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  • Author or Editor: Roy Andrew Miller x
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The much-mooted hypothesis, original with Ramstedt (1912) and later refined by Poppe (1960), to the effect that a number of Altaic etymological sets in which certain Mongol intervocalic velars appear to correspond directly to Turkic intervocalic labials are to be explained in historical-phonological terms by postulating the earlier existence in the original language of a suprasegmental conditioning factor, probably a movable feature of pitch, is reinvestigated in the light of the Middle Korean written records; these texts preserve overt evidence for the inheritance of this same conditioning factor in their lexically significant tonic accent notations.

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The consensus of western Mongolists to the effect that the written records of Middle Mongolian in the 5Phags-pa script, along with those in Chinese-character transcriptions, show an “intervocalic hiatus”, to be understood as a phonetic zero, in certain forms for which theUighur-Mongol script employs a velar graph, is reinvestigated on both the pragmatic (orthographic) and the structural (phonological) level, with particular reference to the probable values of the 5Phags-pa graphs for the laryngeals, studied in the light of the attested values of their Written Tibetan originals. Considerations of the complementary distribution of certain velar initials in Middle Chinese and Old Mandarin are also invoked, to clarify the use of both the Chinese characters and the 5Phags-pa script in transcribing Middle Mongolian. The investigation points in the direction of understanding these “hiatus” writings not as incorporating or representing a phonetic (or phonological) zero but instead as overt graphic representations of a voiced laryngeal or uvular spirant.

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