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Et si le proto-bantu était aussi une langue ... avec ses contraintes et ses déséquilibres

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Abstract:

This article aims to define the phonological structure of Proto-Bantu lexical units on the basis of frequencies of reconstructed consonant co-occurrences. Starting from the main reconstructions given in BLR3, I present evidence for the presence of unexpected frequencies indicating imbalances in two directions. Certain consonant co-occurrences have not been reconstructed, essentially consonants sharing the same place of articulation and differing by only one feature, either voicing or nasality. These “gaps” in the proto-lexicon turn out to correspond to more general constraints that tend, on the one hand, towards the differentiation of place of articulation and, on the other hand, on agreement in voicing and nasality. However, in cases where *C and *C share the same place of articulation, Proto-Bantu seems to prefer identity over similarity. In looking to establish a link between the phonotactic constraints of the mother language and those of daughter languages, the latter take different directions, either a direction identical to that of the mother language, or a divergent one. In the reconstructions, the constraints on the nasality feature show similarities to those present in contemporary languages: Ganda has extended the constraint reconstructed for alveolars to all co-occurrences between a voiced stop and a nasal with the same place of articulation. However, the constraints on voicing generated by the dissimilation rule known as Dahl's Law go in a divergent direction. I bring support here for the view that Dahl's Law is in fact a daughter-language innovation. Furthermore, I show that this innovation was probably induced by the imbalances of the mother language; the rule fills Proto-Bantu distributional gaps. Finally, I discuss the implications of this study for the Obligatory Contour Principle (OCP).

German
Die phonologische Lexemstruktur in Ur-Bantu wird hier anhand einer quantitativen Methode behandelt, wobei das gemeinsame Vorkommen der Konsonanten in den rekonstruierten Formen untersucht wird. Sollte sich bei einem ersten Ansatz zeigen, dass bestimmte Kombinationen von Konsonanten nicht belegt sind, so wird eine fortführende Studie aufzeigen müssen, dass es sich in Wirklichkeit um Regelmäßigkeiten handeln dürfte, die bis heute von keinem Wissenschaftler wahrgenommen wurden. Die Regelmäßigkeiten sind das Ergebnis phonotaktischer Restriktionen in Bezug auf die Artikulationsorte, die Stimmbildung und die Nasalisierung. Diese Restriktionen rufen das obligatorische Kontrastprinzip (OCP) hervor. Unter Bantuisten werden jene Restriktionen der Ursprache so interpretiert, als hätten sie die Entstehung einer Dissimilationsregel vereinfacht oder sogar verursacht, die in der Fachwelt als ,Dahls Gesetz' bekannt ist.

French
C'est par une méthodologie quantitative que nous allons aborder la structure phonologique des unités lexicales Proto-Bantu en analysant la fréquence des cooccurrences consonantiques reconstruites. Si une première approche fait apparaître des « trous » dans les reconstructions nous verrons que ces déséquilibres structurels inattendus et jusque là ignorés, sont le signe apparent de contraintes phonotactiques organisées autour d'une différenciation des lieux d'articulation et d'un accord de voisement et de nasalité. Enfin, ces contraintes de la langue-mère seront interprétées comme ayant favorisé ou déclenché l'émergence d'une règle de dissimilation de voisement connue sous le nom de règle de Dahl.
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  • International Journal for Historical Linguistics
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