PROFESSIONALLY OF COURSE.

There are books in my collection which I’ve owned for decades and which spend most of their working lives sitting quietly on a shelf, usually in a back row, thinking their dusty thoughts until, once every five or ten years, I need to consult them, at which point, having determined after some trial and error behind which of the limelight-hogging volumes they are to be found, I pull them out and locate the desired information. Such a book is William Veitch’s Greek Verbs, Irregular and Defective. (I have linked to the 2001 Adamant reprint of the 1871 third edition, which seems virtually identical to my 1967 Georg Olms reprint of the 1887 fourth edition; there are a number of cheaper reprints of the 1848 first edition, like this, but getting one would be false economy—the book was much expanded and improved in later editions.) Veitch (pronounced /viyč/, “veech”) was an interesting guy; you can read a nice eight-page obit of the “Old Grammarian” here (“There passed away on the 8th of July last one of Edinburgh’s notabilities… Dr. Veitch was born in 1794, and died therefore at the good old age of ninety-one…. He came of a good Border stock. His father was a Seceder, and a ‘stieve’ one, in the matter of fasting and the religious observances ‘of the most straitest sect’ of Presbyterians….”). But the reason I bring him and his book up is this wonderful entry on page 130 of my edition:

Βδέω To emit an offensive smell, Ar. Plut. 703, βδεῖς Anth. 11, 415; βδέων Ar. Eq. 898; Hierocl. 237, -έουσα Ar. Plut. 693 : fut. (βδέσω) : aor. βδέσε Anth. 11, 242, and ἔβδευσα if correct, Hierocl. 233. 240. 241 (Eberh.) Pass. βδεόμενος Ar. Eq. 900. This verb is, luckily, very limited in its range. Epic, Trag. and genteel prose never name it, but Hierocles, and sometimes Galen professionally of course.

On the history and range of this fine old Indo-European (PIE *pezd-) verb for ‘fart silently,’ see this LH post with its links; as an example of why you should not get a reprint of the first edition, here’s the corresponding entry there (page 37):

ΒΔΕ´Ω To emit an offensive smell, Ar. Plut. 703, Anth. 11, 415 : fut. (βδέσω) : aor. ἔβδεσα Anth. 11, 242.—Pass. βδεόμενος Ar. Eq. 900.

Comments

  1. How do you keep track of your library?
    Mine is not an twentieth the size of yours, I’m sure, and I have little idea where anything is.

  2. LH: The “American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots” gives both *perd- and *pezd- as the PIE root of ‘fart.’ And each entry references the other.
    I am not sure what that means. Maybe the PIEs, like Eskimos with snow, had a number of words for passing gas which begs the question, what were those guys eating? 🙂

  3. The DSL, which is the Scots OED and is freely available online, defines stieve as “Of objects: firmly fixed, stable, rigid, immobile, compact, stiff (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw.); also fig. well-established. Adv. stievely, firmly, securely, stiffly.” See the link for the supporting quotations.

  4. For those who don’t know, AHD’s appendices on Indo-European and Semitic roots are no longer available on Bartleby.com, but you can still find them on Internet Archive. Here are the entries for *perd- and *pezd-.

  5. komfo,amonan says:

    (pronounced /viyč/, “veech”)

    Am I the only one who can’t reconcile these two pronunciation guides? I can’t make any sense out of that ‘y’.

  6. marie-lucie says:

    reconciling /viyč/ and “veech”
    Practices of transcription and phonemicization have changed over the years. /viyč/ is the way “veech” used to be transcribed (as I learned in the 60’s). This is because most English “long vowels” include a certain amount of “gliding” at the end, although for “ee” and “oo” this is more or less noticeable depending on the dialect. Phonemic transcriptions such as /iy/, /uw/, /ah/ made these long vowels analogous to the true diphthongs /ey/, /ay/, /ow/, /aw/. Later /iy/ was changed to /i/ and previous short /i/ to /I/, and similarly /uw/ to /u/ and previous /u/ to /U/, closer to the phonetic position of the vowels but missing the associated value(s) of length and/or diphthongation.

