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Speech Without Word


I used to have a couple of posts on here, a few months ago, when the purpose of this blog was much vaguer. One was a fairly rambling post in which I stated with a fair measure of certainty (which turned out to be hasty) that I would be spending the upcoming academic year in Lithuania; the other was an attempt at political analysis from the sort of moderate-but-edgy point of view that certain internet communities breed. The former outlined a course of action that I later backtracked on, and the latter didn't really fit with what I envision as the theme of this blog, so both have been scrapped.

A re-introduction, therefore, seems necessary. I'm a twenty-year-old sophomore undergraduate at the University of Oklahoma triple-majoring in Linguistics, Classical Languages, and Russian. Finals end in less than two weeks from the time of this writing, following which I'll spend the summer at my parents' place in western Massachusetts, biding my time until I fly out for a year abroad at the Nevsky Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia. I spent a gap year- well, seven gap months; it's complicated- in Brazil between high school and college, and might shoot for an additional year in Portugal later on if I can make the logistics work. In my spare time I enjoy doing pretty much the same things I do academically- languages and linguistics, mostly, with a good bit of reading, writing, biking and occasional guilty gaming-binge thrown in.

I'll probably make this more active in a few weeks once my summer routine kicks in. Until then, I'm desperately trying to stave off procrastination enough that I get no more than one B this semester; when you start avoiding Greek translation by reading four back issues of the Economist in a row, as I did this afternoon, you know it's bad...
read more · 3 years ago

Ex foris

? dhok The Last Aristocrat
posts: 228
, Alkali Metal, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
Decided "cow" is not irregular; strong stem *gʷow generalized, and Brugmann's + Szerémenyi's yielded a uniform stem ⲕⲟⲩ-.

"Water" (ⲡⲟⲩⲧⲉⲣ) shows an irregular singular paradigm. The nom./acc./voc. shows the reflex of *wódṛ; elsewhere the oblique stem *uden- appears.

nom.	ⲡⲟⲩⲧⲉⲣ
gen.	ⲟⲧⲉⲥ
dat.	ⲟⲧⲓⲛⲉ
ins.	ⲟⲧⲓⲛⲙⲓ
loc.	ⲟⲧⲓⲛⲓ

'Earth' shows a highly irregular paradigm. Note that the instrumental continues the original *ǵʰmeh₁ and adds the usual *-mi.

nom.	ⲅⲇⲟⲩⲛ
gen.	ⲅⲙ-ⲓⲥ
acc.	ⲅⲇⲟⲩⲛ-ⲉⲛ
dat.	ⲅⲙ-ⲉ
ins.	ⲅⲙ-ⲉⲙⲓ
loc.	ⲅⲙ-ⲓ
voc.	ⲅⲇⲟⲛ

Other archaic paradigms mostly got levelled out, e.g. ⲫⲟⲣ 'fire' is an unexceptional neuter consonant stem,
? dhok The Last Aristocrat
posts: 228
, Alkali Metal, Tokyo, Japan
The Noun

The usual story: three genders, seven cases (nom/gen/acc/dat/ins/loc/voc), and several declensions. The dual is retained in that most things that come in pairs have a nominative/accusative/vocative plural deriving from the dual, and this ending also appears on any noun when it is modified by ⲍⲟⲩ 'two'.


Our masculine paradigm is ⲡⲓⲉⲭⲟⲥ 'wolf'.

	sg.     	pl.
nom.	ⲡⲓⲉⲭ-ⲟⲥ		ⲡⲓⲉⲭ-ⲉ
gen.	ⲡⲓⲉⲭ-ⲉⲥ(ⲟ)		ⲡⲓⲉⲭ-ⲟⲩⲛ
acc.	ⲡⲓⲉⲭ-ⲟⲛ		ⲡⲓⲉⲭ-ⲟⲩⲥ
dat.	ⲡⲓⲉⲭ-ⲉ		ⲡⲓⲉⲭ-ⲟⲩⲙⲟⲥ
inst.	ⲡⲓⲉⲭ-ⲟⲩ		ⲡⲓⲉⲭ-ⲟⲩⲙⲓⲥ
loc.	ⲡⲓⲉⲭ-ⲉ		ⲡⲓⲉⲭ-ⲉⲥⲓ
voc.	ⲡⲓⲉⲭ-ⲓ		ⲡⲓⲉⲭ-ⲉ

Pseudo-duals and nouns modified by ⲍⲟⲩ have a plural ending -ⲟⲩ: ⲍⲟⲩ ⲡⲓⲉⲭⲟⲩ 'two wolves'.

