« Delving into the -lf of wolf. | Main | Language and Evolution »



Glen Gordon

Wow, since I'm so narrowly focussed on Etruscan, my brain normally associates Giuliano Bonfante with Etruscans so it's strange to see references to his work on Greeks but of course he had to have acquired his Indo-European biases from somewhere ;) (Btw, you mispelled his first name. The 'i' should come immediately after the 'G' to soften the otherwise hard /g/ to /dʒ/, of course. Sorry for being nitpicky but Language Hat has diagnosed me with Asperger's so it's expected of me, hehe.)

As for the Greek future, isn't the very fact that it contains a sigma an indication that the form is from a future in *-s-ye/o-, not **-se/o-? Afterall, intervocalic sigma should disappear as it does in the Greek prefix eu- 'good' (< PIE *h₁esú-)), no? And if you admit that the loss of sigma is a "post-proto-greek development", then don't you effectively neuter any argument based on the Greek data that asserts **-se/o- as a future marker at the Indo-European stage?

"Because one day someone came up with the arbitrary rule: If it's in a European PIE languages, and an Asian PIE language, than it must be PIE."

Basically, yes. It's a throwback to the "centum-satem split" myth. Of course, with the Anatolian-Tocharian data as well as the fact that language evolves more like waves than into clean phylogenetic 'splits', we need to reconstruct something that represents an older stage that we can appropriately call "Proto-Indo-European" in the modern age. 

The stage at which *-s-ye/o- was synthesized into a future suffix appears to be a post-IE development. The component *-s- is the suffix that would become the sigmatic aorist (probably originally a stative suffix) and Anatolian evidence works against the idea that Proto-IE had yet developed a formal "sigmatic aorist". The second component of the future suffix is *-ye/o-, which is used on its own to either form denominal verbs or to convey the durative (i.e. the continuous present-future). I assume that since verbs in *-s- probably indicated states without a definable end originally and since *-ye/o- was already used for duratives that were by nature often also used for futures anyway, the two suffixes combined and gradually became specialized for a future tense now seperated from a present tense.

From what I understand, Proto-IE (properly addressing Anatolian data) must have maintained only a tensal distinction between <a href="http://books.google.ca/books?id=gWY7-DBWPW4C&pg=PA362&vq=%22contrast+with+the+systems+of,+say,+germanic+and+hittite,+with+a+primary+opposition+of+past+vs.+non-past+events.%22&dq=&source=gbs_search_s&sig=D6sVcVWCVulMYie9lnGeOBwOVTw">past and non-past</a>. Naturally, in such a system, it would not be possible for verbs with inherent "aorist semantics" (i.e. momentaneous actions) to have, by their nature, a strong tensal distinction at all. So, this subtle semantic imbalance would be the foundation for the more complex "triaspectual system" of the Greek-Sanskrit sprachbund. In that way, we account for all PIE conjugational systems.

As I keep on saying, Jasanoff and his musings into a revised reconstruction of the PIE conjugation system is really worth a careful read. :)


[this is good] Yeah I should really get round to reading that now, I've been saying I should for ages now.

As for the sigma being there in Greek shouldn't be an indication of a *-s-ye/o-. Just like *osyo develops into *oyo* we'd expect a *y to be retained as a iota, rather than the sigma.

And if you admit that the loss of sigma is a "post-proto-greek
development", then don't you effectively neuter any argument based on
the Greek data that asserts


as a future marker at the Indo-European stage?

Yeah, now you mention it, I've formulated it rather clumsily. What I meant to say was; at some point there must have been an *h marking the future in most forms, which is still retained in some cases, while *s functioned as the marked of the future if the root ended in a consonant. We usually propose that then the *s was generalised throughout the paradigm, especially imaginable if you realise that this *h becomes Ø in the context of the future.

I'd like to find out how Mycenaean futures worked, or if we have any attested forms at all. I don't know any Mycenaean, but I'll see if I can look into it.

Bottom line is though PIE *sy should give PGr. *i intervocally not *s. I'd like to unify these two forms though, but honestly have no clue how to do it right now, I'm open to any suggestions.

On a completely different note: You might find it interesting that I made a copy of a description of rituals concerning birds. Given your recent interest in Anatolian rituals and divination I thought you might be interested. I'll try to put up translations soon.

Glen Gordon

I think I goofed up somewhere along the way. It's "all Greek to me". Lol :P Oh well, let's start again with more coffee in hand. Mmm, coffee. Anyways, about futures in Mycenaean, perhaps this link might be useful to you which shows an ancient future in -s- (i.e. do-se = dōsei 'he will give')


Phoenix: "Given your recent interest in Anatolian rituals and divination I thought you might be interested. I'll try to put up translations soon."

Yes, great! I've just recently got sucked into Pre-IE again, but I have something still to write about concerning Etruscan haruspicy and Near Eastern connections but I've been putting it off and putting it off. It's a big topic and I'm not sure how I should approach it. So much to say, so little time.

The comments to this entry are closed.