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Banti.1984.on the Morphology of Vedic Gender-distinguishing Pronominals

Nov 08, 2014












1. The purpose of this study is to analyse on a strictly synchronical basis a specific area of the morphology of the Vedic language in order to elicit mechanisms and regularities that underlie its seemingly very complex and rich phenomenology. To this end we have chosen the inflectional type that ls shared by the demonstratives, the relative and interrogative pronouns, the indefinites, and a heterogeneous group of words that includes, among others,

sv-. 'own', some quantifiers like




'each, all', etc., and several place and time adjectives like

ttara- 'upper, later', para-'after, following', etc.Debrunner and Wackernagel (1929-30), henceforth D&W, call this last group "pronominals"

(Pronominalia, pp. 579 ff.), and define(p.ff.).

them as "nouns that are conceptually near to t:he pronouns" distinguishing pronouns"

579). The other groups of words they instead label as "gender-

(geschlechtige Pronomina, pp. 494

When they refer to the morphology that characterises these bvo classes of words, they speak of "pronominal inflection" (prono-

minale Flexion, ego p. 495) or of "inflection of the genderdistinguishing pronouns (Flexionsweise der geschlechtigen Pro-nomina, ego p. 579). 'l'hese terms, particularly "pronominal in-11

flection" or "pronominal declension", have been generally follo\\'e! in the 1ater literature and are still in common usage not onl'l with reference to Old 1ndic, but also in general 1ndo-European studies. Some authors, however, felt i t neeessary to distinguish the inflectional type of the gender-distinguishing pronouns from the inflectional type of the personal pronouns, which is a very different system in Vedic (cf. eg. 7e11, 39bII) and in mOf3t -if not all - 1ndo-European languages. For instance, Macdonell (1910) employs sometimes the r.ather lengthy label of "adjectival pronominal deelension" (eg. p. 300) to this end. However, since the "adjectival" eharacter of this declension lies only in its distinguishing different genders, we will speak here rather of gender-distinguishing pronominal (gd-pronominal) morphology. Moreover, sinee the eommon feature of arl elasses of words that follow this inflectional type in Vedic would appear to be simply their following it, and not some kind of semantic affinity, we believe that the issue can be simplified by establishing a class of gd-pronominal words or gd-pronominals whose mem-




bership i8 defined on formal grounds only, ie. by the fact of ha~ parated in the final part of an inflected form and which recurs ing gd-pronominal inflections. 2 . a) Our analysis focuses mainly onthe language of the Bgveda. Later Vedic and Classical 8anskrit have be en taken account of only secondarily and only when it was strictly necessary. The higher age of the Bgveda has in fact preserved a more archaic ture in its hymns, which differs in various respects from the pattern that was established in the later language, not least as a result of the contribution of the grammarians' codification. In this regard, a synchronic analysis can yield results that are of interest not only to the general linguist, but also to the comparative indo-europeanist. in parallel forms belonging to the same inflectional class. This is the traditional way in which this term has been used, and it is still perfectly valid for practical purposes. Thus we speak, eg., of the ending -a~ ofthe a-stems, the ending -i~ of the i-stems, etc. However, this term is not used to describe the internal structure of a word. In fact, in the m.N. sg. forms dev~ 'god' and agnl~ 'fire', which can be seen to contain these endings -a~ and -i~, a closer analysis requires us I ' to isolate a segment -~ which binds to the stems d ',evaarid agn1-~. 8uch segments, which can also be zero-segments as in the jihva 'tongue' and devt 'goddess' of the and ~-stems respectively, and which often occur in different inflectional classes


in parallel case forros, are referred to here by the term '(case)

