01 June 2013

Wild Waters


I apologise in advance if what you find below is technical and hard to follow, but I am still talking of the comparative method. If you prefer something easy, I recommend mass comparison.

Old Indic ap- ‘water’ is a curious word. It is a feminine root noun (its stem is a bare root morpheme with no suffix), and Indo-European root nouns are generally interesting. They are primitive formations, inherited rather than borrowed, often charmingly irregular and likely to reveal some little secrets on close examination. To begin with, the declension of ap- is somewhat defective. Some of its case forms in the singular are not attested at all, and those that are occur exclusively in the archaic Vedic dialect, while Classical Sanskrit knows only plural forms. The stem has two variants, strong āp- (nom.pl.  ā́pas) and weak ap- (gen.sg. apás, loc.pl. apsú, etc.). A similar pattern can be seen in the Iranian languages, especially Avestan, where the nom.sg. āfš (< *āp-s) is preserved beside acc.sg. āpəm, nom.pl. āpō, contrasting with the weak stem of gen.sg. apō, gen.pl. apąm, etc. The pattern looks like a slightly reworked acrostatic paradigm, possibly *Hóp-/*Hép-, where *H is one of the PIE “laryngeals”. The original declension would have been like this:
  • nom.sg. *Hṓp-s
  • acc.sg. *Hóp-m̥
  • gen.sg. *Hép-s (→ *Hép-os → *Hep-ós, on the analogy of mobile stems)
  • nom.pl. *Hóp-es
etc.

One would expect the normal IE lengthening of the root vowel *o in the nom.sg.; in the acc.sg., voc.sg., and nom./voc. pl. the inherited *o would have occurred in an open syllable, a context in which it would have been affected by the Indo-Iranian lengthening known as Brugmann’s Law. In other case forms we presumably have something else than *o (so the laryngeal should be either the non-colouring *h₁ or the a-colouring *h₂). The presence of an initial laryngeal is demonstrated by vowel lengthening visible in compounds like Skt. dvīpá- ‘island’ < *dwi-Hp-ó- ‘with water on either side’. For reasons that will become clear in a moment, most specialists reconstruct the root as *{h₂ep-}, which, assuming an acrostatic paradigm, would have resulted in nom.sg. *h₂ṓps, gen.sg. *h₂áp(o)s, nom.pl. *h₂ópes. The Indo-Iranian word may mean not only just ‘water’ (natural fresh water in lakes or rivers), but also the “celestial waters”, i.e. the sky, as well as “the Waters” personified as deities.

Outside of Indo-Iranian, we have a nice Tocharian cognate (Toch.A/B āp- f. ‘water, river’, with a vowel that could reflect *ō or *a), and a few more doubtful ones: Old Prussian ape ‘stream’, as if from *h₂ap-ijah₂, cf. Vedic ápya- ‘aquatic’ (similar words in Lithuanian and Latvian begin with u-, which makes comparison problematic). No forms with a reflex of *e are visible anywhere, which favours the reconstruction of *h₂ as the initial.

There are also a number of possibly related words in Italic, Celtic and Anatolian, which mean ‘river, stream’ and present some characteristic problems as a group. In Anatolian, we find Hittite hapas, Palaic hāpna-, Cuneiform Luwian hāpa/i- (all meaning ‘river’), and the Lycian verb χba(i)- ‘to water, irrigate’ (plus a cognate verb in Hittite, apparently borrowed from Luwian). Together, hey would confirm the reconstruction of the initial laryngeal as *h₂ (*hwas not preserved in Anatolian, and word-initial *h₃ seems to have been lost in Lycian). Unfortunately, the medial stop in Anatolian cannot reflect *p, whose outcome would have been rendered as -pp-; a single spelling reflects a PIE voiced stop. That’s why the root underlying the Anatolian words is often reconstructed as *h₂abʰ-, not *h₂ap- (and not *h₂ab- either, since *b was vanishingly rare or even non-existent in PIE).

