Re: [tied] The notoriously seductive mother-in-law

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 3939
Date: 2000-09-20

----- Original Message -----
From: João Simões Lopes Filho
Sent: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 4:56 PM
Subject: Re: [tied] o-stems vs. u-stems

The Latin situation is made more complex by the falling together of two originally distinct paradigms: old consonantal ("laryngeal"-final) stems in *-ux- (> *-u:-) and "plain" u-stems. Once *swekru:- became a u-stem, it apparently began to "abduct" other [+ human, + female] nouns from the minor feminine paradigm in *-o- (*snus-o-s, *xan-o-s). A more robust semantic class -- that of tree-names (fraxinus, alnus, po:pulus, pi:rus, corylus, etc.) -- was almost unaffected, though quercus is consistently a u-stem in Latin, whereas pi:nus and cornus vary between the two paradigms (an original -nu- suffix?).
A pattern need not be productive to exert sporadic analogical influence. A minor but salient pattern may become a grammatical attractor, especially if it contains one or more frequently used words. For example, the English verb strive, borrowed from Old French, developed into a "strong" verb already in Chaucer's English: stryven/stroof/striven (Modern English strive/strove/striven) on the analogy of drive (supported by the vowel pattern of ride, stride, write, etc.). The Slavic 'mother-in-law' word *svekry (Gen. *svekrUve -- this is what IE u:-stems look like in Slavic) attracted first *zUly (< PIE *g@...:us, a root noun) 'husband's sister', then *jeNtry (PIE *jenxte:r, an r-final family term), and dialectal *svaty (also meaning 'mother-in-law'), into the *-y/*-Uv- declension.
I can't cover the whole issue of IE u-stems in a single brief posting; I'll return to them later.

Hi, Petr
I'm an amateur like you but my idea is that usually th u-stems tend to be
the most conservative forms, although not in all cases. Maybe some languages
change from -u to -o (or vice-versa) through some kind of analogy.
Maybe *snusos > Latin nur-us "daughter-in-law" occurred through analogy with
*swekru:s > socr-us "mother-in-law". It's curious that In Portuguese these
stems were also modified by analogy, but with the most usual femine a-stems
; so we have sogra "mother-in-law" (<*socra, instead of socrus) and nora
"daughter-in-law"(<*nura, instead of nurus).
Maybe Greek domos represent the confusion between *domus (which must
devellop into *domys) and *domos; or maybe domos < *domwos.

Joao SL
----- Original Message -----
From: Petr Strossa <kizips@...>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 8:50 AM
Subject: [tied] o-stems vs. u-stems

> Good morning or evening, everybody!
> My name is Petr Strossa. I have observed this forum for some
> months already, whithout having posted anything, but having had
> great pleasure from many contributions. I am interested mainly in
> PIE roots and morphology, just as an amateur, but have thoroughly
> read one magnificent book on this topic and looked very many
> times into various etymological dictionaries. (I have quite
> a nice private collection of dictionaries, grammars and books
> about languages, this is another of my hobbies...)
> Now, I came to a question when reading Cyril Babaev's "*ano-"
> Word-A-Week entry. It is presented as an o-stem, and I don't see
> any reason why it should not originally (or: "generally") be that
> (although several given forms, as Greek "annis" and Germanic
> "anen", look differently) - but, what I am now especially
> interested in: why does it work like a u-stem (anus, -u:s) in
> Latin? While thinking about this, I found another similar case:
> supposed *snusos (`daughter-in-law')
> -> Greek "nyos"
> - but Latin "nurus, -u:s", again looking like a u-stem (from
> hypothetical variant *snusus?)
> And a third example:
> Latin "domus" mixing u-stem and o-stem forms (e.g.,
> "domu:s", but "domo:s")
> vs.
> Greek "domos" (a regular o-stem, I hope).
> BTW, the corresponding Old Slavonic "domU" was a u-stem.
> What was most probably the real relation between PIE o-stems and
> u-stems, especially in such words as those given here?
> 1. (?) All or most of such words were originally quite
> conservative consonant stems and later developed differently into
> o-stems or u-stems in different PIE dialects.
> 2. (??) All or most of such words developed into o-stems in
> common IE, but later changed quite regularly into u-stems in some
> branches (as Italic). But why whould it be so - when u-stems do
> not at all look much numerous and productive at almost any
> place and period (except a relatively late case of some
> adjectives in Lithuanian as I have read)? Could the reason be,
> e.g., that feminine o-stems were so very uncommon in these
> languages? (But again, Latin humus is a relatively "perfect"
> feminine o-stem!)
> 3. (???) The u-stems were in fact generally older, and they were
> slowly disappearing in all the PIE dialects, mostly by conversion
> into o-stems.
> Any suggestions?
>                        P.S.