The morphological and constructional evolution of OHG huuanta and Dutch want

In: Indo-European Linguistics
Olav Hackstein Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität

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Under a formal and functional reconstruction, the form and semantics of Old High German huuanta and Dutch want receive an explanation for the first time. Both conjunctions, together with Latin unde and Tocharian B ente, A äntā(ne), descend from PIE interrogative-relative *kwo-m-dheh1, *kwo-m-dhoh1, *kwo-m-dhah2 ‘whence, where’, whose semantics may be compositionally analyzed as ablatival-instrumental *kwo-m plus locatival-directional *-dho(h1), *-dha(h2). The novel equation of Old High German huuanta, Dutch want with Latin unde and Tocharian B ente, A äntā(ne) sheds light on a number of phonological and syntactic questions, including the merger of PIE *-nd- and *-ndh- in Latin and Tocharian (§ 2.1) and the non-affrication of *-nd- in Tocharian (§ 3.1.2). Another consequence is that a case can be made for clause-initial aphaeresis which triggered the loss of the labiovelar onsets in unde and ente/äntā(ne), thus pointing to the existence of wh-movement and clause-initial wh-words in both Latin and Tocharian (§ 3.1.1).

1. The etymology of OHG huuanta, present-day Dutch want

Etymologizing conjunctions is challenging for at least two reasons. First, conjunctions tend to preserve frozen nominal and especially pronominal morphology. Second, the functional reconstruction of conjunctions and their morphemes cannot be carried out successfully on the basis of the morphophonemic material alone. It is necessary to distinguish between the etymology of a construction marker and the history of a construction. The two need not be identical, and inferring the history and historical function of the construction from the synchronic or historical function of the construction marker is problematic if the construction has undergone functional changes. An example is the English causal conjunction for, which etymologically is to be equated with the homophonous purposive or benefactive preposition for as in for this purpose and for me, while the causal speech-act construction marked by for (as in Come … take your inheritance, the kingdom …! For I was hungry and you fed me) derives neither from a purposive nor from a beneficiary construction. The functional breadth of a conjunction thus cannot be explained on the basis of its construction marker alone (cf. Harris and Campbell 1995:284 on the marker-structure fallacy). But the etymology of a construction marker certainly provides an indispensable starting point and basis for syntactic reconstruction, which has to augmented by the formal and functional evolution of the construction. An instructive example is the etymology of the OHG interrogative adverb and conjunction huuanta ‘why?; for; because’. huuanta did not survive into Modern German except in South Bavarian dialects like Cimbrian in northern Italy, where it remained at least until the 19th century (Old Cimbrian bant [Schmeller 1855:109]; bánda, ban ‘for; because’ [Schweizer 2008:917, 918]), but is still in living use in present-day Dutch want ‘for; because’. Both the formal reconstruction of OHG huuanta and its constructional history pose problems, but as I hope to show in the following pages, it is possible to make some headway in the search for external etymological matches. Methodologically, the discussion must begin with the formal reconstruction, on which also hinges the identification of Indo-European cognates outside Germanic.

1.1. Phonological and morphological reconstruction

Schmidt (1962:28 ff.) equated OHG huuanta ‘why, etc.’, OS hwanda, hwande, OFri. hwande, hwant with OCS kǫdě ‘whence?’, arriving at a purely phonological reconstruction of OHG huuanta as Proto-Germanic *hwandẽ, contracted from PIE “*kwu-n-dhe-ē̆” or “*kwo-n-dhe-ē̆”. According to Schmidt, the reconstructed form is to be segmented as interrogative morpheme *kwo- followed by a nasal morpheme -n- and adverbial morpheme -dhe.1 For the development of word-final PIE *-eh1 in Germanic, see Boutkan (1995:379). But the functional identification of the latter two morphemes remained elusive at Schmidt’s time, and the same holds for the final long *ē of the form. Regarding the PIE reconstruction of OHG huuanta and of the related Modern Dutch conjunction want, the etymological dictionaries of German and Dutch adhere to Streitberg’s 1920:241 and Schmidt’s 1962 etymological identifications. The most recent example is Philippa’s (2009) account, which traces PD Dutch and Frisian want back to Old Saxon hwanda, Middle Dutch wande, wende, want, went, Old Frisian hwande, hwende, OHG huuanta and Proto-Germanic *hwandē from a PIE interrogative *kwo-m with assimilation *m > *n before the dental morpheme *-dhe-.2 In sum, the form and function of the two morphemes and the origin of the vowel length in *-dhe have been left unexplained, and OHG huuanta as well as Dutch want have remained etymological orphans, lacking exact etymological matches outside Germanic. Proto-Germanic *hwandē, as posited by Schmidt, is composed of a total of four morphemes, to wit *kwo-, *-m, *-dhe, and *-(e)h1. I will begin with the formal identification of these four morphemes and then turn to a compositional account of the function of Proto-Germanic *hwandē.

