Initial Back Fricatives in Middle Persian: Preserved Laryngeals?


  • Josiah Medin Leiden Unversity


Middle Persian, Iranian Linguistics, Indo-European Linguistics, Laryngeal Theory, Historical Phonology, Proto-Indo-European


Since the laryngeal theory is now widely accepted, many scholars have attempted to find evidence of consonantal laryngeals in various Indo-European daughter languages outside of Anatolian. The presence of initial fricatives that seem to continue laryngeals in Khotanese and Persian has been noted by a few scholars such as Martin Kümmel, but little has been done to determine the conditions for this alleged retention. From the data presented in this paper, it appears as if Middle Persian initial fricative consonants in place of original laryngeals are most common before front vowels, and possibly before long . If prothetic, the presence of these consonants would be irregular, if inter-dialectal borrowing is not at fault. Alternatively, it may be possible that the dialect ancestral to Middle Persian, which was distinct from attested Old Persian, retained some initial laryngeal consonant which is reflected as Middle Persian x- and h- in certain contexts.