The palatal sham :) (Re: [tied] Re: Albanian (1))

From: elmeras2000
Message: 30840
Date: 2004-02-08

--- In, "P&G" <petegray@...> wrote:

> Miguel offered three examples, where a root reconstructed with -a-
> an -o- form in another language:

No, I did. I took this to be a public forum, sorry if I was wrong;
anyway, I will continue to do so.

> two Sanskrit perfects, one a Tocharian
> noun.
> (a) Skt perfects very commonly have -a:- in the perfect. How do
we know
> these two examples are not simple analogy, from an original with a
short a?

We do not. Nor do we know that for the e-roots for that matter.

> (b) Miguel finds two of the roots in LIV, which also says:
> *mad alternatively *med or *meh2d
> *bhag or *bheg (though Toch B speaks for *a)
> LIV says the perfect babha:ja is a recent formation
> ("neubilidung")
> So according to Miguel's own source, the second of his examples
cannot be
> used, and the first is not securely an *a word.

LIV was not my source, I knew these examples many years before LIV
was even planned. The assessment "Neubildung" is a point of view,
not a fact. If it is a novel creation there appear to be no examples
at all of whatever structure it has replaced. In LIV "Neubildung" is
apparently used as a default position to which recourse is had
whenever a problem appears insoluble. It has had the good effect
that the work got finished and printed.

> So questions remain. It is still possible to ask if *a actually
> alternate with /o/ and zero.

Well, zero is no problem: Salz and Sülze, gr. paûros and Skt. putrá-
, Skt. yájati (gr. hágios) with PPP is.t.á- and root noun -ij-, and
quite a few more, show this already.

-a-/-o- is harder. Too few languages preserve the IE perfect
combined with an opposition af *a and *o that will satisfy this list
(where Skt. -a-/-a:- does not count). I have made a case for it
myself in Gk. stóma 'mouth' (and the derivative
sto:múlos 'talkative') vs. Welsh safn 'mouth' and YAvest. acc.
staman&m 'mouth (of a dog)', where Av. -a- excludes both schwa
and /o/ (unless there is a laryngeal after the root), and the Gk.
and Welsh stem excludes a laryngeal after the root, leaving only an
alternation *-o-/*-a- as a non-falsifiable solution.

A case in point would have been OIr. canaid : prt. -cechuin, but the
latter form may in fact also represent *-a-.

I wonder why Toch.B keme 'melody' does not count?

It should be remembered, of course, that the various types of "o-
grade" are not all equivalent. It is entirely possible that roots
with the vowel *-a- participate in some alternations with -o-, but
not in others. For one thing, there can be no replica of
the "thematic vowel" alternation -e-/-o- with *-a-, for
the "thematic vowel" is never underlyingly *-a-. However, the
infixal o of formations like *tog-áH2 and *pórnaH2 in which the -o-
is not the root vowel at all, but a morphological element infixed
into (what became) the zero-grade of the root, would be expected to
act the same with all vocalisms. In fact TB keme from *kon-m(n)-o-
bears exactly the same relation to *kan-mn (Lat. dissim. carmen) as
Gk. tórmos 'hole' to trê:ma (root *terH1- 'bore'). In reduplicated
verbal stems, where e-e is replaced by e-o by dissimilation, there
is no way of guessing how this would work with -a- (would -a-a- be
dissimilated to -a-o- or stay the same, or be changed in a way of
its own for that matter?). The lack of evidence makes what little we
do have very precious, and it should be remembered that discounting
the evidence consistently is every bit as ad hoc as accepting it
uncritically. For the "acrostatic type" -o- of *nókWt-s, *pó:d-s,
*wód-r. there is hardly any way to guess about how things ought to
be. The o-timbre came about by lengthening and tonal lowering of one
end of the superlong vowel which caused original /e:/ to take o-
timbre; that tells us little about what an old /a:/ would have done
in case additional length was imparted on it. Note also that the
most widespread type of ablaut that we really do understand, the
accent-governed interchange seen in *´-mo:n vs. *-mé:n, has little
business in a-roots, for it practically only works in suffixes, and
there are no suffixes with a-vocalism. Still, it would be
interesting to see an a-root like 'salt' appearing as the second
member of a barytone compound. Unfortunately, I know of no such

I find it somewhat embarrassing to the "ban on a/o" that the
thematic vowel e/o is allowed to get coloured to [a] when contiguous
with /H2/. Why would the language allow *néw-o-s, *néw-e-syo, *néw-a-
H2, but not *H2ág^-e-ti, §*H2og^-ó-s ? We know now that the latter
form was actually *o-H2g^-ó-s, buried in Gk. ago:gós which has been
repaired by plastering on the ag- of its allies. The earlier form of
ago:gé: 'leadership', i.e. *o:gá:, is retained in Mycenaean o-ka
according to Brent Vine (Fs. Watkins). This shows the secondary
nature of central parts of the evidence on which the impression that
a-roots have no o-grade is based.