The wild waters of one of the British Avons (Devon)
[hat tip: Simon and Fiona]
Latin amnis ‘river’ could reflect *h₂ap-ni- (with a regular nasal assimilation), but if related to Palaic hāpna-, it would be better analysed as *h₂abʰ-ni- (which would have yielded the same Latin outcome). This seems to be confirmed by the Celtic nasal stem *abon- (Old Irish aub < *abū < *abō(n) ‘river’) and its synonymous derivative *abonā (Welsh afon), known from a number of tautological hydronyms in Britain (the River Avon is literally ‘the River River’). It would seem, therefore, that we actually have two “watery” roots, *h₂ap-, found in Indo-Iranian and Tocharian (with possible trace attestation elsewhere), and *h₂abʰ- (less likely *h₂ab-) in Anatolian, Latin, and Celtic. The distribution is puzzling and the roots are suspiciously similar, but *p and *b(ʰ) do not vary freely in the same morpheme in PIE. Are the roots different and their similarity accidental? Or is it some kind of aberrant dialectal variation in the protolanguage? Such variation is often taken for granted by etymological dictionaries, but it’s clearly a case of relaxing the sound standards of comparison. It would be much nicer to be able to unify the etymologies without special pleading.

A possible connection between the two variants was suggested by Eric Hamp in 1972. PIE had a quasi-possessive suffix first described by Karl Hoffmann back in 1955 and named after him. The shape of the Hoffmann suffix is *-Hon-/*-Hn-. Hoffmann himself supposed that the initial laryngeal was *h₁ (probably = IPA [h]), but some identify it as *h₃. There’s little evidence either way, to be sure, but it has long been known that *h₃ may be responsible for voicing a preceding obstruent (hence the idea that *h₃ was a voiced fricative, IPA [ɣ] or the like). The best example is the reduplicated present stem *pí-ph₃-e/o- > *píbe/o- ‘drink’ (from the root *{peh₃(i)-}. Hamp proposed that *abon- reflected *h₂abh₃on- ‘having/carrying water’, i.e. *h₂ap- extended with the Hoffmann suffix. The Latin and Palaic forms would be analysable as derivatives of the same word: *h₂ab(h₃)n-o- ~ *h₂ab(h₃)n-i-.

But what about Hittite hapas, which does not seem to contain the Hoffmann suffix? Well, it may contain it after all. PIE *h₂abh₃on- would have become pre-Hittite *xaban- (*h₃ was lost word-medially in Anatolian). But there was a strong tendency in Hittite for animate n-stems to adopt a-stem inflections. The pivot of the change was the nom.sg., which lost its final *-n early (already in PIE) but acquired a secondary -s in Anatolian on the analogy of other types of animate stems; cf. *h₃ór-ō(n) ‘eagle’, acc.sg. *h₃ór-on-m̥ > Hitt. nom.sg. hāras, acc.sg. hāran-an (n-stem) → hāra-n (a-stem). Indeed, the Hittite ‘river’ word is attested several times with n-stem endings, which lends credence to the hypothesis that hapa- is an original n-stem (Proto-Anatolian *xábō(-s)/*xabn-), and is in fact an exact cognate of Old Irish aub.

Thus the reconstruction of the Hoffmann suffix as *-h₃on-/*-h₃n-, with a laryngeal that triggers voicing in a preceding voiceless segment, allows us to derive all the forms under discussion from one acrostatic root noun *h₂óp-/*h₂áp-. A slightly different alternative solution, also possible though more controversial, would be *h₂ā́p-/*h₂áp-, with an acrostatic *ā/a alternation (fundamental rather than due to laryngeal colouring; some Indo-Europeanists deny the existence of such a pattern). In either case the weak stem is *h₂ap-, and we really can’t know whether the Indo-Iranian long vowel in the strong cases reflects *o lengthened by Brugmann’s Law, or inherited *ā. I’ll tentatively accept the former possibility (without ruling out the latter). The root noun itself is attested securely but less widely than its most important derivative, *h₂ap-h₃on- > *h₂ab(h₃)on- ‘river’. On the whole, the analysis sketched above is weaker than the reconstruction of *wódr̥/*wédn-. Some linguists do not find the identification of the laryngeal in the Hoffmann suffix as *h₃ convincing, and are happy with the reconstruction of alternative roots (or root variants) for ‘water/river’. To my mind, Hamp’s solution is elegant and parsimonious (it prevents us from positing extra variants beyond necessity).