The genitive singular is -ⲉⲥ(ⲟ) in the earliest extant inscriptions, but later shortens, rather irregularly, to -ⲉⲥ.

O-stem neuters have a nom./acc./voc. sg. ending -ⲟⲛ as usual, with a plural -ⲁ. Their pseudo-dual is -ⲉ.


We present ⲓⲍⲟⲥⲁ 'daughter-in-law'. There has been a lot of restructuring, particularly via suffixing *y and adding consonant-stem endings, rather as in Indo-Iranian. There is no separate vocative.

	sg.		pl.
nom.	ⲓⲍⲟⲥ-ⲁ		ⲓⲍⲟⲥ-ⲁⲓⲥ
gen.	ⲓⲍⲟⲥ-ⲁⲥ		ⲓⲍⲟⲥ-ⲁⲓⲟⲛ
acc.	ⲓⲍⲟⲥ-ⲁⲛ		ⲓⲍⲟⲥ-ⲁⲓⲉⲥ		
dat.	ⲓⲍⲟⲥ-ⲁⲓⲉ		ⲓⲍⲟⲥ-ⲁⲙⲟⲥ
inst.	ⲓⲍⲟⲥ-ⲁⲙⲓ		ⲓⲍⲟⲥ-ⲁⲙⲓⲥ
loc.	ⲓⲍⲟⲥ-ⲁⲓ		ⲓⲍⲟⲥ-ⲁⲥⲓ

Nominative, genitive, accusative, instrumental singular regularly continue *-eh₂, *-eh₂s, *-eh₂m, -eh₂-bʰi/mi. Dative -ⲁⲓⲉ suffixes the athematic ending, as *-eh₂-y-ey; similarly locative -ⲁⲓ (phonetically [a.i]) is via *-eh₂-y-i.

Nominative, genitive, accusative plural all suffix the athematic endings *-es *-on *-ṇs onto an extended theme *-eh₂-y- (the nominative represents a hiatus [a.is]). The dative, instrumental, and locative plural are regular from *-eh₂mos, *-eh₂mis, *-eh₂si.

The pseudo-dual ending for the nom./acc,/voc. is -ⲁⲓ, from *-eh₂-y-h₁e. (ⲍⲟⲩ 'two' has a feminine ⲍⲁⲓ.)


The merger of *u and *o means that u-stems are no longer a productive class (the nom./acc. singular, the pseudo-dual, and acc. plural have merged). Instead, there is a small subclass of masculine o-stems with a special nominative/vocative plural ending -ⲓⲓⲥ (from *-ewes): ⲧⲓⲛⲟⲥ, ⲧⲓⲛⲓⲓⲥ 'jaw, jaws' (from *ǵénus). In the oldest inscriptions these also have a special vocative singular -ⲟ.

Neuter u-stems fare a bit better. These have a special nominative/accusative/vocative singular ending -ⲟ (rather than -ⲟⲛ), and a pseudo-dual -ⲟⲩ.

'Tree' and 'knee' are common enough that they have comprise their own, highly archaic, subdeclension.

	sg.	du.	pl.
nom.	ⲧⲟⲩⲣⲟ	ⲧⲟⲩⲣⲟⲩ	ⲧⲟⲩⲣⲁ
gen.	ⲧⲣⲟⲥ		ⲧⲣⲓⲟⲛ
dat.	ⲧⲣⲓⲉ		ⲧⲣⲟⲙⲟⲥ
ins.	ⲧⲣⲟⲙⲓ		ⲧⲣⲟⲙⲓⲥ
loc.	ⲧⲣⲟⲓ		ⲧⲣⲟⲥⲓ
	sg.	du.
nom.	ⲕⲟⲩⲛⲟ	ⲕⲟⲩⲛⲟⲩ
gen.	ⲕⲛⲟⲥ	ⲕⲛⲓⲟⲛ
dat.	ⲕⲛⲓⲉ	ⲕⲛⲟⲙⲟⲥ
ins.	ⲕⲛⲟⲙⲓ	ⲕⲛⲟⲙⲓⲥ
loc. 	ⲕⲛⲟⲓ	ⲕⲛⲟⲥⲓ

The genitive, dative and instrumental singular continue regularly from *-ews, *-ewey, *-ewmi. The locatives seem to derive from the endingless locatives *dréw *ǵnéw, with the locative -ⲓ attached after the *ew diphthong had been simplified.

The duals have been reshaped, as if from *dóruh₁, *ǵónuh₁. 'Knee' has no plural separate from the dual; the plural nominative of 'tree' is probably from *dóruh₂ > *dórwa > *dówra etc., but a reshaping would be undetectable.

