Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Quantity of the a in Prandium

A quantity problem that I puzzled over for a long time: was the a of prandium long or short? In the book on pg. 374 I indicate my uncertainty by putting a macron in parentheses over the vowel. Since prandium is from *prāmo-ediom 'what is eaten first', there is little doubt that the a must originally have been long. But since we also know that a long vowel that ends up before n plus a consonant by syncope appears to have been shortened by a second round of Osthoff's Law (pg. 126), there would be good reason to assume that the first vowel of prandium was short in Classic Latin. Since long and short a are never distinguished in Romance, and the Celtic evidence which is sometimes useful for determine the quantity of a, isn't in this case (OIr. proinn, MW prain), we have no direct or indirect evidence for the quantity of the first vowel.

If we compare other vowels before -nd- that are distinguished in the Romance reflexes we find ambiguous evidence. On the one hand, the French and Spanish reflexes of undecim 'eleven' (Fr. onze, Sp. once) suggest that the vowel was shortened. On the other hand, the reflexes of vendere 'sell' point to the one-time presence of a long vowel:

Ital. vendere (with a close e), OFr. vendre, Sp. vender, Sicil. vinniri

Cf. the reflexes minta 'mint'

Ital. menta (with a close e), OFr. mente Sp. menta, Sicil. minta

This pair shows that the first vowel of vendere had reflexes identical to those of i, and therefore must have been a high mid-vowel reflecting a Classical Latin ē. I suspect the shortening before -nd- was phonological and that ndere had its length restored on the basis of vēneō, vēnīre 'to be sold.' So all in all, prandium most likely did have a short a.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Date of ILLRP 122/CIL I2.626

On pg. 59 n. 47 (where I refer to the inscription as
CIL I2.626), and pg. 482 (where I refer to the inscription as ILLRP 122) I use the forms ACHAIA and TRIVMPHANS from this famous inscription of Mummius supposedly dating from 145 BCE or shortly thereafter as evidence for the first attested spelling of a Greek aspirate with a stop plus h. (A picture of the inscription can be seen at In fact, there is reason to think that the text we have is a copy, perhaps from as late as the the 1st century CE—the date suggested by Kruschwitz 2002:140. If this is correct, then obviously we don't know if the letters H are from the original or the result of conscious or unconscious modernization. If we set aside the Mummius inscription, then the earliest examples of the stop-plus-h spelling are from the end of the 2nd century BCE, e.g. CORINTHIORVM (CIL I2.585 l. 96, 111 BCE) and DELPHIVS (ILLRP 337, 106 BCE, a bilingual inscription from Delphi).

Kruschwitz, Peter. 2002. Carmina saturnia epigraphica. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.

FVVEIT or FVEIT? and the 3rd sg. perf. Ending -eit

On pg. 392–3 in discussing the archaic 3rd sg. perf. ending -eit I give the form FVEIT from ILLRP 918 ( = CIL I2.1297). But, in fact, Degrassi prints FVVEIT. Unfortunately the inscription from Rome is now lost. According to Degrassi only Marini, an 18th century scholar, read FVVEIT, while others have FVEIT. Since FVVEIT is the lectio difficilior, it is probably what the inscription had.

There are a number of other inscriptional attestations of the perfect ending -eit, which should be mentioned: POSEDEIT (ILLRP 517, Isoverde, probably composed at Rome, 117 BCE), PROBAVEIT (ILLRP 379, Rome, 62 BCE beside COERAVIT). As a matter of fact none of these is old enough to prove an original diphthong *ei. At most they confirm the evidence of Plautine scansion that one variant of the 3rd singular perfect ending inherited a bimoraic nucleus before the final consonant. Another set of inscriptional 3rd sg. perf. forms with the spelling -EIT consists of cases where -EIT is preceded by I (mainly compounds of īre 'to go' like REDIEIT (ILLRP 122, Rome, mid 2nd cent. BCE), VENIEIT (Lex Agraria, ll. 58, 65, 67, 75, 91, 111 BCE, and OBIEIT (ILLRP 589, Ferentium, Modern Ferento, 67 BCE, according to the reading of A. Emiliozzi 1983:701; AE 1980:0371, Casa Biagi; CIL 10.1935, 14 BCE), but also POSIEIT 'placed' (AE 1987:0252, Sulmo)). In these forms other factors may be involved, viz. the avoidance of graphic II and/or a dissimilation of ii to ie (Kent 1912 and Weiss OHCGL:429). In any case, although Latin inscriptional evidence does not strictly prove the diphthongal origin of the ending -EIT, there is no other plausible source.

