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G. van der Vegt wrote:
> On 24 February 2010 11:55, Peter Bleackley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> There seems to be a tendency in some Indo-European languages for the
>> genitive singular to resemble the nominative plural. So far I've found
>> examples in English, Latin and Russian. In both of the latter the effect is
>> found in more than one declension class.
>>
>> Is there some reason for this, or is it just a weird coincidence?
>>
>> Pete
>>
> 
> The reason seems to be that they were already similar in IE.
> Restructed case endings for the genitive singular are -(o)s while
> reconstructed endings for the nominative plural include -es and -os.

Tho in fact the genitive singular -os turns up in Classical 
Latin as the 3rd declension -is [Is], while the nominative 
plural is -es [e:s] (<-- -ej-es, the -i stem ending being 
generalized for all 3rd decl. nom. plurals [except of course 
neuters].)

But the the endings of these two forms are identical in the 
1st & 2nd declensions, namely -ae (1st) and -i [i:] (2nd). 
The origin of the genitive singular ending is apparently not 
inherited from PIE but is an ending -i [i:] found also in 
early Celtic.

In the 2nd decl. singular -i simply _replaced_ the the vowel 
-o- (a derivation from -oi would've given early Latin -ei 
which is, indeed, what we find for nominative plurals, e.g. 
_uirei_ "men' - but the gen. sing. was always -i: in early 
Latin.

The second decl. nom. plural -i: was from -ei <--- -oi, 
where endings used by demonstratives replaced the earlier 
-o-es.

As for the first declension, those who have read Lucretius 
will know that in the genitive singular the early Classical 
ending was -ai [ai:], which had replaced the early -as [a:], 
preserved in set phrase _paterfamilias_. Here the 
Celto-Italic -i: has been added to them vowel, giving rise 
to -ai: which became the familiar Classical Latin -ae.

The 1st declension nominative plural was originally -as 
[a:s] as we see in other Italic dialects and in one or two 
very early inscriptions; and it seems that in the spoken 
language -as persisted right into the Vulgar Latin period. 
But in the Classical language it was replaced early on by 
-ai [ai:], giving way to the familiar -ae, under the 
influence of the 2nd declension forms.

So there does seem a very distinct tendency for the genitive 
singular & nominative plurals to be the same (except, of 
course, for neuters where nom. plurals always ended in -a). 
I agree that this does seem very odd, especially since the 
two cases could have developed different endings.

If we return to the 3rd decl., even the gen.sing. -is and 
nom.pl. -e:s is not as distinct as one might suppose as in 
Vulgar Latin 'short-i' [I] and 'long-e' [e:] came to be 
pronounced the same!

If we consider the rarer 4th & 5th declensions, we find that 
in the 4th the two forms are identical, namely -u:s! It is 
only the 5th declension, the rarest of the five, that 
actually keeps the two distinct, namely -ei: (gen.sing) and 
-e:s [nom.plu).

No wonder then that the genitive gave way to analytical 
forms (except for proper names)!

It is very odd, as Peter observes, that there is this 
tendency in several IE languages; and it's difficult to see 
why.  In both ancient & modern Greek the two forms were/are 
always distinct - maybe that why Greek has managed to 
preserve the genitive case in nouns while the Romance 
languages didn't (except Romanian - but there essentially 
the genitive & dative fell together, with the singular being 
derived from the more distinctive dative forms).

-- 
Ray
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