The laryngeal theory

breusch at breusch at
Fri Oct 28 23:33:51 UTC 1994

I would like to request for help with the laryngeal theory. I am a graduate
student and, after reviewing some of the relevant litearture, am still not 
certain about the status and significance of the theory.

[1] To my knowledge, some of the aspirated sounds in IE have been analyzed
by some scholars in terms of the "laryngeal" sound(s) found in Hittite,
which are denoted by "h" (one or more) and whose phonological expression is

[2] On the other hand, Panini has stated that the "external effort" added
to the pronunciation of language sounds includes aspiration (or lack of
it), voicedness (or lack of it), and nasalization (or lack of it).

[3] In many western languages, such as English for example, aspiration only
makes for allophones (not for different phonemes, as is the case in

[4] The logic of the "added or external effort" is applied to add "h" to
some sounds and thus create new sounds (this is done by western scholars).
But nobody has proposed yet a theory that would imply add voicedness or
nasalization, as far as I know (I may be wrong), because voicedness and
nasalization in western languages go beyond the point of allophone-ness,
i.e. they make different phonemes.

[5] A far as I know, in Sanskrit the voiced aspirates are phonemes, wiht
the same status as unvoiced unaspirated sounds, for example. 

I would appreciate it if someone could take the time to clarify this issue
for me.

Beatrice Reusch
breusch at
311 North Hancock # 111
Madison, WI 53703
608-256-6268 (voice & fax)


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