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Indo-European morphology

Posted: 26 Jul 2018 17:15
by Clio
In the C&C Q&A thread there was recently a discussion about principle parts, roots, and so on. A few members suggested creating a new thread, so I thought I might do just that. I figure a decent way to start off would be to define a few terms common in Indo-European studies that either have other meanings elsewhere or are easily confused. For now, I've chosen ten terms pertaining to verbs, but I'll definitely add to this post as the thread progresses.

root: 1. the most basic, indivisible part of a word which carries meaning; 2. an earlier word from which others are derived
stem: the unit of a word to which inflectional endings are added, typically a root (1) followed by a suffix
characterization: the addition of any morphological marker to a root
thematic vowel: any vowel occurring in the stem immediately before the ending, especially the ablauting o/e vowel
ending: the final morpheme of a word
primary and secondary: primary endings are those used for the non-past tenses; secondary endings are used for the past tenses and despite their name are actually the underived endings
deponent: a verb lacking active voice forms
suppletion: the use of a non-cognate root (1) or not obviously cognate root (1) to derive the inflected form of another word
augment: a prefix added to past-tense verbs in the indicative mood
principle parts: the forms of a verb (typically given in the first person singular) necessary to derive the verb's complete paradigm

Using a few of these terms, we can analyze the morphology of a Latin word and a Greek word as follows:

Code: Select all

root: liqu-
⸢⁻⁻⁻⁻⁻⁻⁻⸣
linquo 'I leave'
     ⸤⸥
     primary ending: -o
  ⸤⸥
  characterization: -n-
⸤____⸥
characterized stem: linqu-

Code: Select all

root & uncharacterized stem: πι-
 ⸢⁻⸣
ἔπιον (épion) 'I drank'
    ⸤⸥
    secondary ending: -ν
   ⸤⸥
   thematic vowel: -ο-
⸤⸥
augment: ἐ-
Since the verb linquo has a characterized present stem, it is called a "nasal-infix present"; ἔπιον (from πίνω) is called a "root aorist" since its aorist stem is identical with the root.

If I've made any errors or need to clarify something better, please let me know. As I said before, I hope to expand the scope of this post beyond these few verb-related terms based on what other posters are most interested in or confused by. From here, I figure people should just discuss whatever they want concerning the morphology of Indo-European natlangs or conlangs.

Re: Indo-European morphology

Posted: 26 Jul 2018 22:18
by eldin raigmore
I like that Originating Post, Clio!

I have what I think is a small correction, concerning the definition of stem;
A wordbase is any part of a word to which further morphology, (whether derivation or inflection), can/will/must be applied before the surface (finite) form of the word is achieved.
A stem of a word is the wordbase after all derivational morphology that will be applied (if there is any) has been applied, but before any inflectional morphology that will be applied (if there is any) has been applied.

Understanding this “correction” (if that’s what it is) pre-requires understanding the difference between (on the one hand) inflection and (on the other hand) morphological derivation.
Edit: According to Joan Bybee the main difference is that inflection is universal (iow applies to the whole word-class) and productive, whereas derivation is not entirely universal and/or no longer productive.
That distinction is fuzzyish, but the following is usually an effective guide.
(*) an inflection process usually can be synchronically applied to all of the wordbases in a particular word-class (i.e. lexical category, i.e. part-of-speech): whereas a process of morphological derivation frequently can be applied to many wordbases in a given word class but frequently cannot be applied to many other wordbases in that same lexical category.
(*) the semantic effect of an inflection process is usually transparent synchronically to living speakers, and consistent across an entire part-of-speech: whereas the semantic effect of a process of morphological derivation is often non-transparent synchronically to living speakers, and often idiosyncratically dependent on the wordbase to which it is applied.
(*) an inflection process usually does not change the part-of-speech: whereas the result of a process of morphological derivation is rather relatively frequently a different lexical category than the wordbase to which it is applied.

Note the many times the word “usually” appears above.
For instance, in English, forming gerunds and participles is usually considered inflection, because they’re usually almost the same process for almost every verb, and their meaning is consistently transparent, even though forming a gerund starts with a verb and ends with a noun, and forming a participle starts with a verb and ends with an adjective.

Re: Indo-European morphology

Posted: 30 Jul 2018 14:51
by Clio
eldin raigmore wrote:
26 Jul 2018 22:18
I like that Originating Post, Clio!

I have what I think is a small correction, concerning the definition of stem;
Thank you, eldin! I've gone ahead and updated my definition of stem to specify inflectional morphology is added to a stem, although the word "wordbase" (or just "base") seems a bit less standard in Indo-European studies. I checked a few books on Indo-European and didn't see the term used--not to say that it can't still be useful to think about bases.

Re: Indo-European morphology

Posted: 30 Jul 2018 18:42
by eldin raigmore
I edited in something to my last post, too.
I still appreciate your starting this thread, and still hope it keeps up!

(BTW I keep misreading the title as “Indo-European Mythology”, which would also be interesting.)

Re: Indo-European morphology

Posted: 31 Jul 2018 04:39
by GrandPiano
eldin raigmore wrote:
30 Jul 2018 18:42
(BTW I keep misreading the title as “Indo-European Mythology”, which would also be interesting.)
This is a thing.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-I ... _mythology

Re: Indo-European morphology

Posted: 03 Aug 2018 10:22
by robertjohnson
This information is really meaningful for linguists! Many thanks for contributing the significant post!