Christophe Grandsire <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Re: An arabo-romance conlang?
I'm having to graple with proto-semitic in order to put Saprutum on a
respectable footing, so please allow me to contribute. If we all pool
information we might be able to figure out the proto-phonemes, or at
least come up with something believable :-)
>> Their language was very archaic (as is modern literary Arabic, compared
>> to all other Semitic langs except Akkadian). Structurally, the Arabic
>> of 1st century could be not too different from Proto-West-Semitic.
I think that should probably read "except the South Arabian langs".
Akkadian has lost or fused many of the gutteral and sibilant
consonants, just as much as say Hebrew. Vowels and morphology are at
about the same stage as Classical Arabic, perhaps just a shade closer
to Proto-Semitic. Does anyone have any detailed info re the S. Arab.
langs, especially phonology?
>> Main problem with merging it with a Romance dialect: it had 3-way
>> opposition for occlusives, voiced : weak (aspirated) voiceless :
>> emphatic (glottalized) voiceless. Correspondences with today's Arabic
>> for the glottalized series (the other two haven't changed too much):
An interesting parallel is the way Sanskrit incorporated an extra
series of retroflex stops, presumably because these were part of the
phonology of the pre-Aryan (pre-IE) substratum.
Re the 3-way opposition, IMHO this was only true for four series of
dentals (stops, affricates etc.) I think /q/ is out on it's own.
Looking at what you've written and adding it to what I've got so far
I would reconstruct the proto consonants something like this :
/w, j, r, m, n/ remain fairly unchanged except that initial /w/ > /j/ in NWS
/b/ is stable but has a [B] or [v] allophone in Heb. and Aram.
/p/ changes to /f/ in Arab. & Ethiopian (?), develops [P] or [f]
allophone in Heb. Aram.
/?/ (glottal stop) lost in Akkad. remains as a phoneme elsewhere but
with a tendency to disappear after a vowel which is then lengthened.
/h/ same as above, but in some situations appears to give /S/ in Akkad.
which seems counter-intuitive to me.
/k/ stable but develops a [x] allophone in Heb. Aram. ([tS] or [S] in
some Arab. dialects ?)
/g/ realised as [dZ] or [Z] in Arab. east of Sinai, develops an
allophone [gamma] ([x] + voice, Dutch "g") in Heb. Aram.
/x/ retained in classical Arab. (and Ethiop. ?) becomes /h/ in Akkad.
merges with pharingeal /H/ in Heb. Aram.
/gamma/ (voiced fricative) retained in Arab. lost in Akkad. merges
with uvular /3/ ("ayin) elsewhere.
/q/ a retracted [k] stable in all languages. Tendency to become
voiced in modern Arab. dialects ???
/H/ apparently lost in Akkad. but elsewhere stable.
/G/ To match the velars there really should have been a voiced uvular
stop, voiced /q/, a retracted g [G]. I assume if this ever
existed it merged early with /3/ possibly as [G] ~  either
allophonically or in free variation.
/3/ voiced pharyngeal fricative, a sound close to [R], may also have
been realised as a voiced uvular stop [G] ??
Lost in Akkad. retained in some form everywhere else.
(Those are the easy ones, now the real fun begins with the dentals)
/d/ stable, but develops a [D] allophone in Heb. Aram.
/t/ ditto - [T] allophone in Heb. Aram.
/t'/ stable as [t.] "emphatic t" (still [t'] in S. Arab. langs,
/s/ remains in Arab. and Ethiop. softens to /S/ elsewhere.
Affricates (stop element lost everywhere (S. Arab. langs ???)
/dz/ simplified to /z/ stable everywhere
/ts/ ditto to /s/ stable everywhere
/ts'/ simplified to /s'/ stable everywhere but now realised as [s.]
"emphatic s" (still [s'] in the South ???)
More affricates (stop element again lost early)
/dZ/ ??? Gives /D/ in classical Arab. (often [d] or [z] in modern
dialects), merges with /d/ in Aram. (and so has a [D]
allophone), merges with /z/ elsewhere.
Perhaps after /dz/ > [z] probably quite early on, /dZ/ > [dz].
Only Arab. /D/ looks like it might have come direct from [dZ] or [Z]
/tS/ ??? Unvoiced equivalent of the above, Arab. /T/ (dial. [t] or
[s], merges with /t/ ([t] ~ [T]) in Aram. and with /s/ in
Ethiop. (?), but in Heb. and Akkad. it merges with /S/ rather
than /s/ which I suppose means that it joined original /s/
before the change /s/ > /S/
/tS'/ ??? Emphatic equivalent of the above, merges with /t'/ in Aram.
and with /s'/ everywhere else, except in Arabic where it
remains distinct as /D'/ either [D.] or [z.] that is either
an emphatic [D], probably the original sound, or a voiced
equivalent of emphatic s. It seems very odd to me that this
sound should have become voiced.
And finally the Laterals
/dl/ ??? Simplified to /l/ and probably merged with a pre-existing
/l/ phoneme. Totally stable.
/tl/ ??? becoming [hl] or a voiceless lateral fricative (?)
Supposedly remains distinct in S. Arab. langs and Ethiop. as
some kind of "sharp" s (???). Gives /S/ in Arab. and merges
with /S/ in Akkad. but with /s/ in Aram. In Hebrew it's
written with shin /S/ in the original Biblical texts, but pointed
as sin /s/. Either Heb. preserved this as a distinct phoneme
(but then why didn't the Canaanites give it a separate
letter when they devised the basic Semitic alphabet) or IMHO
it merged with /S/ and the pointing reflects Aramaic
influence, since this would have been the everyday language of the
/tl'/ ??? > [hl'] ??? The last and the oddist of them all! Apparently a
distinct emphatic sibilant in S. Arab. and Ethiop.
contrasting with normal /s'/. If we write this as /c'/ then
these languages would have had /z, s, s', c, c' S/ which is
about as many sibilant as Polish. Can anyone confirm this?
It also remained distinct in Arab. as /d'/ [d.] a voiced
emphatic stop. (This at least gives some support for the /tl'/
In Heb. and Akkad. it merged with /s'/ but in Aramaic it
merged with /3/ ("ayin) believe it or not. (I've confirmed this from
texts). cf. Arab. /ard'-/ Heb. /ars'/ Aram. /ar3-/ "earth"
This is one of the weirdist sets of correspondences I've
OK, now show me the error of my ways!
>> t' > [t.] ('emphatic' t) = /t'/ above
>> t_l' (or maybe s_l') > [d.] ('emphatic' d) = /tl'/ "
>> c' (or already s') > [s.] ('emphatic' s) = /ts'/ "
also /tS'/ > Arab. /D'/
>> k' > [q] (the uvular/back velar stop, _qaf_; in the times you are
>> interested in hardly different from k and g in the place of
Are you saying that Arab. /q/ got more like /k/ as time went on?
>> Modern interdentals (T, D) were affricates (exact quality unclear).
Has anyone attempted to date these changes?
>> The glottalized affricate of the same row (different from the s'/c' >
>> [s.] mentioned above) turned into modern [z.] ('emphatic' z).
Probably still [D.] in Classical Arab. ???
>> [S] was a lateral
>> s_l, or maybe t_l and s_l were still different but later merged
>> in s_l > [S].
Perhaps my /dl, tl, tl'/ should have been /l, sl, s'l/ ???
but then you lose the idea that the three-way gradation is based on
/d, t, t'/ either alone or as part of clusters.
Hope this is some use,