Re: [tied] Re: Words versus Roots

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 17143
Date: 2002-12-12

----- Original Message -----
From: <richard.wordingham@...>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, December 12, 2002 12:46 PM
Subject: [tied] Re: Words versus Roots

> Your bottom line is the conclusion I am trying to derive from my
> observation that PIE is rich in roots but poor in identifiable words
> (I should have said 'stems', not 'words'), which would argue for a
> long history of dialect interaction and provide extra time depth.

It goes without saying that PIE had dialects. Only moribund languages with a few dozen speakers lose the normal dialectal variation that characterises all "healthy" languages. Note, however, that it was also a language with rich derivational morphology irrespective of its dialectal composition. One and the same descendant language may show a whole constellation of related and nearly synonymous word-stems. Thus, the Greek 1sg. aorist of 'kill' was etHeina, etHenon, or epepHnon (PIE *gWHen-); the Sanskrit 3sg. present of 'fill' was piparti, pRn.a:ti, pRn.oti or puryate (PIE pelh1-). All these reduplications, infixations and suffixations represent processes that were productive already in the protolanguage, and there's no reason to suppose that PIE stems were any less varied and polymorphic than those of Greek or Sanskrit. Glen's "copper" example shows that English is also quite creative in this respect (even a nonce-word like <copperesque> is after all grammatical).