  1. a. The morphological base is the interrogative stem *kwo-.
  2. b. *kwo- is followed by a suffix *-m; this morphological parse has recently been proposed by Dunkel (2014; see the important summary in Dunkel 2014a:137 f.). Basing himself on Delbrück, Dunkel demonstrates the systematic occurrence of ablative-instrumental *-m, as preserved in ablatival PIE *i-m > Lat. ex-im ‘thence’, intrin-secus ‘(from) inside’ (Dunkel 1997:66–69); cf. also the minimal pair of locatival Old Russian kŭdě (= Lat. ubī) versus nasalized ablatival OCS kǫdě ‘whence’, and Gk. locatival *ἔνθε (= Lat. inde, cf. Dunkel 1997:69) versus ablatival ἔνθε-ν. The ablatival (and instrumental) morpheme PIE *-m, posited by Delbrück and Dunkel, is confirmed by the Hieroglyphic Luwian ablative-instrumental adverbs zin, apin, for which see Goedegebuure 2007:322, 332 f.
  3. c. Ablatival *kwo-m ‘whence?’ is further followed by a locatival suffix *-dhe (Dunkel 2014a:120 f.). For the locatival value of *-dhe, cf. PIE *kwu-dhe ‘where’ > OCS kŭde, Osc. puf, Ved. kúha (EWAia I 383, Dunkel 2014b: 437); PIE *i-dhe ‘here’ > Umbr. ife ‘there’, OCS ide-že (rel.) ‘where’, Gk. πό-θε ‘where?’, Ved. ihá ‘here’ (Dunkel 2014b: 367); PIE *an-dhe ‘below’ > Toch. A āñc ‘downwards’ (Dunkel 2014b:41–44; cf. Klingenschmitt 1987:175 fn.15 “A āñc < uridg. *h2en-dhe”), cf. āñc tā- ‘to place below’ in e.g. āñc tāluneyo wälts akṣaräṣ pikäṣ ‘by putting (a line) beneath, he is writing a thousand akṣaras’ (Pinault 2013:211).
  4. d. Finally, locatival -dhe may be followed by an instrumental case morpheme *-(e)h1 conveying perlative-directional function, hence PIE *dhoh1/dheh1 ‘all over’. Cf. the pairs Gk. ἀνά: ἄνω ‘up’, reflecting PIE *h2en-eh1 (> Goth., OS, OHG ana ‘at, in, upon’; cf. Boutkan 1995:377), and κατά: κάτω ‘towards below’, πρός: πρόσσω ‘forward’ (García-Ramón 1997, Zeilfelder 2001:104 f.). Another possibility is *-dho in directional *-o, on which cf. Dunkel 2014a:154–161.

1.1.1. Metonymic source-goal shifts

Turning to a compositional account of OHG huuanta, the question arises how to derive the functional breadth of OHG huuanta ‘for, because’ from the four aforementioned morphemes *kwo-m-dhe-h1 or *kwo-m-dh(e)-oh1. Can the ablatival meaning of *kwo-m-dheh1 or *kwo-m-dhoh1 be reconciled with the locatival-directional suffix *dhoh1/dheh1, and does the combination of two morphemes of opposite meaning (ablatival versus locatival-directional) make sense? In fact, modern and ancient languages offer parallels for just this kind of complex source-goal expression. While it is may be taken for granted that every complete motion-to contains both a starting and an end point, it may be communicationally less important to focus equally on both ends of the event of motion and more salient and hence natural to focus either on the motion’s source or on its target. Crosslinguistically, languages show either complex source-goal expressions with source prominence, cf. e.g.

demonstrative von da-herfrom there hither’;
interrogative von wo-her? ‘whence here?’

or exhibit, more frequently complex source-goal expressions with goal prominence. Examples are:

  1. a. German:
    1. i. demonstrative ablatival von dort her-bei ‘from there thither’;
    2. ii. interrogative von dort wohin?
  2. b. Old Latin:
    1. i. demonstrative inde usque ad3 ‘thence until’; to be analyzed as ablatival inde ‘thence’ + ut- ‘outside’ + directional -s plus que ‘and’ + ad ‘towards’;
    2. ii. interrogative quo usque ad? ‘whence up to where?’
  3. c. Oscan:
    1. i. demonstrative dat ‘until’, e.g., dat senateis tanginud literally ‘from and according to the senate’s decree’ [Tabula Bantina 6 f.], dat catrid loufir en eituas ‘concerning a legal or financial case’ [Tabula Bantina 8 f.].4
    2. ii. interrogative unattested.
  4. d. Proto-Indo-European:
    1. i. demonstrative *h1h-s > *h1ek̂-s ‘out and somewhere’ (ablatival-directional Lat. ex, Gk. ἐξ); to be analyzed as: ablatival *h1h ‘towards the rim, towards outside, outside’ (cf. Dunkel 2014b: 214 ff.) plus directional *-s >; for directional -s, an entry for which is wanting in Dunkel 2014, cf. directional OIcelandic -r in nið-r ‘down(ward)’, aust-r ‘ain the east, eastward’.
    2. ii. interrogative *out of there where.

