Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"
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AUTHOR: Thomas Olander TITLE: Balto-Slavic Accentual Mobility SERIES TITLE: Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs [TiLSM] 199 PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter YEAR: 2009
Ronald I. Kim, School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan
Anyone who has studied Russian surely recalls the feeling of bewilderment experienced upon learning that, in addition to its largely unpredictable lexical stress, a set of frequently occurring nouns exhibits intraparadigmatic stress shifts. Thus e.g. _gorá_ 'mountain' has genitive singular _gorý_, but nominative/accusative plural _góry_ and accusative singular _góru_. The latter in turn loses its stress to the preceding preposition in a phrase like _ná goru_ 'to the mountain'. Other Slavic languages like Serbo-Croatian show similar accentual alternations, while in the Baltic language Lithuanian they are not only numerous, but fully productive.
The origin of such stress alternations is one of the most difficult problems of Balto-Slavic accentology, itself among the most notoriously refractory subfields of Indo-European historical linguistics. In this volume, a revision of his 2006 Copenhagen doctoral dissertation, Thomas Olander proposes a new explanation for accentual mobility in nominal and verbal paradigms, in Proto-Balto-Slavic, Proto-Slavic, and the individual Baltic and Slavic languages.
Chapter 1 of the monograph opens with a statement of the problem and O's hypothesis of an accent retraction rule (the ''Mobility Law'') in pre-Proto-Balto-Slavic, to which he will return in Chapter 4. After brief but welcome discussions of prosodic terminology and the reconstruction of a common Balto-Slavic (BSl) protolanguage, O then reviews almost all of the most important contributions to Baltic and Slavic accentology over the past 150 years, allowing the reader to grasp the major trends in thinking about the origin of accentual mobility. He proceeds to criticize two major schools of thought on the problem: that of Meillet, Stang, and Dybo, which sees BSl accentual mobility as essentially an archaism inherited from PIE; and that of Kortlandt and his students, which assumes numerous analogical shifts and a highly complex series of chronologically ordered changes.
In Chapter 2, O examines the accentuation of Indo-Aryan, Greek, and Germanic, three Indo-European (IE) branches generally considered to reflect the prosodic distinctions of Proto-Indo-European (PIE). After describing the prosodic systems of Vedic Sanskrit and ancient (Attic-Ionic) Greek, based on both native grammarians and modern scholarship, he reviews the evidence for different types of word-final sequences, centering on laryngeal hiatus in Vedic and Avestan and the acute vs. circumflex intonational contrast on Greek long vowels and diphthongs. This is followed by a brief summary of the system of paradigmatic accent in each language, with a focus on alternations likely to be of PIE date. For Proto-Germanic, which thanks to Verner's Law reflects the PIE position of stress in numerous forms, O reviews the debate over the Auslautgesetze and whether they support a contrast between two different kinds of word-final syllables in PIE, as well as the (meager) evidence for intraparadigmatic stress alternations. The final section presents the prosodic system of PIE as reconstructed on the basis of these three branches, and an overview of the nominal and verbal accentual alternations assumed for the parent language.
In Chapter 3, O turns his attention to the BSl languages. Successive sections describe the prosodic system and paradigmatic accent of the three attested Baltic languages (Lithuanian, Latvian, Old Prussian) and Proto-Slavic, compare them with each other, and review the various stress shifts and analogical developments that have been proposed to derive them from a common ancestor. The last section sets forth O's reconstruction of the prosodic system and paradigmatic accent of that ancestor, Proto-Balto-Slavic, as well as some of its major innovations with respect to PIE.
Chapter 4 opens with a detailed description of the Mobility Law, which states that pre-Proto-Balto-Slavic word forms bearing high tone on a word-final mora regularly lost the high tone, resulting in an underlyingly unaccented form with default ictus on the first syllable. As typological parallels, he cites Andersen's recent discussions of similar phenomena in the Podravina dialects of štokavian Serbo-Croatian and in the Zaonež'e dialects of Russian (see now Andersen 2009). The result of this innovation is that PIE paradigms with columnar stress on the desinence developed a number of unaccented forms, resulting in the kind of accentual mobility between initial and desinential syllables which has survived to the present (with changes, of course) in Russian or Lithuanian. O then goes through the number-case endings of the major nominal stem classes and the person-number endings of the verb, systematically examining their accentual development from PIE into the BSl languages to determine how well they support his proposed sound change.
