Discussion examples for

Week 6

Discussion examples for
Internal Reconstruction
(APS Reader, pages 66-68)


proto-Bole Perfective Marker

Bole is a West Chadic language spoken in northeastern Nigeria. Use internal reconstruction to reconstruct the original form of the Bole perfective marker.

Solution

There is just one one correspondence set for the Bole perfective marker, raising the question of which of the three variants may have been original. We can use the the sound changes which would be required to get the modern forms from each reconstruction to help decide:

To reconstruct *wo requires that *w strengthen to a stop in postconsonantal environments. While not completely unnatural, it is certainly not as common a type of change as the weakenings required for the other proposed reconstructions (stop > glide / V___V, assimilation to voicing of preceding consonant). Choosing between *k and *g is not obvious, however, since both involve natural voicing assimilations to the preceding consonants.


Comparative data from
Karekare resolves this.

In Karekare, k appears in both / V___V and / ___V. It would make no sense to reconstruct the Karekare perfective marker as coming from anything other than *ko. Since this is also one of the variants of the Bole perfective marker, this must be the original form for Bole as well.

Return to Karekare data

Karekare is a language of the Bole-Tangale subgroup of West Chadic and is thus fairly closely related to Bole. Both Bole and Karekare have a plural agreement ending -an, suffixed to the verb when the subject is plural. Bole also has a feminine singular agreement ending when the subject is feminine singular (either 'you (feminine singular)' or 'she'). This is seen as the suffix -ak in the Bole data. Karekare does not have feminine singular agreement.

Back to top


proto-Spanish Verb Root Vowels

Reconstruct the vowels of the roots of the following Spanish verbs. (The archaic thou is used in English to distinguish 2nd person singular from 2nd person plural.)

Vowel Correspondence sets

Sound changes

This problem shows the uncertainty often found in internal reconstruction. The differing correspondence sets show that we must reconstruct at least seven vowel distinctions, but we have no way to be sure what those distinctions were. Without going into detail, the real answer lies in the vowel length distinction of Latin, which has disappeared in all the modern Romance languages, showing up as differences in vowel quality or diphthongization.

Back to Spanish data

Do not use the Spanish word tengo in your correspondence sets. It has undergone an irregular develoment and is included here for completeness.

Back to top