Historical Linguistics and Prosody
Kazuhiko Yoshida (Kyoto University)
The difficulty in obtaining prosodic evidence from documents written in ancient languages, the native speakers of which have long since ceased to exist, is always an obstacle to the development of historical linguistic research. In written documents, prosodic contrasts rarely appear in the written form . In spite of this difficulty, however, it is not always impossible to obtain prosodic evidence even from dead languages by using techniques of historical linguistics. This paper provides two examples from Anatolian languages, including Hittite.
Two lenition rules in Proto-Anatolian, which were considered to have operated either after an accented long vowel or between two short vowels, have been unified by Adiego (2001) into a single rule in moraic terms: lenition occurred after an unaccented mora. Furthermore, Hittite mediopassive present verbs of the nasal-infix class, which cannot be adequately accounted for on the supposition that the basic units which carried accents in Proto-Anatolian were syllables, come to receive a morphologically and typologically well motivated and straightforward historical explanation from a moraic point of view. These two independent pieces of evidence inevitably lead us to argue that Proto-Anatolian was a mora-based language.