The sound of Indo-European

The sound of Indo-European: Phonetics, phonemics, and morphophonemics. Ed. by Benedicte Nielsen Whitehead, Thomas Olander, Birgit Anette Olsen, and Jens Elmegård Rasmussen. (Copenhagen studies in Indo-European 4.) Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2012. Pp. 630. ISBN 9788763538381. $116 (Hb).

Reviewed by Jean-François Mondon, Minot State University

This book contains twenty-nine papers, all in English aside from three in German, selected from a conference held in Copenhagen in 2009. A wide breadth of daughter branches of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) receive ample coverage in this book. Due to space limitations, only a sampling of the articles can be highlighted here.

 Aaron Griffith’s ‘Non-raising before *m in Old Irish’ proposes that PIE *e did not raise before lenited *m, allowing him to account for four recalcitrant forms more easily, particularly teimel ‘darkness’. In ‘Lenition of s in Gaulish?’ David Stifter sifts through Gaulish data, concluding that there was no deletion of s across the board, but rather loss in specific environments. Nicholas Zair’s ‘A new environment for laryngeal loss in Proto-Celtic’ highlights the gains that are achieved by assuming laryngeal loss in *-RHT- clusters in Proto-Celtic, not the least of which is a clear derivation of Old Irish do.cer ‘fell’. Anders Richardt Jørgensen, in ‘Palatalization of *sk in British Celtic’, proposes that *sk yielded*hṷ initially before a front vowel and *x medially before *y.

 Brent Vine’s ‘PIE mobile accent in Italic: Further evidence’ is an exciting paper that shows evidence of a Latin sound law raising *e to i in unstressed positions with respect to PIE accent. Michael Frotscher offers an interesting proposal on the development of *-ṛ in Latin and Vedic. In Latin, the outcomes are conditioned by the preceding consonant, while in Sanskrit the outcomes are conditioned by the placement of the accent. In ‘Predicting Indo-European syllabification through phonotactic analysis’, Andrew Miles Byrd refines the input to the rule of laryngeal loss from *CH.CC > C.CC to *TH.CC and also offers motivation for the metron-rule. Paul S. Cohen and Adam Hyllested’s ‘A new sound law of PIE: Initial **h3> *h2’ accounts for the paucity of *h3before *ṷ word-initially, in addition to offering cleaner derivations for certain words that formerly forced the assumption of a non-ablauting *a.

 Eugen Hill, in ‘Hidden sound laws in the inflectional morphology of Proto-Indo-European’, takes up an idea of Warren Cowgill’s and derives the first-person singular of thematic verbs from *-o-mi, postulating an early PIE rule and examining its repercussions. Martin Joachim Kümmel’s ‘Typology and reconstruction’ evaluates various versions of the glottalic theory as well as certain oddities of qualitative ablaut. Paul Widmer, in ‘Notiz zur holokinetischen Ablautklasse’, delves into the problem of why holokinetic inflectional patterns can be built from all other types of inflectional classes, concluding that optional locative endings were misanalyzed as the full grade ending of a holokinetic stem.  Georges-Jean Pinault, in ‘Remarks on PIE amphikinetic and hysterokinetic nouns’, also deals with holokinetic nouns but derives them from a type of vṛddhied hysterokinetic class.Finally, Zsolt Simon’s chapter, ‘PIE “me” and a new Lydian sound law’, proposes that *h1R- > aR- in Lydian which forces a slight tweaking of the reconstruction of PIE personal pronouns.

Apart from the lack of a word-index, this book is of high quality, with very few typographical errors, and is a necessity for anyone interested in the latest developments in Indo-European linguistics.