  7. komfo,amonan says:

    Is there something you don’t know? Can you shoot me a recipe for hasenpfeffer? ;~)
    Anyway, thanks. The idea that “ee” and “oo” are diphthongs in the way that “hay” and “eye” are makes me very uncomfortable.

  8. marie-lucie says:

    K, Don’t ask me for recipes, I am not much of a cook!
    The idea that “ee” and “oo” are diphthongs in the way that “hay” and “eye” are …
    It is true in some dialcts more than in others. You can tell if you compare the English vowels with similar French vowels, which have no trace of “gliding”. It was also a phonemic (= structural) interpretation of the English vowel system which rationalized the “vowel system” into vowels (short) and diphthongs, rather than into long vowels, short vowels, and diphthongs as is done nowadays (where the length difference is usually not emphasized, only the height and front/back position).

  9. You used to make jam, though.
    Stiv (with the same pronunciation) is still the Norwegian word meaning “stiff”.

  10. I’ve often wondered whether the Scottish pronunciation and spelling of surnames such as Veitch (pronounced.. “veech”) or Stein is the source of the American mispronunciation of German names ending in “stein”. (But then you chaps never say Eensteen, do you?) Anyway, I’ve doubtless raised this notion before, so apols for an imperfect memory.

  11. /viyč/ is the way “veech” used to be transcribed (as I learned in the 60’s).
    Yes, I too learned my transcription in the ’60s.

  12. David Marjanović says:

    Hi. Just driving by and dropping this article about Nabokov’s scientific work on butterfly biogeography. Unfortunately it’s impossible to comment there (judging from the contact page, the author cannot imagine not moderating comments, so she turned them off entirely because she doesn’t have time to moderate).
    To return to the topic, the Englishes I know do, mostly, have ee and oo as diphthongs: [ɪ̯i], [ʊ̯u]. They are never [ij] and [uw]; the transcriptions as /ij/ and /uw/ are phonological interpretations and were never (I hope) intended as representations of what’s happening at the phonetic level. To find phonetic syllable-final [ij], you have to leave the Germanic languages altogether and go to things like French fille [fij] or plenty of words in Slavic languages.
    Pronouncing English with actual [iː] and [uː] always strikes me as a foreign accent, though IIRC upper-class RP does do it. Conversely, native speakers of English often fail to get foreign [iː] and [uː] right and use their native diphthongs instead, just like how few of them manage not to replace foreign [e] by their native [e̞ɪ̯].
    Buh-bye.

  13. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    … spend most of their working lives sitting quietly on a shelf, usually in a back row, thinking their dusty thoughts until, …
    I love your opening sentence, and will shamelessly plagiarize it at some appropriate moment.
    However, as this is a language blog I’d also like to note a curious word in the link that David Marjanović supplied, where the author wrotes “indicia”, presumably as a plural of “index”. I wonder where she got that from. Although it’s in a reference to Stephen J. Gould, I can’t easily imagine that that is what he wrote.

  14. Nope, indicia is a perfectly good word, going back 400 years in English; in origin, it’s the plural of indicium.

  15. The verb βδέω has stayed with me from when I accidentally stumbled across the name Bdeus, as a parody of Zeus—a fragment preserved in the Prolegomena de Comoedia: ὦ Βδεῦ δέσποτα “O Lord Poot-iter”. (The pronunciation was similar: /bdeûs, zdeûs/.)

  16. Oh, and the “professionally of course” instance in (Pseudo)-Galen:
    De succedaneis liber. Kühn vol. 19, pp. 726, 731. (Link to the U Paris Descartes scan of the edition.)
    Both refer to “farting cockroaches” (?—or whatever a vermis panarius is, in Kühn’s translation). These are used in medicine; Aëtius does the same. So they’re not even referring to flatulence as a medical condition:
    ἀντὶ βουπρήστεως, σίλφαι βδέουσαι ἢ βδέλλα “instead of buprestis (a poisonous beetle), use farting cockroaches or leeches” (pro bupresti, vermes panarii vel hirudo)
    ἀντὶ καστορίου, ἀγάλλοχον ἢ σίλφιον ἢ σιλφῶν βδεουσῶν
    ἔντερα. “Instead of castor, use agallochon or laserwort, or the entrails of farting cockroaches” (pro castorio, agallochum vel silphium vel vermis panarii viscera)
    The Roman-era jokebook Philogelos includes (of course) the aorist τίς ἔβδεσεν; “who farted”? And what passed back then as humour:
    “A fool sat by a deaf man, and farted. (Μωρὸς κωφῷ συγκαθεύδων ἔβδεσε.) When the deaf man perceived the stench and shouted at him, the fool answered: “You were trying to trick me! You can hear, after all!”

