LINGUIST List 18.669|
Sat Mar 03 2007
Diss: Historical Linguistics: Gorbachov: 'Indo-European Origins...'
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Indo-European Origins of the Nasal Inchoative Class in Germanic and Balto-Slav
Message 1: Indo-European Origins of the Nasal Inchoative Class in Germanic and Balto-Slav
From: Yaroslav Gorbachov <gorbachfas.harvard.edu>
Subject: Indo-European Origins of the Nasal Inchoative Class in Germanic and Balto-Slav
Institution: Harvard University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007
Author: Yaroslav V. Gorbachov
Dissertation Title: Indo-European Origins of the Nasal Inchoative Class in Germanic and Balto-Slav
Language Family(ies): Indo-European
Jay H. Jasanoff
In my dissertation I take up a perennial problem of Germanic and
Balto-Slavic historical linguistics, one which has drawn scholarly interest
literally from the very moment Indo-European (IE) studies emerged as a
field some two hundred years ago.
The nature of the problem is easily stated. All attested IE languages,
such as Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Germanic, Slavic, etc., have present-tense
classes formed by infixing or suffixing a nasal element to the verb stem.
These nasal classes look very similar in all historical IE languages and
appear to have descended from a single Proto Indo-European (PIE) category.
However, despite the broad similarity among the nasal-affixed classes
across the cognate IE languages, there is a puzzling divide between these
languages with respect to the semantic and formal behavior of nasal-affixed
verbs. In the vast majority of IE languages the nasal-affixed verbs tend
to be functionally transitive and terminative and formally athematic (cf.
Ved. rinák-ti 'leaves' < PIE *linékw- + *-ti). Yet there is a problematic
group of closely related IE branches - Slavic, Baltic, and Germanic ("North
IE"), where the nasal-affixed verbs have the opposite - intransitive and
inchoative - function and thematic inflection (cf. Lith. liñka 'is left,
stays' ultimately from *linkw- + *-é- + *-ti).
There are two traditional approaches to the formal and functional
discrepancy between PIE *lin(é)p- 'attach' and "North IE" *liNp-é- 'stick
around' be left.'
1. "North IE" nasal presents have nothing to do with their look-alikes
elsewhere, and the formal similarity between them is only accidental (a
view largely abandoned by the beginning of the 20th century).
2. "North IE" nasal presents have acquired the opposite formal and
functional properties only within the individual histories of the IE
branches (the usual assumption).
The solutions proposed within both approaches have problematic aspects that
undermine their validity. I propose a third possibility: the thematic
inflection, the peculiar intransitive semantics, and some other
characteristics of the "North IE" inchoative category all point to the PIE
h2e-conjugation 1.sg. *liNp-h2é, 2.sg. *liNp-h2é, 3.sg. *liNp-é, etc. This
newly posited PIE formation is different from the well-known PIE
nasal-infixed class (*linép-mi) reflected in the IE languages outside
Starting from the h2e-conjugation paradigm postulated above, the thematic
inflection of the "North IE" inchoative class receives an easy explanation.
It arose naturally with the 3.sg. *liNp-é attaching the productive 3.sg.
ending *-ti - a trivial development, known to have happened to other
h2e-conjugation categories in the daughter languages.
The unexpected intransitive semantics of the "North IE" inchoative class
would also fall into place: its proposed source is a h2e-conjugation
category, and the h2e-conjugation originally had "inert," middle-like
semantics in PIE, i.e. it denoted states and passively experienced
processes, such as 'stay,' 'be on fire,' 'fall apart,' and the like.
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