The oblique plurals simply attach the ending (gen. *-om, dat. *-mos, ins. *-mis, loc. *-si) onto the oblique stem in *-ew-.

Our basic paradigm is that of ⲫⲟⲩⲥⲓⲥ 'master, paterfamilias'.

	sg.	pl.	du.
nom.	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲓⲥ	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲓⲓⲥ	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲓ
gen.	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲓⲥ	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲓⲟⲛ
acc.	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲓⲛ	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲓⲉⲥ
dat.	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲉ	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲓⲙⲟⲥ
ins.	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲓⲙⲓ	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲓⲙⲓⲥ
loc.	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲓⲓ	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲓⲥⲓ
voc.	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲓ	ⲫⲟⲩⲥ-ⲓⲓⲥ

The nominative, genitive,  accusative, dative, instrumental, vocative singular continue *-is, *-yes, *-im, *-yey, *-ih₁, *-i without issue. The locative singular should give plain -ⲓ, but has been reshaped to add the consonant-stem locative ending, presumably to prevent mergers with the dual and with the nominative/accusative of neuters.  Addition of the consonant-stem ending also explains the nom., gen., acc. plural endings (the dat., ins., loc. plural are unexceptional). The pseudo-dual continues *-ih₁ as usual.

The alternation between vocalic *i and consonantal *y has been leveled out pretty much everywhere.

Neuter i-stems show singular -ⲓ, plural -ⲁ, dual -ⲓ.

Consonant stems

Not that unusual. We've been seeing bits and pieces of them imported into other paradigms, anyways. ⲙⲉⲥ m. 'moon' (oblique stem ⲙⲉⲍ-) is our paradigm.

	sg.	pl.	du.
nom.	ⲙⲉⲥ	ⲙⲉⲍ-ⲓⲥ	ⲙⲉⲍ-ⲓ
acc.	ⲙⲉⲍ-ⲉⲛ	ⲙⲉⲍ-ⲉⲥ
gen.	ⲙⲉⲍ-ⲓⲥ	ⲙⲉⲍ-ⲟⲛ
dat.	ⲙⲉⲍ-ⲉ	ⲙⲉⲍ-ⲙⲟⲥ
ins.	ⲙⲉⲍ-ⲙⲓ	ⲙⲉⲍ-ⲙⲓⲥ	
loc.	ⲙⲉⲍ-ⲓ	ⲙⲉⲍ-ⲓⲥⲓ
voc.	ⲙⲉⲥ	ⲙⲉⲍ-ⲓⲥ

The accusative, genitive, dative, locative singular endings add the expected reflexes of *-ṃ, *-es, *-ey, *-i to the oblique stem. The instrumental occasionally adds an epenthetic (schwa secundum merging with *e). The nominative singular usually adds an -ⲥ that may or may not be absent in the vocative, though not here. When it is absent, the vocative usually adds -ⲓ, imported from the o-stems, though not always.

Nominative, accusative, genitive plural are normal, adding *-es, *-ṇs, *-om. Schwa secundum appears on occasion in the dative and instrumental plurals and basically always in the locative plural if not after a stop or *n (as *-n-si > ⲍⲓ.

Pseudo-dual is regular from *-h₁e.

Neuters, of course, have a uniform nom./acc./voc., usually without *-s, with plural in -ⲁ and pseudo-dual in -ⲉ (*-eh₁).

Sub-paradigm of consonant stems: r-stems. Example is ⲙⲁⲑⲉⲣ, which needs no gloss.

	sg.	pl.	du.
nom.	ⲙⲁⲑⲉⲣ	ⲙⲁⲑⲓⲣ-ⲓⲥ	ⲙⲁⲑⲓⲣ-ⲓ
acc.	ⲙⲁⲑⲓⲣ-ⲉⲛ	ⲙⲁⲑⲓⲣ-ⲉⲥ
gen.	ⲙⲁⲑⲣ-ⲓⲥ	ⲙⲁⲑⲣ-ⲟⲛ
dat.	ⲙⲁⲑⲣ-ⲉ	ⲙⲁⲑⲉⲣ-ⲙⲟⲥ
ins.	ⲙⲁⲑⲉⲣ-ⲙⲓ	ⲙⲁⲑⲉⲣ-ⲙⲓⲥ
loc.	ⲙⲁⲑⲣ-ⲓ	ⲙⲁⲑⲉⲣ-ⲥⲓ
voc.	ⲙⲁⲑⲓⲣ	ⲙⲁⲑⲓⲣ-ⲓⲥ

Apparent lengthened-grade before the m-endings and loc. pl. is from syllabic *ṛ. Otherwise, regular.

