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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 7, 2015

On the lengthened grade in the nominative singular

  • Martin Joachim Kümmel EMAIL logo


One of the best established cases of lengthened grade is the nominative singular of many athematic paradigms, where lengthened grade (LG) in the last predesinential element is opposed to full grade (FG) in other forms and is normally reconstructed for PIE (distinctive LG). However, the exact original distribution and the explanation of the phenomenon are controversial. Different theories also make different predictions about the original distribution of distinctive LG, and these may be checked in order to assess these theories. In Indo-Iranian, Brugmann’s Law turned many cases of o grade into synchronic LG, thus removing potential cases of distinctive LG. The distribution of LG in Proto-Indo-Iranian (PIIr) strong stem forms is investigated, with the conclusion that distinctive LG in the nominative singular is only found in endingless nominatives. Elsewhere all forms of the strong stem show the same ablaut. Therefore, LG in the nominative singular can (but need not) largely be secondary, either leveling by strong stem forms with Indo-Iranian ā grade from o grade, or by analogy to such paradigms. The isolated form Vedic véṣ ‘bird’ < PIIr *(h)wáy-š is a counterexample to a general LG rule for monosyllabic stems. Indo-Iranian thus, while not excluding original distinctive LG in some s-marked nominatives, does not support it. However, evidence from Western IE languages appears to show distinctive LG in some nominatives of monosyllabic nouns. Possible explanations are discussed at the end.

Online erschienen: 2015-11-7
Erschienen im Druck: 2015-10-16

© 2015 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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