The emphasis on syntagmatic criteria in analysis, especially as interpreted by J. R. Firth (from his 1948 paper onwards) in the phonological aspect of language, has led many scholars, in Great Britain at least, to a disbelief in the adequacy of phonemes alone – or of phonemes aided by such suprasegmental features as intensity, duration and tone – for the tasks of accurate description and powerful theoretical explanation of the operation of a spoken language. Among the fruits of the new emphasis, the studies which are characterized as ‘prosodic’ and ‘polysystemic’, is that treatment of Sanskrit discontinuous retroflexion within words which handles this feature as a prosody operating over a considerable stretch (chain of phonematic units) and being phonetically realized wherever possible, which may be more often than is graphically hinted (Allen, 1951). In this view, apparent historical ‘assimilation’ is trenchantly dismissed: we are not to imagine a shift being induced in one phoneme by another which stands at a distance from it, nor is the first to be spoken of as changing from ‘something it never was’. This, of course, begs the whole historical question; and even if the nature of Indo-European reconstructions is so skeletophonemic that we cannot say with certainty that Skt. ṇ is not the unshifted allophonic reflex of IE /n/ in the relevant positions in the relevant words, nevertheless a phonetic continuation is scarcely likely (e.g. in *plH-nó-). In many cases a different earlier form can be pointed to, attested and unmistakable (e.g. Latin octo before Ital. otto). One cannot lightly oppose a prima facie possibility that ṇ was first one thing and then became another.