[INDOLOGY] Sanskrit linguistics

Hock, Hans Henrich hhhock at illinois.edu
Sun Aug 29 20:55:25 UTC 2021

Dear Colleague,

Even as early as the Rig Veda there is evidence, both for ṣ occurring after a-vowels and for s occurring after i- and u-vowels. See the evidence further below.

What made the distribution of s and ṣ unpredictable is the fact that Proto-Indo-Iranian š, the source of Skt. ṣ is of two sources. One if the development of earlier s to š after “RUKI” (i.e. r-sounds, u-sounds, velars, and i-sounds; in the case of the vocalic sounds, both syllabic and nonsyllabic); the other was the development of PIE *ḱ to š before obstruent. Examples are nis- > niš ‘down’ and oḱtō > aštā ‘eight’.

As the second example shows, the second of these changes introduced š after a-vowels and thus made the RUKI outcome of s opaque and hence contrastive (consider e.g. Skt. asta- ‘thrown’ beside aṣṭā(u) ‘8’, with s and ṣ contrasting after a-vowel.

This contrastiveness, in turn, made it possible for analogical processes to extend ṣ into contexts after a-vowels (as in pary-a-ṣasvajat) as well as for borrowings and the like with ṣ after a-vowels and s after “RUKI” to be adopted without further adjustment.

All the best,

Hans Henrich Hock
Linguistics and Sanskrit (emeritus)
University of Illinois

Contrastiveness of retroflex sibilant in Sanskrit
Unpredictable occurrences after a-vowels in the RV
áṣāḍha ‘invicible’
áṣatarā ‘more beneficial’ (1.183.4)
kaváṣa (PN) (534.12)
cā́ṣa ‘Häher’ (923.13)
jálāṣa ‘healing’ (1.43.4 in compound)
caṣā́la ‘Knauf der Opfersäule’ (1.162.6)
váṣaṭ (ritual call) (passim)
Note also
paryaṣasvajat (pluperf.) ‘embraced’
Contrastive and unpredictable examples after a-vowels in later Vedic
mā́ṣa ‘bean’
mā́sa ‘moon, month’
bhāṣ- ‘speak’
bhās- ‘shine’
jhaṣá ‘large fish’
Some Post-Vedic examples after a-vowels
kaṣ- ‘rub, scratch’
kas- ‘go, move’ (DhP)
laṣ- ‘desire’ (MBh etc.)
Dental sibilant (s) after i- and u-vowels in Vedic
ṛbī́sa ‘cleft, gap’ (RV)
kīstá ‘singer’ (RV)
kúsindha ‘trunk’ (AV)
Some examples of ental sibilant (s) after i- and u-vowels in Post-Vedic
kisalaya ‘sprout, shoot’
kusuma ‘flower’
bisa ‘shoot, sucker’

On 23 Aug2021, at 14:11, Jim Ryan via INDOLOGY <INDOLOGY at list.indology.info<mailto:INDOLOGY at list.indology.info>> wrote:

A question: I go back to a memory (possibly incorrect) of hearing from a linguistics teacher at UW (long ago) that the retro-flex "ṣ" in Sanskrit was "barely phonemic." A  former student who had studied, through his Ph.D. exams, historical linguistics at UCLA focusing on Indo-European (maybe also Indo-Aryan) insisted that this sound was not phonemic. From time to time I'd encounter the issue in articles/books and found that the consensus seemed to favor this understanding. I used to challenge my student from time to time to test this, somehow, I suppose, wanting to vindicate my long ago teacher's position (or at least what I thought I recalled it to be). I've thought recently of two examples: the verbal root bhāṣ - “to speak.” and ṣaṣ (six). In neither case is there a "non-a vowel" preceding the sibilant, which would ordinarily condition retroflexion. In the case of "six,"  the ṣ is initial also.  How do we explain these instances in accord with the non-phonemic nature of ṣ?

Jim Ryan
Asian Philosophies and Cultures (Emeritus)
California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94103

INDOLOGY mailing list
INDOLOGY at list.indology.info<mailto:INDOLOGY at list.indology.info>

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://list.indology.info/pipermail/indology/attachments/20210829/d14f4609/attachment.htm>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list