  17. … Sorry for the unconscious bowdlerisation just then. The fool was *sleeping with* the deaf man. And “sleep with” meant the same thing then it does now.
    There’s a Modern English saying about that kind of circumstance…

  18. “sleep with” meant the same thing then it does now.
    “Sleep with” is equivocal. It can mean at least two different things, only one of which is a euphemism for screwing. If συγκαθεύδων is unequivocal (= screw/fuck), why do you translate it with an equivocal expression ? If is equivocal, how do you know it means “screw” here ?
    In any case, how would a fool and a deaf man come to be screwing with each other ? Is this a stock joke scenario of antiquity, something like Pat and Mike meeting on Broadway ?

  19. marie-lucie says:

    DM: To return to the topic, the Englishes I know do, mostly, have ee and oo as diphthongs: [ɪ̯i], [ʊ̯u]. They are never [ij] and [uw]; the transcriptions as /ij/ and /uw/ are phonological interpretations and were never (I hope) intended as representations of what’s happening at the phonetic level
    Yes. For non-linguists: “phonological” or “phonemic” refer to the way the language systematizes the use of sounds, “phonetic” to the exact details of pronunciation. [j] = the “y” in “yes, you, young, beyond” and other words where the “y” precedes a vowel. In English it is not a sound used at the end of words, even though from a systemic point of view one can interpret diphthongs and “long vowels” as ending with it. (Similarly for [w], which is somewhat more obvious in /ow/ or /aw/).
    Many English speakers have trouble with French words like fille ‘girl’ and soleil ‘sun’, pronouncing them “fee” and “solay”.

  20. marie-lucie says:

    you used to make jam
    AJP, there is a difference between making jam (which is fun and easy and not done every day) and cooking meals. I am not terribly interested in cooking, especially in cooking every day. I do it, but if someone else wants to do it I am usually happy to leave it to them.

  21. David Marjanović says:

    ὦ Βδεῦ δέσποτα “O Lord Poot-iter”.

    Cool. Who came up with that? Diagoras of Melos?

  22. Many English speakers have trouble with French words like fille ‘girl’ and soleil ‘sun’, pronouncing them “fee” and “solay”.
    Marie-Lucie: Is it possible to explain how they should be pronounced – without using the linguistic notations like /ij/ which I don’t understand ? Because I use those pronounciatons which you say are wrong and I would like to get them right. (French people laugh when I say “couper”, apparently because it sounds like “coo-pay.”)

  23. M-L : Should it be “fee-ya”, roughly ?

  24. @David M: se non è vero, è ben trovato
    @Grumbly Stu: From the dictionary, συγκαθεύδω is also ambiguous. I’m not philologically clued in enough to know why you’d pick the ambiguous rather than the non-ambiguous word in the context; but if the lying together is post-coital, then surely we’re covered. And wouldn’t farting-in-bed scenarios be likelier to be post-coital anyway?

  25. @David M: “Pronouncing English with actual [iː] and [uː] always strikes me as a foreign accent, though IIRC upper-class RP does do it.”
    And Eastern Australian English: see discussion of “fear”.

  26. Nick: And wouldn’t farting-in-bed scenarios be likelier to be post-coital anyway?
    You’ve got a point. Pre-coital farting-in-bed is almost a contradiction in terms, because farting dulls the anticipatory sheen of coitus.

  27. Having read the previous post on silent vs loud farting, and Sauvage Noble’s fuller disquisition, I realise the extra joke in Philogelos: the fool thought the deaf man heard his fart, but the fart was not even of the out loud variety…

  28. marie-lucie says:

    Paul: fille
    Should it be “fee-ya”, roughly ?
    That would be close to the word as pronounced in Southern France. For the Northern pronunciation, imagine this, just leave out the “a”.
    You could start with the word meaning “little girl”: fillette, roughly “fee-yet”. Say this and then practice leaving out the “et”, without changing the “y”.

