BMCR 2022.09.31

​​​​​​​Dérivation nominale et innovations dans les langues indo-européennes anciennes

, , Dérivation nominale et innovations dans les langues indo-européennes anciennes. Actes du colloque international de l’université de Rouen (ÉRIAC), 11‑12 octobre 2018. Lyon: Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, 2021. Pp. 298. ISBN 9782356680730 €40,00.

Open access
[Authors and titles are listed below.]

This volume is the outcome of a symposium held at the University of Rouen on October 11 and 12, 2018. It contains various contributions about the morphology of the Indo-European languages, and more precisely about innovations in nominal derivation. Summaries in French and English accompany the papers. Some papers are particularly interesting from the point of view of methodology, like those of Liana Tronci and Georges-Jean Pinault. Other authors attempt to establish new etymologies using innovative approaches to nominal morphology in Indo-European, like José L. García Ramón for the much-debated Mycenaean word po‑re‑na, or Brent Vine for the Latin word fimus/fimum and the Indo-European suffix *‑mo‑. Several Indo-European languages are covered in this volume: Greek, Latin, Vedic, Old Norse, Slavic, and Tocharian.

In the first contribution, José L. García Ramón deals with various formations that go back to Proto‑Indo-European and are attested in various languages, i.e. neuter nouns in *‑nes‑ and nouns in *‑on‑/‑en‑. The analysis of these formations enables García Ramón to come up with new perspectives on the Mycenaean form po‑re‑na, which has been much discussed. The main interest of this paper is that it summarises the main theories about nouns in *‑nes‑ and presents the disputed points in a very clear manner. For example, in section 1.6, García Ramón gives the two explanations that can be made for the analysis of isolated *‑nes‑ neuters: first, we can assume that *‑nes‑ should be considered as a complex suffix *‑n‑es‑ next to *‑n‑o‑, in which case *‑n‑ would be the zero grade form of the suffix *‑on‑/‑en‑ or of the oblique of r/n-stem heteroclites. Secondly, *‑nes‑ could be considered as the remodelling of an inherited *‑n‑o‑ under the influence of neuters in *‑es‑. García Ramón then examines formations in *‑ēn‑/‑ĕn‑ that became ‑ήν/‑ῆνος in classical Greek. This discussion leads García Ramón to conclude that the ‑ήν/‑ῆνος nouns could only be used with an active meaning; therefore, the noun po‑re‑na, attested as such in two tablets, cannot mean ‘victim’. García Ramón suggests that it is derived from the verbal noun φόρος ‘(person, object) carried’, hence ‘offering’, and that po‑re‑na meant ‘who is in charge of what is carried, of the offerings’, hence ‘those who carry offerings’. García Ramón points out that, due to the paucity of evidence provided by our Mycenaean texts, this interpretation should be augmented by contributions from other fields like archaeology or history of religions.

Romain Garnier offers his thoughts on *‑us‑ neuters, a type of formation that is unequally attested in Indo-European languages. Only in the Anatolian and the Indo-Iranian languages is this suffix productive. Among the stimulating and interesting etymologies suggested by Garnier, we can note the Latin word pūbēs, ‑eris (adj.) ‘pubescent’. Garnier reconstructs an Indo-European phrase *péh2-u *bhuhx‘the grass grows’. This etymology should obviously be confirmed by a careful investigation of the ancient sources.[1] Another original idea proposed by Garnier is the assumption that the verbal root *th2eu̯s- given by H. Rix[2], meaning ‘to stand still’, should actually be considered a doublet without sibilant of *(s)teh2, in order to explain the Hittite participle tuḫḫušant‑ (*tuh2-s-én-t‑), based on the oblique stem *təh2-us-én- with individualizing suffix *-t-.

Riccardo Ginevra offers a new interpretation of two Old Norse names of the Earth-goddess, Fjǫrgyn and Hlóðyn. In these two forms, Ginevra assumes a Proto-Germanic suffix *‑u‑njō‑ that comes from a reanalysis of the complex PIE suffix *´‑n‑ih2‑ / *‑n̥‑i̯éh2. For the name Fjǫrgyn ‘Earth, land’, Ginevra reconstructs either a form *peru‑nih2‑ / ‑ni̯éh2 ‘she of the Earth’ or a form *pérn‑ih2‑ / perk̑n̥‑i̯éh2 ‘she, the Colourful, Spotted, Dark One’, and for Hlóðyn ‘Earth’, he suggests *hlōþ‑unju ‘the one of the load’, which he links to the Indo-European concept of the earth as ‘bearer’.

Marek Majer defends the assumption that the Slavic uninflected adjectives in *‑ь do not represent the i­‑stem adjectives present in Indo-European, but were originally petrified accusative forms used as adverbs. This approach contrasts with the traditional idea that they were inherited i‑stem adjectives that lost their inflectional markers.

