Miguel's multi-post ramblings on his theories concerning the
origins of IE grammatical oddities has got me to thinking of
late about the origins of the mediopassive. I admit to not
having solved the mediopassive in a way that I find
satisfactory enough to consider a solution. However, after
having meditated a bit on it, I think I might now know what
might have happened to bring about this mood.
Amidst any uncertainty of its origin, I'm quite certain that
Miguel's subject-object solution is ludicrous. There's no
hint that this was once the case, and the existence of
multiple endings secures nothing since dialectal variance
can be found even amongst some declensional endings. Does
this mean that nouns were conjugated for person as well?!
I believe that the particle *r that I questioned earlier lies
at the heart of the origin. We can see that the mediopassive
endings are largely based on the perfect endings. In fact,
the mediopassive can be seen as an action bringing about a
state via a third party (who can also be oneself). So, to say
"I have shaved", one would have to think in terms of "I am
shaved by myself" or "I had myself shaved."
Besides *-r, we see another morpheme *-dh- used in the 1pp
and 2pp. This is because it originally meant "within, amongst"
and is the same particle as that used occasionally for the
locative case, *-dhi. Thus, a sentence like *[(ns) X-wes-dho]
literally meant "(us) X-we-amongst" or rather "We X amongst
(ourselves)". Similarly, a null 2pp ending plus *-dh- gave
the meaning of "amongst (yourselves)" and *-umo (from the
2pp pronominal stem) emphasized a 2pp meaning.
Now that these semantics are explained, we see that the
middle was produced via the same means as that of the
indicative. That is to say, via the suffixing of trailing
enclitics to pre-existing pronominal endings. In the case of
the indicative, *-i meaning "here, now" was used. In the case
of the mediopassive, *-r "for (the benefit of)" and *-dh-
"within, amongst" were used.
In terms of phonological processes, the solidification of the
mediopassive could only have occured in early Late IE because
while it doesn't operate under penultimate accentuation, its
formation must predate the *e/*o thematic alternation caused
by the presence of sonorants. Thus, from Early Late IE we can
define its course of evolution as follows through an example
of *e:sxor "I sit (myself)":
me e:sx& r.
e:sx&:r (lengthening before sonorant)
e:sxor (vowel shift: *& > *e, *&: > *o)
Additional thoughts? Anything I missed?
MSN Photos is the easiest way to share and print your photos: