R: Origin of nominalising morphology.

Paolo Ramat paoram at UNIPV.IT
Mon Jun 16 12:23:28 UTC 2003

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
 Etymologizing on morphological markers has always been a hard job! What is
for instance the possible origin of  *-yo- as suffix of comparatives, as in
Lat. _melior_? We have simply to register that PIE had a comparative formed
with *-yo. I do not think that hypotheses like that of Szemerenyi may ever
be falsified/proved.
What is sure is that infinitives represent in the IE lgs. -but not in PIE !-
nominal forms from verbale roots: Vedic _ya:tave_ "for going" is clearly a
dative of the Infin. _ya:tu_ from the root  _*ya:-_"go"; and we know that
_-tu-_ was a suffix for forming abstract verbal nouns( 'nomina actionis';
cf. Lat. _motus_ ,etc.). But where this -tu- is deriving from is impossible
to reconstruct.
For ancient IE lgs. I'm not aware of good examples.

----- Original Message -----
From: Guy Deutscher <gd116 at HERMES.CAM.AC.UK>
Sent: Sunday, June 15, 2003 8:07 PM
Subject: Origin of nominalising morphology.

> ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
> Dear Histling-ers,
> I have a question about the origin of nominalizing morphology, which I
> hope someone can help with. What prompts the question is the wish to
> understand how infinitives develop in language. Half of the answer to this
> is well known. As Martin Haspelmath, for example, has shown, the markers
> of infinitives often come from allative and purposive markers (as in
> English 'to'). But there is another half. In order for those allative or
> purposive markers to appear before a verb, the verb usually has to have
> some nominalizing affix. In other words, to get the infinitive, we need to
> start with some 'action nominal' or participle of some kind. But where
> does the morphology which takes a verb and turns it into an 'action
> nominal' come from in the first place? One would expect that it arises by
> grammaticalization, and ultimately from some lexical source. But what are
> these sources? In Indo-European, if I understand
> correctly, the sources of various nominalizing suffixes are mostly
> obscure. For the I-E participle in -wos/-us, for example, Szemerenyi
> tentatively suggests that it may be derived from a verbal root *wes-
> 'stay'. But obviously, one cannot rely on such etymologies. Similarly, if
> you take the English participle in -ing, then you can certainly go back
> with it to a stage where it was still more nominal in nature (as it
> still is in the German cognate -ung). But the actual etymology for the
> suffix is not so clear. Do people know of examples where one can actually
> observe the emergence of nominalizing morphology on verbs, or at least
> reconstruct it transparently? There are, of course, plenty of clear
> examples for the emergence of morphology that derives abstract nouns from
> *other nouns*. (English suffixes in friend-ship or child-hood derive
> originally from noun-noun compounds). In theory, therefore, one way for
> nominalizing morphology to reach verbs would be by extension of such
> affixes from nouns to verbs. But again, are there examples where one can
> actually see such a process in action?
> Many thanks, Guy Deutscher.

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