Rosemarie Lühr’s contribution consists in a revision of the system of the Vedic nomina agentis in ‑tar. This category comprises hysterodynamic nomina agentis requiring a genitive object and acrostatic nomina agentis requiring an accusative object.

In the next contribution, Georges-Jean Pinault gives an overview of nominal derivation in Tocharian A and B. This is essentially a factual report, but this does not affect the quality of the paper. As Pinault rightly points out, there is no monograph that presents all of the updated data about nominal derivation in Tocharian. In a clear introduction, Pinault mentions the methodological tools that can be used by future researchers, such as databases or reverse indexes. This paper will certainly be the starting point for new considerations on nominal derivation in Tocharian.

Alcorac Alonso Déniz deals in his paper with Greek formations that end in ‑ειᾰ and ‑είη, for which two explanations have been given. According to the first theory, scholars have assumed that the type ἀλήθεια was the original one and that it was based on the Indo-European suffix *­´‑ih2 / *‑i̯éh2. Ionians may have innovated with a form ἀληθείη, which presented in the nominative, vocative and accusative the long vowel -η- of the oblique cases. On the other hand, some have suggested that the Ionian forms in *‑ii̯eh2 > *‑ii̯ā were ancient, and that they were replaced by ‑ειᾰ < *‑es‑i̯a in Attic and Doric. With solid arguments, Alonso Déniz defends the second theory.

In the next paper, Lucien van Beek tries to explain the origin of the Greek adjectives in ‑ερός, ‑αρός, and ‑ηρός. He thinks that these adjectival suffixes came at first from a deverbative suffix ‑ρό‑ (e.g. λαμπρός), going back to Indo-European *‑ró‑. Concerning the suffix ‑αρός, van Beek thinks that Greeks possessed a system with verbs and adjectives referring to physical states or conditions; the oldest representative of this system would have been the group μιαρός – μιάω (intransitive) – μιαίνω (factitive). From this group, the formation would have spread within the language (‘la triade μιαρός : μιάω : μιαίνω peut être à l’origine du groupe entier d’adjectifs en ‑αρό‑ désignant des états physiques de matière’, p.167). The idea is very interesting and should be further examined; nonetheless, it may seem difficult to take this group as the starting point for an entire adjectival class, however limited, considering that *μιάω is only inferred from the Cyrenaean form μιαι. Much more likely is the influence of κρατερός/καρτερός on the creation of a new deverbative suffix ‑ερός, given that it is an old and well-attested form. Moreover, van Beek’s demonstration is very clear and convincing, and gives decisive arguments in favour of a deverbative origin for ‑ερός, ‑αρός, and ‑ηρός; it also offers stimulating new perspectives on the ‘Caland’ system.

Alain Blanc and Isabelle Boehm investigate the use of the suffix ­‑εσ‑ in the Hippocratic Corpus. They notice that new forms were created in medical language. For instance, new adjectives in ‑εσ‑ were derived from various types of verbal stems such as contract verbs (δυσημής ‘who vomits with difficulty’, based on ἐμέω ‘to vomit’); they also mention two recent suffixes: ‑ειδής and ‑ώδης.

The paper by Liana Tronci is a study of Greek words in ‑(ισ)μός and ‑(ισ)τής. These suffixes have received little attention from scholars, since they are recent Greek formations that can’t be used for comparative purposes. First, Tronci rightly points out some methodological elements that should be kept in mind: for instance, we should no longer assume that the suffix ‑(ισ)μός was used to create action nouns, but consider it a nominalisation of the predicate, since it can apply to ‘active’ and ‘stative’ verbs.  In order to analyse the ‑(ισ)μός and ‑(ισ)τής forms, Tronci has gathered all the evidence for these words. Starting from this survey, she discusses the evolution of these suffixes, covering the Greek language from the Archaic period until the Roman period. It appears that at an early stage, the different suffixes used to nominalise the predicate were in competition and their respective semantic values were not clearly determined. For the classical period, Tronci notes that the number of ‑(ισ)μός and ‑(ισ)τής derivatives increases, but they are still related to ‑ίζω verbs. In contrast, during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, the suffixes ‑(ισ)μός and ‑(ισ)τής became independent of the ‑ίζω verbs. In particular, the suffix ‑(ισ)μός became productive in technical lexicons such as medicine or the Christian religion. Tronci’s contribution is very precise and well documented, thanks to her careful reading of the ancient sources.

