Turkic vocalism revisited

Previously I wrote about the system of Proto-Turkic vowels as consisting of 8 qualities spanned by features of height, frontness and rounding with three additional phonemes sometimes suggested: /ia/, /e/ and /*ë/.


The first phoneme is reflected identically to *a, except it caused palatalization in Chuvash, so that we have[1]:

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Khakas /ɪ/ – a note

It is sometimes alluded that Khakas preserves the Proto-Turkic distinction between *ä and *e as /e/ and /ɪ/. This is not the case, review of the comparanda shows that both *ä and *e of any length are reflected as /ɪ/ in first syllable of polysyllables.

Turkic initials

While all Turkic languages show distinction between voiceless and voiced stops [1] word-internally, only Oghuz languages have it initially[2], and only between k/g in front vowel words and t/d .

Most reconstructions take this distinction to have been phonemic in Proto-Turkic, but Doerfer makes the case in Ein altosmanisches Lautgesetz im Kurdischen that we’re dealing with a secondary voicing in Oghuz.

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Mongolic *gI

For some time now, I’ve been considering the possibility that Proto-Mongolic *ï derives, at least partly, from an earlier *ia diphthong. This would be in line with both Turkic and Tungusic possessing such a phoneme and with their correspondences such as CT *sarïg ‘yellow’ ~ Chuvash šur ‘white’ ~ PM *sïra ‘yellow’ or  CT *taš ~ Chuvash čul ~ PM *čïlaxun ‘stone’ (but Tungusic *ǯola). [1]

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