The originator of the idea that -eit is from recharacterized -ei appears to be J. Vendryes, who proposed this solution in 1937.


Emiliozzi, Adriana. 1983. Sull'epitaffio del 67 a.c. nel sepolcro
dei Salvii a Ferento. MEFRA 95.2:701–17.
Kent, Roland. 1912. Dissimilative Writings for ii and iii in Latin.
Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 43:35–56.
Vendryes, J. 1937. La 3e personne du singulier du perfectum latin.
Revue des étude indo-européennes 1:3–5. Reprinted in Vendryes, J. 1952.
Choix d'études linguistiques et celtiques. Paris: Klincksieck, 156–8.

Friday, December 18, 2009

OHCGL Available!

Outline of the Historical and Comparative Grammar of Latin is now available, just in time for the last day of Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, and, of course, Saturnalia. Here is the blurb there (which I didn't write!):

Outline of the Historical and Comparative Grammar of Latin represents an altogether novel approach to its subject. Most innovative is the format: instead of technical prose acting as an obstacle to non-specialists, each of the forty-five chapters consists of an outline providing exactly the information essential to the student and simultaneously acting as a ready reference tool. But this is no bare-bones work. Supplementing the outline are numerous penetrating notes with a wealth of additional information and important new observations and ideas. After initial chapters on Indo-European comparative philology, the history of writing in Italy, and the pronunciation of Latin, the book treats the language’s entire historical phonology and morphology in detail, followed by a full and enlightening chapter on syntax—a topic that rarely receives the coverage it deserves. Thousands of textual citations from Roman authors of all periods firmly ground the data in their philological context. The broader linguistic milieu of ancient Italy is also covered, with a whole chapter devoted to Etruscan; and rounding out the book is a rich overview of the later evolution of Latin into the Romance languages. The result is the first truly comprehensive, accessible, and up-to-date history of Latin from its prehistoric beginnings down to its medieval and modern descendants. Clear, thorough, and exhaustively researched, this Outline will be essential reading for students and specialists in Classics and Indo-European studies for many years to come.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

R for D before a Labial: Literary and Grammatical Evidence

On pg. 475–6 I mention some of the well known epigraphical examples of r for d before a labial, e.g. APVR FINEM (ILLRP 7, from the territory of the Marsi, end of the 4th century BCE), but I neglected to mention that there are also literary examples of the phenomenon and that it is commented upon by various ancient grammarians

The manuscripts of Cato's Agricultura give strong support to arvehant (138.1) and arvectum (135.7)

Priscian (Keil 2.35) wrote: antiquissimi uero pro ad frequentissime ar ponebant: aruenas, aruentores, |aruocatos, arfines, aruolare, arfari dicentes pro aduenas, aduentores, aduocatos, adfines, aduolare, adfari...

Marius Victorinus noted (Keil 6.9): Nos nunc et adventum et apud per d potius quam per r scribamus arventum et apur.

Velius Longus (Keil 7.71) quotes the forms arvorsus and arvorsarius.

Paulus ex Festo (p. 24 L) has apor glossed apud.

The so-called Glossary of Placidus (CGL 5.7.34 and 5.48.29) gives arveniet : adveniet.

Finally, the form arferia glossed by Paulus ex Festo (p. 10 L) as aqua, quae inferis libabatur, dicta a ferendo; sive vas vini quod sacris adhibebatur is almost certainly from *adferia. Cf. the Umbrian name for priest ařfertur, although in this last instance the form *ad- may not be identical to the adprep *ad.

Monday, December 14, 2009


On pg. 178 in discussing the development of *-Vtsm- I give *retsmos as the pre-form for rēmus 'oar' and cite the inscriptional form TRIRESMOS (ILLRP 319) in support of this. But both the reconstruction and the evidential value of the form TRIRESMOS are highly dubious.

First, TRIRESMOS comes from the notorious Columna Rostrata inscription of Duilius. This inscription was ostensibly composed by Gaius Duilius the consul of 260, but the actual physical monument certainly does not date to the 3rd century BCE, but from some centuries later. The crucial question, however, is whether the text as we have it is (1) a faithful copy of the original, (2) a flawed but honest attempted a reproducing the original, or (3) an ancient falsification made up on the basis of what a scholarly Roman of some centuries later would have thought Duilius should have written. If anything like the third hypothesis is correct, then the S of TRIRESMOS is worthless since it could have been inserted on the model of CL dūmus 'thorn bush' : VOL dusmos (preserved in Livius Andronicus' 31.35 dusmo in loco 'in a thorny place') rēmus : X, X = resmos. The Columna Rostrata does have the form PRIMOS from < *prīsmos, but that in itself does not prove that TRIRESMOS is a false archaism since one need only assume that the modernization was carried through inconsistently or maybe even that *-Vsm- lost its s before *-VCsm-. Nevertheless, this form in this inscription is a very thin reed to support any etymological hypothesis about rēmus.