  29. I can’t help but wonder if there actually isn’t any difference between *pezd- `(leicht) furzen’ and *perd- `(laut) furzen’, but instead it’s some sort of rhotacized variant of the same root.
    Or the suggestion of Sauvage noble that the trilled /r/ might be ideophonic is an equally interesting suggestion…
    *shrug*

  30. marie-lucie says:

    Mattitiahu, are there other examples of this r/z alternation in PIE?

  31. Mattitiahu says:

    I can’t recall having seen it before elsewhere, and unfortunately my copy of the LIV is at home right now so I can’t check for other examples off-hand… but it reminds me of the process in Latin where intervocalic /s/ (=[z]) > /r/ (or the sort of weird /ř/ thing in Umbrian), but I’m totally speculating on this. I think I’d have to look specifically to see if the cluster *-zd- ever goes to *-rd- elsewhere.

  32. marie-lucie says:

    M, I think I did not express myself clearly. By “alternation” here I meant ocurrence in two similar forms with related meaning, attested from the same historical period, not a case of one sound changing into (or being replaced by) the other (as occurred with Latin intervocalic rhotacism or with PGmc final -z becoming -r in Scandinavian). With *pezd and *perd the two roots are so similar in form and meaning that the z/r alternation seems to be due to a type of “consonant gradation” corresponding to a meaning difference of degree rather than of nature. I would like to know if there are other examples of such consonant gradation in PIE, or if this particular case is unique.

  33. Mattitiahu: Initally, I wondered the same thing. But, I am not aware of the r/z alternation in other languages. I would be interested if you do.
    Also, I suspect Watkins would not have listed them as separate roots were this suspected. Given that both are reconstructions, would this process have led in two different roots?

  34. Mattitiahu says:

    Ahhh… now I follow you 🙂
    As far as I know, there’s no kind of reconstructable consonant gradation in IE of that sort. There’s a few weird near-homophonic roots, but to my knowledge they can’t been explained yet in any systematic manner.
    Fredrik Kortlandt has some ideas about consonant gradation in Indo-Uralic and IE (article), but they’re woven around the Leiden school’s particular brand of glottalic theory and they haven’t gained much currency outside of it.

  35. From what I understand, the -steen pronunciation in AmE (which affects only names in -stein and not Stein nor stein ‘beer mug’ < G Steingut) is the result of a succession of two transcriptions.
    German/Yiddish names in -stein, when their bearers went to (or were incorporated in) Russia, were transliterated, rather than transcribed, into Russian using -стейн. These were then transcribed in America as names in -stain, as in Berenstain (the surname of the authors of the Berenstain bears) by most non-Jewish bearers. Jews, however used the Latin stein spelling, imitating their coreligionists from Latin-script lands. Exactly how the this -stain pronunciation became -steen, I don’t know.
    Albert Einstein’s name is unaffected because he was very famous and a direct immigrant, though there are other Einsteins who say -steen, and indeed there are also explicit Einsteens. Leonard Bernstein (the same name as Berenstain) insisted on Burnstine.

  36. J. W. Brewer says:

    Although Ashkenazim who came out of the late unlamented USSR in the last few decades (as opposed to out of its Czarist predecessor earlier on) sometimes use spellings like Goldshteyn instead of the more usual-in-America Goldstein. I had always assumed that -shteyn was an artifact of some intermediate Cyrillic spelling, but perhaps there was more than one way these things were done in Cyrillic, depending on the region or the time period?

  37. I hesitated before writing стейн rather than штейн; I think it’s the former that’s relevant to this particular story and therefore the earlier form, but it may well be that both were in use at the same time.

  38. marie-lucie says:

    There is also Eisenstein, the Russian film director.

  39. r/z alternation: There’s something very close in Polish, where soft r’s become “rz” (voiced retroflex fricative). In Basque, too, there’s r>s alternation, but that’s non-IE, of course.

