(L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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KaiTheHomoSapien
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien » 25 Oct 2019 06:34

Why are the personal pronouns in Indo-European suppletive (with the exception of the 2nd singular)? Why *eǵoH as well as *mé? Are there any theories out there? Any books on IE that postulate on this? I've just always been curious about it. I think I read in one source (though I can't remember which one) that the oblique forms are the originals, that because IE is pro-drop the "nominative" forms are essentially special emphatic forms and thus not as intimately linked with the paradigm. Additionally, to some extent you can perhaps see some of the verbal endings in the oblique forms: *-mi vs. *me; *nos (perhaps generalized from *ns which was originally *ms) vs. *mos.

I've often noticed that in English (and other IE languages), the oblique form isn't so much an "object" form as much as it's a "not-subject" form and is the default used in syntactically unclear situations like exclamations or topic-marking.

Anyone know any papers that discuss this? I'd love to learn more.
Last edited by KaiTheHomoSapien on 25 Oct 2019 19:04, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Zekoslav » 25 Oct 2019 10:37

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
25 Oct 2019 06:34
Why are the person personal pronouns in Indo-European suppletive (with the exception of the 2nd singular)? Why *eǵoH as well as *mé? Are there are any theories out there? Any books on IE that postulate on this? I've just always been curious about it. I think I read in one source (though I can't remember which one) that the oblique forms are the originals, that because IE is pro-drop the "nominative" forms are essentially special emphatic forms and thus not as intimately linked with the paradigm. Additionally, to some extent you can perhaps see some of the verbal endings in the oblique forms: *-mi vs. *me; *nos (perhaps generalized from *ns which was originally *ms) vs. *mos.

I've often noticed that in English (and other IE languages), the oblique form isn't so much an "object" form as much as it's a "not-subject" form and is the default used in syntactically unclear situations like exclamations or topic-marking.

Anyone know any papers that discuss this? I'd love to learn more.
I've read several articles on this, and all are necessarily very speculative... there's been a lot of comparative work on PIE and other language's pronouns, which happen to be uncanningly similar (see this speculative and this not so speculative page), but no definite answer so far. I can't remember anything concerete and the moment, other than Frederik Kortland't Indo-Uralic papers. I also remember reading somewhere that the 1st person singular pronoun is essentially an exclamation or a deictic.

Concerning English I vs. me, and similarly in French je vs. moi, I have a hunch that this development is essentially because those two languages lost case marking and aren't pro-drop anymore. So the original nominative pronouns are basically restricted in use to become subject agreement markers, while the original accusative/dative pronouns are used as direct and indirect objects, after prepositions... basically in all other situations. So it's no longer subject vs. object, it's clitic subject agreement marker vs. free-standing pronoun with various uses. It's easy to extend these various uses to include emphatic, free-standing subject pronouns. (c. f. the old-fashioned it is I vs. it's me). I don't know if this applies to other languages which have cases or aren't pro-drop. IIRC correctly Spanish and Italian still use the original nominatives as emphatic pronouns (pro-drop), as does Croatian (cases, pro-drop), but I don't know enough about other languages with similar features.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ser » 25 Oct 2019 23:01

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
25 Oct 2019 06:34
I've often noticed that in English (and other IE languages), the oblique form isn't so much an "object" form as much as it's a "not-subject" form and is the default used in syntactically unclear situations like exclamations or topic-marking.
Zekoslav wrote:
25 Oct 2019 10:37
Concerning English I vs. me, and similarly in French je vs. moi, I have a hunch that this development is essentially because those two languages lost case marking and aren't pro-drop anymore. So the original nominative pronouns are basically restricted in use to become subject agreement markers, while the original accusative/dative pronouns are used as direct and indirect objects, after prepositions... basically in all other situations. So it's no longer subject vs. object, it's clitic subject agreement marker vs. free-standing pronoun with various uses. It's easy to extend these various uses to include emphatic, free-standing subject pronouns. (c. f. the old-fashioned it is I vs. it's me). I don't know if this applies to other languages which have cases or aren't pro-drop. IIRC correctly Spanish and Italian still use the original nominatives as emphatic pronouns (pro-drop), as does Croatian (cases, pro-drop), but I don't know enough about other languages with similar features.
You're right about Spanish and Italian. Latin also uses the nominative for exclamative functions (A. Egomet?? B. Tu, tu inquam! "Me!??" "Yes, you!").

For topic marking, Spanish, Italian and Latin use prepositions (Latin dē + ABL, ad + ACC; Spanish acerca de, en cuanto a, a propósito de, en lo que respecta a), although Latin also can also use a bare ablative.

