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Rhotacism

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Rhotacism (/ˈrtəsɪzəm/)[1] or rhotacization is a sound change that converts one consonant (usually a voiced alveolar consonant: /z/, /d/, /l/, or /n/) to a rhotic consonant in a certain environment. The most common may be of /z/ to /r/.[2] When a dialect or member of a language family resists the change and keeps a /z/ sound, this is sometimes known as zetacism.

The term comes from the Greek letter rho, denoting /r/.

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Sound change

Sound change

A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a change in the pronunciation of a language. A sound change can involve the replacement of one speech sound by a different one or a more general change to the speech sounds that exist, such as the merger of two sounds or the creation of a new sound. A sound change can eliminate the affected sound, or a new sound can be added. Sound changes can be environmentally conditioned if the change occurs in only some sound environments, and not others.

Alveolar consonant

Alveolar consonant

Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli of the upper teeth. Alveolar consonants may be articulated with the tip of the tongue, as in English, or with the flat of the tongue just above the tip, as in French and Spanish.

Rhotic consonant

Rhotic consonant

In phonetics, rhotic consonants, or "R-like" sounds, are liquid consonants that are traditionally represented orthographically by symbols derived from the Greek letter rho, including ⟨R⟩, ⟨r⟩ in the Latin script and ⟨Р⟩, ⟨p⟩ in the Cyrillic script. They are transcribed in the International Phonetic Alphabet by upper- or lower-case variants of Roman ⟨R⟩, ⟨r⟩:, ,, ,, ,, and.

Greek alphabet

Greek alphabet

The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late 9th or early 8th century BCE. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the earliest known alphabetic script to have distinct letters for vowels as well as consonants. In Archaic and early Classical times, the Greek alphabet existed in many local variants, but, by the end of the 4th century BCE, the Euclidean alphabet, with 24 letters, ordered from alpha to omega, had become standard and it is this version that is still used for Greek writing today.

Albanian

The southern, Tosk dialects, the base of Standard Albanian, changed /n/ to /r/, but the northern, Gheg dialects did not:[2]

  • zëri vs. zâni 'the voice'
  • gjuri vs. gjuni 'the knee'
  • Shqipëria vs. Shqypnia 'Albania'
  • i gëzuar vs. i gëzuem 'cheerful'
  • i tretur vs. i tretun 'lost'
  • i qeshur vs. i qeshun 'smiling'
  • këputur vs. këputun 'broken'
  • i prekur vs. i prekun 'touched'
  • i habitur vs. i habitun 'amazed'
  • Arbëria vs. Arbënia 'Albania' (older name of the country)
  • i djegur vs. i djegun 'burnt'
  • i dehur vs. i dehun 'drunk'
  • i pjekur vs. i pjekun 'baked'
  • druri vs. druni 'wood'
  • bëra vs. bona 'did'
  • 'vura vs. vuna 'put'
  • zura vs. zuna 'caught'
  • pluhur vs. pluhun 'dust'
  • i lumtur vs. i lumtun 'happy'
  • dashuri vs. dashni 'love'

Aramaic

In Aramaic, Proto-Semitic n changed to r in a few words:

  • bar "son" as compared to Hebrew בֵן ben (from Proto-Semitic *bnu)
  • trên and tartên "two" (masculine and feminine form respectively) as compared to Demotic Arabic tnēn and tintēn, from Proto-Semitic *ṯnaimi and *ṯnataimi. Compare also Aramic tinyânâ "the second one", without the shift.

Basque

Aquitanian *l changed to the tapped r between vowels in Basque.[3] It can be observed in words borrowed from Latin; for example, Latin caelum (meaning "sky, heaven") became zeru in Basque (caelum > celu > zeru; compare cielo in Spanish). The original l is preserved in the Souletin dialect: caelum > celu > zelü.

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Finnish

Western dialects of Finnish are characterised by the pronunciation /r/ or /ɾ/ of the consonant written d in Standard Finnish kahden kesken- kahren kesken (two together = one on one). The reconstructed older pronunciation is .

