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4. Nouns

4.1. Declension of Nouns

4.1.1. Declension is made by adding terminations to different stem endings, vowel or consonant. The various phonetic changes in the language have given rise to the different declensions. Most of the case-endings, as shown in this Modern Indo-European grammar, contain also the final letter of the stem.

Adjectives are generally declined like nouns, and are etymologically to be classed with them, but they have some peculiarities of inflection which will be later explained.

4.1.2. Nouns and adjectives are inflected in four regular Declensions, distinguished by their final phonemes – characteristic of the Stem –, and by the opposition of different forms in irregular nouns. They are numbered following Graeco-Latin tradition: First or a-Declension, Second or o-Declension, Third or i/u-Declension, Fourth or Consonant Declension, and the variable nouns.

NOTE. The Second or o-Declension is also the Thematic Declension, opposed to the rest – and probably older in the evolution of PIE nominal inflection –, which form together the Athematic Declension.

Decl.

Stem ending

Nominative

Genitive

1.

ā (ja/ī, ē, ō)

-Ø

-s

2.

e/o (Thematic)

m., f.-s, n.-m

-os, -osjo

3.

i, u and Diphthong

m., f.-s, n.-Ø

-eis, -eus; -jos, -wos

4.

Sonants & Consonants

-s, -Ø

-(e/o)s

(5)

Heteroclites

-Ø, -r

-(e)n

The Stem of a noun may be found, if a consonant stem, by omitting the case-ending; if a vowel stem, by substituting for the case-ending the characteristic vowel.

NOTE. Most Indo-Europeanists tend to distinguish at least two major types of declension for the oldest PIE, Thematic and Athematic. Thematic nominal stems are formed with a suffix -o- (in vocative -e), and the stem does not undergo ablaut. The Athematic stems are more archaic, and they are classified further by their ablaut behaviour: acro-dynamic, protero-dynamic, hystero-dynamic and holo-dynamic, after the positioning of the early PIE accent in the paradigm. For more on this, see Beekes (1995) and Meier-Brügger (2003).

4.1.3. The following are General Rules of Declension:

a. The Nominative singular for animates ends in -s when the stem endings are i, u, ī, ū, Diphthong, Occlusive and Thematic (-os), or -Ø in ā, Sonant and s; while in the plural -es is general, -s for those in ā, and -os for the Thematic ones.

b. The Accusative singular of all masculines and feminines ends in -m or - (after consonant), the Accusative plural in -ns or -ṇs.

c. The Vocative singular for animates is always -Ø, and in the plural it is identical to the Nominative.

d. The Genitive singular is common to animates and inanimates, it is formed with -s: -s, -es, -os. A very old alternative possibility is extended -os-jo. The Genitive plural is formed in -ōm, and in -ām in a-stems.

e. The Obliques singular end usually in -i: it can be -i, -ei, -ēi, -oi, -ōi or -āi, and their extensions. In the plural, there are two series of declensions, Instr. -bhis/-mis (from Sg. -bhi), Dat.-Abl. -bhos/-mos (PII -bhjas) as well as (BSl. and PII) Loc. in -su, Gk. -si.

NOTE. Meier-Brügger (2003) considers that “[e]vidence seems to indicate that while the dative and ablative plural were marked with *-mos, the instrumental plural was marked with *-bhi” in PIH, and similarly Mallory & Adams (2006) differentiate for the oldest PIE declension a Dat. -mus, instrumental -bhi, and Abl. -bh(j)os. Comparison shows an Ins. Sg. -bhi, (cf. Gk. -phi, Myc -pi, and also Arm. Ins. marb), BSl. -mi (cf. Lith. akmenimì, O.C.S. kamenĭmĭ) and for North-West IE dialects a division between Italic+Celtic and Germanic+Balto-Slavic Plural forms: Celtic shows traces of an Instrumental -bhis (cf. O.Ir. Dat.-Loc.-Inst.-Abl. cridib, and in Graeco-Aryan O.Ind. sūnúbhis, Av. bāzubīs, Arm. srtiwkh), Italic and Celtic show a Dat.-Abl. -bhos (cf. Celtiberian Dat.-Loc.-Inst.-Abl. arecoraticubos, Lat. matribus, Osc. luisarifs), while Balto-Slavic shows Inst. -mis (cf. Lith. sunumìs, O.C.S. synumĭ), Dat.-Abl. -mos (cf. O.C.S. synŭmŭ, Lith. sūnùms, sūnùmus), and Germanic shows a Dat.-Abl.-Inst. -m-. Also, Indo-Iranian -bhjas (<*-bhjos), according to Meier-Brügger, “can thus be regarded as a cross between the instrumental *-bhi  and the dative/ablative *-mos”. Even if some might consider these data enough to draw conclusions about a well-differentiated common PIH plural declension system, we think it is more appropriate to maintain in MIE the (conservative) reconstructible North-West IE West/East dialectal differentiation, i.e. Dat.-Abl. -bhos/-mos (PII -bhjas), and Instr. -bhis/-mis, without using any of those assimilation theories proposed, as e.g. PIE Inst. *-m- → dialectal *-bh-.