'Sister' has an irregular paradigm because of the change of *sr to dr. Note the application of Brugmann's Law in the nominative and accusative; by analogy with 'mother', this spread to endings before consonants (where we should see e.g. expected **ⲥⲡⲓⲥⲉⲣ-ⲙⲓ in lieu of reshaped ⲥⲡⲓⲥⲟⲩⲣ-ⲙⲓ). Brugmann's is blocked in the dual by the laryngeal of *-h₁e.

	sg.	pl.	du.
nom.	ⲥⲡⲓⲥⲟⲩⲣ	ⲥⲡⲓⲥⲟⲩⲣ-ⲓⲥ	ⲥⲡⲓⲥⲟⲣ-ⲓ
acc.	ⲥⲡⲓⲥⲟⲩⲣ-ⲉⲛ	ⲥⲡⲓⲥⲟⲩⲣ-ⲉⲥ
gen.	ⲥⲡⲓⲇⲣ-ⲓⲥ	ⲥⲡⲓⲇⲣ-ⲟⲛ
dat.	ⲥⲡⲓⲇⲣ-ⲉ	ⲥⲡⲓⲥⲟⲩⲣ-ⲙⲟⲥ
ins.	ⲥⲡⲓⲥⲟⲩⲣ-ⲙⲓ	ⲥⲡⲓⲥⲟⲩⲣ-ⲙⲓⲥ
loc.	ⲥⲡⲓⲇⲣ-ⲓ	ⲥⲡⲓⲥⲟⲩⲣ-ⲥⲓ
voc.	ⲥⲡⲓⲥⲟⲣ	ⲥⲡⲓⲥⲟⲩⲣ-ⲓⲥ

Neuter s-stems

One more paradigm before bed. Neuter s-stems present no real surprises (except for the strange plural), but they do maintain e~o ablaut. Paradigm is ⲛⲓⲃⲟⲥ 'cloud'.

	sg.	pl.	du.
nom.	ⲛⲓⲃⲟⲥ	ⲛⲓⲃⲟⲩⲥ-ⲁ	ⲛⲓⲃⲓⲥ-ⲓ
gen.	ⲛⲓⲃⲓⲥ-ⲓⲥ	ⲛⲓⲃⲓⲥ-ⲟⲛ
dat.	ⲛⲓⲃⲓⲥ-ⲉ	ⲛⲓⲃⲓⲍ-ⲙⲟⲥ
ins.	ⲛⲓⲃⲓⲍ-ⲙⲓ	ⲛⲓⲃⲓⲍ-ⲙⲓⲥ
loc.	ⲛⲓⲃⲓⲥ-ⲓ	ⲛⲓⲃⲓⲥ-ⲓ

Entirely unexceptional— /z/ for underlying /s/ before /m/ is regular—except for the nominative/accusative plural. Here the usual neuter -ⲁ was added to the reflex of the Szereményi-lengthened original plural *nebʰōs.

There should be a few really irregular paradigms—'cow',  'water' are coming to mind. I'll tackle them tomorrow.
? dhok The Last Aristocrat
posts: 228
, Alkali Metal, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
(shamelessly kidnapped from the Zeeb, because the Zeeb is shit at doing tables. Also, mèþru et sim.)

Bosporan (spoken in Crimea and the Krasnodar area, not the area around Constantinople) is attested over a time period spanning about 1200 years in numerous texts and inscriptions; it is about as well-attested as Tocharian. Two main stages are attested: Old Bosporan, written with the Greek alphabet, from about 400 BC to around 150 AD. A relative lull of about two centuries follows; Late Bosporan is attested from around 350 AD and shows clear signs of Gothic influence, including in the alphabet. The corpus fizzles out around 800 AD, and the last speakers probably lived around the turn of the millennium.

Bosporan comprised a branch of its own in IE, and seems to be somewhere in between Balto-Slavic and the Greek/Armenian/Phrygian group (unsurprising given its location). In line with the former, it maintains no trace of interconsonantal laryngeals, merges common IE with , and possesses instrumental/dative/ablative endings in *m. In common with the latter, Bosporan possesses an augment, a thematic 3sg in *-ei, and (in common with Armenian and maybe Thracian) a stop shift *T *D *Dʰ to Tʰ T D. Grassmann's Law is also operable, but it applies to contemporary aspirates (e.g. those from PIE *T.) Bosporan distinguishes *a from *o and is a centum language.