b) The editions of the text that have been used for thisstudy have be en Aufrecht's in its 1955 reprint, t1ax Mller's its 1965 reprint, and the recent Indian edition by Vishva Bandhu et al. (1964). Whenever necessary, Geldner's translation has been used, even though in more than one instance we preferred to translate the original text differently. It should be obvious that this study could not have been carried through without the help of Grassmann' s (1872) dictionary, and of the Vedic indexes by Vishva Bandhu et al. (1942-63). In several instances, particularly in 9-17, the oc currences of single case forms have been quantified. Unless specified differently, such figures have been drawn from Grassmann (1872) I this being the most reaClily available source. It should be noted l~wever that his lists are often not accurate and should be regarded as having only a broadly indicative value. Moreover, in the case of particularly frequent forms such as tm or tt, Grassmann registered the occurrences up to a certain point only, ~g. for tm up to RV 1.78.4 and for tt up to RV 1.110.3. This has been indicated here by adding a plus before the relevant figures. 3. a) The common morphological terminology is used as extensively as possible here, to avoid enlarging further the already overtaxed jargon of linguists. It should be noted, however, that the terms 'ending' I 'suffix', 'base' and 'stem' are used in somewhat different manners. By 'endinq I we rcfer here broadly to any segrnent that (;an he se-

suffixes' . , 8tem' is used as a complementary term to 'suffix'. In other words what remains of a form after its suffix. has be en cut away, is referred to as stem. 'Base', instead, is useq mnre brciadly for any segment to which a suffixal morpheme binds. In this ri1anner, the term 'base' is used for referring to stems, but also to a subpart of a stem when it is possible to regard it as bou,nd to a suffixal segment (cf. also 42aI). b) I) '1'he notation that is used here also follows in i ts broad outlines the' common usage in phe)Ilological and morphologic~ al studies. It should be noted however that most gd-pronominal words can be regarded as being used both as adject.ives and as nouns (eL ego 14h). In addition, it is often not immediately obvious whether a certain form should be regarded as an adjectival modifier or as a nominal "apposi tion (cf. lScI-II, dII). Accordingly, in order to avoid possibly arbi i:rary decis,lons, which are in any case of no real relevanceto theissues here under discussion, the symbol 'W', ie. word, has been used very frequently for labelling inflected gd-pronominal forros. Notice that sometimes it is necessary to use this symbol also word-internally ,(cf. 49). II) It has been considered as an unnecessary complication to use the IPA symbols for transcribing old Indic forms, as well as those of other sister languages that have been occasionally mentioned. Ac~ordingly, for example, long vowels are marked by a





3]macron even in underlying forms.


It should be pointed out, however, that surface e, o, ai, au are regarded here as being underlying lai, au, ai, au/ also syn-; chronically. ,This seems justifed, for example, by their behaviour in sandhi (cL ego /g~u + il -7- gvi, /ra + -7etc. and 35e). In practice, however, surface ai (from /ai/) is easil ly distinguished from underlying /ai/, since surface forms are always given in italics and without bracketing, ego y8ya:,whil~ underlying forms are either in Roman types enclosed by slashes, ego /y~i/r or in italics enclosed by labelled square brackets, ego [yi] .


4. a) The gd-pronominal inflectional type occurs in i ts simplest form in the paradigm of the pronoun y-, which is shown in (1).




Paradigm of the relative pronoun ya-

, N. Ac.1.



y r y am

In addition, it should_be noted that in order to avoid unnecessary subtletes, underlying forms are fully specified in all their details only when these are really relevant. Por instance, in discussing the inflectional structure of era, which can be regarded as realising underlying /aisa/ (cf. 13bI), we shall write only lesa + 0/ or [esa 0J .






------------.... --------------

-- --------I - vena vena, r-------------ysmat yasya



D. Ab.-------------





G. L.d. NAc. IDAb.


ysya1j yasyam



, -




yabhyCim yr Cyyor-_-_~~-_------'-- -ye van yJbhi1j yJbhya;1j yeE}arn yeruf -

GL.pI. N. Ac.1.








-- 1----


y abhya~l---

G. L.



.... Yasamy asu


b) ,In the mn. 1 . sg. y- has both yna and yna. , In the, o::her gd-pronominals, this alternation i.s attested in svena,,-,svena, tna,....., tJna, en '" ena and ena .,.., ena as well. It is also present in the nominal a-stems. Here, however -ena beside being rather rare