Update to /ʀ/ Page

Instead of starting to work on new pages like I should, I’ve continued reading about /ʀ/, partially to make sure what I’ve said so far is right, and partially because it really is a pretty complicated subject with a lot of nuance.

Anyway, I found two things which I thought were interesting, the first being that I can read Norwegian (never tried before! But it’s like Danish – which I can kind of read – except that it makes sense), and the second being that there are loanwords from North Germanic languages into Saami that may be helpful in determining the identify of /ʀ/.

So that you don’t have to go digging through the page to see what I added, here it is:

I’ve just read, in Frå urnordisk til norrønt språk by Odd Einar Haugen, that Harald Bjorvand, a Norwegian historical linguist, pointed out that the Proto-Norse word *diuʀą (“animal”; cognate to deer; ON dýr) was adopted into the Saami languages as divra. I’m afraid I don’t know much about Saami languages. Looking through an article, On Germanic-Saami contacts and Saami prehistory by Ante Aikio, which notes a variety of North Germanic loanwords into older Saami languages at various points in time, it seems most instances of Germanic /ʀ/ became Saami /s/ (Proto-Norse *haitaʀ ‘hot’> Northwest Saami *hājttēs > Northern Saami háittis ‘very hot (of a stove)’).

However I did find two other interesting examples mentioned…

  • Proto-Norse(?) *hrauʀōʀ ‘groin’ (plural) > Pre-Saami *rawša ‘udder’
  • Proto-Norse(?) *nāƀiʀōʀ ‘birch bark’ > Pre-Saami *napra ‘birch bark’

The š, I would have to believe, represents /ʃ/, which is the English ‘sh’ sound. That’s what it usually represents anyway.

The reason I question-marked the ‘Proto-Norse’ is that the dating of the first seems uncertain, and because Aikio protests that the second was actually *ƀirōʀ, with a “regular” /r/ instead of a /ʀ/, on the grounds that Saami wouldn’t have taken it as an /r/. But if Harald is right about divra, I wonder if that may be evidence that /ʀ/was analyzed by Saami speakers in different ways depending on whether or not it came at the end of a word.

Harald Bjorvand considers the sound of /ʀ/ to be the raised alveolar non-sonorant trill [], which is the ř-sound in the Czech name Dvořák, like the composer.


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