Re: [tied] Nominative: A hybrid view

From: Rob
Message: 22299
Date: 2003-05-27

--- In, "Glen Gordon" <glengordon01@...>
> This is logically inferior to the more natural conclusion that both
share an
> inherited marker *-m for the _accusative_.

How so? Given the evidence, one should at least accept that PIE and
Proto-Uralic inherited a case form -m from their parent language.
However, this does not necessarily mean that the case form was
necessarily accusative (although the temptation is strong). There is
evidence to the contrary, e.g. the Georgian ergative ("narrative")
in -m(a), earlier -man. It is at least possible that the proto-case-
form *-ma had a meaning that could be extended as either an ergative
or an accusative. In my opinion, the logical conclusion is that *-ma
had a locative (or similar) meaning.

> You are trying too desperately to
> fit the evidence to your theory rather than fitting your theory to
> evidence. Please just _accept_ the fact that both language groups
> the same accusative, not ergative, marker.

Desperation? I think not. The thing with linguistic reconstruction
is that different conclusions can be reached by different people
using the same evidence. Furthermore, the evidence is (admittedly)
incomplete. Ultimately, the only way we could ever be certain as to
the type of language spoken by ancient humans is to travel back in
time (which, according to physics, is [nearly] impossible). I can
only speak for myself in that I look at what evidence there is, and
look at what has been theorized in linguistic theory (e.g., that
ergative systems arose first) and put 2 and 2 together. Also,
remember that "simplicity" can be subjective (for better or worse),
and a theory is not necessarily correct just because it is commonly
held. Anyways, I'm enjoying this debate, because it helps to foster
learning and the spread of ideas. :)

> The onus is on you to show that
> the original form was ergative, but since both plainly use *-m as
> accusative,
> this task is next to impossible.

Of course the burden of proof is on me. :) It's "my" theory, after
all. Out of the 6 or 7 language groups that are considered to be
members of the "Nostratic Superfamily" (IE, Uralic, Altaic,
Afrasian, "Tyrrhenian," Kartvelian, Eskimo-Aleut [?]), only three (to
my knowledge) have a regular accusative in *-m. They are
IE, "Tyrrhenian," and Uralic. Interestingly enough, these three are
rather closely related to each other -- actually, more closely
related than any of the other groups, it seems. IE and Tyrrhenian
are very closely related -- indeed, Glen, you posit that they were
once one language at an earlier date (which I am inclined to agree
with). My point with this is merely to illustrate that the evidence
is not entirely, let alone necessarily, in your favor.

> Etruscan :) Erh, well not a nominative per se but /-s'/ is tacked
on to
> many
> "human" words. It's more like an honorific like Japanese /o-/. I
> that
> there are traces of the origins of the sigmatic nominative in
> languages because IndoTyrrhenian *se would have been used as a
> article for animate (particularly human) nouns. One branch used it
as an
> honorific, the other used it as an animate nominative. However, to
> this, we have to first accept the obvious: The nominative derives
from a
> postfixed demonstrative.

Ah, I was not aware of that. Thank you for pointing that out. :) If
I may ask, do you have any examples of such words in Etruscan? Also,
do you mean a palatalized /s/ (concerning the ')? What's interesting
to note is that the Etruscan genitive is also in -s(i).

I'm not saying that I'm correct in this, Glen (and everyone else); it
could very well be true that the sigmatic nominative arose from a
postclitic demonstrative *so. Your extrapolations following that
initial assumption (i.e., *-so > *-s& > *-s) are sound to me, Glen,
but its the assumption that I don't *necessarily* agree with.

> As for inanimate *-d coming from the ablative, which I already
warned was
> absurd to me, I see some problems with your theory that you still
> address. One is that you fail to explain the strange, resultant
dimorphia of
> nominative *-s versus genitive *-os. Another is that you ignore the
> that the inanimate is completely _unmarked_ for the nominative.
This *-d
> only occurs in _pronominals_. So your theory just can't be correct.

Yes, the dimorphia of which you speak certainly seems to be a "hole"
in my theory. And admittedly, I have no satisfactory explanation of
it at this time. I suggested two possibilities, however: one is that
the distinction was caused by a difference in intonation, to indicate
which case was used; or, that the -os genitive in root nouns was
borrowed from the "thematic" class. I'm not sure how much water
either of these possibilities holds (if any), but they are the only
possible explanations that I can think of at this time (except, of
course, that your theory is right and mine is wrong :) .

The inanimate is not completely unmarked for the nominative. It
takes the same ending as the accusative. This likely occurred
because the accusative was probably the most oftenly used case form
for inanimate nouns. The daughter languages, in the process of re-
analyzing stems, came to view the -om ending in thematic inanimates
as part of the stem. It is likely that ablative/instrumental
constructions were far less prevalent (i.e., animate nouns are far
more likely to be used as agents than inanimate ones).

> Believe me, it's simpler to accept that *-s comes from earlier
postfixed *s&
> (> *so).

I'm not sure if I agree that it's simpler. However, I have to admit
that I've found another line of reasoning that backs up your
argument, Glen. As we well know, English is a mostly isolating
language, and has lost many former morphological distinctions between
nouns and verbs of same roots (i.e. "[to] struggle" vs. "[a/the]
struggle"). However, English uses two methods to distinguish between
the two: one is word-order (canonically, SVO) and the other is use of
prepositions and definite articles. Normally we speak of "a
struggle" or "the struggle," not simply "struggle." Of course, the
situation is actually more complex than this, but I think you'll get
the idea. So, it is possible that, if PIE's parent language was (at
some stage) mostly (if not entirely) isolating, an early way to
distinguish between nouns and verbs would be to use a demonstrative
(*so/to-d 'this'). However, this leaves two questions:

1. Why were only animates marked by a demonstrative?
2. Why would later alleged inanimate demonstrative *to (earlier
*ta ?) be reduplicated to form *toto > *tot& > *tod?

Furthermore, it has been written that *so/seh1/tod were anaphoric
and/or demonstrative pronouns, and that only later did they acquire
the meaning of "definite article" in *some* of the daughter
languages. They acquired different meanings in others (e.g. Latin,
if one takes "suus, -a, -um" 'his/her/its/their (own)' as deriving
from *so).

Again, I'm mainly just throwing this stuff out to see what you make
of it. Your rebuttal will help me to more closely define my own
argument(s). :)

- Rob