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The centum–satem division is an ostensible isogloss of the Indo-European language family, related to the different evolution of the three dorsal consonant rows of the mainstream reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European (PIE):
While the division forms an isogloss in synchronic descriptions of historical Indo-European languages, it has rarely been proposed as a genuine phylogenetic division of the diachronic development of the Indo-European phylum.
|*kʷ,||*gʷ,||*gʷʰ||(labiovelars)||merged in satem languages|
|merged in centum languages||*k,||*g,||*gʰ||(plain velars)|
However, the diachronic reality of the supposed "satemization" in the eastern language branches has been largely dismissed since the late 20th century (in other words, it has been dismissed that satem and centum languages each derive from a respective branch of PIE), for example with the discovery of Tocharian, the most eastward Indo-European language, to be a "centum" language; it is now thought that each branch became centum or satem independently.
- 1 Terminology
- 2 Structure of the isogloss
- 3 History of the concept
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 Literature
- 7 External links
|Look up satem in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Look up centum in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
The centum-satem isogloss refers to the treatment of the tree dorsal rows in the development of the earliest separation of the parent language into the proto-languages of its individual daughter branches, it does not apply to later analogous developments within any individual branch; e.g. the palatalization of Latin /k/ to /s/ in some Romance languages and merger of *kʷ with *k in the Goidelic languages are "satem-like", but taking place within the centum group they do not fall under the term of "satemization".
Structure of the isogloss
The centum group includes the "western" branches of Italic, Celtic, Germanic and Greek. This group merged Proto-Indo-European palatovelars and plain velars yielding plain velars only, but retained the labiovelars as a distinct set.
The satem languages include the "eastern" branches of Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian. This group lost the labial element of Proto-Indo-European labiovelars and thus merged them with plain velars, while the palatovelars remain distinct, realized as a sibilant phoneme.
Similarly, the Anatolian branch likely falls outside the centum-satem dichotomy, as evidence from Luwian indicates that all three dorsal consonant rows were maintained separately in Proto-Anatolian, and the Centumization observed in Hittite occurred only after the breakup of Common Anatolian.
Tocharian is a special case, as it has merged all three PIE dorsal series (originally constituting nine separate consonants) into a single phoneme *k. This prevents the classification of Tocharian within the Centum-Satem model. However, as some Proto-Indo-European labiovelars are in fact represented by a labiovelar-like element or by a non-original sequence *ku in Tocharian, it has been proposed that labiovelars were still distinct in Proto-Tocharian, which would suggest placing Tocharian in the "centum" group (assuming an early loss of palatovelars at a time while labiovelars were a distinct phoneme).
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The Satem languages show characteristic affricate and fricative consonants articulated in the front of the mouth in inherited Indo-European lexical items. The Satem shift is conveniently illustrated with the word for '100', Proto-Indo-European *(d)ḱm̥tóm, which became Avestan satəm (hence the name of the group), Persian sad, Sanskrit śatam, Latvian simts, Lithuanian šimtas, Old Church Slavonic sъto. Another example is the Slavic prefix sъ(n)- ("with"), which appears in Latin, a centum language, as co(n)-; conjoin is cognate with Russian soyuz ("union").
The sources of the satem sounds and the methods by which they became what they are have been debated heavily by Indo-European linguists for many decades. The originator of the concept, Peter von Bradke, believed in a Proto-Indo-European two-row system of four gutturals each row, the pure velar row: *k, *kʰ, *g, *gʰ, and the palatovelar row: *ḱ, *ḱʰ, *ǵ, *ǵʰ.
Karl Brugmann added the labio-velar row: *kʷ, *kʷʰ, *gʷ, *gʷʰ, with the proviso that in the Satem languages it merged into the velar row, losing their accompanying lip-rounding. This merger left the satem group without labio-velars.
Remnants of labial elements from labiovelars in Balto-Slavic include Lithuanian ungurys "eel" < *angʷi- , Lithuanian dygus "pointy" < *dʰeigʷ-. Fewer examples of incomplete Satemization are also known from Indo-Iranian, such as Sanskrit guru "heavy" < *gʷer-, kulam "herd" < *kʷel-. A superficially comparable treatment of kuru "make" < *kʷer- in Sanskrit illustrates that evidence of "incomplete satemization" may in fact be secondary developments, as in the case of Sanskrit it is clear that the ku- group arose in post-Rigvedic language.
Satem"-like" features have arisen multiple times during history (e.g. French cent pron. [sã], Spanish ciento). As a result, it is sometimes difficult to firmly establish which languages were part of the original Satem diffusion and which were affected by secondary assibilation in a later time period. While extensive documentation of Latin and Old Swedish shows that the assibilation found in French and Swedish were later developments, there are not enough records of Dacian and Thracian to conclusively settle the issue of when their Satem-like features originated. Extensive lexical borrowing, such as Armenian from Iranian, may also add to the difficulty. The status of Armenian as a Satem language as opposed to a Centum language with secondary assibilation rests on the evidence of a very few words.
