Retroflex sounds

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Mon Jun 22 02:42:42 UTC 1998

Thanks for the clarification!

On Sun, 21 Jun 1998, Bh.Krishnamurti wrote:

> The Australian ex. is not relevant to the problem of
> retroflexion in IA through diffusion.

Of course. I only mentioned it as parallel development (like in
Scandinavian, Sardinian). And, just in case that Aust. once had passed
through India (in the out-of-Africa scheme) and had left a substratum
there... which particular (retr.) scenario obviously does not work now.

> 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.

I believe in a similar scenario but I  am still at the stage of
collecting data/proofs. Hence my questions, to go beyond Zevebil 1970

To provide two somewhat "outrageous" scenarios:

(1) If PDrav. _t, .t etc. are securely PDrav. (as also in Zvelebil/DED)
is there any INTERNAL evidence in PDrav. that they might have developed
(in *pre*-Proto-Drav.) from various Sandhi positions / particular phonetic

I gather, not?

(2) if  (1) does not work, and waht I also had in mind:  has anyone an
opinion on:

 Nostratic **t  > PDrav. *.t,  etc.?

A brief check of various sounds/and groups in : Illich-Svitych, Opyt...,
Moskva 1971-6 follows.

If I understand him correctly, he reconstructs Drav. retroflexes as
conditioned by *intervocalic position* in Nostratic. I am somewhat
hampered now as I have left my Russian Dict. in the office.

I am quoting from Illich's dictionary (nith his no.s) , merely adding DED2
numbers (hopefully correctly), as he only has DED1 page numbers (which I
don't have here)

        (Afro-Asiatic, AfrAs,  for his, older, Hamito_Semitic)
        (NB. Nostr. .t, .k,   etc. are of course NOT retroflexes)

Illich-Sv. no. 225 Drav. ke.t^ //  " padat'/to fall"
**Nostr. .ket^, IE ? keid/k'ad ( O.Isl. hitta,  Skt. zad)
Drav.   DED2 1124  Tam. ki.ta, Tel. ke.dayu

no. 306 Drav. muu.t  // "konchat's/konec/ to end"
Nostr. **muda, AfrAs. md, Alt. muda
Drav. DED2 4922  Tam. mu.ti, Tel. muu.du (Krish. 466)

no . 251 Drav. ne.t/naa.t  // "razyskivat', nakhodit'/ to seek"
**Nostr. ? lewda", Ural. Lewda"
Drav. (1. ) *neet   DED2 3766    Tam.  ne.tu,  Kodagu nee".d
(2) *naa.t  DED2  3637  Tam. naa.tu, Tulu naa.du

no. 205  Drav.  ku.d.d //  "malenkii/ small"
**Nostr. .ku.t^, AfrAs. q(w).t, k(w).t, kt, Kartv. .ku.t, .ko.t
Drav. ku.d.d  DED2 1670  Tam. ku.t.tam, Kui  guu.ta, Kurukh  gu.druu,
Brahui  _ghu.d.du
(As for Drav.  .d.d in mid-word position (inlaut), he presupposes some old
suffix *-H : *-.tH > Drav.  .d.d )

no. 194 Drav. ka.t/ka.t.ta //"ukhodit'/to pass through"  :
Nostr. **.kaLa, IE?, Kartv. .kel, Ural. kad'a, Alt. k'ala Drav. : DED2 no.
1109 'pass through' etc. Tam. ka.ta etc.

no. 204 Drav. ku.t.t //  "tainyi/secret"
Nostr. ** .kuLa,  AfrAs. q(w)l,  Kartv. .kwel, Alt. k'ula
Drav. DED2 1675  Tam. ku.t.tu, Tel gu.t.tu etc.  'secret'

no. 79 Drav. ka.n.t  // "samec/man, etc.,"
Nostr. **ga"ndu   (a" = a + umlaut) , Drav. ka.n.t, Alt. g"andu"
Drav.  DED2  1173 Tamil ka.n.ta_n, Tel. etc.

no. 301 Drav. mi.n(.t)  // "zhenshchina/samka/ <<promiscuous>> woman"
Nostr, **min'a", AfrAs. m(j)n, Ural. min'a"
Drav.   DED2  4858  Kan. mi.n.di <<lusty female>>, Tulu mi.n.di, -- cf.
Kota mi.n.d.n, Kan. mi.n.d.a; cf.  Brahui min.d; Skt. menaa  from N.

no. 86  Drav. *ku.n.ta? //  rather doubtful. "serdce/heart"
Nostr. **golH^, Kartv. gul-. Alt. gol(^) -
Georgian gul, Old Uighur qo:l, Mong. gool, AfrAs some Chadian forms
Drav. (?) DED2 1693  Tam. ku.n.ti, Kan. gu.n.dige, Tel. etc.

(He has many more  cases of _r, .r,  -l, .l)

Any opinion?   Or is that *too early* to ask?

This is important:
If one accepts the Nostraticists' position, then the Dravidians, too,
started to retroflex their tongues only *after* entering the
subcontinent.... as nearly everybody else.

Michael Witzel                       witzel at

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