Re: [tied] Sanskrit form a.s.tau

From: Glen Gordon
Message: 17251
Date: 2002-12-22

>In most branches the numerals 5-10 are indeclinable (if preserved without
>secondary suffixation). The apparently dual ending of 'eight' was a lexical
>fossil; the word was not treated as a real dual sychronically. The Sanskrit
>plural endings are clearly secondary:

If the numerals above 4 were indeclinable then we should explain why the
dual is attached to *okto:u at all. There is no reason for the dual on the
number unless the numeral originally meant "two fours" or if *-u was always
part of the stem, not a dual ending.

I think that *-u here was a dual ending and that *okto:u originally was
Mid IE *kWetWa-xe (the plural of the enclitic form of "four", *kWetWe).
In Late IE, after the loss of unstressed schwas, the numeral temporarily
became *ktwax, with an awkward three-consonant cluster, hence the addition
of prothetic *a- (somewhat like the addition of e- to French words stemming
from Latin sp-). From there, *aktwax became *okto:u due to the vowel shift
and due to erosion of laryngeals in final position.

I am suspicious of the "four fingers" idea -- that *okto:u merely comes
from **okto-, supposedly meaning "(a measurement of) four fingers". What
attestation is there for this root?

- gLeN

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