Phonotactics: Words beginning with nr

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Ben Jamin

Senior Member
Polish
I am interested in phonotactics, and one of the issues that have attracted my attention are words beginning with nr. Pretty familiar with most of European languages I can only recall one word that does begin with nr: Russian нравиться (nravit'sya). This word onset seems to be extremely rare in Indo-European languages. I suppose that it is also rare in other language families outside African and maybe Amerindian languages.

Does anyone know any example of a nr* word in any Indo-European language?
 
  • AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I can only recall one word that does begin with nr: Russian нравиться (nravit'sya)
    The root of this verb is the noun "нрав", which is, however, a borrowing from Old Church Slavonic.
    The regular East Slavic development of the word is "нóрoв" (nórov), roughly translated as "temperament", but I think this word is dated and/or dialectal.
    See also the verb "нoрoвить".
    Maybe some form or derivative of "nrav" also exists in South Slavic languages.

    Does anyone know any example of a nr* word in any Indo-European language?
    I don't, but such words may appear in Welsh as the result of a phonological process called the nasal consonantal mutation.

    Example:
    drws /drʊs/ = door
    fy nrws /və nrʊs/ = my door
     

    Chrzaszcz Saproksyliczny

    Senior Member
    Polish - Prussia
    If a horse is "temperamental", or doesn't bend to the will of the rider, Polish would call it narowisty. Perhaps the uses of nr all changed like this or fell out of use because of the difficulty to pronounce; then again, Polish has a lot of mrs.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Pretty familiar with most of European languages I can only recall one word that does begin with nr: Russian нравиться (nravit'sya). This word onset seems to be extremely rare in Indo-European languages. I suppose that it is also rare in other language families outside African and maybe Amerindian languages.

    Does anyone know any example of a nr* word in any Indo-European language?
    When I hear Russians say that, most seem to add a kind of d in between the n and the r, a bit like what we Catalans or the French do with those results coming from Latin -N'R-:

    Latin: TENERUM, DIE(M) VENERIS​
    > Vulgar Latin: *TÈN'RU(M), *DIE(M) VEN'RES​
    > Catalan: tendre, divendres
    > French: tendre, vendredi
    > Spanish: tierno, viernes <- In Spanish it is solved with metathesis (NR>RN)​
    However, in the medieval versions of Catalan, French and Spanish, you can find these words written with NR. And Galician still retains them like that: tenro, venres.


    EDIT: Sorry, I've just realized you were referring to initial position.
     

    OBrasilo

    Senior Member
    Brazil, Brazilian Portuguese
    AndrasBP said:
    Maybe some form or derivative of "nrav" also exists in South Slavic languages.
    The word nrav exists in Slovenian, as both an archaic masculine noun and a still actively used feminine noun, both with a varienty of meanings, one of which being habit.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The regular East Slavic development of the word is "нóрoв" (nórov), roughly translated as "temperament", but I think this word is dated and/or dialectal.
    Норов perfectly exists in Russian (maybe a bit bookish from the Standard Russian perspective), but its meaning has shifted to "stubborn, difficult temperament".
    "nr-" shouldn't be a problem for people who can say "chrząszcz"! :D;)
    Well, I see no particular problem in [xʂɔw̃ʂtʂ].
     
    Last edited:

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    "nr-" shouldn't be a problem for people who can say "chrząszcz"! :D;)
    Of course. I have no problems with pronouncing this Russian word, and I suppose that most Polish speakers don't have it either.
    In Polish there are many words beginning with "mr".
    The rarity of words beginning with "nr" can't be explained by difficulty of articulation. Maybe it can be explained by etymology.
    By the way, is there a Hungarian word beginning with "nr"? I know that there isn't any in Finnish, but I'm not sure about Estonian.
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    By the way, is there a Hungarian word beginning with "nr"? I know that there isn't any in Finnish, but I'm not sure about Estonian.
    No, there isn't. Historically, Finno-Ugric languages didn't tolerate any word-initial consonant clusters. In old loanwords, the clusters were resolved by adding extra vowels (Slavic brat > barát "friend") or by "rearranging" the sounds (Slavic sliva > szilva "plum"). Today the clusters are possible in Hungarian, but all such words come from other languages.
     
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