A brief overview of the historical phonology of Old Bosporan follows. Late Bosporan gets a little weird.

Initial *e-epenthesis. This accounts for the lengthened reflexes of word-initial laryngeals before a vowel; so where Rix's Law turns *HC- into *HeC- into Greek, the Bosporan reflex comes via *eHC-.

À la Western Romance, initial *sC- also gives *esC-—so this was probably just a general rule when a fricative was found word-initially before a consonant.

Common IE changes. The usual, but (as usual!) with some dialectal flavor.

*h₁e *h₂e *h₃e > ĕ ă ŏ
*eh₁ *eh₂ *eh₃ > ē ā ō

Initial *H treated as above, with epenthesis. Interconsonantal and word-final *H seem to have disappeared without a trace. Schwa secundum, however, merges with *e as in Greek.

*iH *uH give *ī *ū, but (as in Tocharian) *ih₂ *uh₂ > *ya *wa. Cf. ⲍⲁⲙⲟⲥ 'smoke', which must have had an intermediate *dʰwamos.

Short *o in open syllables gives ō, apparently by Brugmann's. It's entirely unsurprising that Bosporan would share some dialectal features with Tocharian and Indo-Iranian.

Szereményi's Law: Word-final *VRs gives V:R

Siebert's Law: *CCw, *CCy > CCuw, CCiy.

Thorn clusters metathesize as in Greek and II.


*ḱ ǵ ǵʰ > k g gʰ.

Glide fortition. Word-initially and after *s, *w seems to have given intermediate *b—these may not have happened simultaneously for obvious reasons. *y gives /z/ word-initially only.

*w > *b / #_, s_.

Palatalization chain shift.. Dental stops become /s/ or /z/ (this has to have been before the stop shift because *d becomes /z/) before *i, *y, *u or *w; plain velars give dentals before front vowels *i or *e.

*t *d *dʰ > s z z / _i, _y, _u, _w
*k *g *gʰ > t d dʰ / _i, _y, _e

Stop shift.

*T *D *Dʰ > Tʰ T D; this includes *b from older *w (which is reflected as /p/: ⲡⲓⲉⲭⲟⲥ 'wolf'.)

Treatment of syllabic consonants

Syllabic consonants gain epenthetic e. If they're in a word-initial syllable as *CṚ and CRe is a permissible syllable, they give that. Otherwise, they give eR. There seems not to have been any difference between regular syllabic consonants and lengthened syllabic consonants before a laryngeal.

A few vowel changes.

First, post-consonantal *w and *y metathesize with a preceding consonant, unless it's word-initial; in word-initial syllables they just drop. (After consonant clusters, Siever's Law had already applied.)

*Cw *Cy > *w(C)C *y(C)C / V_

Following this, *l becomes *y after a consonant, and *w after a vowel.

*u(:) and *o merge, then split again, based on length.

*o(:) > *u(:)
*ŭ *ū > o u

Short *i merges with *e, à la Cree/Ojibwe, as ĭ. Long then joins to give plain /i/.

*oy *ey merge with to give e. (As you can see, the length distinction is slowly but surely collapsing into oblivion).

*ew *ow *aw give o u u.

Short and long *a merge.

Nasal-stop voicing

A nasal before a stop voices the stop and then disappears.

*NTʰ *NT *ND > D

Remaining *ns gives *z. *s becomes z also before nasals and remaining voiced stops.

Loss of *w

Remaining instances of *w between vowels drop. Since vowel length is no longer phonemic, this can creates hiatuses: ⲟⲩⲓⲥ [u.is] 'sheep' (from *h₂ówis.)

*y generally stays between vowels, but original *-eye- ended up as hiatused -ⲓⲓ-, e.g. ⲟⲩⲓⲓⲥ 'sheep (pl.)' [u.i.is].

Grassmann's Law

The first of two aspirated stops deaspirates. Since Bosporan aspirates come from plain PIE voiced stops, this applies in entirely separate words than in Greek and Sanskrit. As in Sanskrit, this also occurs in clusters: ⲡⲑⲉⲣ 'father'.

Tʰ...Tʰ... > T...Tʰ...

Some other, minor developments

*sr gives dr; *sn *sm metathesized, merged as *ns, and became /z/. (E.g. ⲓⲍⲟⲥⲁ 'daughter-in-law', from *snusós.)

Word-final *m becomes /n/ as in Greek, Gaulish and Phrygian.

Accent is neutralized, though it's not clear what the details are. Since Greek without accents looks fugly, the standard transcription uses Greek miniscule, written here with a Coptic typeface.

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