Re: [tied] Mediopassive, I think I got it

From: Glen Gordon
Message: 15302
Date: 2002-09-09

>>In the case of the mediopassive, *-r "for (the benefit of)"
>Er, how do you get from an interrogative/connective particle to "for (the
>benefit of)"?

As I said, since the indicative *-i is derived from an attached particle,
it remains likeliest that the mediopassive *-r was formed in the same
It certainly wasn't formed out of a subject-object conjugation for the
I already went into. So if *-r originated from an attached particle *r, we
need to figure out how such a particle could end up conveying a meaning of
mediopassive and whether this semantic development is logically reasonable.
We know that using "for" as a mediopassive marker is semantically possible
the only question that remains is whether we can attribute such a meaning to
this particle.

So, we need to resolve is what *r actually meant... what it actually meant
**in INDO-EUROPEAN**. Concerning the particle *r found in "Schleicher's
Miguel, you said:

"This *r. is based on Greek ?a, ?, r?(Cypr. ?(a)) 'therefore,
so, that is to say', ?ra (interr. particle, < ??a) and
Lithuanian ir^ 'and, also' (< *r.), ar^ '(interr. particle)'
(< *or). No other cognates seem to exist."

Now, it may have been used as an interrogative or a connective particle in
*some* *later* Indo-European languages but is this meaning reconstructible
for Indo-European itself? Confusing different chronological layers only
clouds the issue. From what you've offered above, it would appear to me that
the original definition revolves around a demonstrative meaning such as
"therefore" or "thus", not around "or" or an interrogative particle at all.

Of course, it's not a big semantic leap to get from "therefore" to
"from this" or even "for this (reason)" for that matter. Whether we say
"Therefore, I left." or "From this, I left." or "For this (reason), I left."
we are conveying the same thing.

Knowing that "for" > [mediopassive marker] is possible, let's now assume
this was the original meaning for the non-suffixed *r as well. Well, without
an accompanying noun, *r could have meant "for (this)". This is another way
of saying "thus" or "therefore". In later daughter languages, the leap
between "thus" and "and, also" is hardly large.

A derived interrogative sense can also be explained. It seems almost
can develop into an interrogative particle. Consider the following examples:

English: "You're going, eh?"
We know that "eh" is an interrogative here even though it
is simply a casual interjection without much of an etymology.

English: "His plane is leaving then?"
Here, "then" could be considered an interrogative even though
it is properly and originally used as a temporal demonstrative.

Latin: "Estne?"
We should all be aware of where Latin /-ne/ comes from. It is
merely the negative particle... but used here as an interrogative.
The leap from "no" to [interrogative particle] is just as strange
as with "for".

and the last and particularly poignant example...

English: "You want to go, or?"
This is something I often do and often hear people do around me.
We know that "or" is properly used as a connective but it is used
here, optionally with accompanying ellipsis, to imply an alternative
to the statement just proposed.

The last example particularly demonstrates that a connective particle CAN
secondarily become an interrogative particle but we could even derive this
sense from the meaning of "therefore" thanks to the above example of "His
plane is leaving then?" or rather "His plane is leaving therefore?".

Thus (ie "Therefore", "And", "For this (reason)"), after having thoroughly
examined these issues, we now can draw out the following proposal for
the possible evolving semantics of the particle *r...

"for" > "for this" > "therefore, thus, then" > "and"
> [interr.particle]

... and it's suffixed variant *-r...

"for" > "for oneself" > [mediopassive marker]

Is there any point at which my logic has strayed off course here?

- gLeN

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