Second, the root in question is *h1erh1- 'row' (Ved. aritá: 'rower', Grk. ἐρέττω 'I row', < *h1erh1-t-jo:, etc.) and nowhere but in Greek is there any evidence for a t-extension of the root—and the unextended from of the root is still attested in Myc. e-re- /erehen/ 'to row'. The Latin form points to a schwebeablauting e-grade pre-from *h1reh1-mos. A pre-from *h1reh1-smos would also be possible, as I mention in n. 20, but given the dubious nature of TRIRESMOS there is no strong reason to favor it. See Vine 1993:126.

So are there any good cases of *-Vtsm-? There don't seem to be any quoted by the usual suspects (Meiser, Sihler, Leumann, Sommer, Meillet and Vendryes), but I'd be highly surprised if the outcome was anything other than -V:m-. Could pōmum 'tree-fruit' be from *potsmo- 'what falls' or 'what one seeks'? I have selfish reasons for preferring this to the standard *po-emo- 'what is taken away'. See Weiss 2010:229. But I wouldn't insist on it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More on the Perfect

One of my favorite topics, which I discuss in a number of different places in OHCGL, is the semantics of the PIE resultative ("perfect") and its reflexes in the daughter languages, especially Latin. The most explicit discussion is on pg. 453 n. 20 where I say:

In a case like the ancestor of Lat. ō, not enough of the verbal paradigm survives for us to say what the inherent Aktionsart of the root was, but in the cases where we can judge, the root meaning is often telic, e.g. *men- ‘call to mind’. Therefore it is the perfect morphology which provides the meaning of STATE. The combination of telic Aktionsart and STATE-providing morphology virtually compels a resultative meaning.

The very interesting 2004 article by Dag Haug (Aristotle’s kinesis/energeia-test and

the semantics of the Greek perfect. Linguistics, 42-2:387–418) make some points which strengthen the case for an inherent relationship between the "perfect" and telicity/perfectivity. Haug notes that the Greek perfect refers to a state obtaining from the culmination of an action—culmination typically being expressed with the aorist. Haug writes:

This can be seen readily with the verb thnēskein (to be dying, M.W.): in principle, the imperfective could be used of a dying person who nevertheless survived. If the aorist is used, however, the person died irrevocably. And the perfect, of course, refers to

the state resulting from this culminated event expressed by the aorist. It does not mean ‘having had a near-death experience.’

Haug then goes on to discuss the semantic contrast between the PDE perfect (refers to a so-called resultant state) and the Greek perfect (refers to a so-called target state) and the way the perfect morphology interacts with atelic and stative VPs.

Another point in favor of the semantic connection between telicity/perfectivity and the "perfect" is the observation made by Madhav Deshpande (1992. Justification for verb-root suppletion in Sanskrit. Historische Sprachforschung 105:18–49) that when a Sanskrit verb has suppletive imperfective and perfective stems the "perfect", if it exists, is typically formed from the perfective allomorph.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Order of the Cases

On pg. 194 n. 3 I mention that the case order nom., voc. acc. instr. dat. abl. gen. loc. originated with the Sanskrit Grammarians and that's still more or less correct (the vocative wasn't treated as an autonomous case per se). But the article by W. S. Allen and C. O. Brink (1980. The old order and the new: A case history. Lingua. 50:61–100.) provides some interesting details. The Ancient grammatical tradition placed the genitive after the nominative and this is the order I think most Americans learn or learned (I know I did). In England, on the other hand, the nom. acc. order is or was predominant. Apparently, it was the great Dane Rasmus Rask who first introduced the nom. acc. order, mainly on the basis of morphological arguments, but also partly under the influence of the Sanskrit grammarians. Rask was followed by his countryman J. N. Madvig and Madvig's order was taken up by some influential British school grammars. America, possibly for reasons of Teutonophilia, never made the switch.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Etruscan putlumza

On p. 164, n. 28 and p. 470 I cautiously mention the possibility that Etr. putlum-za 'little vessel' may be borrowed from *pōtlom, the ancestor of Lat. pōc(u)lum. This view is now argued for by Jean Hadas-Lebel. 2009. L'œnochoé putlumza: un pocolom étrusque? In Frédérique Biville and Isabelle Boehm, eds., Autour de Michel Lejeune. Paris: Boccard, 273–285. The author also places the Etruscan oenochoe in the cultural context of the well-known Latin pocula deorum.