Origin of retroflexion in IA

George Thompson thompson at JLC.NET
Wed Mar 25 19:15:01 UTC 1998

Vidhyanath Rao observes:
>It seems to me that it is suspect methodology to discuss the origin of
>retroflexion in a piecemeal fashion, limiting ourselves to just RV
>and just t/.t etc contrast.

Agreed. But to my knowledge no one uses this methodology. The /T/ vs /t/
contrast was just one example, used to refer to the entire retroflex and
dental series in Skt. [just imitating the Skt. grammarians, that's all]. I
also agree that the RV should not be studied in isolation, just as
retroflexion itself should not be studied in isolation. Of course.

But I am not attempting to figure out the origin of retroflexion in all of
IA. I am trying to figure out the origin of retroflexion in a specific
text, the RV. There is none in Avestan, there is some in RV, there is more
in later Vedic, and still more in Classical Sanskrit.

I assume that Dravidian is a factor in this development, but I do not know
how to characterize its role [convergence? substratum? an open question].
Remember, the RV is an orally composed and orally transmitted text.
Therefore I think it is reasonable to take Deshpande's theory seriously.

Best wishes,

George Thompson

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