Reviewing the history and development of aspiration in Eastern Balochi
This paper examines the history of aspiration in Eastern Balochi and aims to posit the course of its development and the extent to which it can be said to be contrastive. It uses primary data obtained by the author directly from various locales and compares sets of these data with the secondary data available on Balochi from 19th and early 20th century material. I maintain that, historically, voiceless aspiration arose word-initially in Eastern Balochi, in the sounds /p t č k/, and spread from there to other positions. In the discussion of aspiration, literature on Balochi has seen the question of influence from the neighbouring Indo-Aryan languages as an important problem. In this paper it is argued that equally relevant to the issue are two other important historical phenomena: post-vocalic lenition of stops and affricates, and gemination, a widely found but less well explored feature of Balochi. Also observed in Eastern Balochi, but less frequently remarked upon, is the breathiness found in voiced stops and affricate, a feature hitherto understood to be restricted to a small lexicon borrowed from Indo-Aryan. Focusing on a large number of Eastern Balochi varieties rather than seeing it as a unified whole, I attempt to show that contrastive status of aspiration appears to be gradually developing in these varieties. Many processes are leading in this direction, such as degemination and fortition of fricatives; among these one important diagnostic for the ultimate status of aspiration, I propose, is the transposition of glottal fricative.
Keywords: Eastern Balochi, variation, aspiration, diachrony, language contact, transposition of glottal fricative
Published online: 21 September 2021
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