  40. Marc: “In Basque, too, there’s r>s alternation, but that’s non-IE, of course.’
    But, it would seem to be something attested in natural language and would strengthen any claim about PIE.

  41. marie-lucie says:

    “Rhotacism”, the tendency of [s] (or more likely [z]) to become [r], is quite common, so its occurrence in different language families is not surprising. [r] becoming [zh] also occurs. I met a Bolivian who used [zh] for initial /r/, so that rico sounded like [zhiko] (this is similar to the Czech and Polish evolutions).
    (Note: in linguistics, “A > B” means “A becomes B”, implying an evolution of A into B over time. For a fluctuation between A and B during the same period of time, it is better to use “A ~ B”.)

  42. David Marjanović says:

    BTW, I’ve never before seen z in a spelling of PIE. It’s /s/ (though some sources do say explicitly that /s/ must have become [z] in front of voiced consonants already in PIE).

    the sort of weird /ř/ thing in Umbrian

    Oh yeah, I remember seeing it mentioned somewhere. How on the planet was the pronunciation of that thing reconstructed???

    There’s something very close in Polish, where soft r’s become “rz” (voiced retroflex fricative).

    …where “soft r” means historic [rʲ], preserved as such in Russian.

  43. marie-lucie says:

    DM: I’ve never before seen z in a spelling of PIE. It’s /s/ (though some sources do say explicitly that /s/ must have become [z] in front of voiced consonants already in PIE)
    It is true that there is no reconstructed /z/ distinct from /s/ in PIE, but phonetic plausibility strongly suggests that the pronunciation of a sequence /sd/ must have been automatically adjusted to [zd] (and similarly for /sb/ and /sg/ to [zb] and [zg]). Evolution from [zd] to [rd] is quite plausible, but the preservation of distinct forms *pezd and *perd is what needs explaining. If the two roots occurred each in one part of PIE, one could argue that the change was limited to a subset of PIE, but they both occur in Germanic.

  44. David Marjanović says:

    the preservation of distinct forms *pezd and *perd is what needs explaining.

    Oh yes.

    but they both occur in Germanic

    Is there any other branch which has both? Because if not, maybe we can blame dialect mixture or something within (Pre-)Proto-Germanic. After all, Verner’s Law produced a real /z/ which then merged into /r/ in some cases.

  45. David Marjanovi: According to Watkins (AHD), /s/ is the only PIE fricative and it was voiced /z/ before voiced stops.
    From this, it would seem that the /z/ is *pezd has an underlying /s/. But, I think it would be hard to argue that the /r/ in *perd- has an underlying /s/. Watkins did not mention such an allophone (plus that is a much bigger reach).

  46. marie-lucie says:

    GW, it looks like PIE /s/ had allophones [s, z], and PIE also had /r/. The change /s/ > /r/ (rhotacism) is always assumed to have gone through the intermediate [z]. In the case of *pezd ~ *perd, the are two possibilities: either they go back to separate forms *pesd and *perd (unlikely since they mean basically the same thing), or they both go back to *pesd, sometimes with rhotacism yielding *perd, though not in all instances since both forms need to be reconstructed. The problem is why not in all instances.
    One possible explanation is that even though consonant gradation (which rhotacism is a form of) does not seem to be attested in PIE, there could be a few marginal instances found in words which have a strong affective component, as in the present case. I am not familiar enough with PIE and the ancient languages to test this hypothesis.

  47. Marie-Lucie: Do you have an example of an /s/ > /z/ > /r/ sound change (or allophones)?
    Also, I don’t think PIE reconstructions entail sound changes within PIE, particularly 2-step changes.

  48. I don’t see why it’s so hard to believe that PIE had similar-sounding roots for two different kind of farts. Such things are not uncommon in languages.

  49. LH: Exactly, how many different words for flatus do we have in English? This is particularly true with taboo words. I doubt if we know if this was taboo in PIE, but as an bodily excretion, it would be a good candidate for taboohood.

