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Egyptian Emphatic Consonants

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Egyptian voiced stops became contintuants very early; were preserved in marginal idioms. later interaction between idioms led to reinterpretation of voiced stops as emphatic.

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Egyptian Emphatic Consonants

  1. 1. Egyptian Emphatic Consonants Do they exist, and how might they have been articulated ? Helmut Satzinger http://www.univie.ac.at/egyptology/ 5000 Jahre Semitohamitische Sprachen in Asien und Afrika 5000 Years Semitohamitic Languages in Asia and Africa Berlin, 22.-24. Juli 2010
  2. 2. “ All branches except Egyptian exhibit a special set of consonants, besides voiced and voiceless pairs, the 'emphatic' series , realised as pharyngealised (velarised) in Arabic and Berber, glottalised (ejective, explosive) in South Arabian, Ethiopian and Cushitic and glottalised (explosive or implosive) in Chadic; Egyptian, incidentally, also lacked voiced consonants ( d stands for /t/, t for /th/, in the standard transliteration) ... ” ( Comrie Major Languages 548.)
  3. 3. 1 The earliest Egyptian inherited the triple contrast voiceless aspirated ~ voiced ~ glottalized from Proto-Afrasian. (Allan R. Bomhard . “A Sketch of Proto-Afrasian Phonology.” In G. Takács (ed.), Semito-Hamitic Festschrift for A. B. Dolgopolsky and H. Jungraithmayr, Berlin 2008, 79–92, notably p. 81.)
  4. 4. 1 The earliest Egyptian inherited the triple contrast voiceless aspirated ~ voiced ~ glottalized from Proto-Afrasian. 2. First, the voiced consonants became devoiced . The resulting system had the contrast voiceless aspirated ~ voiceless unaspirated ~ glottalized. (Allan R. Bomhard . “A Sketch of Proto-Afrasian Phonology.” In G. Takács (ed.), Semito-Hamitic Festschrift for A. B. Dolgopolsky and H. Jungraithmayr, Berlin 2008, 79–92, notably p. 81.)
  5. 5. 1 The earliest Egyptian inherited the triple contrast voiceless aspirated ~ voiced ~ glottalized from Proto-Afrasian. 2. First, the voiced consonants became devoiced . The resulting system had the contrast voiceless aspirated ~ voiceless unaspirated ~ glottalized . 3. Next, the emphatics other than * k’ became deglottalized and merged with the voiceless unaspirated stops. It is not difficult to understand why * k’ would have remained longer than the other emphatics since back articulation is the unmarked point of articulation for ejectives. (Allan R. Bomhard . “A Sketch of Proto-Afrasian Phonology.” In G. Takács (ed.), Semito-Hamitic Festschrift for A. B. Dolgopolsky and H. Jungraithmayr, Berlin 2008, 79–92, notably p. 81.)
  6. 6. 1 The earliest Egyptian inherited the triple contrast voiceless aspirated ~ voiced ~ glottalized from Proto-Afrasian. 2. First, the voiced consonants became devoiced . The resulting system had the contrast voiceless aspirated ~ voiceless unaspirated ~ glottalized. 3. Next, the emphatics other than * k’ became deglottalized and merged with the voiceless unaspirated stops . It is not difficult to understand why * k’ would have remained longer than the other emphatics since back articulation is the unmarked point of articulation for ejectives. 4. Finally, * k’ became q . (We may note that a similar development is found in several East Cushitic languages, Somali being one example.) (Allan R. Bomhard . “A Sketch of Proto-Afrasian Phonology.” In G. Takács (ed.), Semito-Hamitic Festschrift for A. B. Dolgopolsky and H. Jungraithmayr, Berlin 2008, 79–92, notably p. 81.)
  7. 7. “ The earliest Egyptian inherited the triple contrast voiceless aspirated ~ voiced ~ glottalized from Proto_Afrasian.” ———————————— Plausible .
  8. 8. “ First, the voiced consonants became devoiced ” ———————————— Against all evidence. Proto-Egn. *b, *d, *g did not become p, t, k. p, t, k go back to Proto-Egn. *p, *t, *k. What is true is that Main Stream Egyptian doesn‘t have any voiced stops. But not because they had become devoiced stops, but rather, because they had become voiced continuants.
  9. 10. “ First, the voiced consonants became devoiced. The resulting system had the contrast voiceless aspirated ~ voiceless unaspirated ~ glottalized. ” (Bomhard.) ————————————— In fact: the resulting system had the contrast
  10. 11. “ Next, the emphatics other than * k’ became deglottalized ...” >>> Not before the Coptic period (if at all!) — “ ... and merged with the voiceless unaspirated stops .” >>> There is something in this; yet the background is much more complicated.
  11. 12. Did Main Stream Egyptian (MSE) have any “ devoiced unaspirated stops” ? It probably had voiceless aspirated and glottalized stops.
  12. 13. There was mutual lexical influence between the two idioms. But their phonetic systems were not congruent. How did “Southerners” pronounce the voiced stops of “Northern” words ? How could the writing system of the “South” (the Egn. Hieroglyphs) render the voiced stops?
  13. 15. The conservative “North” had voiced stops, but the progressive “ South” hadn’t. When “Northern ” words passed into the standard language — how did “Southerners ” pronounce them ? And how did the Egyptian script — which had no graphemes at hand — render them ? The default solution was obviously to pronounce the voiced stops like the glottalized. And to use the same graphemes for them.
  14. 19. How did the Egyptians pronounce the emphatic stops? Semitic emphatics were rendered inconsistently (as also the voiced stops): Egyptian transcriptions of Semitic sounds, 2nd millennium B.C.
  15. 29. “ ...in several other Neo-Aramaic dialects (such as, for example, T’ u r-‘Abd i n), the emphatics are realized as unaspirated voiceless stops – here, the non-emphatic voiceless stops are distinguished from the emphatics by the presence of the feature of aspiration.” (Bomhard op.cit. p. 80.)

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