f. Inanimates have a syncretic form for Nom.-Ac.-Voc. -Ø in Athematic, or -m in Thematic. The plural forms end in -ā in thematics and -a in athematics.

NOTE. About the nominative/accusative neuter plural, Meier-Brügger states: “in terms of content, the idea of a collective mass is certainly dominant. Therefore, the collective suffix (= athematic *-h2- and thematic *-e-h2-) is used, no ending (zero) added (…) The understanding of the neuter plural as collective explains the ancient IE characteristic, observable in isolated cases, of combination of the neuter plural and the singular of a verb (…)”.

g. All Animates have the same form in the plural for Nom.-Voc., in -es.

4.1.4. The so-called Oblique cases opposed to the Straight ones, Nom.-Acc.-Voc –, are Genitive and the Obliques proper, i.e. Dative, Locative, Instrumental and Ablative. IE languages show an irregular Oblique declension system.

NOTE. Sanskrit or Avestan had 8 cases, Anatolian and Italic dialects show up to 8 (cf. Osc. Loc. aasai for Lat. ‘in ārā’, or Ins. cadeis amnud for Lat. ‘inimicitiae causae’, preiuatud for Lat. ‘prīuātō’, etc.), while Latin shows six and a semisystematic Locative notion; Balto-Slavic shows seven, Mycenaean at least six cases, while Koiné Greek and Proto-Germanic had five.

Nominal Desinences (Summary)

Singular

Plural

Animates

Inanimates

Animates

Inanimates

NOM.

-s, -Ø

 

-m, -Ø

-es

 

-, -Ø

ACC.

-m

-ns

VOC.

-e, -Ø

-es

GEN.

-os, -osjo

-om

DAT.

-ei

-bhos/-mos

LOC.

-i

-su

INS.

-ē, -bhi

-eis; -bhis/-mis

ABL.

-ed, -os

-bhos/-mos, -om

4.2. First Declension

4.2.1. First Declension Paradigm

1. They are usually Animate nouns and end in ā (or ), and rarely in ja/ī, ē, and ō.  Those in ā are very common, generally feminine in nouns and always in adjectives, and they are used to make feminines in the adjectival Motion. Those in ja/ī are rare, generally feminine, and etymologically identical to the Neuter plural in Nom.-Acc.-Voc. Those in ō and ē are feminine only in lesser used words.

NOTE. The entire stem could have been reduced to MIE a (hence a-Declension), because this is the origin of the whole PIE stem system in PIH, the ending *-(e)h2. See §3.7.3.

2. MIE First Declension corresponds loosely to the Latin First Declension (cf. Lat. rosa, rosae, or puella, puellae), and to the Ancient Greek Alpha Declension (cf. Gk. χώρ, χώρς, or τμή, τμς).

a-Declension Paradigm

 

Animate

Inanimate

NOM.

-Ø

 

-Ø

 

ACC.

-m

VOC.

-Ø

GEN.

-s

DAT.

-i

LOC.

-i

INS.

-Ø, -bhi/-mi

ABL.

-d, (-s)

NOTE. This declension in ā, older *-eh2, is usually reconstructed in the Singular as from older PIH Nom.-Vocc. *-eh2, Acc. *-eh2m, Gen.(-Abl.) *-eh2os, Dat. *-eh2ei, Loc. *-eh2i, Ins. *-eh2eh1 or *-eh2bhi, Abl. *-eh2ed; as, Dat. *h1ekweh2ei ekwāi.