Goidelic languages

In Manx, Scottish Gaelic and some dialects of Irish, a /kn/ cluster developed into /kr/, often with nasalization of the following vowel, as in Scottish Gaelic cnoc [krɔ̃xk] ‘hill’.[2]

Germanic languages

All surviving Germanic languages, which are members of the North and West Germanic families, changed /z/ to /r/, implying a more approximant-like rhotic consonant in Proto-Germanic.[4] Some languages later changed all forms to r, but Gothic, an extinct East Germanic language, did not undergo rhotacism.

Proto-Germanic Gothic Old Norse (Old English)
Modern English
Old Frisian[5] Dutch (Old High German)
Modern German
*was,1st/3rd sg *wēzum1st pl was, wēsum
 
var, várum
 
(wæs, wǣron)
was, were
was, wēren  
was, waren
(was, wārum)
war, waren
*fraleusaną,inf *fraluzanazp.part. fraliusan, fralusans
 

 
(forlēosan, forloren)
forlese, forlorn
urliāsa, urlāren  
verliezen, verloren
(farliosan, farloren)
verlieren, verloren

Note that the Modern German forms have levelled the rhotic consonant to forms that did not originally have it. However, the original sound can still be seen in some nouns such as Wesen, "being" (from the same root as war/waren) as well as Verlust, "loss" and Verlies, "dungeon" (both from the same root as verlieren/verloren).

Because of the presence of words that did not undergo rhotacisation from the same root as those that did, the result of the process remains visible in a few modern English word pairs:

English

Intervocalic /t/ and /d/ are commonly lenited to [ɾ] in most accents of North American and Australian English and some accents of Irish English and English English,[6] a process known as tapping or less accurately as flapping:[7] got a lot of /ˈɡɒtə ˈlɒtə/ becomes [ˈɡɒɾə ˈlɒɾə]. Contrast is usually maintained with /r/, and the [ɾ] sound is rarely perceived as /r/.[2]

German

In Central German dialects, especially Rhine Franconian and Hessian, /d/ is frequently realised as [ɾ] in intervocalic position. The change also occurs in Mecklenburg dialects. Compare Borrem (Central Hessian) and Boden (Standard German).

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Grammatischer Wechsel

Grammatischer Wechsel

In historical linguistics, the German term grammatischer Wechsel refers to the effects of Verner's law when they are viewed synchronically within the paradigm of a Germanic verb.

Germanic languages

Germanic languages

The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people mainly in Europe, North America, Oceania and Southern Africa. The most widely spoken Germanic language, English, is also the world's most widely spoken language with an estimated 2 billion speakers. All Germanic languages are derived from Proto-Germanic, spoken in Iron Age Scandinavia.

North Germanic languages

North Germanic languages

The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages—a sub-family of the Indo-European languages—along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages. The language group is also referred to as the Nordic languages, a direct translation of the most common term used among Danish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish scholars and people.

Gothic language

Gothic language

Gothic is an extinct East Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizeable text corpus. All others, including Burgundian and Vandalic, are known, if at all, only from proper names that survived in historical accounts, and from loanwords in other languages such as Portuguese, Spanish, and French.

East Germanic languages

East Germanic languages

The East Germanic languages, also called the Oder–Vistula Germanic languages, are a group of extinct Germanic languages that were spoken by East Germanic peoples. East Germanic is one of the primary branches of Germanic languages, along with North Germanic and West Germanic.

Old English

Old English

Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, by Anglo-Norman as the language of the upper classes. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, since during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English in England and Early Scots in Scotland.

Modern English

Modern English

Modern English is the form of the English language spoken since the Great Vowel Shift in England, which began in the late 14th century and was completed in roughly 1550.