In addition to complex source-goal expressions like the foregoing, it is also possible for simple morphemes to acquire source-goal meaning with prominence placed on either the source or the goal. Since projective motion always combines motion away from a starting point and motion towards somewhere, the two aspects are two sides of the same coin, i.e., ablatival and directional motion entail each other. Hence shifts may occur metonymically and the focus may shift a) either from ablatival to locatival and directional by SOURCE-PLACE/GOAL METONYMY, or less frequently b) from directional to ablatival by GOAL-SOURCE METONYMY.

Examples of an ablatival-to-directional shift include the following.

  1. a. Ablatival case forms frequently adopt locatival and directional readings; for examples, see Hackstein 2007:138–140.
  2. b. Ablatival-directional PIE *de ‘away from an object and towards the subject’ in the OLat. phrase susque deque ferre ‘to bear something up/forward and down/backward/away’,5 in which de denotes a downward/backward motion, i.e. back from an object towards the subject; cf. ModGerm. auf und ab gehen ‘to go up (= towards) and down (= backwards)’. By functional narrowing, we obtain either the ablatival, source-prominent *de continued in Lat. ‘away from’, or directional goal-prominent *-de as in Latin compounds with preverb - and motion verb, encoding a goal-oriented movement, cf. deferre ad, deuenire in, deuenire ad, cf. e.g. in Pylum deueniens (Liv. Andr. fr. 9); in insidias deuenero (Pl. As. 104); ad praetorem … deuenit (Pl. Aul. 316); cf. Homeric δέ ‘towards’, e.g., Οὔλυμπόν-δε ‘towards Olympus’, Attic οἴκα-δε with petrified neuter plural οἴκα; YAv. vaēsmən=da ‘to the house’ (Pokorny 1959: 181 s.v. *de-, do-).6
  3. c. PIE *-tos: ablatival → locatival and directional, cf. Hackstein 2007:141: PIE *h1en-tos ‘from inside’ > Lat. ablatival intus ‘from inside’ (Pl. Bacch. 95) → locatival ‘inside’ (Pl. Mil. 483) → renewed ablative de intus ‘from inside’ > French locatival prep. dans ‘within, inside’ (cf. adv. dedans ‘within, inside’).
  4. d. Latin ablative unde ‘whence’ > local ‘where’ (cf. Romanian unde, Portuguese onde) → renewed ablative de unde ‘whence’ > Spanish locatival donde ‘where’.

Examples of directional to ablatival by GOAL-SOURCE METONYMY are comparatively less frequent, cf. e.g.

  1. a. Local-directional OHG hera, MHG hēr, hēre, ModGerm. her ultimately from *k̑e-r, *k̑i-r + instr. *-eh1 (EWAhd IV 962 f.), whose local-directional function is etymologically primary; but when suffixed by PIE *ut-s [< *ud-s] or *, the particle chain allows a focus shift to either ablatival or directional meaning; the source is stressed in (*k̑e-r-eh1 ut-s >) OHG hera ûz > ModGerm. heraus, but the goal in (*k̑e-r-eh1 >) OHG hera zuo > ModGerm. herzu.
  2. b. Directional PIE *su̯e ‘towards oneself (, and away from an object)’ → ablatival ‘away (from)’ and Lat. privative so- as in so-cors ‘heart-less’ and in Toch. A ṣu ‘towards oneself; away (from)’; see Hackstein 2004c.

1.1.2. Paths of functional ramification in source-goal expressions

To conclude, ablatival and directional meaning are not contradictory, but mutually inclusive and hence compatible. This and the mechanisms of shifting between ablatival and directional-locatival open a door towards explaining the functional ramifications of OHG huuanta, Dutch want as well as Latin unde and Tocharian B ente, A äntā(ne). The starting point is

A: ABLATIVAL-DIRECTIONAL INTERROGATIVE-RELATIVE PIE *kwo-m-dheh1, *kwo-m-dhoh1 ‘whence (, whereto)’, preserved in OCS kǫdě, Latin unde ‘whence’.

The indications are that PIE interrogative-relative *kwo-m-dheh1, *kwo-m-dhoh1 diversified its functions along the following four paths:

A → Ba

CATEGORIES: SOURCE → REASON (whence? → why?).
EXAMPLES: OHG huuanta ‘why?’, Latin unde ‘whence, why?’

