Re: Re. explanation of aorist morphology

From: Stephen C. Carlson (
Date: Sat Oct 25 1997 - 13:03:47 EDT

At 06:26 10/24/97 -0400, Rod Decker wrote:
>>1. Roots ending in -E- plus a liquid I.A
>> (as in EMEINA, from MENW - the iota
>> before the nu and the alpha after it
>> together indicate "aorist", and are
>> termed a "discontinuous morph")
>I have always taught these as regular liquids, observing that at times a
>preceeding vowel will ablaut (somewhat like compensatory lengthening in
>Hebrew). Are there particular linguistic reasons for avoiding such an
>explanation? Perhaps this is a generalization and oversimplification, but
>from the beginning student's perspective, seems adequate--or amy I missing
>something crucial here?

I would not call it "ablaut" (which I reserve for the Indo-European
e/o/zero forms, e.g. Smyth $ 36), because it really is compensatory
lengthening due to liquid + sigma (Symth $ 37). Thus (exx. from Sihler):

pres. *meno: > MENW; aor. *emensa > EMEINA
pres. *krinyo: > KRI:NW; aor. *ekrinsa > EKRI:NA
pres. *phanyo: > FAINW; aor. *ephansa > EFHNA
pres. *stelyo: > STELLW; aor. *estelsa > ESTEILA
pres. *phtheryo: > FQEIRW; aor. *ephthersa > EFQEIRA

>As I've (briefly) browsed the liquids, I see that -E- forms are certainly
>the most frequent such formulations, but that are others which, by using
>ablaut in my explanation, I don't have to explain separately:
>GAMEW > EGHMA (though it also has a first aor. form, EGAMHSA)
>KERDAINW > EKERDANA (also with a first aorist EKERDHSA)
>EUFRAINW > HUFRANA (and quite a few other -AINW verbs)

These all show compensatory lengthening as well, since the -ANA forms include
a long A, -A:NA. (The -AI- diphthong occurred the original *-any- palatized,
then depalatized.)

Stephen Carlson

Stephen C. Carlson                   : Poetry speaks of aspirations,              : and songs chant the words. :               -- Shujing 2.35

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