Chapter 5 briefly summarizes O's conclusions, and is followed by a postscript in which the author responds to Kortlandt's latest papers on BSl accentology. The volume closes with a bibliography, an index of BSl prosodic laws, a table of Slavic prosodic reflexes, and word indices, organized as usual by language family. The table contains some of the only nontrivial typographical errors in the text (e.g. for Polish _hroch_ 'pea' read _groch_) and could perhaps have been improved by using clearer examples, such as 'king' throughout under no. 2.
It takes courage and determination to tackle perhaps _the_ perennial problem in the minefield that is BSl accentology, and O is to be commended for producing a useful and well-researched contribution in just over 200 pages. In contrast to many other scholars who have written on the topic, O clearly sets out his hypothesis from the very first page, and his argumentation is at all times clear and succinct. His review of the scholarly literature in chapter 1 is useful not only for newcomers, but also for specialists who can become all too easily confused by the voluminous writings of the past 100+ years. The discussion of different hypotheses is even-handed, pointing out strengths and weaknesses, and in most cases properly acknowledges those contributions which anticipated aspects of O's own thesis. One may take exception to the author's interpretation of individual points, e.g. his assertion that the intonational contrast between acute and non-acute had become redundant in Proto-Slavic and perhaps even already in Proto-Balto-Slavic (128-9, 148), or the idiosyncratic conflation of stress retraction from weak jer vowels with Stang's Law in Slavic (131-2), but such differences of opinion are only to be expected. Copious references enable those interested in a particular problem to quickly orient themselves to the current state of research.
O's discussion of the IE comparanda, however, unfortunately suffers from a number of inaccuracies and misconceptions. Although many scholars in the past did project contrastive intonations in final syllables back to PIE, the consensus has emerged over the last generation that PIE had no intonational contrasts, and that the acute and circumflex intonations on long vowels and diphthongs in ancient Greek and in BSl are independent innovations of those branches. O arrives at the same conclusion at the end of Chapter 2 (85-91), but only after lengthy (if useful) discussion and weighing of different, often outdated hypotheses, which may falsely lead the uninitiated to believe that the question remains controversial in IE linguistics today.
Two more serious problems with Chapter 2 are the handling of the Germanic data, and the restriction of the scope of inquiry to Indo-Aryan, Greek, and Germanic. O's treatment of Proto-Germanic final syllables (75-80) is entirely out of line with the standing consensus that a contrast between two types of long vowels (conventionally labeled ''bimoric'' and ''trimoric'') must be reconstructed for the Proto-Germanic stage, and that these two types reflect a distinction in the structure of PIE word-final sequences. The author's skepticism is based mainly on Boutkan (1995), whose conclusions have not been generally accepted, and on Kortlandt's ''final obstruent'' hypothesis; his discussion omits the fundamental articles of Stiles from the 1980s (e.g. 1988) and the most recent discussion by Ringe (2006:73-5). Contrasts such as that between e.g. a:-stem (Germanic o:-stem) nominative plural *-o::s (trimoric) and accusative plural *-o:s (bimoric), or accusative singular *-o:N (bimoric) and genitive plural *-o::N (trimoric), clearly indicate that the presence or absence of a word-final consonant cannot account for the distinct reflexes found in the older Germanic languages.
The other weakness in O's discussion of the non-BSl accentual comparanda is the complete absence of Hittite, the oldest attested IE language. While no one would fault the author for excluding IE branches such as Iranian or Tocharian, where the evidence for the original accentual system is meager at best, Hittite (and to a lesser extent, the other ancient Anatolian languages) does preserve such fundamental traits of the PIE prosodic system as contrastive lexical accent in thematic (o-stem) nouns and stress alternations in many consonant-stem noun paradigms: cf. e.g. _kessar_ [késsar] 'hand', genitive _kissr-as_ [kissrás]; _uttar_ [útar] 'word', plural _utta:r_ [utá:r].
Partly for this last reason, O's conclusions regarding the antiquity and scope of paradigmatic stress alternations in PIE are open to serious questioning. It is simply not true, for instance, that PIE stress alternations in archaic ablauting paradigms were sensitive to syllable count (pace O, 92-3). The chart on p. 93 gives the misleading impression that the majority of PIE ablauting paradigms in fact had columnar stress on a fixed syllable, but ignores cases such as root presents to roots of the shape CeRC (3sg. *CéRC-ti vs. 3pl. *CR.C-énti); note also that nu-present 3sg. *h3r.-néu-ti, 3pl. *h3r.-nu-énti 's/he, they move (intr.)' contrasts with 1pl. *h3r.-nu-mós in the same paradigm.
