nasal pres / root aor

Jens Elmegaard Rasmussen jer at
Tue Aug 24 00:07:55 UTC 1999

On Wed, 11 Aug 1999, Carol F. Justus wrote:

[Quoting me on nas.prs. in Hittite:]

> CFJ:

> The first Hittite forms have a bit of a typo. The alternation is between
> harak(z)i 'perish(es)' and har-nin-k- 'destroy' where the nasal is an
> infix. This differs from the tepu- 'small', tep-nu- 'make small, humiliate'
> where the more productive nasal is the suffix -nu- (cf. also ar-hi 'I
> reach, arrive', ar-nu-mi 'I bring'). The Greek present deik-nu-mi 'I show'
> versus -s- aorist edeik-sa 'I showed' has a formally comparable present,
> but the aorist still has the causative meaning without the causative
> suffix, while Latin nasal of present pa-n-go 'I fasten' beside perfect
> pe-pe:gi: 'I have fastened' also doesn't lose its transitive active
> character without the nasal. Kronasser's Etymologie der hethitischen
> Sprache (with Neu's later index) lists forms.

> In Hittite we have two nasal affixes, an infix and a suffix. The Hittite
> suffix is productive, the infix not. While there are cognate nasal affixes
> elsewhere in IE languages, the individual systems in which we catch them
> functioning would seem to have been sufficiently re-worked to call for
> explanations as to the nature of the language-specific innovations.

> The fact that Hittite -nu- is productive would seem to point to its being
> an innovation. Historically, many consider the Wilusa-Alaksandu-Ahhijawa
> evidence of the Hittite treaties to argue for a contact with Mycenaean
> Achaeans around (W?)Ilium in the early second half of the second millennium
> BC. If so, not only are Greek -nu- and Hittite -nu- distinct from the nasal
> infix, but also one of many innovations taking place dialectally in
> post-PIE times, in this instance probably the Greek form as a result of
> contact with Hittite, as the Hittite form is productive in its meaning, the
> Greek form less so.

> Since we have the data studies of Strunk and others, we would seem to be in
> a position now to go on to peal off the layers, distinguishing between
> older and more recent features, also features that may be shared between
> languages as a result of later contact. The Hittite infixed nasal and
> suffixed nasal would seem to be cases in point. These nasals would
> certainly not function like the Gothic Weak Class IV and I verbs such as
> full-na-n 'fill' (intrs.) and full-ja-n 'fill' (trs.) from fulls 'full',
> which show a new system of transitivity alternation. Even if someone wants
> to identify Gothic -ja- with an old IE causative form, the Gothic nasal
> does not function like an old IE causative, nor is the paradigmatic
> alternation inherited.

> Carol

Thanks for correcting Hitt. hark-zi : har-ni-k-zi (3pl har-nin-k-anzi). I
reject the basic difference between this infix -n- and the suffix -nu-
(though I see their different degree of productivity as clearly as anybody
else). My point is that the -n- is also infixed in the denominative type
tep-n-u-zzi 'makes inferior' (tepu- 'small'). The conglomerate -nu-
replaced infixed -n- where infixation had become awkward (as in ar-), then
also elsewhere.

I see no causative value in Gk. deiknumi which means 'show' like the root.
This brings a bit of confusion: the Gk. verbs in root + -nu:-/-nu- do not
necessarily reflect IE nasal presents since the type became productive.
But this is immaterial: the point is that widely there is no palpable
causative value to the nasal infix anymore, because the verbal derivation
had gone full circle, in that the the old middle voice of the causative
which meant, e.g., "I am being caused to listen", had lost both its middle
voice value (to the extent that it could take active desinences) and its
causative meaning, being thus the perfect durative companion of the root
aorist of a root meaning 'listen up'. It is therefore mistaken to demand
that a causative component gets subtracted when the nasal disappears in
the inflection - that component mostly had disappeared in the nasal
present also. This account unites the various types of denominative and
deverbative nasal derivatives into a coherent picture. Note that Kronasser
and Neu actually give some Hittite examples of factitive nu-verbs losing
the factitive meaning when used in the middle voice (dassanu- act. 'make
strong', mid. 'become strong'). These then have the same semantic shade as
the de-adjectival nasal verbs I quoted from Balto-Slavic and Germanic.

The expectation that something productive was an innovation in its nucleus
already is not logical. Any old thing may become productive, including
anything old. I would not be surprised if some productivity attached to
the *-new-/-nu- variant of the nasal present already in PIE, seeing that
it is gaining ground in Germanic, Indic and Armenian too. This spread does
not look very well like the result of post-PIE contacts.

The nasal of fullnan *is* the same thing, only repeated at a later date: A
nasal infix structure was replaced by a variant that could be suffixed,
and the meaning is that of the middle voice of the factitive, 'become
full'. The transitive fulljan is denominative pure and simple: just like
diups 'deep' formed diupjan 'make deep', thus 'full' formed 'make full'.
This type of factitive, made from the adjective stem directly (with
present-forming *-ye/o- in the present stem), must have been somehow
functionally opposed to the collective-based variant in *-aH2- (+ *-ye/o-
in the prs.): OIc. ny:ja from *newe-ye/o- 'make a new thing' vs. Lat.
(re)nova:re from *newa-H2-ye/o- 'make new things'?

I believe your "call for explanations as to the nature of the
language-specific innovations" in the reworking of the nasal types has
been answered.


More information about the Indo-european mailing list