ARMENIAN AND INDO-EUROPEAN DIPHTONGAL SYSTEMS – 2015-3

Diachronic- Typological Attempt

Summary

Vardan Z. Petrosyan

Key Words – diphthong and a like-diphthong, systematic correspondence, Proto-Indo-European Language, diachronic typology, phonemic- phonetic status of ու.

The system of Old Armenian diphtongs has been studied mainly from the synchronic point of view, while the diachronic studies have only been restricted to pointing out the origin or,in other words, the Indo-European prototypes of the diphtongs, without comprehensive investigation. The investigation of the given matter on the one hand reveals a reliable image of the correspondence between Old Armenian and Indo- European diphtongs and on the other hand provides an opportunty to explain the deviations of Old Armenian system of diphtongs from that of the Indo-European diphtongs. According to this, there are the following correspondences between the diphtongal systems of Old Armenian and Indo-European languages: au/*āu>աւ(aw/aṷ),*ai>այ (ay/ai̭), *eu>եւ(ew), *eu/*ou>ոյ(oy/ oi̭),*eu> (եւ/ew/>)>իւ (iw/ iṷ): Եա (ea) is the only pure Old Armenian diphtong, an Armenian new formation, which doesn’t have its Indo-European prototype. Among the Old Indo-European languages only Old English had the diphtong եա (ea)- (comp. bearn [bæa̭rn] “child”, ēare [ˊǣare] “ear”), but taking into consideration the fact that neither the Proto-Language, nor any other old Indo-European languge had the mentioned diphtong, there is no reason to think about genetic similarities between Old Armenian and Old English եա∼ea diphtongs.

The phonemic status of Old Armenian ու is to some extent arguable; the question is whether the phoneme ու was a like-diphtong or just a simple vowel. The typological studies give us reason to think that the phoneme ու had also been a diphtong-like, so it should be transcribed as ow/oṷ, rather than u.

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