Ba → Bb

CATEGORIES: REASON interrogative why? → CAUSAL speech-act linker and CAUSAL conjunction ‘for; because’.
EXAMPLES: OHG huuanta, Dutch want ‘for; because’ presuppose a shift from a reason interrogative to a causal conjunction, as argued below in section 1.2. This shift recurs crosslinguistically. Handbook examples include Latin quippe, quare, cur, all of which attest their original use as causal interrogatives alongside the innovative use as coordinating and subordinating causal conjunctions, cf. Hackstein 2004b:263 f., 266 f. Destressed Latin quare ‘why?’ is the source of French car ‘for; because’. In Germanic, Bavarian dialect isolates in Northern Italy, for instance, attest the grammaticalisation of an interrogative linking phrase unt barume, un borúm ‘and why?’ (Schweizer 2008:918) as a causal conjunction, whence also the polysemy of modern Cimbrian ombrom(me), ambrumme as ‘(and) why?’ and ‘for; because’, cf. e.g.:

Cimbrian, Roana-Mezzaselva


Cimbrian, Luserna


A → Ca

CATEGORIES: SOURCE → PLACE/GOAL (whencewhere), PLACE/GOAL correlative wherethere.
EXAMPLES: (COR)RELATIVE Latin unde ‘where’; INTERROGATIVE, (COR)RELATIVE Tocharian B ente, A äntā(ne) ‘where’; for further examples, see Hackstein 2007:138–142.

Ca → Cb

EXAMPLES: OHG huuanta ‘when, if?’, Tocharian B ente, A äntā(ne) ‘when, if’.

1.2. The functional range of OHG huuanta and ModDutch want

The functional domains of OHG huuanta include its deployment as: a) a causal interrogative, b) a (speech-act) causal conjunction (cf. Handschuh 1964:164, Schrodt 2004:163 f.), and c) a temporal-conditional conjunction. In its inherited and oldest use, OHG huuanta occurs as a causal interrogative. OHG uuanta: quare ‘why?’ is attested in glosses (II,70,64; III,12,63; V,519,5), see Starck and Wells 1983:695, and in Kasseler Gespräche, see Seebold 2008: 898 (s.v. wanta). Further examples include:


Negated OHG (huanta ni,) wanta ne, wanne ‘why not?’, e.g. in early MHG


A → Ba: SOURCE → REASON (whence? → why?).

In order to reconcile the functional difference between OHG huuanta ‘why?’ and the etymologically related interrogatives OCS kǫdě, Latin unde ‘whence?’, the hypothesis that the ablatival-local function is primary and REASON represents a secondary, derived concept turns out to be much likelier than the converse assumption of whywhence. Viewing REASON as the primary concept is a priori unlikely, since Indo-European lacks an inherited, cross-linguistically equatable uniform expression for causal interrogatives. Instead, it exhibits a great variety of linguistically unrelated expressions for REASON interrogatives.

The observed lexical instability of REASON interrogatives is the result of their cognitive complexity. The more abstract a functional concept is, the less homogeneous appears its linguistic expression across related languages. This supposition is borne out both by the interrogatives of PIE and by the Indo-European lexicon. Just as the Indo-European languages diverge tremendously in the expression of REASON interrogatives, so too on the lexical level the Indo-European languages offer a variety of etymologically heterogeneous expressions to denote the concepts of REASON; cf. Buck 1949: 1242 f. (REASON, CAUSE). Whereas interrogatives are more lexically stable in the functional domains of PERSON, THING and PLACE, they tend to be considerably less stable in the functional domain of REASON. Consequently, the linguistic means of expressing interrogative adverbials for REASON exhibit a greater measure of lexical variability (synchronically) and lexical renewal (diachronically).

Among the lexical sources of REASON interrogatives, the path of SOURCEREASON turns out be quite common, cf. Table 1.

Table 1


Table 1

Therefore, OHG huannta ‘why’ can straightforwardly be derived from PIE *kwo-m-dheh1, *kwo-m-dhoh1 ‘whence’.

Ba → Bb: REASON interrogative why?CAUSAL speech-act linker and CAUSAL conjunction ‘for; because’.

Already from the beginning of the OHG transmission, the inherited use of OHG huuanta as ‘why?’ appears as recessive, and is outnumbered by its innovative use as a coordinating causal conjunction, or more precisely as a speech-act linking conjunction. The indications are that OHG huuanta ‘why?’ and wanne ‘why not?’ were on the wane as interrogatives already in the (pre-)OHG period, as they were gradually superseded by analytic expressions like fone wiu, bi wiu ‘why?’. Eventually, MHG want was replaced by war umbe, the source of Modern Germ. warum. But OHG huuanta and wanne survived in functional specialization, being relegated to noninterrogative conjunctional uses. OHG huuanta ‘for; because’ derives from the the well-known shift from why to because; for the interrogative-to-conjunction shift, see the examples and references in § 1.1.2 sub Ba → Bb above.



Old Low Franconian (Old Dutch)


The use of OHG huuanta as an interrogative linker and as the marker of a paratactic speech-act construction turns out to be remarkably robust, persisting in MHG and older Bavarian dialects of German until at least the 19th century as well as from Old Low Franconian (Old Dutch) to present-day Dutch, cf. e.g.

Old Low Franconian (Old Dutch)


Modern Dutch


A → Ca: SOURCE-PLACE METONYMY (whencewhere); and Ca → Cb: PLACETEMPORAL-CONDITIONAL (wherewhen, if).