3. It is therefore identical to those nouns in r, n, s of the Fourth Declension, but for some details in vocalism: the Gen. has an -s and not -es/-os; the difference between Nom. and Voc. is that of -ā and -a. The zero-grade of the Nom.-Acc.-Voc. in ja/ī stems is different from the Gen. in -jā.

4.2.2. First Declension in Examples

1. Nominative Singular in -Ø; as, ek, mare, deiwā, goddess, patrjā, fatherland, adj. cowij, bovine.

Examples of ja/ī include potnja/potnī, lady, mistress, djewja/djewī, (sky) goddess.

NOTE. Even though ja/ī was known to Late PIE speakers, those are rarely seen in North-West IE, and consequently they are usually MIE -; as, MIE potnjā.

Those in ē, ō, also rare, make the Nominative in -s; as, bhidhēs, from Lat. fides (but cf. O.Lat. fidis), trust, spekjēs, species, etc.

2. Accusative Singular in -m; as, ekwām, patrjām, potnjam/potnīm, spekjēm.

3. Vocative Singular in -Ø. It is normally identical to the Nominative, but disambiguation could happen with distinct vowel grades, i.e. Nom. in -ā, Voc. in -a.

4. Genitive Singular in -s; as, ekwās, patrjās, spekjēs.

The theme in ja/ī produces a Genitive Singular in -ās; as, potnjās.

5. Dative-Ablative Singular in -āi, ekwāi, patrjāi.

NOTE. It comes probably from an older PIE general Dat. *-ei ending; as, *h1ekweh2-ei ekwāi.

There is also a form -ei for themes in ē and in ja/ī.

6. Locative in -āi; as, ekwāi, patrjāi.

7. Instrumental in -Ø, -ā-bhi/-ā-mi; as, ékwābhi, pátrjāmi.

 

f. ekwā

adj. f. cowij

f. potnja/potnī

f. spekjē-

NOM.

ekwā

cowij

potnja/potnī

spekjēs

ACC.

ekwām

cowijm

potnjam/potnīm

spekjēm

VOC.

ekw

cowij

potnja/potnī

spekjē

GEN.

ekwās

cowijs

potnjās

spekjēs

DAT.

ekwāi

cowiji

potnjāi

spekjei

LOC.

ekwāi

cowiji

potnjāi

spekjei

INS.

ékwābhi

cowijbhi

potnjā

spekjē

ABL.

ekwād

cowijd

potnjās

spekjēd

 

4.2.3. The Plural in the First Declension

1. The following table presents the plural paradigm of the a-Declension.

NOM.

-s

ACC.

-ns

VOC.

-s

GEN.

-m

DAT.-ABL.

-bhos/-mos

LOC.

-su

INS.

-bhis/-mis

NOTE. The Plural is reconstructed as from PIH Nom.-Vocc. *-eh2s, Acc. *-eh2ns (<*-eh2-m-s), Gen.(-Abl.) *-eh2om, Dat.-Abl. *-eh2bh(j)os, Loc. *-eh2su, Ins. *-eh2bhis; as, *h1ekweh2es ekwās.

2. The Nominative-Vocative Plural in -s: ekwās, patrjās, cowijs.

3. The Accusative Plural in -ms: ekwāns, patrjāns.

4. The Genitive Plural in -m: ekwām, patrjām.

5. The Dative and Ablative Plural in -bhos, -mos, and -bhjos; as, ékwābhos, ékwāmos.

6. The Locative Plural in -su (also PGk -si); as, ékwāsu, pátrjāsu.

6. The Instrumental Plural in -bhis, -mis; as, ékwābhis, ékwāmis.

NOTE. The Obliques have also special forms Gk. -āisi, -ais, Lat. -ais; as, Lat. rosīs<*rosais.

 

f. ek

f. cowij

f. potnja

NOM.

eks

cowijs

potnjas/potnīs

ACC.

ekwāns

cowijns

potnjans/potnīns

VOC.

eks

cowijs

potnjas/potnīs

GEN.

ekm

cowijm

potnjm

DAT.

ékbhos

cowijmos

pótnjabhjos

LOC.

éksu

cowijsu

pótnjasu

INS.

ékbhis

cowijmis

pótnjabhis

ABL.

