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Thematic vowel etc

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  • tgpedersen
    The Russian adj. inflection in m.nom. has ´-yj, but when stressed it s -ój. Now here s a hen-or-egg discussion: 1) did the /o/ attract the stress? or 2) did
    Message 1 of 31 , Aug 24, 2004
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      The Russian adj. inflection in m.nom. has ´-yj, but when stressed
      it's -ój.
      Now here's a hen-or-egg discussion:
      1) did the /o/ attract the stress? or
      2) did the stress change the /y/ to /o/?

      The most reasonable seems of course to assume 2).
      We know that o-grade of an ablaut vowel occurs when stress has been
      shifted from somewhere else to that vowel. Supposedly, the first
      step was that all stressed ablaut vowel got e-grade and the rest of
      them zero grade. But the part about the zero grade can't be right,
      since how can a vowel in zero grade, in other words, that isn't
      there, develop into an /o/ when it's stressed, when there is nothing
      there to be stressed? So I think Glen is right that in the first
      step the unstressed ablaut vowels did not disappear (get zero
      grade), but developed into some type of schwa, which then could
      either get stress in the next step and become /o/, or not, in which
      case it disappeared and truly became zero grade.

      As for the verbal thematic vowel I can't say anything, but about the
      one in nouns I can make this observation:
      Of all the things that were inflected like nouns in the beginning,
      the demonstratives were the only ones that were not syllabic. That
      means they could not possibly have stress anywhere in the stem, but
      must have it on the suffix. Therefore the demonstratives grew a
      vowel and now look as if they have a thematic vowel.

      Note this German example:
      nom. das warme Wasser
      dat. dem warmen Wasser "the warm water"
      cf. without demonstrative
      nom. warmes Wasser
      dat. warmem Wasser "warm water"
      Note the endings of the adj.!

      Now why does German do that? I think because the
      otherwise-inflected demonstrative acts as a left bracket to the
      noun's right bracket; in other words, it delimits the extent of the
      NP in the sentence. That device seems so useful that Germans don't
      want to give it up even when there's no demonstrative present in the
      NP, so they add the endings that the demonstrative would have had,
      to the first member, namely an adjective, of the present NP.

      Now, in PIE speakers felt the same way, they would in the NPs where
      there were no demonstratives have transferred the ending of the
      demonstrative (which had a stressed /o/ in it) to the first
      adjective, which therefore ended up stressed on the suffix which
      contained /o/. Thus was born the thematic inflection.

      I like the idea that the thematic vowel is there, even where you
      don't see it (because it's been elided by a zero-grade rule).
      Perhaps even the athematic verbs contain a lost thematic vowel,
      which then must have been the suffix that turned the verbal stem
      into a gerund.

    • Brian M. Scott
      ... The last statement s pretty much true, but word order of NPs is highly variable: (an) old man and man old are both fine.
      Message 31 of 31 , Aug 31, 2004
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        At 6:12:27 AM on Monday, August 30, 2004, tgpedersen wrote:

        > Seems in ON indefinite NP's began with the adjective, NP's
        > beginning with the cognate of 'a' didn't exist.

        The last statement's pretty much true, but word order of NPs
        is highly variable: <gamall maðr> '(an) old man' and <maðr
        gamall> 'man old' are both fine. This is also true of the
        definite NP:

        sá hinn blindi maðr
        that-one the blind man

        maðr sá hinn blindi
        man that-one the blind

        sá maðr hinn blindi
        that man the blind

        All are 'the blind man'. <Bróðir mín> 'my brother' is
        typical, with the possessive after the noun, as is <þræll
        konungs> 'the king's thrall'. Then there are the split
        NPs, as in <Maðr gekk í lyptingina í rauðum kyrtli mikill ok
        vaskligr> 'A large and gallant-looking man in a red tunic
        went onto the poop-deck', where the subject, 'a large and
        gallant-looking man', is <maðr ... mikill ok vaskligr>.

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