Variation of the Stem

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106. Variation of the Stem. The phonetic influence of the ending on the form of the stem, which plays so large a part in the inflection of athematic tenses, was originally no less important in the nouns. In Sanskrit a nominal stem of the consonantal declension appears in general in at least two forms, a "strong" and a "weak" form; the strong form being used in the nominative and accusative singular and dual and the nominative plural, the weak form in other cases. The weak form, again, may have twο degrees, which are then called the "weak" or "middle" and the "weakest" form. A few traces of these variations remain in the Greek declension.

  1. In the words of relationship, πατήρ, μήτηρ, etc., and in ἀνήρ. Thus we find

    Nom. πατήρ
    Ace. πατέρ-α
    Gen. πατρ-ός (πατέρ-ος only Od. 11.500)
    Dat. πατρ-ί (sixty times in Homer, πατέρ-ι thrice)

    Nom. μήτηρ
    Acc. μητέρα (only)
    Gen. and Dat. μητρ-ός, μητρ-ί (less commonly μητέρ-ος, μητέρ-ι)

    ἀνήρ uses ἀνερ- and ἀνδρ- (for ἀνρ-) almost promiscuously; the latter is also seen in the dative plural ἀνδρᾰ́-σι (for ἀνδρ-σι). The genitive plural δαέρων (Il. 24.769) is scanned as a spondee: it should probably be written δαιϝρ-ῶν, the stem δαιϝρ- standing to δαήρ (for δᾳϝήρ) as ἀνδρ- to ἀνήρ (Ebel, K. Z. i.293.

  2. Ζεύς, for δι̯ηύς (Sanskr. dyâus) forms the genitive and dative from the stem διϝ. The original accusative is Ζῆν, Sanskr. dyâm (with loss of gâm): Δία follοws the analogy of Διός, Διί. Similarly βοῦς, for *βωῦς (Sanskr. gâus), Gen. βοϝ-ός, Acc. in Homer βῶν (Sanskr. gâm).

    κύων, vocative κύον, forms the other cases from the stem κῦν-. Cp. Sanskr. çναn, accusative çνân-am, genitive çun-as, etc. The accusative κύν-α (like Δία) follows the analogy of the genitive and dative.

    Similarly, *ϝρήν a lamb (surviving in πολύ-ρρην-ες) forms genitive ἀρν-ός (for ϝr̥ν-ός), etc.

  3. Adjectives in -εις, genitive -εντος (stem -ϝεντ-), form the dative plural in -ἐσσι, -εσι. To explain this we must first suppose the weak stem in ϝᾰτ- (with ᾰ for εν, cp. § 31.5 and § 37), which wοuld give a dative plural in -ασσι, -ᾰσι ; this form then was assimilated to the other cases by change of ᾰ to ε. Α form in -ασι has survived in *φρασί1 for φρεσί (φρᾰ: φρεν ϝᾰτ:  ϝεντ). In the same way δαίμοσι, ποιμέσι, etc., are not for δαίμον-σι, ποιμέν-σι, but for *δαίμᾰ-σι, *ποιμᾰ́-σι. The adverb ἀγκάς has been explained as ἀγκάσ(ι), the true dative plural of ἀγκών.

  4. The primitive variation sometimes gives rise to parallel forms of a word: e.g. πτώξ and πτάξ a hare (πτήσσω), which origihnate in the declension πτώξ, accusative πτῶκ-α, genitive πτακ-ός. So from πούς and Latin pēs, ped-iswe may infer original πούς (or rather πώς), accusative πόδα or πῶδα, genitive πεδ-ός; and so in other cases.2
  • 1. Fοund in Pindar, alsο in an Old Attic inscription given by Joh. Schmidt, K. Z.xxv. p. 38.
  • 2. Much, however, remains uncertain in the attempts that have been made to reconstruct the primitive declension of these and similar words. The Sanskrit forms wοuld furnish a fairly complete key, but for two defects:

    (1) the Sanskrit a may represent either ε or ο, so that (e. g.) padås may be ποδός or πεδός, and similarly ā may be η or ω, and
    (2) Sanskrit ā often answers to Greek ο, so that (e.g.) pādam may point to either πόδα or πῶδα. See Joh. Schmidt, K. Z. xxv. 23 ff., Brugmann, Grundr. i. § 311, p. 251.