Note that the gender of *h₂ṓp-s/*h₂áp- is feminine in Indo-Iranian (animate in PIE terms), as opposed to the neuter (inanimate) gender of PIE *wódr̥/*wédn-. The distribution of both words and their derivatives (in both primary subfamilies of Indo-European, sometimes in one and the same branch, and without any geographical restrictions – from Ireland to India, Central Asia and Chinese Turkmenistan) guarantees protolanguage status for both of them. The gender difference, the mythological significance of Indo-Iranian *Hap- (not shared with *udan-), and the fact than *h₂ap- seems to have been preferentially used in other IE branches to derive words with the meaning ’river, stream’, suggest that the words were not quite synonymous, and that the Indo-Europeans may have been like the modern Hopi Indians in having two separate concepts corresponding to English water: ‘tame water’ contained for human use (like Hopi kuuyi) versus ‘wild water’ as a natural force beyond human control (like Hopi paahu). It’s the latter kind that could be personified or even deified. Note the potential problem for long-range research: even “Swadesh” meanings are not necessarily as fundamental as we tend to imagine. If one wants to compare the IE ‘water’ terms with putative external cognates, the question arises which aspect of ‘water’ is more representative of H₂O. All right, then: which of the two do mass-comparatists mean when they talk of “the PIE word for water”? Surprisingly, neither, as we shall see next time.

45 comments:

  1. for "may mean just", perhaps read "may mean not just"?

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  2. Thanks, John, I have rephrased the sentence.

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  3. It would seem, therefore, that we actually have two “watery” roots, *h₂ap-, found in Indo-Iranian and Tocharian (with possible trace attestation elsewhere), and *h₂abʰ- (less likely *h₂ab-) in Anatolian, Latin, and Celtic.
    You forgot a third root found in Baltic *up-, with a different vocalism. And, as I mentioned before, the names of German rivers in -apa, -affa (Krahe) point towards *h₂ab-.

    The distribution is puzzling and the roots are suspiciously similar, but *p and *b(ʰ) do not vary freely in the same morpheme in PIE. Are the roots different and their similarity accidental? Or is it some kind of aberrant dialectal variation in the protolanguage?
    I'm afraid "aberrant" is an inadequate adjective. You'd better admit the traditional PIE model has shortcomings and so it can't explain everything.

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    1. Krahe's hydronymic elements could be accounted for without multiplying hypothetical words praeter necessitatem. For example, you could easily get Germanic *appa- as a regular reflex of *aPnó- where *P = any labial stop. But I was talking of real words with known meanings, and not "hydronymic vocabulary".

      I have no idea what you mean by "the traditional PIE model". The model I'm working with is pretty recent and anything but traditional. And of course it can't explain everything, because it's sufficiently constrained and not self-immunised against falsification. It's an advantage, not a shortcoming.

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    2. Perhaps "mainstream" would be a better term, because although you see as "pretty recent", your model is an evolution from 19th century Neogrammarians'. In fact, it still retains features of the traditional model such as "voiced aspirated" stops.

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    3. It contains three types of stops. How exactly they contrasted is less important, and how they are transcribed is completely unimportant, as long as specialists understand each other's notation. Most people in the field agree that the *dʰ series were breathy-voiced (IPA [d̤], possibly murmured rather than aspirated [d̤ʱ]). So what? A fancier transcription with a lot of phonetic detail that is not reconstructible anyway does not make your model more scientific. Some people treat IPA as if they had found a new toy.

