Mis-Dakdek

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Third-Declenſion Nouns in Italian

Here's ſomething that hath been bothering me for years. (Howeuer, if you add up all the time that I haue ſpent pondering it, it hath probably amounted to leſs than half an hour per year.)

It is well known that vnlike Latin, which hath fiue declenſions, its deſcendant Modern (Florentine) Italian hath but three, for it wanteth the fourth (-U-) and fifth (-E-) declenſions. Italian hath only the firſt (-A-), ſecond (-O-), and third (-I- or conſonant) declenſions. Thus, all fourth- or fifth-declenſion nouns in Claſsical Latin (I don't know how it worked in the ancient vulgar Latins) muſt either diſsappear*, or deuelop into a form conſiſtent with one of the other declenſions. (E.g. Classical Lat. manū --> It. mano.) The diſsappearance* of the fourth and fifth declenſions needs to be explained (perhaps in the comments); howeuer, once this diſsapearance* is taken for granted, it is clear why the remaining fourth- and fifth-declension nouns muſt be conuerted into nouns of one of the first three declenſions. (Vnleſs, of courſe, the conuersion of the indiuidual forms be the cauſe of the diſsappearance of the declenſions.)

Howeuer, there is another phænomenon that must be explained, and it is this phænomenon that giueth its name to the title of this poſt. Why is it there inconſiſtency in the deuelopment of 3rd-declenſion nouns with ſtems ending in -ōn-? Some ſuch nouns remain in the 3rd declenſion (e.g. leō, leōnis --> It. leone), whereas others are conuerted into ſecond-declenſion nouns (e.g. latrō, latrōnis --> It. ladro)? Is this ſhift to the ſecond-declenſion due to the ſuperficial ſimilarity between the nominatiue form of these nouns to the Grundform of the ſecond declenſion (with -ō-)? I'm afraid I can't anſwer this queſtion. Does anyone haue any ideas?

________
*See the comment thread for a diſcuſsion of this ſpelling. We're ſtill waiting for Lipman's deraſh.

12 Comments:

Blogger Habib said...

Thus, all fourth- or fifth-declenſion nouns in Claſsical Latin (I don't know how it worked in the ancient vulgar Latins)
Perhaps this is the key.

The perfect and declensionally-consistent Latin we (non-Yeshiva kids) learnt in High School was an attempt to preserve literary Latin circa 1st C. BCE in aspic. Is it not likely that declensions, such as they were, in vulgar Latin were a lot more fluid, and at times inconsistent?

Also, at what point in history did the nominative singular 2nd dec masc go from /us/ to /o/?

11/16/2005 8:45 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Also, at what point in history did the nominative singular 2nd dec masc go from /us/ to /o/?

Did it ever, or is the Italian form based on the root (found in the ablative) ?

(What I have often heard is that the Romance forms go back to the accusative:

-am --> -a
-om* --> -o
-em --> e

This would make sense, because in the third declension, the root-vowel is -i- (witness leōnis), but the Italian form is still -e (based on the accusative).

*NOTE: In archaic Latin, the terminations for the second declension were -os, -om. In a position after the letter U (whether consonantal or vocalic), this continued well into the first century CE. Thus, we find seruos, or equos for nominative singular. (That's with a short O, by the way.) Many modern editors prefer to change these -os and -om endings to -us and -um, presumably in order to make things easier for readers.

11/16/2005 8:58 AM  
Blogger Habib said...

-om* --> -o

Would the common /u/ ending in Romanian be an example of this pattern, except with the non-archaic /-us/ or /-um/?

11/16/2005 9:26 AM  
Blogger Habib said...

btw, this reminds me of the declension races we used to have at school. The discipulos* who was quickest to decline one noun from each declension would get a prize.
I think the nouns were villa, dominus, rex, cornu, (I can't remember which 5th Dec noun we used).

11/16/2005 9:30 AM  
Blogger Lipman said...

diſsapear [...] diſsapearance

Why two s's?


Is this ſhift to the ſecond-declenſion due to the ſuperficial ſimilarity between the nominatiue form of these nouns to the Grundform of the ſecond declenſion (with -ō-)? I'm afraid I can't anſwer this queſtion. Does anyone haue any ideas?

In general: Italian is quite a mix of strata with its relatively late standardisation, its extraordinary range of dialects, and its symbiosis with Latin through a very long time.

The forms like leone, ladrone* are clearly from the c. accusativo, while forms like ladro* go back to the c. nominativum.


*I should say ladrone is rather a robber, ladro a thief.

common /u/ ending in Romanian

Secondary.

11/16/2005 10:29 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

The forms like leone, ladrone* are clearly from the c. accusativo,

while forms like ladro* go back to the c. nominativum.


I notice that you write "clearly" in the rêshe, but not in the sêfe. Are you not as sure about the latter as about the former? I certainly am not.

Is it not possible that forms such as ladro are from the Second Declension, due to one of the following two processes?

(1) An ink-horn term (i.e. consciously borrowed from Latin), in which the form "latro" was misanalyzed as dative/ablative, and thus thought to be from the second-declension stem *latro- (nom. *latrus).

(2) A true Latin Grundform *latro- (nom. *latrus), of the second declension, which could have existed in ancient (vulgar?) Latin, parallel to latrōn-.

[I realize that #1 is unlikely, because if it were so, why would ladro be spelled with D, rather than T.)

11/16/2005 11:17 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

diſsapear [...]diſsapearance

Why two s's?


Well the טעם הפשוט is that I'm having trouble spelling today. But if we Mis-Dakdekim are in the habit of micro-analyzing everything as if it were the Torah, then thou, Lipman, art encouraged to create a דרש explaining my anomalous spellings diſsapear and diſsapearance.

11/16/2005 11:20 AM  
Blogger Habib said...

Anyway, Mar Gavriel is harking back to a period before the regularisation of English spelling.

Right?

11/16/2005 12:11 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

I notice that you write "clearly" in the rêshe, but not in the sêfe.

I meant both. The fact that ladrone is the biblical sounding word in Italian doesn't support your idea of ladro being the inkhorn term. I just have difficulties to imagine that latro was mistaken to be an oblique form of *latrus. It's not a coincidence that the basis for the nouns in Romance languages is the Vulgar Latin accusative - this was simply the most frequent form. And this isn't about two similar vowels like o and u, which might merge, but a whole syllable would be dropped from the most common form of the word.

But how about this: ladrone was mistakenly perceived as a augmentative form for *ladro, which was then back-formed to ladro.

11/16/2005 12:21 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

A. The fact that ladrone is the biblical sounding word in Italian doesn't support your idea of ladro being the inkhorn term.

I agree. I told you #1 was unlikely, didn't I?

B. a whole syllable would be dropped from the most common form of the word.

In other words, the -ne is being dropped from the form *ladronem, to create ladro? Does this mean that you are retracting your statement that ladro comes from the nominative?

C. But how about this: ladrone was mistakenly perceived as a augmentative form for *ladro, which was then back-formed to ladro.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "a augmentative form for *ladro". What case; what declension?

11/16/2005 12:41 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

I wrote:

*ladronem

Probably pronounced /ladronẽ/, with nasalation.

11/16/2005 12:43 PM  
Blogger Wojciech said...

ladro is probably a back-derivation from 'ladrone', this latter having been erroneously interpreted as 'big thief' (Raeuber), from a non-existing 'ladro' + the usual 'accrescitivo' suffix -one.

1/06/2012 2:21 AM  

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