Saturday, February 11, 2012

3io and 4th conjugation

I went to a seminar at the University of Chicago yesterday, and, to be quite frank, the lecturer, Benjamin Fortson, was talking about things I didn't know much about despite the topic of the talk being the Latin passive infinitive in -(r)ier.

I did get some really cool take away from it, so it wasn't a waste of time. For the folks who are deep into IE historical linguistics, this is not news. For the rest of it is. I'd cite sources, but Prof. Fortson treated it like it was no big deal, so I guess he's my source for everything that follows.

I'm ditching the macrons and IPA to keep this visible for everyone. Here's where the 3io comes from. First the ugly chart.

verbs in -ye/o
“light” monosyllables
“heavy” monosyllables and polysyllables
this conjugation's i is short
this conjugation's i is long

Ok, so here it is in steps.

In the group of -ye/o verbs, one of two things can happen. If your root is a "light" monosyllable, you may go down the left side—but you aren't required to. (Light monosyllables: a short vowel followed by only one consonant, which is to say the syllable is open when combined with an ending.)
1. Standard -ye/o verb.
2. -y- contracts to short i.
3. 3io conjugation: now you know why the i's in the present tense are all short.
In the other group, some "light" monosyllables, "heavy" monosyllables and polysyllabic groups, the sequence is this:
1. Standard -ye/o verb.
2. An epenthetic i sneaks in.
3. -iy- contracts to long i.
4. 4th conjugation 
Cool. So far so good. As you can see, the left side works for capio. If you start with *fakyeo, you've got the light monosyllable *fak-, so you're ok to get to facio. Same with *gradyeo. Though it may have been nasty deponent way back when, so let's pretend what I'm showing is the case since the rule applies deponent or not. *grad- is light, so the left side is ok. You can wind up at gradior as a 3io using this scheme.

Obviously being a light monosyllable is no obstacle to going down the right side. Check out *venyeo. Follow the steps, and you get to venio. Heavy monosyllables, like *audyeo go down the right to yeild audio. Polyllable roots go down the right too. So with *sepelyeo, you get sepelio.

So far, so good.

But what about *egradyeo? Sure, it's related to *gradyeo by compounding, but its root is a polysyllable. So 4th conjugation right? What? Cicero says 3io? Sure enough:
…si ex Syria egredi atque irrumpere in meam provinciam conarentur…
                                                      —ad familiares 15.2
It has a typical 3rd conjugation infinitive form. What happened? Rules get broken? Well, first let me show you something else:
foras egrediri video lenonem Lycum.
                                                      —Plautus, Poenulus 742
Hey, wait a second. That egrediri looks like a 4th conjugation form. Well, Plautus must think it is. So somewhere between Plautus and Cicero, egrediri moved from 4th to 3io by analogy. 

Anyway. Here's the cool thing you can take away from this mess: In 3io verbs, CVCio, the V is short. 

The other cool thing I learned is that fio takes over the passive of facio by suppletion. I had always wondered why fio seemed like some awful anti-deponent.