Terje Mathiassen's A Short Grammar of Latvian PDF

By Terje Mathiassen

A descriptive grammar of Latvian

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In final position -wi, -e, -wo, -ye are not frequent, however nor are they rare. Their distribution is markedly and significantly different. Almost all final -wi, -e (and thus the vast majority of all -wi, -e) are found in apophonic environments, either in nominal apophony or as the stem vowel of bigrade verbs (whether or not with an attested hifukukei), both of which are thought to originate in contractions of a primary vowel with *i or *y. 9 Contra the four vowel hypothesis, the evidence that OJ -wo and -ye are diachronically secondary is thus on closer inspection far less persuasive than for -wi and -e.

Miyake allows that OJ w and y arose from pJ *b and *d, but doubts the existence of pJ *g and *z, and insists that the lenition of *b and *d took place before the establishment of go’on, not after. His alternative answer is that, for instance, medial /b/ (more abstractly /np/) = [mb] was pressed into service to transcribe EMC [b] faute de mieux. He ascribes the substituion of, for instance, kan’on /p/ for go’on /b/ to the change of EMC [b] to LMC [p] rather than to a change in Japanese (142-47).

Hattori and Hayata propose that length was the crucial conditioning factor for raising. 14 There are a number of problems with this view. First, there seems to be no independent evidence for the long vowel in virtually all of the relevant cases. Second, there is no explanation for why we find no CyeCV < *CeeCV or CwoCV < *CooCV. Finally, the condition seems to imply that all word final vowels were lengthened; although allophonic lengthening is plausible for monomoraic words in phrasefinal position, as in modern Kansai dialects, it is difficult to find supporting evidence for lengthening of all final vowels.

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