Additionally, OHG huuanta, MHG wande, wand are deployed as temporal(-conditional) conjunctions. This temporal-conditional use can be accounted for by SOURCE-PLACE METONYMY (whencewhere) and an ensuing relative-conjunction shift from where to when and if.





In what follows I will show that OHG huuanta and ModDutch want are not isolated formations, as etymological matches can be identified in the ancient Italic and the Tocharian branches of Indo-European. The next two sections examine accordingly the formal and constructional history of Latin unde ‘whence’ and Tocharian B ente, A äntā(ne), which turn out to differ in interesting respects from the Germanic forms.

2. The etymology of Latin unde

2.1. Phonological reconstruction

It may be hypothesized that Latin unde ‘whence’ is a cognate of OHG huuanta and derives like the latter from PIE *kwo-m-dheh1, *kwo-m-dhoh1, including the generalized sandhi-forms with loss of the final laryngeal in pausa. An additional possibility is *kwo-m-dho in directional *-o, for which cf. Dunkel 2014a:154–161. Based on forms like alicunde and nēcunde, it can safely be assumed that unde had a velar onset originally.

Lat. ali-cunde ‘from somewhere’:


nē-cunde ‘that from no place, lest from anywhere’:


The further reconstruction of unde and its status as an inner-Latin innovation or an inherited form has been a matter of debate. A proponent of the former view was Pokorny (1959:647), who sought to derive unde from the proportion: i-bi ‘there’: in-de ‘thence’ = u-bi ‘where’: X ‘whence’, X = un-de. Methodologically, however, the mere formal possibility of deriving a form by proportional analogy does not prove this form to be analogical or secondary. After all, for many inherited forms it is possible to set up a proportional analogy that generates them. Thus it would be possible to derive the undisputably inherited interrogative *kwis from a proportion PIE *sos: kwos = *is: X, X = *kwis. Many grammatical forms incidentally form part of proportions and are at the same time inherited, at least within the limits of the Comparative Method. Put differently, formal proportionality does not preclude direct inheritance. There are many indications that tip the scales in favor of considering Lat. unde an inherited interrogative. To begin with, interrogative adverbials in general and those of Latin in particular are typically conservative, and interrogatives tend to be even more conservative in the functional domain of PLACE. The PIE locatival interrogative *kwu- is retained in many branches of Indo-European, cf. Skt. ku- (EWAia I 359), OCS kŭde ‘where’, Lith. kur̃ ‘where(to)’, Oscan puf ‘where’. And crucially, Lat. unde is formally and functionally equatable with OCS kǫdě, which warrants a derivation of both from *kwondhē̆ < PIE *kwomdhe(h1). (Schmidt [1962:29]: “Man wird ihm [Lat. unde] wegen slav. kǫd-, das idg. *qwu-n-dh- sein kann, vor-ital. Alter zubilligen dürfen.”)

Notorious formal questions concern the reconstruction of the vocalism and the voiced dental in the PIE form underlying unde. Concerning the vocalism, it has often been proposed to reconstruct the onset of cunde as *kwu-m: cf. e.g., Meiser (1998:99), deriving unde like ubi from PIE *kwu-; Weiss (2009: 354): “*kwu-, a variant of the interrogative-indefinite stem”; and de Vaan (2008:647): “interrogative stem *kwu- in ubī, unde, ut”. But Oscan pún, pon, Umbrian pune, ponne ‘when, if’ (Untermann 2000:604 f.) and OCS kǫdě ‘whence’ point to *kwom-, as rightly acknowledged by Stüber (2012:409) and Dunkel (2014b: 154). The dental suffix -de in Latin unde has usually been identified with the directional suffix *-de/o, for which compare *-de/o ‘dazu, andererseits’ (Dunkel 2014a: 224), *-, *deh1 ‘in Richtung, zu—hin’ (Dunkel 2014b: 150 f.), Gk. ὅνδε δόμονδε ‘to his house’ (Dunkel 2014a: 52). The same holds for Oscan pún, pon, Umbrian pune, ponne (with -nd- > -nn-, see Meiser 1986:94; *en-dom > Umbrian ennom ‘then’, Meiser 1986:111).

As for the voiced dental, it has been widely held that that Lat. -nd- can only come from PIE *-nd- (Rix 1995:406 f., Meiser 1998:192, Weiss 2009:434), and that likewise Sabellic -nn- points unequivocally to PIE *-nd-. But there is in fact evidence to bolster the phonetic development of PIE *-ndh- > Lat. -nd-; cf. already Sommer (1948:179) on Lat. con-dere ‘compose, lay the foundation, found’, and cf. furthermore the possibility of deriving Lat. defendere from impv. *fen-de < *gwhn̥-dhí (Kümmel in LIV 219 n. 4) or uādere from impv. uāde < *gweh2dhi (Garnier 2010).7 For Sabellic, Kümmel (2014) has recently shown that geminate -nn- permits a reconstruction as either *-n- plus nonaspirated *-d- or *-n- plus aspirated *-dh-. Consequently, Latin unde is compatible not only with a protofom in *-de, as was previously believed, but also with a protofom in locatival *-dhe/o- (cf. Dunkel 2014a 120 f., and cf. *kwudhei̯ > Lat. ubī ‘where’).