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    4. Not exactly. "Breathy-voiced" (IPA [d̤ʱ]) is just the updated version of the old "voiced aspirated". My point is there's no reason for reconstructing anything else than plain voiced stops at PIE level.

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    5. When I said "there's no reason" I meant considering all the available evidence, both internal and external.

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    6. Octavià: Do you, or do you not, accept a three-way contrast? If you do, all other questions are out of the case.

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    7. The phonetic aspect is not completely unimportant. When one claims that *p became *b (rather than *bʰ) by voicing assimilation (cf. Vedic píbati, Lat. bibo, in languages where it really makes a difference), this is in conflict with Octavià's claim (which of course is not idiosyncratic to him but shared with some versions of the glottalic theory). But I would also appreciate an explanation of why a plain *d yields Italic *θ/ð, Greek th, Vedic dh, why it triggers Grassmann's Law in Greek and Vedic, why we have Bartholomae's Law rather that common-or-garden [-voice] assimilation, etc.

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    8. True, there's a 3-way contrast in some IE languages, but only 2-way in many others. And while the glottalic theory is an improvement over the traditional model, it can't still explain everything alone. This doesn't mean it should be rejected, bur rather we should seek for additional explanations.

      As I matter of fact, I regard these developments in Italic, Greek and Indic as areal features due to contact with other languages. In the case of the latter, dh can be found in Tibetan.

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    9. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the placement of the so-called "breathy voiced" series against it's "plain voiced" counterpart or it's "voiceless" counterpart rather arbitrary? At least how would the distinction between, say, the traditionally constructed near triplet *ǵerh2 , *ǵʰer , and *ḱer arise? Do you posit an underlying phoneme triggering the distinction, like a laryngeal of some sort? Or? Even so, what are the explanations for the strange reinterpretations of sound laws like Grimm's or the ones cited above? How does Germanic b/p/f correspond roughly to Latin f/b/p in such a model?

      Regardless, is it wholly necessary to get pedantic about the transcription system if what's being addressed is the differences between regular sound correspondences and not the sound laws causing that differentiation themselves? It's not about the phonetics of PIE, per se, as much as it is in the correspondences in the daughter languages.

      My apologies if this is out of place for me, but I believe Gasiorowski has emphasized agnosticism in the past, simply following convention in reconstruction transcription for the sake of readability. I don't see the relevance of attacking this.

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    10. I'm afraid the "breathy voiced" series isn't just a modern version of the traditional "voiced aspirated", as it also constitutes an assumption about the actual phonetics of PIE. However, I regard this as a dialectal (Kurganic?) feature of some IE languages and thus not reconstructible for PIE itself.

      Simmetrically to voiceless aspirated, voiced aspirated stops in Indic appear to have originated in the phonologization of sequences of voiced+laryngeal, later generalized to other stems. In Greek and Italic the new series was rendered as voiceless aspirated. Thus *d+h would be phonologized as dh in Indic and *tʰ in Greek and Italic (there're even some instances of Grassmann's Law in Latin itself). I'm planning to give more details about this in my own blog.

      This is why I prefer (for the sake of readability) the traditional notation bh instead of the modern (which should be according to IPA standards).

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    11. Octavià: How would you account for the fact that among the stops series you posit as "original", *PeP *PeB *BeP but no *BeB occur in PIE roots, but adding the *Bh series, *BeBh *BheB *BheBh but no *PeBh *BheP occur? Saying that the "h" in "Bh" was originally some kind of unit independent of the stop seems to me to be a step away from explaining this, 'cause now **h only can occur after stops when the other stop in the root was an original *B or also had **h after it, which is even weirder.

