There is a translation of “Oedipus Rex” into Solomon Island Pijin, and according to the web site “Bikman Edipusu” has been staged in Honiara at least twice. Now that’s a cultural gap to cross; wonder how it goes over? (Thanks to Alan for the link.)


  1. My guess is that some of the things in the place (things like revenge and pollution) will be more real to the islanders than to us.
    A friend of mine acted in a production of a pidgin version of a Shakespeare play in London. Don’t know any more than that.

  2. David Marjanović says

    Interesting. “Big man” is how the Sumerians made their word for “king”.

  3. That’s right, LU.GAL, with ‘great king’ being LU.GAL GAL — came right back to me after 30 years! (I studied Hittite, not Sumerian, but Hittite is as full of Sumerian as Japanese is of Chinese.)

  4. David Marjanović says

    You studied Hittite? 😮 Wow!!!

  5. David Marjanović says

    What’s your take on the “laryngeals”? *broad grin*

  6. Hell, I don’t know. My dissertation director thought there were three, but I haven’t been following the arguments for the last few decades, so I’ll just have to hope somebody’s figured it out. How many do *you* think there are?

  7. David Marjanović says

    Me? Four, but all I’ve read on the subject are Wikipedia articles and other websites, and I haven’t studied any linguistics…! Glottal stop (h1, not written in Anatolian, presumably vanished first), [h] (h1, written in Anatolian, preserved in Greek when word-initial and followed by */j/), voiceless uvular fricative (h2, [a]-coloring, written in Anatolian, preserved in Armenian as /h/), voiced uvular fricative (h3, [o]-coloring, written in Anatolian, *ph3 becomes *b in Sanskrit). I don’t think any of them were labialized (on a Wikipedia page someone said if the [o]-coloring was from labialization of h3, we’d also expect that from the labialized velar stops and from /w/ itself, and then the queen’s wedding would be the quoon’s wadding!). The only evidence for h2 and h3 being uvular, as opposed to velar or pharyngeal, is that I believe in Nostratic. *duck & cover*
    None of this explains why h2 and h3 colored in different ways, so I need to come up with a just-so story: much like German, PIE had undergone a Great Vowel Steamrollering so that /e/ was by far the most common vowel (most IE roots are CeC), making the [a ~ O] space (the expected product of coloring by velars to pharyngeals) largely free, so while h2 and h3 were disappearing, people tried to keep the phonemic distinction between them, had room for two phonemes in that vowel space, and by random ended up fixing one as a-coloring and the other as o-coloring. I suppose this predicts that any independent losses of these “laryngeals” may have produced the opposite pattern, but I don’t think such an independent loss is known. (Lydian? Lycian?)
    Exactly what hints are there from Hittite? What is it that is transcribed with a h with a breve below?

  8. David Marjanović says

    Ah, this page doesn’t take the HTML tag sub… all that typing for nothing.
    The “Wikipedia page” was a talk page.

  9. Hints from Hittite? You’ll have to ask someone with a more recent acquaintance with the subject. I just pronounce the h-with-a-breve as a guttural fricative and let it go at that. (Oh, and sorry about the wasted effort — I’m still not sure what HTML works in the comment boxes and what doesn’t, but I sometimes get similarly frustrated myself.)

  10. David Marjanović says

    Thought as much. Thanks anyway!

  11. Lars Mathiesen says

    So fourteen years later, David, what do you think about laryngeals?

    *ducks and chuckles evilly*

  12. David Marjanović says

    Heh. Much the same… but did you notice how I never got around to explaining *h₄? Most likely it’s bunk, mainly a label for our ignorance of Albanian. Also, *h₁ is more likely to have been [h] all along than [ʔ]; this would make the PIE sound system weirder, but still no weirder than that of Arapaho, which also has no /a/ as chance would have it.

    However, there have been two recent developments:

    there’s pretty good evidence for a labialized counterpart at least to *h₂, bringing us back up to 4 or more;
    – there is evidence that *h₂₃ were not fricatives, but uvular plosives in Proto-Indo-Anatolian. I’d say some instances probably were fricatives all along, e.g. in the cluster *kh₂, but most may not have been.

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