Retroflex sounds

Bh.Krishnamurti bhk at HD1.VSNL.NET.IN
Sun Jun 21 17:20:40 UTC 1998

At 11:04 21/06/98 -0400, you wrote:
>The Australian example has been mentioned. Well, unfortunately, their
>retroflexes are not that old either:
>A. Capell, The history of Australian languages: A first approach,  in:
>S.A. Wurm, Australian linguistic studies, Australian National University
>1979,  p. 435, 437 regards them as secondary, derived from  *r+ cons.
>(just as some presuppose for parallel developments in IA and Dravidian).
>NB could the Drav. scholars on the list please provide some recent
>information on this problem?
>Bh.Krishnamurti wrote (june 21):
>.>>>.. Dravidian had both *_t and *.t basically in
>a large no of morphmes. It is true that in sandhi also _t and .t develop
>from l+t, and .l+t. <<<
>You you please elaborate on this and the preceding question? What do Drav.
>specialists think, these days, about the age of this sandhi effect and
>about the age of Drav. retroflexes in general?
>Michael Witzel                       witzel at

The above stated sandhi is part of Proto-Dravidian morphophonemics (ca. 3000
BC). It does not correspond in time to MI-rt > .t; I have to look up
Southworth's article again for rt > .t in drav. It is not a common dravidian
development. Hans Hock's arguments are mixed up in chronology. I have a mss
of his article presented in Hawaii (you were also there, Prof. Witzel!) but
not its published form.  He quotes me to support his assumption, but it is
totally misplaced. The Australian ex. is not relevant to the problem of
retroflexion in IA through diffusion. Incidentally my scenario does not
support an entirely internal development of retroflexion within IA. The full
transformation of the IA phonological system must have taken about two
millennia of contact with Dravidian and perhaps Munda. A similar change
happened within most of the Dravidian languages in which voicing and
aspiration became distinctive.  Bh.K.
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