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    12. In the glottalic theory (largely modelled after Kartvelian), traditional T, D, Dh are respectively T, Tʔ, D. Thus having two glottalized stops in the same root (**TʔeTʔ) was forbidden by phonotactical rules. This also explains why (I don't know how to write superscripts here) can combine with either T or D, but the latter can't combine with each other, i.e. neither **TeD nor **DeT are allowed.

      In some IE languages merged with D, but in others the latter developed into breathy voiced (Indic) and further into voiced aspirated (Greek, Italic).

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    13. This also explains why .... the latter can't combine with each other, i.e. neither **TeD nor **DeT are allowed.

      How does it explain it? Since when is plain modal voicing incompatible with voicelessness in the same root? And why did * so often merge with D (in Anatolian, Balto-Slavic, Iranian, Celtic, Albanian) but never with *T in languages that developed a two-way system?

      I agree that the prohibition against **deg-type roots and the absence or near-absence of PIE *b are pretty good arguments in favour of some unusual phonation type rather than plain voicing, but the system reformed by the glottalic theory gives rise to more questions than it answers.

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    14. IMHO the glottalic theory is preferrable to the traditional model because it's typologically more consistent and also it's correlated with other language families, but unfortunately it has been poorly formulated by its own proponents and even worser understood by other scholars.

      For example, the near-absence of a phoneme *b in PIE has nothing to do with a supposed impossibility of a labial ejective *pˀ (which is false), but because its place is occupied by the approximant *w.

      Also the supposed incompatibility of two ejective stops in the same root doesn't exist, as there're plenty of them in Kartvelian.

      To be continued...

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    15. It's not about articulatory impossibility, it's about reasonable phonotactics.

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  4. Is this the story behind modern Swedish "å" (stream, small river)? (This should be an a with a ring above, if it doesn't display correctly in your browser

    Håkan Lindgren

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    1. I haven't discussed the family of aqua yet. Stay tuned, the next post will be about it.

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  5. Wonderful! My reaction is exactly the opposite of Octavià Alexandre's: it's precisely by insisting on the rigorous application of the traditional PIE model, without handwaving, that advances like this are made.

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    1. This is dogmatism, not science. It's the theory which has to accommodate to the facts and not the other way around.

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    2. It's a fact that the Lithuanian 'river' word is ùpė. It is not a fact that ùpė is related to Indo-Iranian ap- 'water' (just because both are short and contain a /p/). If you think they may be related, the burden of the demonstration is on you. Similarity in sound and meaning does not guarantee relationship. For example, isle is not related to island, and river, despite being a loan from a Romance language, is not related to Lat. rīvus. Note that they have much more in common with each other, phonologically nad semantically, than ùpė and ap-.

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    3. If you think they may be related, the burden of the demonstration is on you.
      I'd say in other words: "unrelated" in the framework of the mainstream PIE model doesn't mean they're unrelated at all.

      The 'water' words *ap-, *ab-, *up- have complementary areal distributions, being found in some languages but lacking in the others. This is a compelling argument for they to be related.

      Also although river and rīvus look so much alike, they don't when we go back to the Latin etymon rīpāria.

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  6. “Hamp proposed that *abon- reflected *h₂abh₃on- ‘having/carrying water’, i.e. *h₂ap- extended with the Hoffmann suffix. The Latin and Palaic forms would be analysable as derivatives of the same word: *h₂ab(h₃)n-o- ~ *h₂ab(h₃)n-i-.”

    What do you think about the possibility of ‘*Hóp-/*Hép-‘, ‘*h₂ap-‘ and ‘*h₂ab(h₃)n-o’ being related to Slavic ‘kap-‘ like in Polish ‘kap-a-ć’, ‘kap-n-ąć’ ‘kap-i-e’–“to drip”.

