Origin of retroflexes: answers to Hock's objections?

Vidhyanath Rao vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu
Thu Nov 21 20:21:32 UTC 1996

Lars Martin Fosse <l.m.fosse at internet.no> wrote:
> As for the distinction between dentals, alveolars and retroflexes, we do not
> know for sure if this distinction was alive and well in Northern India at
> the time of the arrival of the Aryans.

I would assume that the primary approach towards answering this would be
to study the historic development of Dravidian. Just as we reconstruct
proto-IIr, proto-Germanic etc, we can try to reconstruct proto-North
Dravidian, proto-South dravidian etc. It is the lack of references 
to such efforts in treatments of the ``substrtum hypothesis'' that
bothers me.

If I want to study the influence of Dravidian on IA, shouldn't I start
by studying the historical developement of Dravidian and of IA, with
attempts at correlating their chronology?

> [...] If however, the Aryans developed a certain amount of retroflex
> sounds due to internal phonetic development, they may have felt that 
> Dravidian words with alveolars - if they existed - "sounded" like words 
> with retroflexes and therefore adopted these words with retroflexes.

Hey, you stole my line :-)

I had the perfect line to add after my third question (which I promise to
post after Thanskgiving): ``It would be more credible to argue that
the spread of retroflexes in IA is due to Aryans mispronouncing 
Dravidian words than the other way around.''

Now I have to think up something else.

> Best regards,
> Lars Martin Fosse
-Nath Rao

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