V-stems (my theory)

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V-stems (my theory)

Postby ''' » 2010-01-16, 11:46

I'll write this in English since I don't have my keyboards here, it's faster, and others might want to read it.

I have a theory about V stem nouns (nouns which add a -v- when suffixing) and I'd like to see what people think and whether or not this has been figured out before.

The typical examples are:

TYPE I

odú - odvak (hollow)
ló -> lovak (horse)
fű -> füvek (grass)
kő -> kövek (stone)

My theory is that the v of Hungarian used to be a /w/ and that in some circumstances it became /v/ and in others /ʊ/ which lengthened the vowel or /u/.

All the words of TYPE I have a long o /o/ u /u/ ü /y/ or ö /ø/ vowel which demotes into a short vowel. I propose that the word stems were in fact:

tow /toʊ/ -> /to:/
oduw /oduʊ/ -> /odu:/ (with a <u> which demotes to nothing in the plural)
köw /køʊ/ -> /kø:/
füw /fyʊ/ -> /fy:/

But because we have no diphthongs, the Hungarian ear cannot distinguish between close and mid vowels moving to the closest semivowel sound. As such they were immortalised as long vowels. On the other hand, the plurals were:

towak /to.wɒk/
odwak /od.wɒk/
köwek /kø.wæk/
füwek /fy.wæk/

Here, since the w is an intervocalic consonant, it belongs to the second syllable and as such was pronounced separately from the previous vowel and later was caught in the
/w/->/v/ shift.

It might be useful to note that Iranian Persian underwent the SAME process.

*A notable ecxeption to this general trend is mű -> művek whose stem is műw but as a long vowel the /w/ cannot make the vowel even longer.

TYPE II

tó -> tavak (lake)
szó -> szavak (word)
hó -> havak (snow)

Here the long /o:/ sound becomes a short /ɒ/ sound and adds a w. I suspect that, like in French, the /ɒʊ/ diphthong became an /o:/ since o is half way between /ɒ/ and /u/. As such the stems are:

taw /tɒʊ/ -> /to:/
szaw /sɒʊ/ -> /so:/
haw /hɒʊ/ -> /ho:/

Nonetheless, in the plural the same shift of w to the next syllable occurs and the w becomes v.

TYPE III

hamu -> hamvak (ash)
falu -> falvak (village)
daru -> darvak (crane)

Here, the v which was a w does not give a long vowel at the end of the word as one might expect. I propose that what really happened is that the stems were:

hamw /hɒmw/ -> /hɒmu/
falw /fɒlw/ -> /fɒlu/
darw /dɒrw/ -> /dɒru/

The presence of historic w can be seen in a final consonant cluster in words like

szerv /særw/ -> /særv/ (organ)
terv /tærw/ -> /tærv/ (plan)
elv /ælw/ -> /ælv/ (principle)
nyelv /ɲælw/ -> /ɲælv/ (tongue / language)

Note that in words with the back vowel /ɒ/ the /w/ became a /u/, while with the front vowel /æ/ since an additional /u/ would break vowel harmony it became /v/

Other words end on vowel+v combinations today like:
szív (heart)
név (name)
sav (acid)

But I suspect this is because:
a/ neutral vowels /i/ and /e/ cannot form combinations with /w/
b/ words like sav are more recent and were entered into the language after the /w/->/v/ shift.
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Re: V-stems (my theory)

Postby Bondi » 2010-01-22, 21:47

Interesting. And, if we look at it, it’s interesting to see how the nuances of meaning has developed to denote different things:

sav (acid), savas (acidic)
só (salt), sós (salty)
(i.e. they both “burn”)

aludni (to sleep)
alvadni (to congeal)

nyelv (tongue; language)
nyelő (swallower)

elv (principle)
elő- (pre-)

Or just the plural:
daru, darvak (crane, cranes – the birds)
daru, daruk (crane, cranes – the machines)

Old Hungarian must have been full of diphthongs, just as today's Hungarian in non-standard spoken language.

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Re: V-stems (my theory)

Postby ''' » 2010-01-23, 6:08

apparently we only lost our diphthongs in the early middle ages.

although I'm not sure how you found connections between many of those words. só and sav (etymologically unrelated afaik) form their adjectives with -s as is usual.

in the same way think the alud/alvad, elv/elő are unrelated.

nyelv/nyel are probably related, and daruk I think only exists because v stems are a closed class of words, after the /w/ died out no-one would make more words which act this way so since cranes (machine) are a more recent development I doubt anyone would think to add a w.
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Re: V-stems (my theory)

Postby Bondi » 2010-06-27, 18:03

''' wrote:apparently we only lost our diphthongs in the early middle ages.

although I'm not sure how you found connections between many of those words. só and sav (etymologically unrelated afaik) form their adjectives with -s as is usual.

in the same way think the alud/alvad, elv/elő are unrelated.

sav, só: as I wrote, they both burn (i.e. mar, csíp in Hungarian), so they are related in their meaning - there is a Hungarian saying: az élet sava-borsa (the salt and pepper of life, [i.e. the taste of life]) - we don't say "az élet sója-borsa"!

aludni, alvadni: related, see alvadt vér, aludttej (they both "fall asleep", i.e. turn to solid from being fluent)

elv, elő: they must be related, as elv is something that comes first or 'before';
but there is a similar transformation in nyelv which means both language and tongue, which is the swallower (nyelő) organ.


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