    We use it for dripping water: ‘z listków kap-ała woda’ “water was dripping from the leaves”; ‘z dachu kap-ały krople deszczu’ “rain was dripping from the roof”
    This would explain why Old Indic ‘ap-‘ “water” is specially applicable to the “celestial waters” – the rain is dripping i.e. ‘kapie’ in Polish.
    Polish word is explained as onomatopoeia, i.e. a word that phonetically imitates the sound of dripping water: ‘kap, kap…’.
    This would be a very simple explanation of the origin of this word and it’s various forms.

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    1. Slavic has *ka(p)nǫ 'to drop' (perfective), *kapjǫ 'to drip, keep falling' (imperfective), and *kapja 'a drop'. They are all based on the same allomorph of the root, *kap-, usually regarded as onomatopoeic (such is Vasmer's opinion, for example).

      If you want to compare it with *h₂ap-, there are several formal problems to face (Slavic *a reflects a long vowel, and why should it be long in these forms? Slavic *k is not a regular reflex of *h₂; no fundamental verb corresponding to Indo-Iranian ap- is known from anywhere), and there are semantic problems as well. The rain is one thing, and the celestial ocean of Vedic myths is another. My impression is that ap- is primarily running water (currents, streams) viewed as an elemental force, not just rainwater dripping from the roof. There are quite a few Vedic words for 'drip' and 'drop', but they have nothing to do with ap-. Also for 'rain' (verb and noun) we have a different Indo-European (and Vedic) root, PIE *h₂wers- (Ved. varṣ-).

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    2. There is also another similar Polish and Slavic word ‘kąp-ać’ ‘kąp-iel’ “to bath, to be submerged in water’.
      From this word comes ancient Kupala rites, which are connected with the role of water in fertility and ritual purification.

      “no fundamental verb corresponding to Indo-Iranian ap- is known from anywhere”

      If there is no fundamental verb corresponding to Indo-Iranian noun ‘ap-‘ it makes it more probable that this noun was borrowed from some other language.

      What do you think about Old indic verb root ‘āp-’, ‘āpnóti’ means “to reach ,obtain, gain’ but also “to fall upon, fall, come to” and it very well corresponds to Polish and Slavic word ‘kap-’, ‘kapnoti/kapnąć’ “to drip, fall, come to’. Actually Polish ‘kap-‘, ‘kapnąć’, also can be used not only in the sense of water dripping, dropping or falling upon, but also of enriching, gaining, for example ‘kapnie trochę grosza’ “some money is obtained”; ‘kapie bogactwem’ “dripps welth” which means to possess a lot.
      Also ‘kąpać’ which usually means “bathing, submerging in water, purifying with water’ can be also used in the sense of possessing, obtaining, gaining something: ‘kąpać się w bogactwie, w złocie’ ‘’bathing in wealth, gold”.
      Semantically and phonetically looks quite promising, I am surprised it has not been investigated properly.
      Nothing is perfect but what are better explanations. Proto-Indo-European reconstructions are very speculative and many linguists doubt their reality, i.e. that such real spoken language has ever existed somewhere.

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    3. I don't think the relationship proposal is compelling, but please go ahead. You have a set of lookalikes, now investigate them properly and tell us how they are related to each other. I would appreciate some details of the proposed derivations and developments; otherwise it's impossible to evaluate your suggestion.

      Nothing is perfect but what are better explanations.

      Recourse to Ved. āp- 'reach, take possession of' won't help in any case. Formally, it doesn't correspond to the Slavic 'bathe' root at all. It has quite different connections, cf. Hittite epp-/app- 'take, grab', whose vocalism and absence of a laryngeal reflex (present in the 'river' word) demonstrate that the root should be reconstructed as *h₁ep-. The generalised long vowel in Old Indic is thought to have originated in the reduplicated perfect stem *h₁e-h₁(o)p-.

      I don't know the deeper etymology of Slavic *kǫp-, but the suggestion that it might somehow be related to āp- would have to be based on something much more solid than the observation that one can wallow both in water and in wealth. I have seen several other attempts to etymologise it, none of them compelling, but at least they were more satisfactory on the formal side.