I believe that what Kai is talking about is an innovation shared between English and French that is uncommon in IE.

EDIT: grammar
Last edited by Ser on 12 Nov 2019 03:11, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien » 25 Oct 2019 23:51

I was also thinking of the "accusative of exclamation" in Latin, but it seems that this is not a strict rule and that Latin sometimes uses the nominative in similar expressions (and it's not specific to pronouns).

Thanks for your answers [:)]

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien » 08 Nov 2019 06:12

So in Ringe, he makes the argument that the PIE locative singular thematic ending was -ei and that it and the vocative singular were the only two in the e-grade because the e-grade was used only when the case form was endingless (as in the vocative). The locative in PIE as we know sometimes appears as endingless (Ringe says that the familiar -i of the locative in daughter languages is the hic-et-nunc particle). About the original locative singular ending Ringe says "[the locative singular] seems to have been characterized by an ending which had an underlying accent but no segmental portion to 'carry' it, with the result that the accent had to be linked leftward to the last syllable of the stem". What does this mean exactly? That the original PIE locative singular ending was an accented null? In his table of reconstructed endings he does show a null symbol with an accent mark for the locative singular. I just don't get how that could've actually been an ending. It seems weird to reconstruct such an ending.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Zekoslav » 08 Nov 2019 10:01

I think this is attested in Vedic. Unlike other oblique cases, the locative singular had full grade instead of zero grade and was accented on the last syllable of the stem, and this is true whether it ends in -i or in -Ø.

Sadly, Wiktionary has no Vedic (only Classical Sanskrit) declension of "stone", but the Proto-Indo-European one shows this as well even if it's not attested, rather than reconstructed. Ringe's explanation that the endingless locative was underlyingly accented but since it was -Ø the accent could only surface on the last syllable of the stem can be contested. Kiparsky has posited the so-called Oxytone rule for Vedic that all polymorphemic, derived stems have automatic accent on the last syllable of the stem, which also explains the accent of the endingless locative*.

*In Vedic, and in at least some words in Greek, this rule applies to both full and zero grades, as long as there's a syllabic segment (vowel or syllabic sonorant) in the last syllable of the stem: Vedic pitṛ́ṣu and Greek πατράσι both suggest *ph₂tŕ̥su, accented according to Kiparsky's Oxytone rule, while Wiktionary has *ph₂tr̥sú which is actually an internal reconstruction based on the supposition that zero grades are a result of syncope and therefore can't be accented (at least not originally).
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ælfwine » 02 Dec 2019 02:45

In what positions and under what conditions did French keep morphological nominative -s, even after it lost cases? C.f. French fils.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by VaptuantaDoi » 02 Dec 2019 07:25

Ælfwine wrote:
02 Dec 2019 02:45
In what positions and under what conditions did French keep morphological nominative -s, even after it lost cases? C.f. French fils.
The only instances where it was kept nominative forms were irregular exceptions. These are either proper nouns (Jacques, Charles) or isolated incidences (apparently randomly, although almost all the ones I can find are refering to people), i.e. sœur, traître. There are some cases, also mostly referring to people, where both forms were retained separately; on vs. homme, gars vs garçon, copain vs. compagnon, sire vs. seigneur. No real "conditions" other than perhaps semantic ones.

(This isn't about the nominative -s specifically, I hope it answers your question)

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 » 02 Dec 2019 07:49

Ælfwine wrote:
02 Dec 2019 02:45
In what positions and under what conditions did French keep morphological nominative -s, even after it lost cases? C.f. French fils.
What VaptuantaDoi said. It is true that all French's retained nominative forms refer to humans. I'd wager that's the case because human nouns are more likely to be subjects.

If you're thinking about the particular pronunciation of fils as /fis/, that is essentially a spelling pronunciation; in the 1700s, the /s/ was dropped as part of a regular sound change, giving /fi/. CNRTL, which has a lot of etymological information on French, says the /s/ was restored soon after, in limited phonological contexts, because of the word's use as a vocative. It seems to have been governed by rules similar to the ones currently operating on six and dix: /s/ at the end of an utterance, /z/ before a vowel, silent before a consonant.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ælfwine » 02 Dec 2019 14:06

For a while I was considering eliminating the case system of my Gothic conlang, but what was preventing me was the existence of final -s in many words in the corpus (fers "man," bars "beard" ies "he") but not in others (plut "blood," alt "old," tag "day"). However, it was suggested to me that the -s might have been preserved in a manner similar to French: the case system was eliminated and most words were generalized around the accusative, except for some words which took the nominative. So this gives me some constraints at least, thanks guys. :)
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Xonen » 02 Dec 2019 19:40

