Re: [tied] The "Mother" Problem

From: Rob
Message: 36034
Date: 2005-01-25

--- In, "petegray" <petegray@...> wrote:

> Do you mean the difference in accent and stem vowel? As far as
> I'm aware, only Skt shows a difference in paradigm between the two
> words, and that's a post-IE development.

Vedic has ma:tá: (< *ma:tá:r) "mother" and pitá: (<
*pitá:r) "father", right? Greek, on the other hand, has
mé:te:r "mother" (Attic) paté:r "father". Which one is supposed to
have the more original accent scheme?

From what I understand, Vedic had anomalous genitive forms for both
of those words: ma:túh "mother's" and pitúh "father's", as if from
IE *maxtr's (stress on syllabic /r/) and *pxtr's, respectively.
However, these forms seem like innovations to me. What's the
scholarly opinion on the subject?

> As for the formation of the two stems, a theory I find interesting
> is that the -ter affix, used for things in opposed pairs, was
> added to the root for "looking after" (peH) which we find in Latin
> pa:sco and elsewhere. Since it was stressed, the root appeared as
> zero grade: pHter. This was then re-interpreted as p-Hter, and
> the new "suffix" -Hter was added elsewhere to make the family
> words (ma-Hter, bhra-Hter, dhug-Hter, etc). But this theory
> doesn't explain why the accent was moved back.

That is an interesting theory. With "father", the suffix must have
been added during or before unstressed vowels were lost, giving the
zero-grade form. But the other words must have been coined later,
it seems. I've also read that the "mother" word was initially
stressed because it was earlier inanimate, with a form something
like *méxtr. How likely was this?

Regarding the word for "brother", it seems to have come from the
root *bher-. I'm not sure about the word for "daughter".

- Rob

> Peter