O also argues consistently in this and other chapters that mobile stress was confined already in late PIE to monosyllabic root nouns only. This conclusion flies in the face of the Vedic evidence, where not only root nouns, but also present active participles and some adjectives exhibit the usual contrast between ''strong'' (nominative/accusative) and ''weak'' (oblique) cases, e.g. masculine accusative singular _ad-ánt-am_ vs. genitive _ad-at-ás_ 'eating'. O mentions these in passing (59), but offers no support for the view that they are somehow ''peripheral'' or innovative. It is true that in ancient Greek, mobile stress on nouns is virtually restricted to monosyllabic root nouns, but the irregular paradigm of _gunÉ:_ 'woman' (e.g. accusative singular _gunaîk-a_ vs. genitive _gunaik-ós_) and relic forms such as Homeric _aieí_ 'always' < locative *aiwes-í (Hoenigswald 1987) reveal that mobility was more widespread at an earlier stage.
O does correctly observe that the Indo-Aryan and Greek paradigms of the famous r-stem kinship terms have columnar stress, e.g. Vedic accusative singular _pitár-am_, dative _pitr-é_, instrumental plural _pitr.´-bhis_ all with stress on the second syllable; similarly for i- and u-stems, e.g. _matí-_ 'thought, sense' (58, 70-3, 95-7). It does not necessarily follow, however, that this columnarization is to be projected back to PIE; the stress retraction from ending to suffix in the oblique dual and plural forms could rather be an independent parallel innovation of both languages, as many scholars have supposed (see the references in fn. 142), and as has clearly occurred in other paradigms, e.g. Vedic perfect active participles or possessive adjectives in _-vant-_, _-mant-_. The accentuation of BSl instrumental plural forms such as Lithuanian _galv-omìs_ 'with (the) heads', which O must explain analogically (190-1), in fact points in this direction, as may that of Russian _det'mí_, _dočer'mí_ 'with (the) children, daughters' and similar Slavic examples. Whatever the case here, it seems to me that the author has been too quick to dismiss the possibility that PIE stress alternations survived into BSl and even spread to other nominal stem classes.
The most serious problem with O's treatment of the PIE origins of BSl accentual mobility, one shared with almost all other mainstream studies, lies in an intertwined pair of assumptions: that mobility reflects PIE oxytonicity; and that all cases of mobile stress in BSl necessarily have a common source or explanation. Ever since the groundbreaking study of Illič-Svityč (1963), it has generally been taken for granted that BSl nouns with immobile, i.e. columnar stress (at least, columnar until the operation of the relatively late changes of Saussure's Law in Lithuanian and Stang's Law in Slavic) correspond to PIE barytone or root-stressed paradigms, whereas BSl nouns with stress alternating between the initial syllable and ending are to be equated with PIE oxytone or ending-stressed paradigms. This hypothesis is not entirely implausible in and of itself, but it bears repeating that the terms ''barytone'' and ''oxytone'' cannot be applied to the PIE nominal system as a whole. Illič-Svityč's discussion, as well as O's, conflates two distinct layers of word formation and inflection in the parent language: (1) those nouns which belong to one of several accent-ablaut classes, i.e. exhibit a characteristic pattern of stress and vowel alternations (ablaut) among root, suffix, and ending; and (2) those with a suffix *-o- ~ *-e- (so-called ''thematic'' nouns and adjectives) or *-eh2-, for which there is virtually no evidence outside BSl for intraparadigmatic stress alternations.
Similarly in the verb, one must take care to distinguish between the older layer of athematic formations (e.g. root or reduplicated presents and aorists; nasal-infixed presents), which are mostly unproductive in the classical IE languages, and the formations containing a thematic suffix (*-sk^e/o-, *-ye/o-, *-e/o-), which become increasingly dominant over time. The equations ''immobile = barytone'', ''mobile = oxytone'' simply do not mesh with the accentual facts of the BSl verb; it is inconceivable that the present type of Vedic _tudáti_ 'pushes', not even securely reconstructible for PIE, could have generalized its stress to all ''ordinary'' simple thematic presents. Either the mobile accentuation of the BSl simple thematic presents has somehow developed from PIE preforms of the established type (3sg. *pékw-e-ti 'cooks', *wég^h-e-ti 'conveys', etc., with columnar root stress), or our PIE reconstructions are in need of modification.
The second point is rarely mentioned in discussions of BSl accentology and so deserves some elaboration here. It is no accident that all general treatments of BSl accentual mobility, and many specialist articles as well, take as their prime examples a:-stem (< PIE eh2-stem) nouns like the familiar Russian _zimá_ 'winter', _ruká_ 'hand' and their Lithuanian cognates _žiemà_, _rankà_. As O rightly notes, the existence of stress alternations in this class runs counter to the uniformly columnar stress of Indo-Aryan and Greek, and so calls for some kind of (preferably BSl-specific) explanation. When however we find that i- and u-stem nouns alternate in the plural between initial stress in the direct (nominative/accusative) and ending stress in the oblique cases, we should not dismiss outright the possibility that this pattern directly continues that reconstructed for PIE and preserved in hundreds of root and consonant-stem nouns, even if the i- and u-stems of historical Indo-Aryan and Greek have introduced columnar stress. In that case, the accentual mobility in i- and u-stems would be (at least partly) inherited, and this pattern could have spread to the o- and a:-stems, as I argued some years ago (Kim 2002:176-83).
Of course, this hypothesis does not solve all problems connected with BSl accentual mobility. To return to the a:-stems such as Russian _zimá_ and Lithuanian _žiemà_, it has long remained mysterious why the accusative and dative singular should be underlyingly unaccented (with default initial ictus in the absence of proclitics or enclitics), while the other singular case forms stress the ending. Here the author's proposal of retraction from certain final syllables is particularly attractive; the problem is to determine the conditioning for such a retraction. O argues for suppression or neutralization of a high tone on a word-final mora, which is closely paralleled in the Podravina and Zaonež'e dialects and thus phonetically much more plausible than a retraction from final syllables containing [a], as I once suggested (Kim 2002:162-6).
However, it cannot be the case that all stressed word-final moras underwent O's Mobility Law, despite his best efforts to explain away the numerous exceptions as secondary. Thus the derivation of the unaccented nominative and accusative singular forms of o-stem nouns is contradicted by the non-retraction from consonant-stem gen. sg. *-es, e.g. in Old Lithuanian _dukterès_ 'daughter's'. O appeals to various ad hoc analogies to account for this and other counterexamples, e.g. the a:-stem genitive singular (170-1) or the o- and a:-stem genitive plural (186), but in the end is left with only a small number of solid examples for the Mobility Law. The full (and more complex) story behind the BSl mobile-stress paradigms will no doubt involve a combination of inherited accentual patterns, BSl-specific shifts, and interparadigmatic influence among the various nominal stem classes. The same is also true for the verb, whose PIE background has remained relatively neglected in BSl accentual studies.
Despite these points of difference, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this volume for moving the discussion forward in BSl accentology as a whole. O's monograph is not only clearly written and well argued, but the author shows an exemplary independence of judgment and freshness of perspective throughout, on large questions as well as matters of detail. The time is long overdue for specialists in Baltic and Slavic to come together with Indo-Europeanists to tackle seriously the many remaining problems surrounding the BSl prosodic systems and their evolution from PIE. Even if I do not agree with many of the details, O has taken a step in that direction, and given reason to hope that just maybe, after over a century of searching, the solutions may soon be found around the corner.
Andersen, Henning. 2009. Partial accent loss in Slavic and Baltic. Indo-European Studies Bulletin 13:2 (Spring 2009), 1-10. Boutkan, Dirk. 1995. The Germanic ''Auslautgesetze''. (Leiden Studies in Indo-European 4.) Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi. Hoenigswald, Henry M. 1987. _Aieí_ and the prehistory of Greek noun accentua¬tion. Studies in memory of Warren Cowgill (1929-1985): Papers from the Fourth East Coast Indo-European Conference, Cornell University, June 6-9, 1985, ed. by Calvert Watkins, 51-3. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter. Illič-Svityč, Vladislav M. 1963. Imennaja akcentuacija v baltijskom i slavjanskom. Moscow: Institut Slavjanovedenija, Akademija Nauk SSSR. (English edition: Nominal Accentuation in Baltic and Slavic, translated by Richard L. Leed and Ronald F. Feldstein. Cambridge, MA/London: The MIT Press, 1979.) Kim, Ronald I. 2002. Topics in the Reconstruction and Development of Indo-European Accent. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania. Ringe, Donald A., Jr. 2006. From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic. A Linguistic History of English, Volume 1. Oxford: Oxford U. Press. Stiles, Patrick V. 1988. Gothic nominative singular _bro:thar_ 'brother' and the reflexes of Indo-European long vowels in the final syllables of Germanic polysyllables. Transactions of the Philological Society 86, 115-43.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Ronald I. Kim is Visiting Associate Professor in the School of English,
Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan. He received his doctorate in
Linguistics in 2002 from the University of Pennsylvania, and is the author
of over 40 articles and book reviews and 30 conference papers. His
research interests include historical linguistics, primarily of the
Indo-European languages, as well as sociolinguistics, dialectology, and