  50. marie-lucie says:

    GW: /x/ means that x is a phoneme (distinctive, can have more than one exact pronunciation because of adjustment to the environment), [x] means that x is the exact phonetic pronunciation (allophone). I mean /s/ = [z] > /r/, causing “rhotacism” even if “z” was never written because it was a predictable variant of /s/. Since /r/ is normally voiced, the change /s/ > /r/ must have had a [z] intermediate form. I don’t think there is any controversy about this.
    LH: of course there can be similar-sounding words for slightly different kinds of whatever, but that is not my point: the fact that we find both s ~ z and r in this pair of words, in languages where rhotacism is common, suggests a common origin in a single root for the two words. Where the meaning difference is one of degree (like here), and the consonants in question are phonetically related (as shown by the frequent change from one to the other), it is reasonable to suppose that the phonological difference is due to “consonant gradation”, a type of consonant alternation which is part of the system of some languages. But if the hypothesis of consonant gradation is right, one would expect it to occur in more than those two forms. This is where it is difficult to take a position without more data. Consonant gradation is not known to play a role in PIE, but it is possible that there are more alternate forms of this type, but that they are too marginal to have attracted attention. I just don’t know enough PIE, so I am just throwing out a hypothesis, not drawing conclusions. Others may have more to say about the problem.
    GW: What words are tabooed varies a lot between cultures, and between different periods of the same culture. A hunting culture tends to taboo the names of animals (since animals can understand humans and would know they were being talked about). In Québec French the worst swearwords deal with aspects of the Catholic religion. In yet other cultures, names of some relatives should not be mentioned. There is a lot of variety.
    One consequence of tabooing words is that euphemisms start to proliferate, since the tabooed subjects do need to be mentioned. One famous example is “bear”: this animal was once common and feared throughout Eurasia, yet no word with this simple meaning can be reconstructed in PIE, all the names of the bear are euphemisms, which vary according to the languages (the brown one, the honey-eater, etc). There is no reason to think that bodily excretions and associated terms were taboo in PIE. If that had been the case, we would expect the words for them to be far more different than they are in the IE languages. Such words do have affective connotations, but that does not mean they have to be tabooed.

  51. M-L: You had said, “The change /s/ > /r/ (rhotacism) is always assumed to have gone through the intermediate [z]. ”
    I asked if you had any examples of this from any languages?
    “There is no reason to think that bodily excretions and associated terms were taboo in PIE”
    I have no idea, except for ‘bear’ (which is well documented), what may have been taboo in PIE. But, bodily excretions, sexual activities, sacred objects are common (not universal) subjects for taboo in world languages. Whether that occurred in PIE, I have no idea.

  52. marie-lucie says:

    rhotacism in Italic and Germanic:
    BALDI, The foundations of Latin, Mouton de Gruyter 2002:285

    Intervocalically. Rhotacism. The evidence of Latin orthography suggests that rhotacism, by which intervocalic etymological *s is changed to r, was operative at least up to the mid fourth century B.C.E. [eg from Cicero: in 339 BCE, Papirius officially changed from Papisius, similarly later Valerii changed from Valesii etc].

    The phonetic transition from -s- to -r- is discussed by Seelmann (1885). Inherited voiceless -*s- became voiced … when it was intervocalic, i.e. VsV. Latin, Faliscan, and Umbrian show the complete phonetic passage from -*s- to -r-, a change which also occurs in final position in later Umbrian. Oscan, on the other hand, preserves the purported intermediate stage -z-: cf, Osc. gen. pl. -a:zum vs. Lat. -a:rum, Umbr. -a:ru. [these forms all have long a:, represented by a macron on the a].

    Baldi gives yet more examples of the same thing.
    PROKOSCH, A comparative Germanic grammar, William Dwight Whitney Linguistic series, Linguistic Society of America, Baltimore, 1938:84

    Rhotacism. IE s was preserved intact in Germanic where it had not changed to z according to Verner’s Law. This z remained in Gothic, but in North and West Germanic it was intensified to r, as in Latin (genera [from] geneza:). … In earliest Norse this r is different from old r. It is expressed by a different rune … and causes i- mutation. … In later Norse and in West Germanic there is no distinction between old and new r. … INSTANCES: [among others] OE ce:osan, ce:as, curon, coren [forms of “to choose” – the s ~ r alternation is due to Verner’s Law, which voiced the s to [z] under certain conditions, and this [z] later became r].