2.2. The functional range of Latin unde

The functional range of Latin unde overlaps with that of OHG huuanta.

A: SOURCE, PLACE, DIRECTION, whence, where, whereto?

Ablatival function ‘from which place, whence’, cf. e.g.


A → Ba: SOURCE → REASON (whence? → why?).


Ba → Ca: SOURCE → PLACE (whencewhere), PLACE correlative wherethere, cf.


Cf. Hofmann and Szantyr (1972:209 f.) on Late Lat. unde = ubi.



In short, Lat. unde ‘whence’ is formally and functionally reconcilable with OHG huuanta and Dutch want.

3. The etymology of Tocharian B ente ‘where?’, ‘when, if’, A äntā ‘where?’, äntā-ne ‘where’

The establishment of Latin unde as a cognate of OHG huuanta and ModDutch want does not exhaust the etymological possibilities. This section will make a case for including Toch. B ente ‘where?’, ‘when, if’, A äntā ‘where?’, äntāne ‘where’ in the list of comparanda of OHG huuanta.

3.1. Phonological reconstruction: aphaeresis, dental development and vowel weakening

Like OHG huuanta and Latin unde, both Toch. B ente and Toch. A äntā appear as PLACE interrogatives and locative and temporal-conditional conjunctions, thus meeting the minimal conditions for being functionally equatable. The previous proposal, advanced by Adams (2013), sought to derive B ente from PToch. *en-te, where *en- and weakened *än-, in- are from the demonstrative stem *h1eno-, *h1ono- (Adams 2013:69) and “*-te must be from PIE ablative *tōd” (Adams 2013: 91). But it is difficult to imagine where the interrogative function of Toch. B ente ‘where?’, A äntā ‘where?’ could come from if the underlying stem is a demonstrative pronoun. An alternative and simpler proposal is to derive Toch. B ente from PIE *kwo-m-dho(h1) or *kwo-m-do(h1), and Toch. A äntā(ne) from *kwo-m-dha(h2) or *kwo-m-da(h2) (suffixed with allative *-ah2). This account presupposes the operation of velar aphaeresis (as in Latin), a phonological development PIE *-nd- > Toch. -nt-, and vowel weakening in the initial syllable in Tocharian A. Let us address each of these issues in turn.

3.1.1. Aphaeresis in clause-initial interrogatives and wh-movement in Latin, Armenian and Tocharian

A case can be made for aphaeresis in clause-initial interrogatives and for wh-movement in Latin, Armenian and Tocharian. In general, aphaeresis describes the tendency to eliminate segments in unstressed initial syllables, e.g., Engl. alonelone. More precisely, however, the evidence demonstrates that aphaeresis tends to target utterance-initial (= sentence-initial) and clause-initial phrasal onsets more often than the onsets of subphrasal onsets that more likely occur utterance- and phrase-internally. This raises the question whether there is a connection between utterance-initial placement and aphaeresis, and what its explanation might be. To begin with, utterance-initial segments and clause-initial onsets are prone to show weak articulation, as was already observed by Jespersen (1917:6), who referred to the process as prosiopesis ‘silencing’ and used it to explain the sentence-initial elision of negations. But the deeper mechanism behind utterance initial reduction may be sought in a lag in the articulatory planning and synchronicization of utterance-initial segments.8 Evidence can be adduced that points in this direction. There are contrasting treatments with and without aphaeresis, such as the following.

Aphaeresis in demonstrative pronouns:

In North Germanic, the onset of the neuter demonstrative undergoes elision when used as clause-initial complementizer (OIc. þatat) while being retained in the (mostly) phrase-initial demonstrative (OIc. þat).

Aphaeresis in personal pronouns:

Across Indo-European, there is “a cross-linguistic tendency for personal and demonstrative pronouns to aphaeretize” (see Katz 1998:102), which likewise originates from their tendency to occur utterance-initially.

Aphaeresis in interrogative pronouns:

