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The labile syntactic type in a diachronic perspective: the case of Vedic

Leonid Kulikov (UGent)
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Abstract
Ancient Indo-European verbal syntax, as attested in early Vedic Sanskrit, exhibits numerous examples of the labile syntactic pattern: several verbal forms can show valence alternation with no formal change in the verb; cf. pres. svadate 'he makes sweet' / 'he is sweet'; perf. vavrdhuH ~ 'they have grown' (intr.) / 'they have increased' (tr.). It is argued that the labile patterning of the Vedic verb, however common it may appear, is mostly of a secondary character. There are a limited number of reasons which give rise to labile syntax: (i) the polyfunctionality of the middle inflection (which can be used to mark the anticausative, passive and reflexive functions, on the one hand, and the self-beneficent meaning of the transitive forms, on the other); (ii) the homonymy of some middle participles "shared" by passive (medio-passive aorist, stative) and nonpassive formations; (iii) the syntactic reanalysis of intransitive constructions with the accusative of parameter/scope (content accusative) as transitive-causative. As to the perfect, it could probably be employed both intransitively and transitively already in Proto-Indo-European, although the intransitive usages were prevalent. In the historical period the newly-built perfect middle forms have largely taken over the intransitive function, but active perfects are still quite common in the (more archaic) intransitive usages in early Vedic .
Keywords
Vedic, perfect, labile, transitive, content accusative, passive, middle, active, self-beneficent, voice, Proto-Indo-European

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MLA
Kulikov, Leonid. “The Labile Syntactic Type in a Diachronic Perspective: The Case of Vedic.” SKY JOURNAL OF LINGUISTICS 16 (2003): 93–112. Print.
APA
Kulikov, L. (2003). The labile syntactic type in a diachronic perspective: the case of Vedic. SKY JOURNAL OF LINGUISTICS, 16, 93–112.
Chicago author-date
Kulikov, Leonid. 2003. “The Labile Syntactic Type in a Diachronic Perspective: The Case of Vedic.” Sky Journal of Linguistics 16: 93–112.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Kulikov, Leonid. 2003. “The Labile Syntactic Type in a Diachronic Perspective: The Case of Vedic.” Sky Journal of Linguistics 16: 93–112.
Vancouver
1.
Kulikov L. The labile syntactic type in a diachronic perspective: the case of Vedic. SKY JOURNAL OF LINGUISTICS. 2003;16:93–112.
IEEE
[1]
L. Kulikov, “The labile syntactic type in a diachronic perspective: the case of Vedic,” SKY JOURNAL OF LINGUISTICS, vol. 16, pp. 93–112, 2003.
@article{1976240,
  abstract     = {Ancient Indo-European verbal syntax, as attested in early Vedic Sanskrit, exhibits numerous examples of the labile syntactic pattern: several verbal forms can show valence alternation with no formal change in the verb; cf. pres. svadate 'he makes sweet' / 'he is sweet'; perf. vavrdhuH ~ 'they have grown' (intr.) / 'they have increased' (tr.).
It is argued that the labile patterning of the Vedic verb, however common it may appear, is mostly of a secondary character. There are a limited number of reasons which give rise to labile syntax: (i) the polyfunctionality of the middle inflection (which can be used to mark the anticausative, passive and reflexive functions, on the one hand, and the self-beneficent meaning of the transitive forms, on the other); (ii) the homonymy of some middle participles "shared" by passive (medio-passive aorist, stative) and nonpassive formations; (iii) the syntactic reanalysis of intransitive constructions with the accusative of parameter/scope (content accusative) as transitive-causative. As to the perfect, it could probably be employed both intransitively and transitively already in Proto-Indo-European, although the intransitive usages were prevalent. In the historical period the newly-built perfect middle forms have largely taken over the intransitive function, but active perfects are still quite common in the (more archaic) intransitive usages in early Vedic .},
  author       = {Kulikov, Leonid},
  issn         = {1456-8438},
  journal      = {SKY JOURNAL OF LINGUISTICS},
  keywords     = {Vedic,perfect,labile,transitive,content accusative,passive,middle,active,self-beneficent,voice,Proto-Indo-European},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {93--112},
  title        = {The labile syntactic type in a diachronic perspective: the case of Vedic},
  volume       = {16},
  year         = {2003},
}