Old Frisian

Old Frisian

Old Frisian was a West Germanic language spoken between the 8th and 16th centuries along the North Sea coast, roughly between the mouths of the Rhine and Weser rivers. The Frisian settlers on the coast of South Jutland also spoke Old Frisian, but there are no known medieval texts from this area. The language of the earlier inhabitants of the region between the Zuiderzee and Ems River is attested in only a few personal names and place-names. Old Frisian evolved into Middle Frisian, spoken from the 16th to the 19th century.

Dutch language

Dutch language

Dutch is a West Germanic language spoken by about 25 million people as a first language and 5 million as a second language. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives German and English. Afrikaans is a separate but somewhat mutually intelligible daughter language spoken, to some degree, by at least 16 million people, mainly in South Africa and Namibia, evolving from the Cape Dutch dialects of Southern Africa. The dialects used in Belgium and in Suriname, meanwhile, are all guided by the Dutch Language Union.

New High German

New High German

New High German (NHG) is the term used for the most recent period in the history of the German language, starting in the 17th century. It is a loan translation of the German Neuhochdeutsch. The most important characteristic of the period is the development of a standard written German, followed by the standardisation of the spoken language. For this reason, the term New High German is also used as a synonym for modern standard German.

Grammatical person

Grammatical person

In linguistics, grammatical person is the grammatical distinction between deictic references to participant(s) in an event; typically the distinction is between the speaker, the addressee, and others. A language's set of personal pronouns are defined by grammatical person, but other pronouns would not. First person includes the speaker, second person is the person or people spoken to, and third person includes all that are not listed above. It also frequently affects verbs, and sometimes nouns or possessive relationships.

Infinitive

Infinitive

Infinitive is a linguistics term for certain verb forms existing in many languages, most often used as non-finite verbs. As with many linguistic concepts, there is not a single definition applicable to all languages. The word is derived from Late Latin [modus] infinitivus, a derivative of infinitus meaning "unlimited".

Romance languages and Latin

Latin

Reflecting a highly-regular change in pre-Classical Latin, intervocalic /s/ in Old Latin, which is assumed to have been pronounced [z], invariably became r, resulting in pairs such as these:

  • flōsnomflōremacc (Old Latin flōsem)
  • genusnomgenerisgen (from *geneses, cf. Sanskrit janasas)
  • rōbus,[8] rōbustusrōbur, corrōborāre (verb from *conrobosare)
  • jūstusde jūre (from de jouse)
  • esterō (from esō)
  • ges, gesgerō (from gesō)

Intervocalic s in Classical Latin suggests either borrowing (rosa) or reduction of an earlier ss after a long vowel or a diphthong (pausa paussa, vīsum *vīssum *weid-tom). The s was preserved initially (septum) and finally and in consonant clusters.

Old Latin honos became honor in Late Latin by analogy with the rhotacised forms in other cases such as genitive, dative and accusative honoris, honori, honorem.[9]

Another form of rhotacism in Latin was dissimilation of d to r before another d and dissimilation of l to r before another l, resulting in pairs such as these:

  • mediusmerīdiēs (instead of *medi-diēs)
  • caelumcaeruleus (instead of *cael-uleus)

The phenomenon was noted by the Romans themselves:

In many words in which the ancients said s, they later said r... foedesum foederum, plusima plurima, meliosem meliorem, asenam arenam

— Varro, De lingua Latina, VII, 26, In multis verbis, in quo antiqui dicebant s, postea dicunt r... foedesum foederum, plusima plurima, meliosem meliorem, asenam arenam

Neapolitan

In Neapolitan, rhotacism affects words that etymologically contained intervocalic or initial /d/, when this is followed by a vowel; and when /l/ is followed by another consonant. This last characteristic, however, is not very common in modern speech.

Portuguese and Galician

In Galician-Portuguese, rhotacism occurred from /l/ to /r/, mainly in consonant clusters ending in /l/ such as in the words obrigado, "thank you" (originally from "obliged [in honourably serving my Sir]"); praia, "beach"; prato, "plate" or "dish"; branco, "white"; prazer/pracer, "pleasure"; praça/praza, "square". Compare Spanish obligado (obliged), playa, plato, blanco, placer, plaza from Latin obligatus, plagia, platus, blancus (Germanic origin), placere (verb), platea.

