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Open Access Reconstructing Proto-Indo-European Deponents

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Reconstructing Proto-Indo-European Deponents

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This paper argues that the Proto-Indo-European voice system, despite undergoing several waves of morphological renewal on the way to the daughter languages (Jasanoff 2003), was typologically that of early IE languages like Vedic and Greek, and contemporary languages such as Modern Greek, and that the syncretic voice systems of these languages share the property of having deponents. While previous discussions of middle-only verbs have focused on a few morphologically archaic but semantically unsurprising middles, I show that PIE also had agentive, syntactically active middles that escaped the expected remodeling as formally active verbs and surface as deponents in the IE daughter branches. Reconstructing verbs with “unexpected” voice morphology may seem counter-intuitive, but is necessary to cover the empirical facts and may also serve as a diagnostic for the relative chronology of the morphological innovations that occurred in the domain of PIE voice morphology.

Affiliations: 1: Concordia University Laura.Grestenberger@concordia.ca

10.1163/22125892-00401001
/content/journals/10.1163/22125892-00401001
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This paper argues that the Proto-Indo-European voice system, despite undergoing several waves of morphological renewal on the way to the daughter languages (Jasanoff 2003), was typologically that of early IE languages like Vedic and Greek, and contemporary languages such as Modern Greek, and that the syncretic voice systems of these languages share the property of having deponents. While previous discussions of middle-only verbs have focused on a few morphologically archaic but semantically unsurprising middles, I show that PIE also had agentive, syntactically active middles that escaped the expected remodeling as formally active verbs and surface as deponents in the IE daughter branches. Reconstructing verbs with “unexpected” voice morphology may seem counter-intuitive, but is necessary to cover the empirical facts and may also serve as a diagnostic for the relative chronology of the morphological innovations that occurred in the domain of PIE voice morphology.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22125892-00401001
2016-01-01
2017-10-21

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