Dormouse559 wrote:
02 Dec 2019 07:49
Ælfwine wrote:
02 Dec 2019 02:45
In what positions and under what conditions did French keep morphological nominative -s, even after it lost cases? C.f. French fils.
What VaptuantaDoi said. It is true that all French's retained nominative forms refer to humans.
I seem to recall seeing that claimed for ours 'bear', but can't seem to find an explicit confirmation for that. Apparently (at least if I'm understanding the French correctly), the final /s/ has been lost and re-established similarly to fils, in any case.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Zekoslav » 02 Dec 2019 19:53

Xonen wrote:
02 Dec 2019 19:40
Dormouse559 wrote:
02 Dec 2019 07:49
Ælfwine wrote:
02 Dec 2019 02:45
In what positions and under what conditions did French keep morphological nominative -s, even after it lost cases? C.f. French fils.
What VaptuantaDoi said. It is true that all French's retained nominative forms refer to humans.
I seem to recall seeing that claimed for ours 'bear', but can't seem to find an explicit confirmation for that. Apparently (at least if I'm understanding the French correctly), the final /s/ has been lost and re-established similarly to fils, in any case.
For ours it doesn't matter much if it's nominative or accusative, since in Old French these two cases merge in nouns whose stem ends in /s/ (to be more precise, all cases merge, and these nouns become undeclinable). However, final /s/ being pronounced is certainly an exception similar to fils, as you've said.

From Ælfwine's examples here and in other places, it seems that final /s/ from the nominative is more common in Crimean Gothic than in Modern French, and doesn't seem to be limited to humans, or even animates. Something else might be at hand. I don't know if this is what Crimean Gothic really did, but Surselvan (see here and the following pages) preserves the nominative case for predicate adjectives, replacing it with the accusative for attribute adjectives, and you can use this as an inspiration for your language (maybe do it for both nouns and adjectives).
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Pabappa » 02 Dec 2019 20:31

Dormouse559 wrote:
02 Dec 2019 07:49
Ælfwine wrote:
02 Dec 2019 02:45
In what positions and under what conditions did French keep morphological nominative -s, even after it lost cases? C.f. French fils.
What VaptuantaDoi said. It is true that all French's retained nominative forms refer to humans. I'd wager that's the case because human nouns are more likely to be subjects.
one exception: temps "time"
Sorry guys, this one has the worst sting.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 » 02 Dec 2019 22:19

Pabappa wrote:
02 Dec 2019 20:31
Dormouse559 wrote:
02 Dec 2019 07:49
What VaptuantaDoi said. It is true that all French's retained nominative forms refer to humans. I'd wager that's the case because human nouns are more likely to be subjects.
one exception: temps "time"
Temps is deceptive at first glance. It can be interpreted as coming from the Latin accusative form, which was tempus.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ser » 03 Dec 2019 00:57

Ursus > ours /uʁs/ is definitely an exception, cf. cursus 'flow' > cours /kuʁ/ 'path; flow', morsus 'bitten thing, animal' > mors /mɔʁ/ 'horse bit'. It's still an animate though. It reminds me of the similar Spanish retention of the nominative serpēns > sierpe 'snake' (as a doublet of the much more common serpentem > serpiente), and curculiō 'weevil' > gorgojo (cf. Italian gorgoglione), also animals. Deus > Dios is another one, but then a god is some sort of super-human.

A truly weird exception is the adjective minor > French moindre, a doublet of minōrem > Old French meneur. Maybe in Old French this adjective mostly modified humans? (Meneur would later get kicked out by moindre. Modern mineur is an outright learned borrowing.)

Another weird one is caput 'head', which was apparently so common that it retained its neuter accusative form, getting reinterpreted later on as a 2nd declension masculine ("capum"), giving Old French chief, Spanish cabo and Italian capo. The expected development would've been to survive with its oblique stem, so > (merged) *[ˈkapete] > Old French *caft or *cat, Spanish *cabde > *caude, cf. nom./acc. lūmen, dat. lūminī > (merged) *[ˈlumne] > Spanish lumbre. A similar one is cor, also neuter, which is cuer in Old Spanish as opposed to the expected > (merged) *[ˈkɔɾde] > *cuerde.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Omzinesý » 05 Dec 2019 22:05

Where could I find info on how the word-final vowels reduced in different Romance languages, eastern ones especially?

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