Re: Qualitative ablaut and prefixing

From: elmerasdk
Message: 14206
Date: 2002-08-02

--- In cybalist@..., "Glen Gordon" <glengordon01@...> wrote:
My thanks to Gordon for responding to my ablaut ideas. There is much
we will apparently never reach any agreement about, but also a number
of points that still may be worth a comment:

> Jens: [IE comes in different flavors, for starters there is:]

> >1. Alternation ó / zero depending on accent. This is practically
> >only seen in reduplicated verbal categories,

> Practically but not entirely by any means. The *o-grade is
> associated with stative formations and must have a long prehistory.
> The *o-grade can't just be explained away as senseless
> reduplication since a simple question arises: Why isn't the
> perfect **kWe-kWer-e or *kWo-kWer-e instead of *kWe-kWor-e?
> It's tough to explain all *o-grade forms as recent innovations.

I take this to be a matter of dissimilation, i.e. spontaneous and so
erratic (unless the red.prs. also has o-vocalism in which case it is
a pervasive trait with reduplication). If reduplication is in essence
a rudimentary repetition, we have the well-known types tic-toc, ding-
dong and bang-bang, choo-choo to choose between. In that case, the "o-
grade" of the perfect, the intensive and the reduplicated aorist is
like ding-dong type, while that e-grade type of the reduplicated
present is more like bang-bang. Just as I don't believe there is a
sound law of English that can be made rsponsible for ding-dong as
opposed to bang-bang, thus I do not feel obliged to invent one to
govern the different choice of reduplication in the IE verb. - The
perfect will then be an elaboration of a reduction of *kWer-kWór-,
while the present is rather based on a type *dheH1-dhéH1-. - I see no
evidence that the stative function of the perfect had anything to
with this choice. There is nothing stative about the intensive and
the causative aorist which made the same choice.
> >2. Alternation o / zero, both unaccented, further alternating
> >with é; in case of lengthening we have unaccented /o:/ and
> >accented /é:/.
> In the case of *xakmo:n, the last syllable was originally accented,
> later altered (a little after the Acrostatic Regularisation) in
> Late IE. The ending here is *-mon-, an animatized variant of
> inanimate *-mn. Knowing that *-mon- was originally accented, we
> see that it alternated with *-men- when unaccented. This ablaut
> change of *o to *e derives from Mid IE Vocalic Constraints where
> unaccented MIE *a (> *o) was simply reduced to schwa (> *e) when
> unstressed.
> As for *wr.hé:n 'lamb', the ending there is the agentive *-é:n
> (also *-é:r), quite a different ending which doesn't alternate
> with *o.

We have been over this before: I still refuse to take ákmo:n poimé:n,
dó:to:r doté:r, héo:s eukraté:s as evidence for a
distribution "accented o, unaccented e" in derivative suffixes. - The
n-part of the word for 'lamb' runs through the paradigm and so has no
special affinity with a "agentive" function. In tékto:n 'carpenter'
you might see an agentive function in the lexical meaning, but that
has -o:n (unaccented of course).

> >3. A related regularity has produced with /o:/ from stems
> >with underlyingly long /e:/, as *pe:d- 'foot' => nom. *pó:d-s.
> Erh... no. The nominative is *po:d-s, there's no doubt. It becomes
> *ped-os in the genitive only because of Mid IE Vocalic Constraint
> which explained the same ablaut phenomenon above.
> The word for house could very well have been also *de:m- in order
> to explain genitive *dems but I fail to see this as unquestionable
> proof that we necessitate a ridiculous "superlong *e:". We merely
> need explain the *e/*o problem here as a case of variant forms
> of one word. Thus, athematic *dem- using an *e-grade, versus
> the thematic *dom-o- using the *o-grade stative *dom-.
> Concerning *nokWt- & *nekWt-, again there are two different stems
> being used at the same time. The reason why nominative *-s does
> not lengthen *nokWt- is because *-s can only lengthen an
> immediately preceding syllable (which would in fact be the vowel
> lost between *kW and *t).
> It's plain to see in this third case that there is no true
> qualitative ablaut simply because we are dealing with alternating
> stems, not the paradigmatic alternations of a single stem! Again,
> *o alternates with *e within the paradigm merely via MIE Vocalic
> Constraints.

*I* fail to see what is gained by proclaiming victory and pulling
out, as you do when you state without reason and without necessity
that the strong-case o-forms that go with acrostatic non-neuters are
simply "alternating stems". Sure they're alternating stems, but
wouldn't we like to understand and explain the alternation? Is
the /n/ of *nokWt- not the same element as the /n/ of *nekWt-? Are
the labiovelars /kW/ of the two alternants of different origin? And
are the /t/'s of both alternants not related? Then the variation in
the stem boils down to o vs. e, i.e. stays well within the limits of
IE vowel varation. Then, if we have set out to explain IE vowel
variation, why leave this out of consideration? Had *I* done that, I
would *really* have had everybody on my back.