  1. a. In Latin, aphaeresis affects *cunde sentence- and clause-initially, when used as an interrogative and relative, but not phrase-internally necunde.
  2. b. Classical Armenian inčc ‘something’ from *[kw]im=kwid shows the phrase-initial operation of aphaeresis while leaving the onset of the phrase-internal constituent =kwid intact. Another example is the Classical Armenian complementizer etce, univerbated from e and tce PIE *[kw]e(h1) te(h1) ‘how so?’ (cf. Goth. ƕe ‘how?’; and OE. þe demonstr. instr. ‘by which’ and relative particle, Homeric Greek τῆ ‘here’).
  3. Alternative explanations for the loss of the interrogatives onsets in Italic and Armenian have been proposed, but all of these suffer from drawbacks. In the case of Italic, scholars have invoked resegmentation (indefinite ne|cubinec|ubi >> interrogative ubi), but the spread of the resegmented ubi from the negated indefinite to the interrogative would reverse the more natural and expected directionality of analogical extension from basic to derived. In the case of Armenian, it has been proposed to attribute aphaeresis in Arm. interrogatives to a dissimilatory loss *k…k… → Ø…k…, e.g. *[kw]im kwid > Arm. inčc ‘something’, cf. Skt. kiṃ-cit (e.g. de Lamberterie 2013:43), but in Armenian aphaeresis also occurs outside this context, cf. PIE *kwo- > Arm. o- (or ‘who’), *kwu-r > Arm. ow-r ‘where’, PIE *kwesi̯o > ēr ‘whose’.

  4. c. In Tocharian, aphaeresis targets disyllabic interrogatives and relatives that have destressed their first syllable by accent protraction. Aphaeresis indisputably occurs in Toch. B k u > ‘what; that’ and is restricted to disyllabic oxytone interrogatives, e.g. Toch. B k u , k u se, ce.
  5. Another example of aphaeresis is Toch. A ‘where?’ < PIE *kwi/kwu=téh2, with *teh2 being the PIE allative of demonstrative *to-, see Pinault (2014: 301). It has not yet been recognized that under this reconstruction, Toch. A ‘where’ forms an equation with HLuw. kwita ‘where’ < PIE *kwid=teh2; cf. Hitt. adv. conj. kuwatta(n) ‘whence’, kuwatta kuwatta ‘wherever’, kuwattin kuwattin ‘wherever-to’ (Plöchl 2003:90 f.).

  • HLuw. kwita ‘where’ would thus support the explanation of Toch. A as an aphaeresized *ku.

  • In Tocharian, aphaeresis shows all the earmarks of a vernacular phonostylistic phenomenon with the possibility of the generalization of phonostylistically reduced variants, as would be the case with Toch. A under the present explanation.

In sum, considering the possible involvement of phonostylistics and that aphaeresis typically affects conjunctions and interrogatives, the possibility of a unified account for Latin, Armenian and Tocharian emerges. In all three languages, aphaeresis targets weakly stressed utterance-initial segments. Invoking aphaeresis for Latin unde and ubi is supported by the fact that other languages show aphaeresis in interrogatives on condition that these languages place their interrogatives clause-initially by wh-movement. The presence of aphaeresis in Tocharian interrogatives therefore strongly indicates that Tocharian, too, was a wh-movement language, thus testifying against wh-in-situ. (Note that wh-movement in Tocharian as well as in Hittite could be masked by topicalization movement, cf. already Hackstein 2004a:351 n. 7.)

3.1.2. PIE *-ndh- and -nd- > Tocharian -nt-

Turning to the development of the dental, Toch. -nt- as in Toch. B ente may continue either PIE *-ndh- (e.g. Toch. AB länt- < *h1lu-n-dh-) or PIE *-nd-. In the latter case, affrication of PIE *d fails to occur when *d is adjacent to nasals. Examples include:

PIE *skedh2-: *skd-n-h2- > B katnaṃ ‘strews, spreads’ (Ringe 1996: 147): Gk. σκίδνημι ‘I spread’.
PIE *spend- > AB spänt- ‘trust’ (Malzahn 2010: 968): Lat. spondēre ‘vow’.
PIE *splend- > AB plānt- ‘rejoice’ (Malzahn 2010:742): Lat. splendēre ‘shine’.

Hence Toch. B ente may descend from either *kwo-m-dho(h1) or *kwo-m-do(h1), or from *kwo-m-dho in directional *-o, for which cf. Dunkel 2014a:154–161.

3.1.3. Vowel weakening in Tocharian A äntā(-ne)

The final phonological question to be treated concerns the weakened vocalic onset of Tocharian A äntā(-ne). While the differing onsets of B ente and A äntā-ne may appear as incompatible, they turn out to be reconcilable under the assumption of vowel weakening by destressing and proclisis. When unstressed (in absolute final position) and destressed (in proclitics), Toch. B -e-/-a- also yields -ä- (Hackstein 2004b:289). Examples include unstressed bound morphemes:

PIE *-th2a > PToch. 2sg. act. pres./sbj./opt. *- (cf. Peters 2004:438 n. 40);

and initial free and bound morphemes that are destressed in the wake of a proclitic accent shift (see Hackstein 2011 for a documentation of this phenomenon in various Indo-European languages):

  1. a. PIE demonstrative *so > TB se versus *so ú > *sæ-ú > *sä-ú > TB su;
  2. b. PIE interrogative-relative stem *mo(s) kwis=só-u > TB mäksú, see Pinault (2010:359, 362), Hackstein (2014a:283);
  3. c. PIE adverb, adposition *po-sth2-ú- > local particle and preverb B pestä ~ pästä ‘away’; cf. Peyrot 2008:164 f.: “I assume that we have a phonetic development here, although a sound law e > ə is not well established. The change of e to ə could be an instance of irregular phonological reduction due to the weak accentuation of the particle-like adverb.”;
  4. d. PIE negation * > PToch. *ma > TB versus ma-ntá > unstressed mä-ntá ‘not at all’ (e.g. B 284b7, 295a7).