In contemporary Brazilian Portuguese, rhotacism of /l/ in the syllable coda is characteristic of the Caipira dialect. Further rhotacism in the nationwide vernacular includes planta, "plant", as [ˈpɾɐ̃tɐ], lava, "lava", as /ˈlarvɐ/ (then homophonous with larva, worm/maggot), lagarto, "lizard", as [laʁˈɡaʁtu] (in dialects with guttural coda r instead of a tap) and advogado, "lawyer", as [ɐ̞de̞vo̞ʁˈɡadu]. The nonstandard patterns are largely marginalised, and rhotacism is regarded as a sign of speech-language pathology or illiteracy.

Romanesco Italian

Rhotacism, in Romanesco, shifts l to r before a consonant, like certain Andalusian dialects of Spanish. Thus, Latin altus (tall) is alto in Italian but becomes arto in Romanesco. Rhotacism used to happen when l was preceded by a consonant, as in the word ingrese (English), but modern speech has lost that characteristic.

Another change related to r was the shortening of the geminated rr, which is not rhotacism. Italian errore, guerra and marrone "error", "war", "brown" become erore, guera and marone.

Romanian

In Romanian, rhotacism shifted intervocalic l to r and n to r.

Thus, Latin caelum ‘sky; heaven’ became Romanian cer, Latin fenestra ‘window’ Romanian fereastră and Latin felicitas ‘happiness’ Romanian fericire.

Some northern Romanian dialects and Istro-Romanian also changed all intervocalic [n] to [ɾ] in words of Latin origin.[10] For example, Latin bonus became Istro-Romanian bur: compare to standard Daco-Romanian bun.

Other languages

Rhotacism (mola > mora, filum > fir, sal > sare) exists in Gallo-Italic languages as well in Lombard, Western Lombard, Alpine Lombard and Ligurian.

In Umbrian but not Oscan, rhotacism of intervocalic s occurred as in Latin.[11]

Sicilian

Rhotacism is particularly widespread in the island of Sicily, but it is almost completely absent in the Sicilian varieties of the mainland (Calabrese and Salentino). It affects intervocalic and initial /d/: cura from Latin caudam, peri from Latin pedem, 'reci from Latin decem.

Spanish

In Andalusian Spanish, particularly in Seville, at the end of a syllable before another consonant, l is replaced with r: Huerva for Huelva. The reverse occurs in Caribbean Spanish: Puelto Rico for Puerto Rico (lambdacism).

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Classical Latin

Classical Latin

Classical Latin is the form of Literary Latin recognized as a literary standard by writers of the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire. It was used from 75 BC to the 3rd century AD, when it developed into Late Latin. In some later periods, it was regarded as good or proper Latin, with following versions viewed as debased, degenerate, or corrupted. The word Latin is now understood by default to mean "Classical Latin"; for example, modern Latin textbooks almost exclusively teach Classical Latin.

Nominative case

Nominative case

In grammar, the nominative case , subjective case, straight case or upright case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments. Generally, the noun "that is doing something" is in the nominative, and the nominative is often the form listed in dictionaries.

Accusative case

Accusative case

The accusative case of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb.

Genitive case

Genitive case

In grammar, the genitive case is the grammatical case that marks a word, usually a noun, as modifying another word, also usually a noun—thus indicating an attributive relationship of one noun to the other noun. A genitive can also serve purposes indicating other relationships. For example, some verbs may feature arguments in the genitive case; and the genitive case may also have adverbial uses.

Late Latin

Late Latin

Late Latin is the scholarly name for the form of Literary Latin of late antiquity. English dictionary definitions of Late Latin date this period from the 3rd to the 6th centuries CE, and continuing into the 7th century in the Iberian Peninsula. This somewhat ambiguously defined version of Latin was used between the eras of Classical Latin and Medieval Latin. Scholars do not agree exactly when Classical Latin should end or Medieval Latin should begin.

