What's all the fuss about 16 words? A new approach to Holtzman's Law*

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University of Calgary
This paper provides a unified analysis for Holtzmann's Law or the Germanic Verscharfung (hereafter, GV). This Germanic phenomenon is usually described as the strengthening of the PIE glides +i and +u to Gothic <ddj> and <ggw> and Old Norse <ggj> and <ggw> respectively. In the present work, I posit plausible sound changes based on the assumption that laryngeals were extant in early Germanic when the accent was still mobile. Furthermore, I contend that the laryngeals rather than glides underwent GV strengthening. The motivation for sound changes, as I assert, can be explained by the preference laws of syllable structure. The analysis provided herein also accounts for parallel phonological developments of GV and non-GV forms from common PIE roots, e.g. ON snūa 'to turn' versus ON snugga 'to look askance'. Finally, the analysis offers an explanation for the existence of GV reflexes in West Germanic.
Laura Catharine Smith, University of Munich
Linguistics, Historical linguistics, Grammar, Comparative and general--Syllable, Phonology, Linguistic change, Germanic languages
Smith, L. C. (1999). What's all the fuss about 16 words? A new approach to Holtzman's Law*. Calgary Working Papers in Linguistics, 21(Winter), 66-95.