Re: [tied] Nominative: A hybrid view

From: Miguel Carrasquer
Message: 22217
Date: 2003-05-24

On Sat, 24 May 2003 03:03:14 +0000, Rob <magwich78@...> wrote:

>OK, I'm jumping right into the middle of this discussion. I'm no
>expert on PIE or historical linguistics in general, but I have read a
>thing or two about both subjects.
>I'm gonna take this from the beginning, since that seems to be
>easiest for me. Proto-Indo-European, based on all
>attested "immediate" daughter languages, had a marked nominative
>(i.e., a non-zero morpheme marked the grammatical subject). By all
>accounts, this most likely was the result of an earlier ergative-
>absolutive system, where the transitive subject was overtly marked,
>and the transitive object and intransitive subject were not.

That does not explain why the object is also marked in PIE, nor how
intransitive subjects acquired ergative-marking.

There are different ways to explain the mix we see in PIE.

1) the passive model. This can (partially) turn an accusative system
into an ergative system. The marked object is made unmarked
(nominative) and the unmarked subject is marked by an oblique case
(e.g. instrumental -> ergative). We can see this development in e.g.
the Indic languages, where the past tense has an ergative
construction, derived from a passive ("I-ERG saw the man" < "the man
was seen BY me")

2) the antipassive model. This can (partially) turn an ergative
system into an accusative system. The marked transitive subject is
made unmarked (absolutive) and the unmarked object is marked by an
oblique case (e.g. partitive -> ergative). We can compare French "je
mange DU pain" (for examples of real antipassives, we need to look at
ergative languages).

3) the stative model. PIE had a category of stative verbs (e.g. the
Hittite hi-conjugation). Stative verbs are in fact verbal nouns or
adjectives, and would originally have been used with the subject in
possessive form (John knows = John's knowing) and the object in some
kind of oblique (John knows it = John's knowing about/of it). Stative
verbs are thus an attractive model to explain PIE's double marking.

4) the split-ergative model. Pure ergative languages are rare. Most
"ergative" languages in fact show a mix of ergative and accusative. I
mentioned the case of modern Indo-Aryan languages, which are partially
ergative (in the past tense) but otherwise accusativic. Another
common split-ergative system depends on degrees of animacy. The more
"animate", the more likely a word-class is to behave according to the
accusative model, while word-classes of lesser animacy tend to use an
ergative system. The categories genrerally look like this (from high
to low "animacy"):

1. first person pronouns
2. second person pronouns
3. third person pronouns
4. nouns denoting humans
5. nouns denoting animals
6. nouns denoting things

[In my model of pre-PIE pronouns, this explains why the 1pl. pronoun
is generally *wéy-es (from absolutive **mu-áti > **mWéy "we") rather
than *mésW (from ergative **mu-átu > **mWésW "we") and the 1du. is
always *wéh1 (from absolutive **mu-íki > **mWéh1 "we two"), while 2pl.
is generally *(y)úsW (from ergative **(t)u-átu > **úsW "you") rather
than *sWéy-es (from absolutive **tu-áti > **sWéy "you"), and the 2du.
is always *(y)úh3 (from ergative *(t)u-íku > *úh3 "you two").]

>Another piece of evidence to support this theory is that only the o-
>stem (or "thematic") declension added to the genitive form later on,
>with -osio or something similar (which would be properly analyzed as -
>o-s-io). Where the -io comes from, I'm not sure; but it appears to
>be related to adjectives in -io. However, while this is all well and
>good for the o-stems, there seems to be a problem conforming this
>with the reconstructed paradigm for root nouns. They have a
>nominative singular in -s (appended directly to the root, as in *reg-
>s) and a genitive singular in -os. Any possible explanations for

Well, that's the problem with the nominative < genitive theory. There
seems to be no easy way to reconcile the nominative ending *-s (*-z)
with the genitive in *-Vs (or *-o-syo). The plural endings are even
more dissimilar: N. *-es (or *-o-y) and G. *-om.

>Finally, the -d ending of inanimate pronouns (and nouns?) is
>descended directly from the ablative (and/or instrumental).

Same problem: *-d does not equal *-ot (Ins. *-ét, *-éh1).

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal