nasal pres / root aor

petegray petegray at
Tue Aug 3 14:46:35 UTC 1999

On Strunk ... nasal presents & root aorists,

I have now read Strunk.   His primary argument is that the patterns of stem
alteration observable in Skt within the nasal infix present tenses are not
an "Abstufung" (gradation) in the present, but are simply due to the
corresponding ablaut in the root.   He says full grade II underlies the
strong stem of the root, not an infix *-ne-.   He explains classes 5 & 9
(roots ending in -u and -H respectively) easily this way, but has trouble
with class 7 (roots ending in -C).   He says (p31) "A relationship between
nasal present and root aorist ... (which in a number of ["mehreren"] verbs
of the -n@ and -nu class is clear) can here not be proved."

We note that Rix (lexicon I-G Verbs) partially demurs, saying that the
distinction of full grades I and II in nasal presents is "not sufficiently

Either way, the basic tenet of Strunk's argument at this point is now
standard stuff.   The point of our discussion arises in his next argument.
He says that nasal infix presents are built from the zero and full grades of
the root, and that therefore, if we have a nasal infix present, we should
expect to find root forms as well, wherever zero grades are found,
particular in the aorist.   He also mentions the -tos forms.   He says (my
trans.) "There *must* be a strong affinity between nasal present and root

This is where my problems begin.   What does he mean by "affinity"?    And
when you mention, Jens, a "paradigmatic companionship", what do you mean?
Naively, but understandably,  I thought you and Strunk meant within a
language, but you say:

> It was never claimed for the individual languages, only for the common
> reconstructed protolanguage.

which is a good reflection of what Strunk says.

That means you are arguing only that if a PIE language has a nasal present,
there is likely to be a root aorist somewhere else in PIE.   Strunk gives 8
major examples in his book - and in two of them he has to find the root
aorist in a different language from the nasal present.

Now my argument is that this is not really "paradigmatic companionship".
I do not believe it is anything more than a restatement of what a nasal
present is.  It seems to me that you and Strunk are merely saying:
A PIE root can form:
(a) presents of varying kinds in various LL, incl. perhaps a nasal present
(b) aorists of various kinds in various LL, incl often a root aorist

So we are not surprised that a good number of roots which show a nasal
present somewhere also show a root aorist somewhere else.    The
"paradigmatic companionship" is only a significant claim if it occurs within
the same language, which - at least here - you deny.

To be fair, we should look to see if there is a strong PIE correlation, and
if there is a correlation within individual languages.   This posting is
long enough, so I'll do that in part two.


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