Zeitschrift für Indogermanistik und historische Sprachwissenschaft / Journal of Indo-European Studies and Historical Linguistics
Ed. by Fortson, Benjamin W. / Keydana, Götz / Rieken, Elisabeth / Widmer, Paul
1 Issue per year
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Did murmur spread in Pre-Proto-Indo-European?
The reconstructed stop consonants of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) present something of an anomaly from the perspective of linguistic typology. Whereas murmured (breathy-voiced) stops are cross-linguistically rare (indeed, they are non-existent in nine of the ten historic branches of the Indo-European languages), they are more widespread in the lexicon of PIE than their plain-voiced counterparts. In this paper we present statistical evidence to establish that the preponderance of murmured stops in PIE is atypical, and propose a novel explanation for their distribution: namely, that murmur - already present in pre-Proto-Indo- European - was in the process of spreading through the PIE lexicon to the plainvoiced stops especially in initial position. We suggest some possible phonetic mechanisms that may have given rise to the spread of murmur.