The Centum languages show characteristic plain velars and labiovelars articulated at the back of the mouth in inherited Indo-European lexical items. Historically it was unclear whether the labiovelar row was an innovated by a process of libialization, or if it was inherited from the parent language (but lost in the satem row). Current mainstream opinion favours the latter possibility.
The name Centum comes from the Latin word centum (pronounced [kentum]) < PIE *ḱm̥tóm, '100', English hund(red)- (with /h/ from earlier *k, see Grimm's law), Greek (he)katon, Welsh cant, Tocharian B kante. Labiovelars as single phonemes (for example, /kʷ/), as opposed to biphonemes (for example, /kw/) are attested in Greek (the Linear B q- series), Italic (Latin qu), Germanic (Gothic hwair ƕ and qairþra q) and Celtic (Ogham ceirt Q). In the Centum languages, the palatovelar consonants merged into the plain velars (*k, *g, *gʰ). The merger left the Centum group without palatovelars.
The centum languages preserved distinct reflexes of Proto-Indo-European labiovelars (*kʷ, *gʷ, *gʷʰ); for example, PIE *k vs. *kʷ became Latin c /k/ vs. qu /kʷ/, Greek κ /k/ vs. π /p/ (or τ /t/ before front vowels), Gothic h /h/ vs. ƕ /hʷ/, etc.
The presence of three dorsal rows in the proto-language has been the mainstream hypothesis since at least the mid 20th century.
There remain, however, several alternative proposals assuming just two rows in the parent language, which describe either "satemization" or "centumization" as the emergence of a new phonematic category rather than the disappearance of an inherited one.
Thus, Antoine Meillet (1937) proposed that the original rows were the labiovelars and palatovelars, with the plain velars being allophones of the palatovelars in some cases, such as depalatalization before a resonant. The etymologies establishing the presence of velars in the parent language are explained as artefacts of either borrowing between daughter languages or of false etymologies.
Oswald Szemerényi (1990), on the other hand, considers the palatovelars as an innovation, proposing that the "preconsonantal palatals probably owe their origin, at least in part, to a lost palatal vowel;" that is, a velar was palatalized by a following vowel subsequently lost. The palatal row would therefore post-date the the original velar and labiovelar rows, but Szemerényi is not clear whether this would have happened before or after the breakup of the parent-language; in a table showing the system of stops "shortly before the break-up", he includes palatovelars with a question mark after them.
Woodhouse (1998; 2005) introduced a "bitectal" notation, labelling the two rows of dorsals as k1, g1, g1h and k2, g2, g2h. The first row represents "prevelars" which developed into either palatovelars or plain velars in the satem group, but just into plain velars into the centum group; the second row represents "backvelars" which developed into either labiovelars or plain velars in the centum group, but just into plain velars in the satem group.
History of the concept
Schleicher's single guttural row
August Schleicher, an early Indo-Europeanist, in Part I, "Phonology", of his major work, the 1871 "Compendium of Comparative Grammar of the Indogermanic Language", published a table of original momentane Laute, or "stops", that has only a single velar row, *k, *g, *gʰ, under the name of Gutturalen. He does identify four palatals (*ḱ, *ǵ, *ḱʰ, *ǵʰ) but hypothesizes that they came from the gutturals along with the nasal ń and the spirant ç.
Brugmann's labialized and unlabialized language groups
Karl Brugmann in his 1886 equivalent work, "Outline of Comparative Grammar of the Indogermanic Language," promotes the palatals to the original language, recognizing two rows of Explosivae, or "stops", the palatal (*ḱ, *ǵ, *ḱʰ, *ǵʰ) and the velar (*k, *g, *kʰ, *gʰ), each of which was simplified to three articulations even in the same work. In that same work Brugmann notices among die velaren Verschlusslaute, "the velar stops", a major contrast between reflexes of the same words in different daughter languages: in some the velar is marked with a u-Sprache, "u-articulation," which he terms a Labialisierung, "labialization," in accordance with the prevailing theory that the labiovelars were velars labialized by combination with a u at some later time and not among the original consonants. He divides languages therefore into die Sprachgruppe mit Labialisierung and die Sprachgruppe ohne Labialisierung, "the language group with (or without) labialization," which are perforce identical to the Centum and Satem groups. He opines that
"For words and groups of words, which do not appear in any language with labialized velar-sound [the "pure velars"], it must for the present be left undecided whether they ever had the u-afterclap."