Dissimilation

Dissimilation

In phonology, particularly within historical linguistics, dissimilation is a phenomenon whereby similar consonants or vowels in a word become less similar. In English, dissimilation is particularly common with liquid consonants such as /r/ and /l/ when they occur in a sequence.

Marcus Terentius Varro

Marcus Terentius Varro

Marcus Terentius Varro was a Roman polymath and a prolific author. He is regarded as ancient Rome's greatest scholar, and was described by Petrarch as "the third great light of Rome". He is sometimes called Varro Reatinus to distinguish him from his younger contemporary Varro Atacinus.

Neapolitan language

Neapolitan language

Neapolitan is a Romance language of the Italo-Dalmatian group spoken across much of mainland Southern Italy, and spoken in a small part of Central Italy. It is named after the Kingdom of Naples that once covered most of the area, of which the city of Naples was the capital. On 14 October, 2008, a law by the Region of Campania stated that Neapolitan was to be protected.

Galician-Portuguese

Galician-Portuguese

Galician-Portuguese, also known as Old Portuguese or as Medieval Galician when referring to the history of each modern language, was a West Iberian Romance language spoken in the Middle Ages, in the northwest area of the Iberian Peninsula. Alternatively, it can be considered a historical period of the Galician and Portuguese languages.

Brazilian Portuguese

Brazilian Portuguese

Brazilian Portuguese, also Portuguese of Brazil or South American Portuguese is the set of varieties of the Portuguese language native to Brazil and the most influential form of Portuguese worldwide. It is spoken by almost all of the 214 million inhabitants of Brazil and spoken widely across the Brazilian diaspora, today consisting of about two million Brazilians who have emigrated to other countries. With a population of over 214 million, Brazil is by far the world's largest Portuguese-speaking nation and the only one in the Americas.

Caipira dialect

Caipira dialect

Caipira is a Portuguese dialect spoken in the rural areas of the State of São Paulo and adjacent parts of neighbouring Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás, Minas Gerais, and Paraná.

Lava

Lava

Lava is molten or partially molten rock (magma) that has been expelled from the interior of a terrestrial planet or a moon onto its surface. Lava may be erupted at a volcano or through a fracture in the crust, on land or underwater, usually at temperatures from 800 to 1,200 °C. The volcanic rock resulting from subsequent cooling is also often called lava.

Sanskrit

In Sanskrit, words ending in -s (-สฺ) other than -as ([เสียงอะ] + สฺ) become -r (-รฺ) in sandhi with a voiced consonant:

  • naus (นอุสฺ) (before p, t, k) vs naur bharati (นอุรฺ ภรติ)
  • agnis (อคฺนิสฺ) (before p, t, k) vs agnir mata (อคฺนิรฺ มต)

That is not properly rhotacism since r and s are then simply allophones.

Turkic

Among the Turkic languages, the Oghur branch exhibits /r/, opposing to the rest of Turkic, which exhibits /z/. In this case, rhotacism refers to the development of *-/r/, *-/z/, and *-/d/ to /r/,*-/k/,*-/kh/ in this branch.[12]

South Slavic languages

(This section relies on the treatment in Greenberg 1999.[13])

In some South Slavic languages, rhotacism occasionally changes a voiced palatal fricative [ʒ] to a dental or alveolar tap or trill [r] between vowels:

  • moreš (Slovene, dialectal Serbo-Croatian) 'you can' from earlier možešь
  • kdor (Slovene) from earlier kъto-že

The beginning of the change is attested in the Freising manuscripts from the 10th century AD, which show both the archaism (ise 'which' jь-že) and the innovation (tere 'also' te-že). The shift is also found in individual lexical items in Bulgarian dialects, дорде 'until' (do-že-dĕ) and Macedonian, сеѓере (archaic: 'always'). However, the results of the sound change have largely been reversed by lexical replacement in dialects in Serbia and Bosnia from the 14th century.

