Post by Madhu Post by Jerry Friedman
(Speaking of syllabic consonants, was "Sanskrit" originally
pronounced with a syllabic [r]? Wikipedia says yes, "saṃskṛtam".)
Current: My realization has [rʏ] and [rɪ] in complementary
distribution. Pandits bilingual in Hindi and Sanskrit have [rɪ].
Past: It might have had allophones - more than one of these: Syllabic
[r̩], vocalic [ʏ], vocalic [ɪ], [rʏ], [rɪ], judging by its reflexes in
descendants of OIA.
My datum for its having had a vocalic allophone is
that Sanskrit /srngavera/ corresponds to Tamil [iɲɟiʋeːr],
I'm still dubious about what that correspondence means - In any case
i.e., that Sanskrit /r/ corresponds to [i], the 1st vowel
in the Tamil word.
this does not follow
Well, I have an alternate hypothesis of morpheme replacement rather than
sound change. Revising my posting from way back when:
The Sanskrit word is srngavera (nominative) or srngaveram (accusative).
Etymological dictionaries say srnga is related to Latin cornu and
English horn. The OED says about "horn":
"cognate with Latin cornu, Celtic corn 'horn': in ablaut relation with
Greek κέρας, κερατ-; compare also Sanskrit çṛṅga 'horn'."
As for why the Sanskrit word has srnga and not (s)inji, perhaps an ancient
pandit changed it to a Sanskrit word by getting rid of morpheme (s)inji
and replacing it with the somewhat similar morpheme srnga. An example of
an analysis showing/ claiming that a Sanskrit scholar changed a word
by changing one of its morphemes:
To explain why a Sanskrit word for spider has two spellings ulnavabhi and
ulnanabhi in Sanskrit texts (ulna meaning wool and related to the English
word wool), an IndoEuropean scholar compared it with terms in other
IndoEuropean languages. He deduced that ulnanabhi was devised by an
ancient Sanskrit pandit who presumed incorrectly that the word is
intended to mean "wooly navel" or producing wool from its navel, nabh
meaning navel. The IE scholar's analysis showed that ulnavabhi is the
original word meaning wool weaver (vabhi is related to the English word
weaver), a spider being called a wool weaver because it weaves cobwebs.