Fortunatov's Law and tolkAppiyar's rules

Vidhyanath Rao vidynath at MATH.OHIO-STATE.EDU
Thu Jul 30 17:48:58 UTC 1998

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan <Palaniappa at AOL.COM> wrote:

>This is what Burrow says: "Intervocalically a single unvoiced consonant in
>Sanskrit very often replaces a double consonant in Dravidian.

Analogical reasoning would lead us to expect single intervocalic stops
in Dravidian loans to be voiced in Sanskrit. But there is no apparent
pattern here. Hamp restricts F's law to l[t|th|s]. This makes the
problem worse.

Even in case of doubled stops, there are examples with doubled stops in
Sanskrit also: ku.t.t, hu.dukka etc. As Drav. shows variation between
-CC- and -C- between languages, these are best taken as reflecting the
sound of the source langugage.

>This example also shows variations between alveolar, dental and

All the examples of variation are based on _t/_t_t. We don't see t or
.t changing. What we see here is change in Dravidian dialects where _t
changes to something else, and the Sanskrit borrowings reflect what
happened in the source language. This is very different from
`Dravidians >mis<pronunciation of alveolars as retroflexes' theory
which implies that >all< alveolars must have become retroflexes.

>In many colloquial situations, L does not become T before consonants
>like k, c, and p. Malayalam which has severed its connections with
>centamiz offers evidence for the unique nature of t vs k, c, and p.

The trouble is that these are attested at a much later date. The
presence of words like `kalki' shows that -lk- is acceptable in Modern
Tamil. But that tells us nothing about the situation in early First
Millennium BCE. Anyway, quoting Tolkappiyam (how old is that name?)
for one part of the argument and rejecting it elsewhere leaves
something to be desired.

Analogical restoration is a known process. We need to be sure that it
did not happen here, i.e. that -lk- etc were possible in proto-Dravidian,
but that -lt- > _t_t and -Lt- > -.t.t-. The standard sources have nothing
about morpho-phonemics of proto-Dravidian. If we rely on Tolkappiyam
instead, the troulbe remains.


We have been talking only about .t. But, there has been no attempt to
explain how Dravidian with its n/_n vs .n contrast could lead to n/_n
phoneme being split into n vs .n. I have not seen any reason to change
my view that convergence should in fact lead to collapsing of all

And nobody has even touched .s, the most commonly retroflexed sound in
Sanskrit. I see no way of getting there from s-hacek. And why would
Dravidian, with prominent lack of sibilants in the earliest stages
lead to a split in sibilants? I am yet see any one pick up this

In sum, it is quite premature to assume that Dravidian origin of
retroflexes is established fact. If you have not explained .s, you have
explained nothing about the origin of retroflexes in IA.

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