> >4. There is the "thematic vowel", i.e. vowels in stem-final
position which
> >regularly behave in a way of their own. Being
> >independent of the accent, they have no zero-grade alternants, but
show up
> >as /o/ before voiced segments
> I now understand this phenomenon. It formed within the Late IE
> period. The thematic vowel was originally schwa (and this is
> _after_ the loss of unaccented schwa of Mid IE). Many of these
> schwas developed after the Acrostatic Regularisation had altered
> the accents of some stems. Naturally, the new unaccented vowel that
> was produced was subsequently reduced to mid-central schwa.
> However, next to unvoiced segments the schwa was fronted. Schwas
> temporarily remained next to voiced segments but they were later
> dissimilated to the nearest vowel *o (hence the unexpected
> "rounding" of the vowel that couldn't be merely the product of
> voicing or frequency alone).
> The reason for *o in the nominative does not necessarily imply
> voicing of nominative *-s. Rather, since the nominative marker
> tends to lengthen preceding syllables in other stems, it's
> natural to presume that the same phenomenon is to be blamed for
> the *o in thematic stems. In other words:
> NOM. *ekw&-s > *ekw&:-s > *ekwo-s
> ACC. *ekw&-m > *ekw&-m > *ekwo-m
> ACC. *ekw&-syo > *ekwe-syo > *ekwe-syo

But the same "lengthening", if that is the origin of the PIE surface
form /o/, can then be seen every time there follows a voiced segment.
One way or the other, the regularity stands. In my wording it is
additionally given a phonetic justification in accordance with the
morphophonemic behaviour of the same language.

> >5. Then there is the funny -o- of the causative *mon-éye-ti.
> >6. Further Support.
> I'll think on that one but I so far am resisting your basis for
> the conclusion of some consonant *-O-. It smells of linguistic
> alchemy.

It is linguistic algebra.

> >[...] its antonym based on *régW-os 'darkness' forms
> >*ó-rgWsnaH2 with prefixed /o-/;
> I've already mentioned "*a-insertion" and was added to my website
> monthes ago to explain the relationship between *kWetwores "four"
> and *okto:u "eight". I already mentioned previously that *a- was
> inserted in a very early stage of Late IE to avoid complex
> consonant clustering (three or more initial consonants) after the
> loss of unaccented Mid IE schwa. That would explain *okto:u
> (< *a-kWtwax) and *osdo- (< *a-sdwa-). It would appear that it could
> also explain *orgWsnax (*a-rgWs-nax). Also *oxgax (< *a-xgC-ax)
> assuming some consonant *C (such as a semivowel or laryngeal).
> This has nothing to do with "infixing" since there is no true infix
> to speak of. It's rather a coping mechanism in IE syllabics.

Since the a-insertion or a-addition is not at all demanded by
phonotactic rules, it must be an added morpheme, and so your analysis
is nothing but a repetition of mine, if expressed with other symbols
(and supplemented by a number of specific analyses I cannot accept).
If there is no vowel insertion in Skt. turí:ya 'fourth' from *kWtur-
io-, the o- of 'eight' just cannot have such a basis. Notice that if
the clustering is increased, there is vowel insertion, but of "schwa
secundum", not /o/, as Lat. quadrupe:s. Armenian k'arrasun 'forty'
must represent *kW"twr.H2-(d)k^omt-&2 with schwa secundum (here
noted "), not /o/; the immediate reflex would be *k'ak'arrasun,
whence the actual form by haplology. I have often had to live with
the scornful attitude of colleagues calling my analyses "ad hoc"; the
o-addition of yours I would have to call contra hoc.

> >8. The Opposition. "Last time [Glen] checked, IndoEuropean tended
> >suffixation, not prefixation."
> Then where are the prefixes in PIE? There are none. Plus things
> like the question marker *ne placed at the end of the sentence
> and the overwhelming predominance of suffixation suggest an
> originally SOV language. What you're intending on doing is
> reconstructing a Pre-IE with prefixation. You're swimming
> against the stream. The infixes are merely late formations,
> originally suffixes. They formed due to misanalysis of atomic
> stems like *leikW- as **lei- + some obscure modal suffix that
> never existed **-kW-. Hence *-n- was placed after the "perceived"
> root, causing infixing.

PIE, or even one of its prestages recoverable by internal
reconstruction, does not have to represent a *pure* type. Typology is
a very crude matter: If English is today very different from Old
English, does that mean that one cannot even imagine a "modern" sign
in the immediate prehistory of Modern English which has later been
lost? What happened to the open attitude of the scholarly mind? Is
this no longer an empirical science?

> Interesting as always, but I'm not yet convinced, although it's
> nice to at least see that we're noticing the same curiosities and
> both attempting to address them in our own ways.

If any of our methods are any good that ought not to be possible. At
least one of us is doing things he shouldn't.