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Lecture | Comparative Indo-European Linguistics (CIEL) Seminars

DiaL/Ringuistics – The phoneme /l/ and its functioning in the diasystem of R̥gvedic Sanskrit

Friday 13 December 2019
Comparative Indo-European Linguistics (CIEL) Seminars
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


One of the most debated aspects in the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-Iranian phonology is whether one has to postulate the existence of a phoneme *l. It is well known that such a phoneme existed in Proto-Indo-European, but did it continue to exist in the later Indo-Iranian branch? Old Iranian has only the liquid /r/ and in Indo-Aryan one can find both /l/ and /r/, but with a clear preference for the latter one in the earliest texts. Based on a comprehensive study of all words that contain a phoneme /l/ in the R̥gveda, I will argue that we have to assume some form of continuity between Proto-Indo-European *l and later Indo-Aryan /l/. My argumentation will not only be based on a diachronic analysis of these words, but will also include diatopic and diastratic data. What can we learn from the distribution of /l/ in the different books of the R̥gveda about Vedic dialectology and the composition of the R̥gveda and what was the sociolinguistic status of the phoneme /l/ in the oldest phases of Old Indo-Aryan?

Comparative Indo-European Linguistics (CIEL) Seminars

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