Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 212
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Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.
 

Page 212
 
German (Suabian) dialects, however, have now nasalized vowels in lieu of the older vowel + nasal consonant (n). Is it only accidental that these dialects are spoken in proximity to French, which makes abundant use of nasalized vowels? Again, there are certain general phonetic features that mark off Dutch and Flemish in contrast, say, to North German and Scandinavian dialects. One of these is the presence of unaspirated voiceless stops (p, t, k), which have a precise, metallic quality reminiscent of the corresponding French sounds, but which contrast with the stronger, aspirated stops of English, North German, and Danish. Even if we assume that the unaspirated stops are more archaic, that they are the unmodified descendants of the old Germanic consonants, is it not perhaps a significant historical fact that the Dutch dialects, neighbors of French, were inhibited from modifying these consonants in accordance with what seems to have been a general Germanic phonetic drift? Even more striking than these instances is the peculiar resemblance, in certain special phonetic respects, of Russian and other Slavic languages to the unrelated Ural-Altaic languages 5 of the Volga region. The peculiar, dull vowel, for instance, known in Russian as “yeri” 6 has Ural-Altaic analogues, but is entirely wanting in Germanic, Greek, Armenian, and Indo-Iranian, the nearest Indo-European congeners of Slavic. We may at least suspect that the Slavic vowel is not historically unconnected with its Ural-Altaic parallels. One of the most puzzling cases of phonetic parallelism is afforded by a large number of American Indian languages spoken west of the Rockies. Even at the most
Note 5.  Ugro-Finnic and Turkish (Tartar). [back]
Note 6.  Probably, in Sweet’s terminology, high-back (or, better, between back and “mixed” positions)-narrow-unrounded. It generally corresponds to an Indo-European long u. [back]

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