Dialects in Croatia and Slovenia have preserved more of the lexical items with the change and have even extended grammatical markers in -r from many sources that formally merged with the rhotic forms that arose from the sound change: Slovene dialect nocor 'tonight' (not'ь-sь-ǫ- + -r-) on the model of večer 'evening' (večerъ). The reversal of the change is evident in dialects in Serbia in which the -r- formant is systematically removed: Serbian veče 'evening'.

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South Slavic languages

South Slavic languages

The South Slavic languages are one of three branches of the Slavic languages. There are approximately 30 million speakers, mainly in the Balkans. These are separated geographically from speakers of the other two Slavic branches by a belt of German, Hungarian and Romanian speakers.

Slovene language

Slovene language

Slovene, or alternatively Slovenian, is a South Slavic language, a sub-branch that is part of the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family. It is spoken by about 2.5 million speakers worldwide, mainly ethnic Slovenes, the majority of whom live in Slovenia, where it is the sole official language. As Slovenia is part of the European Union, Slovene is also one of its 24 official and working languages.

Serbo-Croatian

Serbo-Croatian

Serbo-Croatian – also called Serbo-Croat, Serbo-Croat-Bosnian (SCB), Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS), and Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian (BCMS) – is a South Slavic language and the primary language of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. It is a pluricentric language with four mutually intelligible standard varieties, namely Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin.

Freising manuscripts

Freising manuscripts

The Freising manuscripts are the first Latin-script continuous text in a Slavic language and "the oldest document in Slovene".

Bulgarian dialects

Bulgarian dialects

Bulgarian dialects are the regional varieties of the Bulgarian language, a South Slavic language. Bulgarian dialectology dates to the 1830s and the pioneering work of Neofit Rilski, Bolgarska gramatika. Other notable researchers in this field include Marin Drinov, Konstantin Josef Jireček, Lyubomir Miletich, Aleksandar Teodorov-Balan, Stoyko Stoykov.

Macedonian language

Macedonian language

Macedonian is an Eastern South Slavic language. It is part of the Indo-European language family, and is one of the Slavic languages, which are part of a larger Balto-Slavic branch. Spoken as a first language by around two million people, it serves as the official language of North Macedonia. Most speakers can be found in the country and its diaspora, with a smaller number of speakers throughout the transnational region of Macedonia. Macedonian is also a recognized minority language in parts of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, and Serbia and it is spoken by emigrant communities predominantly in Australia, Canada and the United States.

Source: "Rhotacism", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 29th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhotacism.

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See also
  • Lambdacism, the related condition or phonetic shift with regard to the sound /l/
References
  1. ^ "American English Dictionary: Definition of rhotacism". Collins. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Catford (2001:178)
  3. ^ Trask, R. Larry (2008), Wheeler, Max W. (ed.), A Historical Dictionary of Basque (PDF), University of Essex, p. 29, retrieved January 22, 2011
  4. ^ Catford (2001:179)
  5. ^ D. Hofmann, A.T. Popkema, Altfriesisches Handwörterbuch (Heidelberg 2008).
  6. ^ Harris, John (1994). English Sound Structure. Blackwell. p. 121. ISBN 0-631-18741-3.
  7. ^ Ladefoged, Peter (2006). A Course in Phonetics. Thomson. pp. 171–3. ISBN 978-1-4130-0688-9.
  8. ^ robus1; rōbur. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary on Perseus Project.
  9. ^ Malte Rosemeyer (15 April 2014). Auxiliary Selection in Spanish: Gradience, gradualness, and conservation. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 81. ISBN 978-90-272-7040-5.
  10. ^ Nandris (1963:255–258)
  11. ^ Buck, Carl Darling. 1904. A grammar of Oscan and Umbrian: with a collection of inscriptions and a glossary
  12. ^ Larry Clark, "Chuvash", in The Turkic Languages, eds. Lars Johanson & Éva Ágnes Csató (London–NY: Routledge, 2006), 434–452.
  13. ^ Greenberg (1999)
Bibliography

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