On ‘affective’ exceptions to sound change: an example from the Mojeño (Arawakan) kinship terminology system

  • Fernando O. de Carvalho


This paper discusses a postulated non-sound change-based development derived from the detection of an exception to a regular segmental correspondence and shows how this proposal receives independent support from internal etymologization within the domain of kinship terms. The affricate in the Proto-Mojeño etymon *-ótse ‘grandmother’ is hypothesized to derive from affective strengthening of a fricative *s, thus modifying the expected reflex *-óse via affective or phonosymbolic affrication. The fact that the predicted fricative reflex is found when *-óse ‘grandmother’ occurs as a member of a compound for ‘mother-in-law’, a meaning not subject to affective modification, offers striking support for the hypothesis. The paper illustrates how internally structured lexical fields — where relations of partial (internal) cognation exist — such as kinship terminology systems, provide an interesting testing ground for claims on affective, non-lautgesetzlich formal modifications, given the fact that etymologically related forms belong to domains (such as ‘blood relative’ versus ‘affine relative’) that differ in crucial ways as far as the affective dispositions and attitudes of speakers are concerned.