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  7. The details of the "acrostatic" paradigm may need a little elaboration for some readers. In your previous post on the "udan" root, the original PIE acrostatic paradigm has o-grade in the nominative and accusative, and e-grade in the oblique cases. The "lengthened" grade is only found in the old collective inflection, and is due to compensatory lengthening.

    In this discussion of the "ap" root, lengthened grade appears to be intrinsic to the nominative singular. My knowledge of PIE is rusty, so would you mind explaining the differences in the paradigms? Is this to do with whether the noun in question is animate or inanimate in PIE?

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  8. As opposed to the other 'water' word, *h₂ap- is monosyllabic and animate. Animate nouns had the nom.sg. ending *-s which caused the lengthening of the vowel of the preceding syllable when added to stems ending in a single consonant. After some consonants the ending was lost, so it is often thought that the lengthening was compensatory, but in fact we find the lengthening (at any rate in Indo-Iranian, but not only there) also when the suffix is preserved. Hence the long vowel in Iranian (we have no Vedic nom.sg.; given the regular developments in Indo-Aryan, *h₂ōp-s would have lost its final fricative there but retained the long vowel).

    Here a few typical examples:

    *h₂nér-s > *h₂nḗr 'man'
    *népot-s > *népōts 'grandson, nephew'
    *djéu-s > *diḗus 'sky(-god)'
    *ḱlóp-s > *ḱlṓps 'thief'

    This "sigmatic" lengthening affects only animate nouns because neuter consonant stems have no nom./acc.sg. ending.

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    1. Thanks! Yes it's coming back to me now.

      Can we distinguish among different acrostatic paradigms? Some seem to show alternation between o-grade and e-grade like "thief", while others only show e-grade like "sky-god". Is the paradigm with alternating vowels the original one, according to most IEists?

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    2. The 'sky-god' word is not acrostatic but accentually mobile: nom.sg. *diḗu-s, gen.sg. *diw-és, with the root vocalism alternating between short *e (when accented) and zero (when the accent shifts away from the root). "Acrostatic" means that the accent is fixed on the root and doesn't move to inflectional endings. There are two widely recognised acrostatic types, with the alternations *o/e and *ē/e. In each pair the first member counts as "strong" and the second as "weak". (I don't think it's the whole story, but as I'll be presenting a conference paper exactly about this stuff in July, I can't reveal too much prematurely.)

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    3. OK, thanks again. I thought all the nouns you listed were acrostatic, hence the misunderstanding. So the existence of lengthened vowels may be a result of a certain type of acrostatic inflection, i.e. morphologically conditioned, or it may simply be conditioned by following consonant + s, i.e. phonologically conditioned.

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    4. Precisely (plus the fact that a word-final *h₂ could have a similar lengthening effect.

      The acrostatic inflection is presumably also the outcome of phonological processes operating at some pre-stage of PIE, but our current understanding of them, based on internal reconstruction, is far from clear. It seems that some root vowels were underlyingly long/tense. One possible explanation of the acrostatic alternations is that the "weak" cases of such roots retained a full (though shortened/laxed) vowel even if followed by an accented suffix, and that at a later date the accent was attracted back to that vowel, while the suffix got phonetically reduced.

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    5. I see you have *népot-s. What is your opinion about the reconstruction with an initial *h2 (because of Greek anepsios) that I've seen in some etymological dictionaries from the Leiden school (De Vaan, Derksen)?

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    6. I have no strong opinion either way, but since the Greek word is a derivative in -ió-, not the original consonantal stem, and means 'cousin/cousin's son' rather than 'nephew/grandson', Benveniste's explanation of the initial a- as reciprocal *sm̥-, hence *sm̥-nept-ió- 'fellow nephew/grandson (of the same person); one of the same offspring' is attractive.

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  9. "Here" -> "here are". Sorry for my messy typing.