ékbhos

cowijmos

pótnjabhjos

4.3. Second Declension

4.3.1. Second Declension Paradigm

1.  The Stem of nouns of the Second Declension ends in e/o, and they are usually called Thematic. They can be animates and inanimates, as well as adjectives. The inanimates have an ending -m only in Nom.-Acc.-Voc. The animates, with a Nominative in -s, are generally masculine in nouns and adjectives, but there are also feminine nouns and animate adjectives in -os, probably remains of the old indistinctness of declension.

NOTE. The o-Declension is probably very recent in PIE – even though it happened already in PIH, before the Proto-Anatolian split – and that’s why it is homogeneous in most IE dialects. As Mallory & Adams (2006) say, “[t]he o-stems were the most productive form of declension. By this is meant that through time, especially at the end of the Proto-Indo-European period and into the early histories of the individual Indo-European languages, the o-stems appeared to proliferate and replace other stem types. In Vedic Sanskrit, for example, they constitute more than half of all nouns. High productivity is often interpreted as evidence that the o-stems are a later declensional form than many of the other stems. Highly productive forms are ultimately capable of replacing many other forms as they provide the most active model by which speakers might decline a form”.

2. MIE Second Declension is equivalent to the Second Declension in Latin (cf. Lat. dominus, dominī, or uinum, uinī), and to the Omicron Declension in Greek (cf. Gk. λόγος, λόγου, or δρον, δρου).

o-Declension Paradigm

 

Animate

Inanimate

NOM.

-os

                                                 -om

ACC.

-om

VOC.

-e

GEN.

-os, -osjo

DAT.

-ōi

LOC.

-oi

INS.

-ō

ABL.

-ōd

 

NOTE 1. This model could have been written without the initial vowel -o-, because the probable origin of this vowel is the ending vowel of some thematic stems, while other, primitive athematic stems were reinterpreted, and an -o- was added to their stems by way of analogy. So, this paradigm could be read Nom. -s, Acc. -m, Gen. -s, -sjo, -so, and so on.

NOTE 2. The thematic declension is usually reconstructed in the Singular as from older PIH Nom. *-os, Voc. *-e, Acc. *-om (neu. Nom.-Voc.-Acc. *-om), Gen. *-os, Dat. *-ōi (<*-o-ei), Loc. *-oi, Ins. *-oh1, Abl. *-ōd (<-o-ed); as, Dat. *wl̥kwo-ei wqōi, Abl. *wl̥kwo-ed wqōd.

4.3.2. Second Declension in Examples

1. Nominative Singular Animate in -os; as in wqos, wolf, dómūnos, lord, wīrós, man, adj. cīwós, alive.

2. Accusative Singular Animate in -om; as in wqom, dómūnom, cīwóm.

3. Vocative Singular Animate in -e; as in wqe, dómūne, cī.

5. The Nom.-Acc.-Voc. Sg. Inanimate in -om; as in jugóm, yoke, adj. newom, new.

4. Genitive Singular in -os, -osjo, also -e/oso, -ī; as in wqosjo, jugós, dómūnī.

NOTE. The original Genitive form -os is rare, as the Genitive had to be distinguished from the Nominative. This disambiguation happens by alternatively lengthening the ending, as -os-jo (or e/os-o) or changing it altogether, as in -ī.

6. Dative Singular in -ōi: wqōi, dómūnōi, newōi, jugṓi.

7. Locative Singular in -oi: wqoi, dómūnoi, newoi, jugói.

8. Instrumental Singular in -ō: w, dómūnō, ne, jug.

9. The Ablative Singular is formed in -ōd: wqōd, cīwd, jugd.

 

m. wqo-

n. jugó-

NOM.

wqos

jugóm

ACC.

wqom

jugóm

VOC.

wqe

jugom

GEN.

wĺqosjo

jugós

DAT.

wqōi

jugi

LOC.

wqoi

jugói

INS.

wqō

jug

ABL.

wqōd

jugd

4.5.3. The Plural in the Second Declension

1. The Thematic Plural system is usually depicted as follows:

 

Animate

Inanimate

NOM.

-ōs, (-oi)

 

-ā

ACC.

-ons

VOC.

-ōs, (-oi)

GEN.

-ōm

DAT.-ABL.

-obhos/-omos

LOC.

-oisu

INS.

