Some Comments on the Lithuanian n and r Stem Nouns

William R. Schmalstieg (Pennsylvania State University)

I dispute the view of Zinkevičius (1980, Lietuvių kalbos istorinė gramatika. I. Vilnius: Mokslas, p. 242) that the contemporary Lithuanian  nom.  sg.  endings -uõ, -ė̃  developed  from  Indo-European  *-ōn  or *-ōr, *-ēr, where n, r were stem-final.  Examples are said to be Lith. nom. sg.  šuõ ‘dog,’ akmuõ ‘stone,’ sesuõ ‘sister,’ duktė̃‘daughter,’ (early writings) mótė ‘wife,’ but in Zinkevičius’ view cognate with the retained stem-final -n or -r attested in nom. sg. Gk. κύων (kúōn) ‘dog,’ ἄκμων (ákmōn) ‘stone,’ θυγάτηρ (thugátēr) ‘daughter,’ μήτηρ (m´ētēr) ‘mother.’  The view expressed by Zinkevičius is certainly widely shared, going back at least to Brugmann and Delbrück. 1897.  Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen.  Vol. I. p. 346).  I claim, however, that in word-final sandhi position before a word beginning with a consonant Indo-European  **-on > *-ō, **-or > *-ō, *-er > *-ē, whereas in word-final sandhi position before a word beginning with a vowel  there was no change, viz. **-on > *-on, **-or > *-or, **-er > *-er.  I propose that the Greek forms which apparently represent *-ōn or *-ōr, *-ēr  are, in fact, the result  of a contamination of word final *-on and *-ō, *-or and *-ō, *-er and *-ē.  The Lithuanian forms šuõ, akmuõ, sesuõ, duktė̃,mótė representing only a word-final long vowel *-ō or *-ē respectively are then more representative of the original Indo-European situation than are the Greek forms.

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