The doubt introduced in this passage suggests he already suspected the "afterclap" u was not that but was part of an original sound.
Von Bradke's centum and satem groups
In 1890 Peter von Bradke published "Concerning Method and Conclusions of Aryan (Indogermanic) Studies" in which he saw the same division (Trennung) as did Brugmann but he defined it in a different way. He said that the original Aryans knew two kinds of gutturaler Laute, or "guttural sounds," the gutturale oder velare, und die palatale Reihe, "guttural or velar and palatal rows," each of which were aspirated and unaspirated. The velars were to be viewed as gutturals in an engerer Sinn, "narrow sense." They were a reiner K-Laut, "pure K-sound." Palatals were häufig mit nachfolgender Labialisierung, "frequently with subsequent Labialization." This latter distinction led him to divide the palatale Reihe into a Gruppe als Spirant and a reiner K-Laut, typified by the words satem and centum respectively. Later in the book he speaks of an original centum-Gruppe from which on the north of the Black and Caspian Seas the satem-Stämmen dissimilated among the Nomadenvölker, or Steppenvölker, located there by further palatalization of the palatal gutturals.
Brugmann's identification of labialized and centum
By the 1897 edition of Grundriss, Brugmann (and Delbrück) had adopted Von Bradke's view. He says
"Die Palatallaute der idg. Urzeit ... erscheinen in Griech, Ital., Kelt., Germ. in der Regel als K-Laute, dagegen im Ar., Arm., Alb., Balt-Slav., denen sich Phrygisch und Thrakisch ... meistens als Zischlaute."
[The Proto-Indo-European palatals appear in Greek, Italic, Celtic and Germanic as a rule as K-sounds, as opposed to in Aryan, Armenian, Albanian, Balto-Slavic, Phrygian and Thracian for the most part sibilants.]
Concerning the labialized velars Brugmann had changed his mind, and there was no more mention of labialized and non-labialized language groups. The labio-velars now appeared under that name as one row of the 5-row Verschlusslaute (Explosivae) containing die labialen V., die dentalen V., die palatalen V., die reinvelaren V. and die labiovelaren V. It was Brugmann who pointed out that labiovelars had merged into the velars in the Satem Group, accounting for the coincidence of the discarded non-labialized group with the Satem Group.
Discovery of Anatolian and Tocharian
When von Bradke first published his definition of the Centum and Satem sound changes, he viewed his classification as "the oldest perceivable division" in Indo-European, which he elucidated as "a division between eastern and western cultural provinces (Kulturkreise)." This proposed split was undermined by the decipherment of Hittite and Tocharian in the early 20th century. Both languages show no "satem-like" assibiliation in spite of being located in the satem areal.
The proposed phylogenetic division of Indo-European into satem and centum "sub-families" was further weakened by additional Indo-European isoglosses running across the centum-satem boundary, some of which seemed of equal or greater importance in the development of daughter languages. Consequently, since the early 20th century at least, the centum-satem isogloss has been considered an early areal phenomenon rather than a true, phylogenetic, division of daughter languages.
- J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (1997), p. 461.
- Fortson 2010, chpt. 3.2–3.25
- Mallory 1997, p. 461.
- Fortson 2010, p. 59, originally proposed in Melchert 1987
- Fortson 2010, p. 178
- Lyovin 1997, p. 53
- Fortson 2010, p. 59
- Lehmann 1993, p. 100
- Szemerényi 1990, p. 148
- R. Woodhouse, Indogermanische Forschungen (2010), 127–134.
- Schleicher 1871, p. 10
- Bynon, Theodora, "The Synthesis of Comparative and Historical Indo-European Studies: August Schleicher", in Auroux, Sylvain, History of the language sciences: an international handbook on, Volume 2, pp. 1223–1239
- Schleicher 1871, p. 163
- Brugmann 1886, p. 20
- Brugmann 1886, pp. 308–309
- Brugmann 1886, p. 312
- Brugmann 1886, p. 313. The quote given here is a translation by Joseph Wright, 1888.
- von Bradke 1890, p. 63
- von Bradke 1890, p. 107
- Brugmann & Delbrück 1897 p. 542.
- Brugmann & Delbrück 1897 p. 616. "...die Vertretung der qʷ-Laute ... ist wie die der q-Laute, ...."
- von Bradke 1890, p. 108
- K Shields, A New Look at the Centum/Satem Isogloss, Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung (1981).
- "...an early dialect split of the type indicated by the centum-satem contrast should be expected to be reflected in other high-order dialect distinctions as well, a pattern which is not evident from an analysis of shared features among eastern and western languages."Baldi, Philip (1999). The Foundations of Latin. Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs 117. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co. p. 39. ISBN 978-3-11-016294-3.
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