-ōis

NOTE. The Animate Plural is reconstructed as PIH Nom.-Voc. *-ōs (<*-o-es), Acc. *-ons (<*-o-m-s), Gen.(-Abl.) *-m (<*-o-om), Dat.-Abl. *-o(i)bh(j)os/-omos, Loc. *-oisu (<*-o-eis-su), Ins. *-is (<*-o-eis); as,*wl̥kwo-es wqōs. Inanimates have a Nom.-Voc.-Acc in *-oh2 (or *-eh2) evolved as -ā in most dialects. A Nom.-Voc. (pronominal) ending -oi is also found.

2. The Nominative-Vocative Animate Plural in -ōs; as, wqōs, dómūnōs, wīrs.

3. The Accusative Animate Plural in -ons; as, wqons, dómūnons, cīwóns.

4. The Nom.-Voc.-Acc. Inanimate Plural usually in -ā; as, jug, cīw.

5. The Genitive Plural in -ōm; as, wqōm, dómūnōm, cīwm, jugm.

6. For the Obliques Plural, Dat.-Abl. wqomos, Loc. wīrisu, Ins. jugṓis.

 

m. wlqo-

n. jugo-

NOM.

wqōs

jug

ACC.

wqōms

jug

VOC.

wqōs

jug

GEN.

wqōm

jugṓm

DAT.

wĺqobhos

jugómos

LOC.

wĺqōisu

jugóisu

INS.

wqōis

jugis

ABL.

wĺqobhos

jugómos

4.4. Third Declension

4.4.1. Third Declension Paradigm

1. Third Declension nouns end in i, u (also ī, ū) and Diphthong.

2. This declension usually corresponds to Latin nouns of the Third Declension in -i (cf. Lat. ciuis, ciuis, or pars, partis), and of the Fourth Declension in -u (cf. Lat. cornū, cornūs, or portus, portūs).

i/u-Declension Paradigm

 

Animate

Inanimate

NOM.

-s

 

ACC.

-m

VOC.

GEN.-ABL.

-s

DAT.

-ei

LOC.

-Ø, -i

INS.

-ī/-ū, -ē, (-bhi/-mi)

NOTE 1. The so-called common, basic or athematic paradigm, the hypothetically oldest attainable PIE noun declension system, is reconstructed in the Singular as Nom. *-Ø, *-s, Acc. *-m, Voc. *-Ø, Gen.(-Abl.) *-(é/o)s, Dat. *-ei, Loc. *-Ø, *-i, Ins. *-(é)h1, Abl. *-(e)d. This was a paradigm common to the i/u and Consonant declension (v.i.), and it was probably inherited (and innovated) by the first and second declensions.

NOTE 2. Reduplication or combination with the alternating endings -i, -ei/-oi and -u, -eu/-ou, was a common resort in the attested dialects that distinguished Dat. and Loc. in this declension, as in -i-ei, -ei-ei, -eu-ei, and so on, to differentiate similar forms.

3. The animates in i and u are masculine or feminine (indifferent to the distinction in adjectives); those in ī and ū, always feminine.

4. The -s can indicate Nominative and Genitive: the distinction is made through the full-grade of the vowel before the declension, i.e. Type I (older) Gen. -ei-s (or oi-s) for i, -eu-s (or ou-s) for u; Type II (newer) in -(e)i-os, -(e)u-os.

NOTE. The Vocative of the animates is the same as the Nom.-Acc.-Voc. of the inanimates.

4.4.2. In i, u

1. Nominative Singular Animate in -s; as in owis, sheep, noqtis, night, ghostis, guest, sūnús, son, egnis, fire, pṛtus, ford, swdhus, custom; adj. swādus, pleasant.

2. Accusative Singular Animate in -m; as in owim, noqtim, ghostim, sūnúm.

3. Vocative Singular Animate in -Ø, or full -ei, -eu; owi, sūnéu/sūneu, swēdhu.

NOTE. Full vocalism helps differentiate animates (in -ei, -eu) from inanimates (in -i, -u).

4. The Nom.-Acc.-Voc. Singular Inanimate in -Ø; as in mari, sea, kdi, heart, peku, cattle, deru, wood, medhu, mead, adj. swādu.

