Φωνήεντα Chapter 4

Root-and-pattern PIE?

by C Ryan Moniz

original research· spring 2010 - harvest 2016
updated & published· spring 2022

philology

Φωνήεντα·

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The motivation for Indo-Europeanists to explain PIE nominal accent-ablaut using a compositional approach comes in large part from the assumption that paradigms cannot be taken as bearing inherent meaning in Indo-European, but are rather the result of some other process. Indo-Europeanists such as Keydana (2012) find it “unconvincing to derive the reconstructed ablaut patterns from a form of templatic morphology since there is no evidence for this type of morphology in Indo-European.”¹ Moreover, Sandell (2014) has argued that “templatic morphology is probably too powerful a mechanism to employ to capture the facts about PIE.”² However, there may be reason to believe that PIE was very typologically different from its daughter languages: none of its daughter branches retain the original nominal accent-ablaut in its full form, only one branch retains any of the three laryngeal sounds, and only the oldest attested branch, Anatolian, exhibits a clear animate-inanimate distinction in nouns (whereas the other branches generalized a three-gender system of masculine, feminine, and neuter).

Keydana 2012 p 113
Sandell 2014 p 2

Pooth (2015a, 2015b) boldly proposes a semantically productive templatic system throughout the morphology of Proto-Indo-European. In Pooth’s theory, nouns are not classed into paradigms, but rather the templates act as morphemes unto themselves which convey meaning unto the noun, i.e. they are derivational, not inflectional. The differences between the nouns fitting into the paradigmatic models of Erlangen and Leiden can be explained by positing that only certain forms within the template remained in use after the template lost its productivity, while other forms fell out of use, or survived as related words outside of the noun paradigms proper.³·⁴ Moreover, Pooth believes that the morphological distinctions between nouns mirrored those found in verbs, and a fundamental distinction between agentive words and detransitive words was maintained in both nouns and verbs; detransitivity in nouns was realized either by means of inanimacy, or as a resultative form.⁵ Crucial to Pooth’s reconstruction is the notion that *o is a suprasegmental detransitive morpheme which mapped the feature of [+round] (and perhaps [+back]) onto the vowels in the template in both verbs and nouns. All nouns containing *o are therefore reconstructed to have originally been detransitive.⁶

Pooth 2015b p 10, 20
cf. Schindler 1975b
cf. Schinlder 1972
Pooth 2015b p 2

In addition, nouns can be divided into basic nouns with a “core” template (analogous to strong cases) and an “oblique” template (analogous to weak cases), and relational nouns — i.e. possessed or attributive nouns⁷ — with a core template based on the oblique (or “broken locative,” see chapter 2) template of the base nouns, and a secondary oblique template.⁸·⁹ Table 19 below summarizes the derivational templates for PIE nouns:

Compare the status constructus of Semitic nouns
Pooth 2015a p 43
" 2015b p 9

Table 19 — Nominal template morphology, Pooth (2015a, 2015b)
      Agentive   Detransitive
      R ·S -E   R ·S -E
base noun base core   é   ó
primary oblique   é   é
o
o
é
ó


∅ 
                   
relational noun relational core   é   é
o
o
é
ó


secondary oblique  

∅́
é
  é
o


o
é
ó

The basic core corresponds to the strong stem of proterodynamic and hysterodynamic paradigms. The relational core stem (e.g. “strong” *ud·én ‘water’), formally identical to the primary oblique or “broken locative” stem (e.g. “weak” endingless LOC *ud·én), corresponds to the weak stem of the proterodynamic paradigm and the strong stem of the hysterodynamic paradigm. The secondary oblique stem corresponds to the hysterodynamic weak stem. The derived stems of the detransitive exhibit three patterns, differentiated by accent placement and by where suprasegmental detransitive marker *o is mapped.¹⁰ The first two patterns exhibit two surface vowels in the detransitive, wile the third only has one.

10· Pooth 2015b p 20

Table 20 — Static root accent, detransitive marker is mobile
      Agentive   Detransitive
base base core   *gén·u-¹¹   *gón·u-¹⁴
prim. OBL   *gn·éu-¹²   *gén·ou-
relational  rel. core    
second. OBL   *gn·u-é / gn·ú-¹³   *gén·u-o¹⁵

11· Greek γένυ-, Welsh gen, Gothic kinnu- ‘jaw’
12· Old English cnéow, Old High German kniu ‘knee’
13· Avestan žnu- ‘knee’
14· Greek γόνυ, Sanskrit jā́nu ‘knee’
15· Hittite gēnuwa- ‘knee’

