Re: [tied] The "Mother" Problem

From: Rob
Message: 36068
Date: 2005-01-28

--- In, "elmeras2000" <jer@...> wrote:
> --- In, "Rob" <magwich78@...> wrote:
> > Again, what caused the distinction between unaccented *-tor-s
> > accented *-tér-s? It seems like the former could not have been
> added
> > during the stage when the zero-grade was created.
> My understanding is that *-tors was the immediate and quite
> regular product of unaccented *-ters. After the change of (the
> prestage of) unaccented *-e- to (the prestage of) unaccented *-o-,
> the alternants *-térs and *´-tors developed into *-té:r and *´-
> to:r respectively, again in fully regular fashion. I assume that
> the lengthening caused by the nominative sibilant preceded the
> reduction of short unaccented vowels all the way to zero, since
> the lengthening saved the reduced vowel from complete loss. I do
> not see how this could be handled differently without unnecessary
> complications. In my view the o-timbre points more to a parameter
> of tone than to one of strength, but that does not exclude that
> accented and unaccented vowels differed in both respects.
> Jens

I agree with you here. The distinction between accented *-térs and
unaccented *-tors is not at issue. However, I posit that the zero-
grade/full-grade distinction was created first, due to the presence
of a strong stress-accent. That would have given *-térs vs. *-
tr.s. We don't seem to see that, however. The implication is that
the suffix was not added until after the stress-accent had weakened
to a pitch-accent, so the unaccented vowel was not lost. I see the
nominative lengthening as a very late change, probably one of the
last before IE's breakup.

All of that does not really address my question, however. The
question was, where did the variants *-térs and *-tors come from in
the first place? That is, what caused the variants? Given what we
know if IE, the suffix *-ter should have *always* drawn the accent
to it, but that is not always the case.

- Rob