5. Type I Genitive Singular in -eis, -eus, also -ois, -ous; as, ghosteis, mareis, sūnéus, swēdheus, adj. swādeus.

Type II in -(e)jos, -(e)wos; as, owjos, noqtjos, kdejós, swdhewos, pékewos.

NOTE. Some -ei-, -eu- genitives were remade into the newer -(e)jo-, -(e)wo-; as, old dreus, ptéus, owéis, egnéis, pekéus, into MIE dérewos, ptwos, owjos, egnjos, pékewos.

6. Dat. Sg. in -ei, usually full -ei-ei, -eu-ei; as, ghóstejei, pékewei.

NOTE. For a Dat. Sg. in -ei, pure stem or full ending plus -i, cf. Gk. -seï (<*-t-ej-i?), O.C.S. kosti.

7. Loc. Sg. in -ei, -eu, usually lengthened -ēi, -ēu, -ewi; as, noqtēi, sunu.

8. Ins. -ī, -ū (<*-h1), in -ē (<*-eh1) following the Gen., or -bhi/-mi: p, ptwē.

NOTE. The Obliques show weak stems (root ablaut and accent shift) in old root nouns, v.i.

 

Type I

Type II

 

f. ghosti-

m. sūnu-

n. mari-

f. noqti-

m. ptu-

n. peku-

NOM.

ghostis

sūnús

mari

noqtis

ptus

peku

ACC.

ghostim

sūnúm

mari

noqtim

ptum

peku

VOC.

ghosti

sūnéu

mari

noqtei

ptu

peku

GEN.

ghosteis

sūnéus

mareis

noqtjos

ptwos

pékewos

DAT.

ghóstejei

sūnéwei

márejei

nóqtejei

ptewei

pékewei

LOC.

ghostēi

sūnu

marēi

noqtēi

ptēu

pékewi

INS.

ghostī

sūnewē

marī

noqtī

ptwē

pekū

ABL.

ghosteis

sūnéus

mareis

noqtjos

ptwos

pékewos

The Strong Type

Its inflection is similar to the consonant stems, and they have no alternating vowels before the declension; ī and ū are substituted before vowel by -ij, -uw. They are always feminine, and they cannot be inanimates nor adjectives. They are mostly PIE roots (in *-iH, *-uH), and found mainly in Indo-Iranian.

 

f. bhrū-

f. sū-

f. dhī-

f. wqī-

NOM.

bhrūs

sūs

dhīs

wqīs

ACC.

bhrūm

sūm

dhīm

wĺqīm

VOC.

bhrū

sū

dhī

wqī

GEN.

bhruwós

suwós

dhijós

wqijós

DAT.

bhruwéi

suwéi

dhijéi

wqijéi

LOC.

bhruwí

suwí

dhijí

wqijí

INS.

bhrūbhí

sūbhí

dhībhí

wqībhí

ABL.

bhruwós

suwós

dhijós

wqijós

 

4.4.3. In Diphthong

1. There are long diphthongs āu, ēu, ōu, ēi, which sometimes present short vowels.

NOTE. Other endings that follow this declension, as ā, ē, ō are probably remains of older diphthongs. Therefore, these can all be classified as Diphthong endings, because the original stems were formed as diphthongs in the language history.

 

u-

m. djēu-

f. nāu-

NOM.

us

djēus

nāus

ACC.

m

djēm/dijm

nāum

VOC.

cou

djeu

nau

GEN.

cous

diwós

nawós

DAT.

cowéi

diwéi

nawéi

LOC.

co

djewi/diwí

na

INS.

coū

djeū

n

ABL.

cous

diwós

nawós

In zero grade Genitives there are forms with -i- or -ij- or -u- or -uw-, depending on the diphthongs.

NOTE 1.  Some secondary formations – especially found in Greek – are so declined, in -eus, -euos as in Av. bāzāus, Arm.,Gk. Basileus, possibly from PIE -āus (Perpillou, 1973) but Beekes (2007) considers it Pre-Greek.

NOTE 2. Stang’s law governs the word-final sequences of a vowel + semivowel j or w +  nasal, simplified in PIE so that semivowels are dropped, with compensatory lengthening of a preceding vowel, i.e. VwM,VjM VːM; as, djēm, not *djewm̥; cōm, not *gwowm̥, cōns, not *gwown̥s, etc. A similar trend is found with laryngeals, *Vhm