  53. marie-lucie: INSTANCES: [among others] OE ce:osan, ce:as, curon, coren [forms of “to choose” – the s ~ r alternation is due to Verner’s Law, which voiced the s to [z] under certain conditions, and this [z] later became r]
    There is a German verb in currency meaning “choose” that illustrates this, I think. It is known to most Germans, even well-read ones, only by its past participle erkoren or auserkoren, as used in passive constructions. It has a connotation of “selected from among many to confer honor”: Er wurde auserkoren, vor den versammelten Kardinälen eine feierliche Ansprache zu halten [He was chosen to deliver a solemn speech before the assembled cardinals]. There’s also a slightly dusty verb whose infinitive is küren, meaning “elect (=select for distinction)”.
    Associated with this is the word Kür in sports: that portion of a competitive performance, say in ice skating, that the sportsperson can choose to execute according to their own criteria. The Pflicht portion is the obligatory part the sportsperson must execute.
    You’re probably on the edge of your seat now, wondering just what the infinitive of erkoren is. Well, it’s erkiesen.

  54. The original Stammform being kiesen/kor/gekoren. When I compare this with English “choose/chose/chosen”, I’m hearing something associated with rhotacism, right ?

  55. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly, perfect.

  56. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly, “perfect” was for your first comment.
    As to choose/chose/chosen which do not preserve the alternation which existed in Old English as in German, this uniformity with s in all the forms is not due to a phonological reversal of rhotacism but to a later “analogical reformation”, the replacement of the seemingly irregular forms in r by more regular forms in s on the analogy of the infinitive.

  57. Grumbly: On the Italic side, we have flos/flosem (nom./acc.) ‘flower’ which became in Classical Latin flos/florem by rhotacism; honos/honosem likewise become honos/honorem and then by analogy honor/honorem.
    In English, an everyday example of rhotacism is was/were (sg./pl.); German war/waren has undergone analogy.
    Marie-Lucie, I had thought that *rkto < rtko < *h2tk^o, > G arktos, L ursus > Fr ours was considered the original PIE word for ‘bear’.

  58. M-L and Grumbly: Thanks for the information. I had forgotten the details of Verner’s Law. And yes, there were instances in IE languages of /s/ > /z/ through the operation of Verner’s Law and then /z/ > /r/ through rhotacism.
    But, I there is no indication that these processes occurred within PIE.

  59. marie-lucie says:

    JC: Yes, was/were is a nice example of the survival of Germanic rhotacism intervocalically in English.
    I had thought that *rkto G arktos, L ursus > Fr ours was considered the original PIE word for ‘bear’.
    [[I don’t know why some of your forms disappeared in the copying]]
    I have read that too, but I think that this word is considered the original one only because no analytical meaning can be found for it. But I find it suspicious that the word is so long, longer than a PIE root, with extra consonants. In Greek and Latin the word looks like a past participle, so that it could be another descriptive euphemism for which the root (-ark-) has not survived, but the forms for these languages require metathesis of the supposedly original consonants (*rtk). Alternately the oldest reconstruction could possibly correspond to a loan from another language, remolded through metathesis in Greek and Latin in order to make its structure less foreign. I don’t claim to have a real theory, but the accepted etymology sounds a little fishy to me.
    GW: there is no indication that these processes occurred within PIE
    That’s precisely what I am wondering. Allophony s ~ z intervocalically or next to a voiced consonant is practically a given. Rhotacism could have been a marginal occurrence at first, becoming more widespread later in Italic and Germanic (and perhaps in others that I don’t know about), and it could have been a form of consonant gradation. But I repeat that these ideas are almost a shot in the dark, hypotheses for which there is no clear-cut evidence and I have not consulted enough sources. It is quite possible that I am way off the mark, but I would like to be more certain one way or the other.

  60. m-l: You can’t type < here with a single character; you have to type the four characters “&lt;”, even when copying.

  61. marie-lucie says:

    JC, thank you for the pointer. After a while I figured it was because of the left arrow, but I did not know how to get around the problem. I’ll try to remember.

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