- English developed from synthetic to analytic

3) based on the the order of elements in the sentence, especially on the position of the subject (S), the verb (V), and the object (O), the majority of the languages fall into three basic types:

a. SVO- Modern English

b. SOV- Japanese, Turkish

c. VSO- Welsh, biblical Hebrew

- English used to have SOV word order, but it changed to SVO

- The minority of languages has these word orders: VOS, OSV, OVS

3. Explain the difference between genetic and typological classification as well as between the typological classifications themselves.

- two different systems to classify languages:

1) typological classification- based on particular structural features found in languages, with no regard to the derivation of the languages.

2) genealogical (or genetic) classification- the family tree, based on the common origin and historical relations among languages.

- typologically related languages resemble one another structurally, but genetically related languages may exhibit many differences, especially if separated widely in time or location, geographic proximity is of no importance, although change may travel from one language to another adjacent language or languages (areal change).

Difference in typological classifications:

The three typological classifications are different according to the phenomenon they observe. The first type defines languages according to the number of morphemes in word and its characteristcs, the second typology scrutinizes how the grammatical relations are expressed, and the last one is based on the the word order.

4. Classify English genetically and typologically.

Genetical classification: Proto-Indo-European, Centrum langauges, Germanic, West

Typological classification:

- there si no pure language, all languages are mixed (concerning the typologies)

- Modern English exhibits features of isolating, agglutinating, and inflecting languages

- analytic language

- SVO word order, placing adjectives and genitives before their nouns

5. Define the terms: ease of articulation, perceptual clarity, spelling pronunciation, hypercorrection, overgeneralization, reanalysis, proto‐language, cognate and ablaut.

ease of articulation: motivation for a sound change, it is a case when a speaker puts less effort in articulation (most commonly, it leads to elision, clipped forms or to assimilation of voicing or of place/manner of articulation).

perceptual clarity: principle working against the ease of articulation, in this case, the listener requires that the sounds are clearly distinct (leads to dissimilation)

spelling pronunciation: pronunciation of the word as it is written (e.g. /t/ in often, /l/ in almond, /h/ in forehead etc.).

hypercorrection: the speaker “corrects” a mistake which is actually not a mistake (e.g. between you and I – the speaker thinks, that using “me” instead of “I” would be incorrect, in czech: by jsme, přeci)

overgeneralization: the speaker overgeneralizes a linguistic rule. For example, the speaker who knows that pro is often pronounced [prou] in process and progress may extend this pronunciation to product, which is normally pronounced [pradakt].

reanalyisis: language users develop a different understanding of language structures (e.g. He is going to see her → “going” originally just a motion verb followed by a purpose clause “to see her”, but later “going to do sth” is understood as a grammatical structure expressing the planned future.

proto-language: common ancestor of languages, parent language (e.g. protogermanic = common ancestor of all Germanic languages; PIE = common ancestor of all IE languages).

cognate: form of the same word (same/very similar semantical meaning) existing independently in different languages which come from one original word from the parent language

ablaut: vowel change in the root which leads to change of the meaning or to a change of some grammatical categories (remnants of ablaut in ME: sing/sang/sung; sit/sat/seat/sett(le)/sadd(le)

6. Explain the process of internal reconstruction and the comparative method.

Comparative method: deductive process, a proto-language is partially reconstructed from extant daughter languages (reconstructed language = hypothesis; theoretical construct).

Linguists study siter languages (languages genetically related to a common parent language) and they collect presumed cognates (words of common origin, similar in meaning and form – BUT the form of cognates may vary because of sound changes in particular language). The linguists establish set of cognates and look for sound correspondences and also focus on possible sound changes (some are more likely to happen in one direction rather than another)

Internal reconstruction: looking at just one language and its development, without comparison

7. How do you recognize a cognate from a borrowing?

-                cognates are usually part of the so called “core vocabulary” which includes everyday objects and actions and also function words. These words do not tend to be borrowed.

-                the phonetic form of cognates tends to be quite different, as the words develop independently and are subject to sound changes  → borrowed words are often identical or very similar in phonetic form.

-                by knowing the timing and the nature of interaction between the languages (e.g. giving names to food acquired from other cultures = borrowings)

-                borrowed words are often attested quite late in the language's recorded history

8. Explain the phonetic plausibility (used but not explained on p. 114).

The likelyhood of sound change – some changes are more likely to happen than others, e.g.

-                change of voicing – e.g. the final voiced sounds tend to be devoiced (the change in opposite direction, i.e. gaining voicing is highly unlikely/impossible even)

-                change of place of articulation (palatalization – e.g. change from alveolar to palatal sound - /s/ → /ʃ/ as in “question”, but change in other direction is unlikely)

9.              How is ablaut related to the accentual system in Proto‐Indo‐European (stated but not explained on p. 118).

The accent of PIE was loose and the change of stress (accent) led to change of the vowel system → ablaut

10. How can the society and homeland of the Indo‐Europeans be described on purely linguistic grounds?

Reconstructed vocabulary allows us to get a fairly complete picture of proto-indo-european society and culture.

They worshipped a primary god associated with the skies, it was patriarchal, they had priests, recited prayers, engaged in rituals, and made offerings to the gods.  Male head of the tribe or family (terms for the family of the husband but not for the ones of the wife).

Agricultural society = words for different kinds of grain, animals, wealth measured in livestock

words for domestic skills and tools, foods: meat, fish, butter, cheese, milk, apples, salt, honey..

weapons: bow, arrow, axe

Region (homeland): familiar with snow, thunderstorms; knew lakes, forests. Different trees, animals, fish, insect..