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  10. "(like Hopi kuuyi) versus ‘wild water’ as a natural force beyond human control (like Hopi paahu)."

    "Paahu" looks cognate with the "-pah" suffix in Ute-southern Paiute, as in the town of Tonopah or the Moapa Valley, which refers to a spring or well. It also looks cognate with the "wak", O'odham, in San Xavier del Bac just outside Tucson.

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    1. The most uncanny thing is that it's also cognate with Nahuatl atl 'water'.

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    2. How very French! There the initial and final consonants have fallen away through normal sound correspondences and the -tl is just an inflectional suffix (non-possessed noun).

      I wonder if the rest of Uto-Aztecan, Southern in particular, has a similar development WRT to water words that you refer to in IE, where one etymon becomes dominant in one group and the other in other groups.

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    3. I have no idea. From what I've read, *pa- is pan-Uto-Aztecan (and of course it must be somehow related to *ap- ;)). If a specialist in UA ever strays here by any chance, I'll be grateful for a comment. But in IE the situation is not all that clearcut. In Old Indo-Aryan both original 'water' words survived, and both were strangely recessive (only the derivative udaká- was rather common) and prone to lexical replacement by etymologically obscure synonyms like jala-. And I have not even discussed the word-family of vār- (also 'water'), another Vedic candidate for PIE status.

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  11. The idea of a distinction between "tame water" and "wild water" is very interesting. As a little-known fact, Uralic is also a family where two roots for "water" are found in complementary distinction, and perhaps this was the case here as well.

    The better-known root is *wetə (also reconstructed *weti, *wete), but this is absent from two subfamilies: Samic and Khanty. While latter has simply shifted *jäŋə "ice" to a new function, Samic *čācē (→ Northern Sami čáhci, Inari Sami čääci, etc.) is a more interesting story: this appears to be cognate with Khanty *sēč "flood waters", both pointing to Proto-Uralic *śäčä. It may or may not be a coincidence that reflexes of this are not known from any branch retaining *wetə, but a generalization of one basic "water" root out of two could well explain the distribution here.

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  12. "This seems to be confirmed by the Celtic nasal stem *abon- (Old Irish aub < *abū < *abō(n) ‘river’) and its synonymous derivative *abonā (Welsh afon), known from a number of tautological hydronyms in Britain (the River Avon is literally ‘the River River’)."

    I may be misinterpreting the above (if so, just ignore), but does the synonymous Gallo-Brit. *abonā really have to be a derivative of *abon-? (or directly from *h2ap- for that matter.) I'm thinking it could be the same word, with "thematization" from the acc.sg. *abon-m > *abon-am --> *abona-m (and for that matter from the acc.pl.)

    The same thing may have happened with *brig- 'hill, high place' < *bHrg'H-, which comes out as *brigā in Brit. (MW, MBret. bre 'hill') and on the continent, whereas Old Irish preserves the athematic inflection (Old Ir. brí).

    Admittedly, rivers and (river) goddesses tend to like the suffix *-onā, but since the word just means 'river', it might be more straightforward to identify *abonā with *abon- directly.

    Anders

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    1. I haven't thought of that (I have always assumed that the transparent femininine suffix was simply added to the stem), but it sounds like a plausible process, analogous to the shift of consonantal stems to the i-stem declension in Balto-Slavic (where *-m̥ > *-im, reanalysed as *-i-m), the partial confusion of consonantal stems and u-stems in Germanic, etc.

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    2. Yes, the idea was partly inspired by the Baltic development.

      The "thematization" in *abonā and *brigā - whether by actual derivation or paradigmatic transfer on the basis of the accusative - can probably be counted as a Gallo-Brit. shared innovation.

      There could easily be more cases of thematization of consonant stems to ā-stems in British Celtic. However, with the loss of the case system, we are typically not able to tell apart a surviving non-neuter consonant stem acc.sg. and a fem. ā-stem acc.sg.

      Anders

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