"There is another peculiarity, which the Persians themselves have never noticed, but which has not escaped my observation. Their names, which are expressive of some bodily or mental excellence, all end with the same letter -- the letter which is called San by the Dorians, and Sigma by the Ionians. Any one who examines will find that the Persian names, one and all without exception, end with this letter." (Herodotus _On the Customs of the Persians_)
Why on earth did he write such nonsense? Because he knew Persian names in their Hellenised versions, with _Greek_ <-s> at the end. Modern readers often know Greek names in <-os> via Latinised <-us> (as in <Herodotus> or <Corinthus>) and might be tempted to think that <-us> was the ending of most masculine names in Greek.
The nom.sg. endings *-s, *-os, *-is, *-us are of PIE origin, and they were inherited by the individual branches. However, they were eventually lost in most of them, sometimes in preliterate times, sometimes more recently. For example, PIE *-os > pre-Gmc. *-as > Proto-Gmc. *-az > Goth. -s, ON -r, OE & OHG zero. The final <-s> survives in Baltic (PIE *-os > Lith. -as, Latv. -s). Ancient Greek and Classical Latin retained the original endings rather faithfully (but *-os > Class.Lat. -us) and, naturally enough, substituted them in foreign words for whatever the original nom.sg. ending was, e.g. Germanic *-az (or any of its reflexes) appeared as <-os> in Greek and <-us> in Latin. Also Gk. -os --> Lat. -us and vice versa.
The best proof that *-os-type inflections survived in a given ancient language is available if if they're somehow documented independently of their attestation via Greek or Latin, best of all in interpretable vernacular inscriptions. For example, Gaulish or Phrygian inscriptions show unambiguous <-os>. As regards undocumented or very poorly documented languages like Dacian or Thracian, we're in the dark. Judging from the variation that can be observed in names recorded by Greek or Roman authors (e.g. -diza ~ -dizos, -para ~ -paron) and the clear preference for -a in Dacian onomastics, I suspect that the masculine/neuter/feminine endings *-os/*-om/*-a: were reflected as (respectively) *-a/*-a/*-a: in Dacian and Thracian alike. Unfortunately, we have too little data to even begin to reconstruct the rudiments of Dacian or Thracian inflectional morphology.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, November 23, 2002 6:31 PM
Subject: [tied] greek world
everyone who read the old glosses is amazed to see that in
every part of the world known by greeks/romans, the word are
all ending in "es, us, os, is, s" and so on.
It seems improbable that these have been the endings of the
words in all these ancient languages, that every language have
had these "es, os, is, s" , etc as endings for the word. It
seems more probable that the greek "greekysed" the words and
latins "latinised" the forms of the words.
I do not blame them for it, it seems to be something normal to
naturalize a word in your own speach.But in this case, I have
a question regarding this.
-how is possible anymore to know if there was an original "es,
os, is, s" or if there is a greek or a latin
naturalisation?How can we be sure that we have the right
pronounciation of the word and not the greecised/latinised
many thanks in advance.
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