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2.4.1. In many modern languages, there are as many syllables in a word as there are separate vowels and diphthongs. This is not exactly so in Modern Indo-European. It follows, indeed, this rule too:
swe-sōr, sister, skrei-bhō, write, ne-wā, new, ju-góm, yoke.
NOTE. The semivowels are always written j and w. So in trejes, three, newos, new, dṇghwās [‘dn̥gh-ws], languages, etc. 2.4.2. Indo-European has also consonant-only syllables. It is possible to hear similar sound sequences in English cattle or bottom, in German Haben, in Czech hlt, Serbian srpski, etc. In this kind of syllables, it is the vocalic sonant [r̥], [l̥], [m̥], or [n̥] –constrained allophones of [r], [l], [m], [n] –, the one which functions as syllabic centre, instead of a vowel proper: kṛ-di, heart, wḷ-qos, wolf, de-kṃ, ten, nō-mṇ, name.
NOTE 1. Words derived from these groups, represented TRT (where T = consonant, R = sonant), are unstable and tend to add auxiliary vowels before or after the sonants, i.e. T°RT or TR°T. Because of that, their evolutions differ greatly in modern IE languages. For example, dṇghwā, language, evolved as [‘dən-ghwa:] into PGmc. tung(w)ō, and later English tongue or German Zunge, while in archaic Latin it was pronounced dingwa, and then the initial d became l in Classic Latin, written lingua, which is in turn the origin of Modern English words “linguistic” and “language”. For wḷqos (cf. Ved. vṛkas < PII wṛkas), it evolved either as [‘wəl-kwos], later into PGmc. *wulxwaz (cf. O.H.G. wolf) or BSl. *wilkas (cf. O.C.S. vьlkъ) or as [‘wlə-kwos], which gave Common Greek *wlukwos (cf. Gk. lykos), Ita. *wlupos (cf. Lat. lupus).
NOTE 2. Apart from the common scheme TRT, another, less stable scheme has been proposed for a common PIE, a certain TRE (where E = vowel); as, PIE *gw°nā, for MIE cenā, woman, or *k°rwos, for kerwos, deer, etc. – conventionally, the symbol ° under the sonant is placed before it in these schemes. Nevertheless, it is commonly accepted that Late PIE dialects did in fact add an auxiliary vowel to this sequence at early times, probably before the first dialectal split: as early Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic dialects show, vocalization of TRE had already happened when TRT hadn’t still been vocalized, i.e. T°RE > TERE. Also, many dialects show a common vocalization in [a] for the sonant in some TERE groups, while showing different outputs (even non-vocalization) for TRT. Therefore, even if this theory might make some irregularities fit into a common Late (or Middle) PIE sound, it is not applicable to those early PIE dialectal words, whose vocalization might be inferred using the comparative grammar. Some TRE groups persisted in early IE dialects, though, often from older sequences that included laryngeals, and they are kept in MIE.
2.4.3. In the division of words into syllables, these rules apply:
- A single consonant is joined to the following vowel or diphthong; as ne-wos, me-dhjos, etc.
- Combinations of two or more consonants (other than the vocalic ones) are regularly separated, and the first consonant of the combination is joined to the preceding vowel; as ok-tōu, eight, pen-qe, five, etc. but a-gros, field, sqa-los, squalus.
- In compounds, the parts are usually separated; as a-pó-sta-tis, distance, from apo + statis; or am-bhí-qo-los, servant, from ambhí + qolos.
2.4.4. The semivowels [j], [w] are more stable than sonants when they are syllable centres, i.e. [i] or [u]. However, when they are pronounced lento, they give the allophones (or allosyllables) ij, uw. Examples of alternating forms in PIE include médhijos (cf. Lat. medius), and medhjos (cf. O.Ind. mádhjas or Gk. μέσσος); dwōu, two (cf. Goth. twai, Gk. δω-,), and duwōu (cf. O.Ind. duva, Gk. δύω < *δύϝω, Lat. duo).