Noun incorporation in a diachronic perspective: its sources and development (evidence from Indo-European)
Workshop "Evolution syntaktischer Relationen" at 25. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft, 26 februari 2004
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SubjectA diachronic study of case-marking in Indo-Aryan
The canonical noun incorporation can be determined as a particular type of compounding in which a verb and a noun combine to form a new verb. The noun bears specific semantic relationship to its host verb (patient, location, instrument etc.) and typically corresponds to some syntactic function in the pendant construction without noun incorporation (most often, to direct object). Whilst synchronic aspects of this phenomenon has been the subject of several studies, our knowledge of the diachronic aspects of incorporation, its emergence and evolution, is much more scarce. In my paper, I will concentrate on Indo-European, rather than on `canonical¿ incorporating languages (such as Amerindian or Paleo-Siberian). Although this phenomenon is unusual for the Indo-European linguistic type, several Indo-European languages, such as Sanskrit and Frisian, furnish valuable evidence for possible scenarios for its development. In some late Sanskrit texts we find converb-based compounds, such as gavy¿bhishecya `having besprinkled [the object of worship] with cow-products (milk etc.)¿ (gavya- `cow-products¿ + abhishecya `having besprinkled¿); stotr¿bhyarcya `having worshipped [the gods] with praises¿ (stotra- `praise¿ + abhyarcya `having worshipped¿). Such N+VCONV compounds (note that VCONV is not a nominal or adjectival derivative), exemplify noun incorporation, i.e. combining of a verbal form and its syntactic argument (typically, an object) to form a new verb. One of possible sources for such N+VCONV formations could be compounds based on gerundives (= future passive participles), built with the suffix homonymous to that of the absolutives, -ya, cf. bala-vijñ¿yá- `recognizable by (his) force¿, ¿¿rsha-h¿ryà- `to be borne on the head¿. Another trigger for the rise of incorporated forms might be Old Tamil incorporated forms (mainly based on non-finite forms). These formations correspond, in turn, to the constructions with the non-marked accusative (`analytical incorporation¿), well-attested in modern Indic (both Dravidian and Indo-Aryan) languages. The late Sanskrit N+VCONV compounds could be built on their model and thus may betray a Dravidian native language (Tamil?) of its author(s). Another Indo-European language which has developed noun incorporation is Frisian (West-Germanic). The starting point was ¿ like in Sanskrit ¿ the non-finite domain of the verbal paradigm, the gerund in -ane (yielding Fris. infinitive in -en). This form did not merge with the old infinitive in -en (> Fris. inf. in -e), but transferred some of its syntactic properties to this form. Thus, as in the case of Sanskrit, the incorporation has arisen when the composition has been expanded from a verbal derivative (i.e. a formation outside the paradigm properly speaking) to a non-finite form belonging to the paradigm: in Skt., from the gerundive to the absolutive, in Frisian ¿ from the gerund to the infinitive, thus from the periphery of the verbal paradigm to its core.
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