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Glen Gordon

I don't know why but some linguists are completely obsessed with positing laryngeals as a solution to everything. I think also of Krishnamurti's attempt to stick a laryngeal into Proto-Dravidian. What is with this bizarre fetish? It's as if people want desperately to be the next Saussure instead of looking at the data for what it is.

As for biradicals, are they really so bad in Proto-Berber? Personally I don't know because I don't study Berber but I have the overall impression that the standardization of roots into a triradical format is really just a Proto-Semitic feature and not attributable to Proto-Afro-Asiatic. Biradicals are also fairly common in Egyptian (eg. *māna mn 'to remain', *fāṭa fd 'to pluck', *ḳāṭa qd 'to build', etc.).


Nice post. I can't see the vowel itself as part of the root because there's no freedom to choose a different vowel. But interpreting it as just a length unit does have one big advantage over interpreting it as a lost consonant - it lets you explain the difference in the intensive forms more easily. On the other hand, it leaves the intensive vowel length in FL cases rather mysterious, whereas Prasse's version kind of works for those (other CVC forms, like "die", show initial gemination too, suggesting that it may have been automatic in that context.) One possibility is that Prasse's reconstruction for FL verbs is correct for pre-proto-Berber, but by the time the t-prefix became an allomorph of the intensive the *h had already been lost, leaving the *FL verbs irregular.

"Low-low" as the basic melody of the imperfective is clearly correct - gemination is limited to 3-consonant roots, and t-addition to vowel-initial and a few other types, but all positive imperfectives seem to share an a-melody. The same seems to be true in Akkadian.

If there were roots of the form VβCC, Ghadames at least should preserve them. But I can't think of any roots of the form VCCC at all. The closest I can think of is Prasse's Cj XIX, and I don't know that that can be reconstructed for proto-Berber. Whether you regard *h as a consonant or a length unit, the canonical shape for proto-Berber verbs remains three units.


Glen: I indeed think that it isn't all that bad, and rather makes it look more like Semitic because it is so elegant. (Which it is, but undoubtedly due to extensive analogy and reformation of roots to make any defiant root more CCC-like).

But the point Lameen brings up is a good point. Whether you go for the lost laryngeal or the length unit. The Proto-Berber shape remains three units.

Maybe there's something to that, maybe we should not be looking for three consonantal roots, but rather ideal foots were the two syllables in a foot both try to have two morae. I'm just thinking 'out loud' here. Hmm food for thought.

Glen Gordon

I can see that the Berber language is an interesting universe all its own and I have much more to study. Considering my personal fascination with Etruscans, perhaps learning something about Berber's history will fill out my understanding of Etruria's connection to Carthage somehow too. Fascinating as always, Phoenix.


Thought of one potential VCCC root, actually: azzel "run" (though in both Siwi and Tamahaq it's become triliteral.) Don't have my Zenaga dictionary handy at the moment, so I can't tell whether it's originally V or ʔ. But such cases are very rare.


Luckily I have it handy, as mr. H. Stroomer has generously donated it to me.

Looking up 'courir' gives the root, which yields the root ʔGM I oʔgum A yoʔgum P yuʔgam, which she for some reason that I cannot quit grasp is compared with a Berber root KL, under which she places Touareg sikel 'voyager; marcher au pas", and she mentions the root ZL in the same etymological footnote.

So that's not helping.

I can't seem to find a cognate root, but it's always hard to find back these roots in Taine-Cheikh as Zénaga has so many peculiar shifts.

I've tried ʔZY, ʔZZY, ʔZL, ʔZZL, ZY, ZL, ZZY, ZZL, no luck. :(

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