With these stems, the accent of the detransitive noun is fixed on the root, but the mapping of the detransitive marker progresses with each derived stem. This particular noun is typically reconstructed as either a static root with vowel quality variation — STRONG *gón·u ~ WEAK *gén·u- ‘knee,’ although the reflexes of *gén·u- tend to mean ‘jaw’ rather than ‘knee’ — or as a proterodynamic noun STRONG *gón·u ~ WEAK *gn·éu-, avoiding the reflexes meaning ‘jaw.’ Pooth connects all of these forms under the gloss ‘joint, angle,’ with *gén·u and its derivatives signifying an agentive/animate human joint (‘jaw’ or ‘chin’), and with *gón·u as its detransitive/inanimate counterpart.¹⁶

16· Pooth 2015b p 6

Table 21 — Accent is mobile, detransitive marker static on the root
      Agentive   Detransitive
base base core   *dér·u-¹⁷   *dór·u-²⁰
prim. OBL   *dr·éu-¹⁸   *dor·éu-
relational  rel. core    
second. OBL   *dr·u-é / dr·ú-¹⁹   *dor·u-é²¹

17· Welsh derw ‘oaks’
18· Gothic triu, Old English tréow ‘tree’
19· Greek δρυ-, Lithuanian drū́ta-, Old English trum ‘firm’
20· Greek δόρυ, Hittite tāru, Sanskrit dā́ru ‘wood’
21· Greek δουρός ‘wood (Epic GEN),’ Latin dūr- ‘hard’

With these nouns, the accent is mobile, whereas the detransitive marker remains mapped onto the stem vowel (though Greek δροόν might provide evidence of another detransitive paradigm exhibiting mobile accent and mobile detransitive marking, i.e. prim. OBL / rel. core *dr·óu-, following the paradigm seen below in table 22).

Table 22 — Accent and detransitive marker are mobile
      Agentive   Detransitive
base base core   *uéd·r-   *uód·r-²⁴
prim. OBL   *ud·én-²²   *ud·ón-
relational  rel. core    
second. OBL   *ud·n-é²³   *ud·n-ó

22· Hittite uiten-, Sanskrit udán ‘water’
23· Sanskrit udná- ‘water’
24· Hittite wātar ‘water’

Both the accent and the detransitive marker mapping are completely mobile in these nouns.

Pooth also provides an explanation for the vowel quality allomorphy resulting from the change from neuter singular to collective (discussed in chapter 2) by means of a plurative (collective/abstractive/generic/augmentative) marker in the form of an additional *e added to the noun. In the case of nouns like *pék·u ‘domestic animal,’ this simply means that the root vowel becomes long (*pḗk·u, underlyingly */péeku/) in the basic core. However, in situations with mobile accent, the plurative marker *e follows the accent, and when the mobile-accent noun is detransitive, the mapping of *e displaces the mapping of the detransitive marker, e.g. *uód·r ‘water’ → **uóed·r*uéd·or.²⁵

25· Pooth 2015b p 13

Table 23 — Plurative mapping
      ‘livestock’
Agentive
  ‘water’
Detransitive
 base base core   *pḗk·u-   *uéd·or-²⁸
  prim. OBL   *pek·éu-²⁶   *uod·én-²⁹
 relational rel. core    
  second. OBL   *pek·u-é²⁷   *uod·n-é

26· Gothic *faihau-, Old Norse fjá- ‘livestock’
27· Sanskrit páśva- ‘livestock’
28· Gothic wato-, Old English wæter
29· Gothic watins, Old Norse vatn

The etymological relationship between the (“hysterokinetic”) relational noun *ph₂·tér ~ ph₂·tr-é ‘[X]’s father’ and the adjectival Greek -πάτωρ ‘having an [X] father’ can be explained by means of an abstractive use of the plurative: *ph₂·tér**póeh₂·tr-*péh₂·tor-.³⁰

Pooth’s templatic morphology offers a unique picture of PIE as a completely root-and-pattern language, with the paradigms behaving as derivational transfixes upon nouns. These transfixes explain the variation observed in PIE accent-ablaut, and take into account the suspicious formal and semantic relationship between the endingless locative and core relational (“hysterokinetic”) stems. Instead of attempting to explain the differences in vowel quality with a unifying theory of accent and ablaut (where accent predicts ablaut), Pooth provides a semantic explanation for *o-grade, reconstructing a fundamental agentive-detransitive voice opposition (as part of Pooth’s reconstruction of PIE as a language with fluid-S active-stative alignment³¹). However, semantic explanations and accentual (phonological) explanations for *e~o allomorphy may not be entirely mutually exclusive.

30· Pooth 2015b p 21
31· " 2015a p 49

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