Alain Blanc deals with the Greek adjectives in ‑εις, and more precisely with the adjectives which present an ending ‑όειςcorresponding to a substantive in ‑η (Δαφνοῦς : δάφνη). This apparent irregularity, according to Blanc, is explained by a phenomenon that he calls ‘troncation présuffixale’. This consists in the loss of the vowel preceding the first vowel of a suffix. In the case of the place name Δαφνοῦς, Blanc suggests the reconstruction *δαφν(η)‑όεντ‑ς, ‑όεις being a new complex suffix created in Greek on the basis of the adjectives in ‑εις derived from thematic stems (ῥόδον : ῥοδό‑εις, hence creation of an ending ‑όεις).

Brent Vine proposes to renew the discussion of secondary derivatives in Proto-Indo-European. To this end, he chooses to study the Latin word fimus/fimum ‘manure’. It is generally admitted that fimus/fimum is based on the verbal stem *dheuh2‑ ‘to produce smoke’. In order to explain the vowel /ĭ/, Vine suggests a PIE etymon *dhuh2‑i‑mó‑ and proposes an evolution *θuu̯imó‑ > *θu̯imo‑ > fimo‑, involving what he calls ‘initial-syllable syncope’.

In the last contribution of this volume, Éric Dieu presents a reconsideration of the validity of Wheeler’s Law. For this purpose, he studies six morphological categories that have been considered justifications of this law of accentuation: ‑λοςadjectives, ‘composés de dépendance verbale régressive en ‑ος de sens actif’ (verb-final compounds in ‑ος with regressive verbal dependency and with active meaning), ‑μενος perfect participles, dative plurals like πατράσι, pronominal adjectives in ‑λίκος, and lastly ‑ιον nouns. After having closely examined each of these categories, Dieu comes to the conclusion that in two categories, Wheeler’s Law can explain the accentuation (‑λος adjectives and verb-final compounds in ‑ος); in two others, the accentuation can be explained without Wheeler’s Law (‑μενος perfect participles and dative plurals like πατράσι); and in the last two categories, Wheeler’s Law seems genuinely problematic (words in ‑λίκος and nouns in ‑ιον). Dieu then goes back to the first two categories and proposes other theories to justify their accentuation. Finally, Dieu suggests that Wheeler’s Law seems problematic because it can be invoked in only a few cases, and that it may only be ‘une simple vue de l’esprit’. Dieu’s paper suggests methodological tools for a reexamination of Wheeler’s Law, as he already did in another article about Bartoli’s Law.

This volume will undoubtedly become a work of reference in the field of Indo-European studies, especially for scholars who study morphology.

Authors and titles

José L. García Ramón, ‘Formations en *‑nes‑ et en *‑no‑, formations en *‑on‑/‑en‑ : védique °bharṇas‑ et grec φερνή, mycénien po‑re‑na
Romain Garnier, ‘Nouvelles réflexions sur les neutres en *‑us‑ : un suffixe résiduel’
Riccardo Ginevra, ‘Old Norse ‑yn (Proto‑Germanic *‑unjō‑) and the reanalysis and spread of derivational morphology through semantic association’
Marek Majer, ‘Slavic ‘i‑stem adjectives’ and their alleged inflection loss: the derivational prehistory and synchronic status of a category’
Rosemarie Lühr, ‘Zur Semantik der vedischen Nomina agentis auf ‑tar und ‑tár
Georges‑Jean Pinault, ‘Regard comparatif sur la dérivation nominale en tokharien’
Alcorac Alonso Déniz, ‘Le développement historique des finales ‑ειᾰ/‑είᾱ/‑είη (att. ὑγίεια/ὑγιείᾱ, ion. ὑγιείη « bonne santé ») et ‑οιᾰ/‑οίᾱ/‑οίη (att. εὔπλοια, ion. εὐπλοίη « bonne navigation ») en grec ancien’
Lucien van Beek, ‘Les adjectifs en ‑ερός, ‑αρός et ‑ηρός chez Homère et ultérieurement: origines et diffusion’
Alain Blanc and Isabelle Boehm, ‘Le suffixe ‑εσ‑ dans la langue de la Collection hippocratique
Liana Tronci, ‘Le renouvellement morphologique par la réanalyse : le cas des suffixes grecs ‑(ισ)μός et ‑(ισ)τής’
Alain Blanc, ‘Toponymes grecs de l’époque classique éclairant des formes homériques : ‑όεις/‑οῦς à la place de ‑ήεις’
Brent Vine, ‘Latin fimus/fimum « fumier » et PIE *‑mo‑ secondaire’
Éric Dieu, ‘Dérivation nominale et innovations accentuelles en grec ancien : autour de la loi de Wheeler’.


[1] RG mentions only Ovid, Tr. 3.12.1.

[2] Rix, Helmut (2001), Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben (2nd ed.), Wiesbaden, p.642.