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Cristina Guardiano and Melita Stavrou


This paper investigates aspects of adjectival modification in Romance and Greek of Southern Italy. In Italiot Greek, prenominal adjectives obey restrictions that do not exist in Standard Modern Greek, where all types of adjectives are allowed in prenominal position. As far as postnominal adjectives are concerned, in the textual tradition of Calabria Greek there is evidence of postnominal adjectives systematically articulated in definite nominal structures (henceforth DP s), in a structure similar to the so-called polydefinite construction that is typical of Standard Modern Greek (and of Greek in general since ancient times). Some residual evidence of such a construction is also found in Salento. Yet, in the varieties currently spoken in the two areas, postnominal adjectives are never articulated. The paper explores these patterns, with particular attention to the mechanisms potentially responsible for the loss of polydefiniteness.

Ezra la Roi


This paper challenges the commonly held view that the Classical Greek potential optative has a subjective epistemic semantics, the result of a conceptual confusion of subjectivity and epistemic modality inherited from our standard grammars. I propose that this view becomes less convincing when the optative’s unique interaction with the subjective particles ἦ and ἄρα is incorporated into the analysis. Rather, the potential optative has a non-subjective epistemic semantics presenting an epistemic judgment as interpersonally accessible to the conversational participants. Frequencies of combination with ἦ and ἄρα, linguistic tests for subjectivity on the potential optative, and contrastive contextual analyses corroborate this view.

From the editors

A new year, a new issue

Dag T.T. Haug, Brian D. Joseph and Anna Roussou

Francesco Mambrini


We study the distribution of the nominal and copular construction of predicate nominals in a subset of authors from the Ancient Greek Dependency Treebank (AGDT). We concentrate on the texts of the historians Herodotus, Thucydides (both 5th century BCE) and Polybius (2nd century BCE). The data comprise a sample of 440 sentences (Hdt = 175, Thuc = 91, Pol = 174). We analyze the impact of four features that have been discussed in the literature and can be observed in the annotation of AGDT: (1) order of constituents, (2) part of speech of the subjects, (3) type of clause and (4) length of the clause. Furthermore, we test how the predictive power of these factors varies in time from Herodotus and Thucydides to Polybius with the help of a logistic-regression model. The analysis shows that, contrary to a simplistic opinion, the nominal construction does not drop into irrelevance in Hellenistic Greek. Moreover, an analysis of the distributions in the authors highlights a remarkable continuity in the usage patterns. Further work is needed to improve the predictive power of our logistic-regression model and to integrate more data in view of a more comprehensive quantitative diachronic study.

Alwin Kloekhorst


In this article it will be argued that the Indo-European laryngeals *h 2 and *h 3, which recently have been identified as uvular fricatives, were in fact uvular stops in Proto-Indo-Anatolian. Also in the Proto-Anatolian and Proto-Luwic stages these sounds probably were stops, not fricatives.

Aspects of the Indo-European Aorist and Imperfect

Re-evaluating the evidence of the R̥gveda and Homer and its implications for PIE

Ian Hollenbaugh


The Proto-Indo-European (PIE) tense-aspect system has been reconstructed since the time of Delbrück (1897) as containing a fundamental opposition between two aspect-denoting stems: An Aorist stem, denoting perfective aspect, and a Present stem, denoting imperfective aspect. This reconstruction is, for practical reasons, based almost entirely on Greek and Vedic. Re-examining the Homeric and R̥gvedic data, I argue on semantic grounds against this century-old understanding of the tense-aspect system of PIE. In its place, I reconstruct the “Aorist” indicative as denoting perfect aspect (not perfective), and the “Imperfect” indicative as a simple past tense (not imperfective). Evidence for this reconstruction is based on the consistent usage in the R̥gveda of the Aorist in the meaning ‘have done X’ (with present reference) and the Imperfect in the meaning ‘did X’ (especially in narrative contexts)—a distribution which frequently has a precise match in Homer.

Florian Sommer


The history of the definite adjective in Baltic has been the object of a considerable tradition of research. Most studies approach the problem from an angle which emphasizes the prehistory of the construction and its deeper genealogical ties as well as structurally comparable constructions in neighboring languages.

The present paper, however, is primarily concerned with a thorough morphological description of these constructions in the Baltic languages exclusively, and the trajectory of historical developments within attested diachrony. It will be shown that Lithuanian, Latvian and Old Prussian are best addressed independently as they provide rather diverse challenges to an adequate morphological classification. Special prominence will be given to wordhood issues in Old Lithuanian.

Daniel Kölligan


This paper argues that the Greek desiderative formation in -σειε/ο- may be explained as continuing a form in *-s-eu̯-i̯e/o-, derived from the weak stem in *-eu̯- of u-stem adjectives built to non-reduplicated s-presents/desideratives of the type Ved. d(h)akṣu- ‘burning’ which is marginally preserved in Mycenaean e-wi-su° and probably Alphabetic Greek φαῦλος and αἴσυλα.

Nicholas Zair


Cooper (2013: 11–12, 2015: 317–320) suggests that /m/ was less sonorous in PIE than /l/, /r/, and /n/. This article discusses the evidence proposed for this analysis and puts forward some further evidence, of differing degrees of strength, from Sanskrit, Oscan, Venetic, Celtic and Greek. It concludes that there is some evidence for a lower sonority of /m/ than /l/, /n/ and /r/ in Greek and Sanskrit, but that the evidence for other languages is inconclusive. There are a number of instances in which /m/ patterns with plosives rather than the other sonorants in a number of other contexts, whose relevance to questions of sonority, however, is not clear. Overall, it is plausible that /m/ may have had a lower sonority than the other sonorants in PIE, but this is not necessarily the explanation for all its odd behaviour relative to the other sonorants in PIE and its descendant languages.