3.2. The functional range of Toch. B ente, A äntāne

Tocharian B ente

A: SOURCE, PLACE, DIRECTION, whence, where, whereto?

A → Ca: SOURCE → PLACE (whencewhere), PLACE correlative wherethere.

Toch. B ente functions as a locative interrogative-relative (cf. Peyrot 2013:377 f., Adams 2015:32 f.) and translates Skt. kuttra ‘where?’ (SI P/65b1, a2, Pinault 2002:314). Textual attestations include





Temporal: Toch. B inte translates Skt. yadā ‘when’ (B541 b2). For further attestations, see Adams (2015:32). Toch. B ente ente is indefinite temporal.




Tocharian A

A → Ca: SOURCE → PLACE (whencewhere), PLACE correlative wherethere.

Interrogative, local:


A → Cb: PLACETEMPORAL (wherewhen).


(For further attestations, see Sieg, Siegling and Schulze 1931:182 (), 182 f. (äntāne), and DThTA 60.)

4. Synthesis

The reconstruction of OHG huuanta as an inherited interrogative conforms to a morphological and semantic template that recurs in Latin and Tocharian. The morphological template consists in an ablatival-directional expression, i.e. an ablatival interrogative *kwo-m plus suffixed locatival-directional morpheme, which for all three branches can be posited as *-dhe/o-, Latin and Tocharian additionally allowing for *-de/o-, cf. the overview in Table 2.

Table 2

Summary of possible reconstructions of OHG huuanta, Dutch want, Lat. unde, Toch. B. ente, Toch. A äntā(ne)

Table 2

The three interrogatives and conjunctions, OHG huuanta, Latin unde and Toch. B ente, A äntā(ne), exhibit the same array of functions. Their (original) core function is ablatival-directional. The semantic development involves a possible shift from ablatival to causal meaning, as in the case of OHG huuanta (whence > why) and Lat. unde, or from ablatival-directional to locatival-directional meaning (whence > where), as in the case of Lat. unde and Toch. B ente, A äntāne. The shift from whence to where accords with the typologically observed preferential focus on GOAL in motion events. The data presented in this paper thus confirm that in a projective SOURCE-GOAL motion, GOAL is the unmarked, cognitively more salient concept, cf. Fillmore 1997, Stefanowitsch and Rohde 2004, Zwarts 2010.


  1. ANS Algemene Nederlandse Spraakkunst. Versie 1.2. ANS 26-4-1-1 f. accessed 11 June 2012 at and
  2. DThTA Gerd Carling in collaboration with Georges-Jean Pinault and Werner Winter. Dictionary and Thesaurus of Tocharian A. Vol. 1:AJ. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
  3. EWAhd Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Althochdeutschen. Herausgegeben von Albert L. Lloyd und Rosemarie Lühr. Band IV gâba—hylare. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
  4. EWAia Manfred, Mayrhofer, Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen. 3 Bände. Heidelberg 1992 ff.: Carl Winter Universitätsverlag.
  5. EWNl 4 Etymologisch woordenboek van het Nederlands. SZ. Onder hoofdredactie van dr. Marlies Philippa, dr. Frans Debrabandere, prof. dr. Arend Quak, dr. Tanneke Schoonheim en dr. Nicoline van der Sijs. Amsterdam 2009: Amsterdam University Press.
  6. LIV Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben. Zweite, erweiterte und verbesserte Auflage bearbeitet von Martin Kümmel und Helmut Rix. Wiesbaden 2001: Reichert Verlag.


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Earlier versions of this paper were read on June 7, 2015 in Vienna at the 34th East Coast Indo-European Conference, and on May 19, 2017 at the 10th Jenaer Mai-Kolloquium. Many thanks for the feedback of both audiences, as well as to Ron Kim, Laura Sturm, Ryan Sandell, and an anonymous reviewer for their help in correcting a preliminary version of this article. All remaining flaws are entirely my own responsibility.


PIE unspirated *-de, as posited by Schrodt (2004:144), is phonologically incompatible with -t- in OHG huuanta.


“Ontwikkeld (met assimilatie van -m- aan de dentaal) uit pie. *kwom-dhe-, afgeleid van de vragende voornaamwoordstam *kwo-.” (Philippa 2009 = EWNl 4, 594).


Cf. inde=usque=ad diurnam stellam crastinam potabimus ‘Then we shall drink till tomorrow’s morning star’ (Pl. Men. 175; trsl. de Melo). OLat. inde usque ad yields a purely directional expression in French jusqu’ à ‘until’, see Opfermann (2016:229 ff.).


Oscan dat was previously explained as an ad-hoc ablative of the pronominal stem *do-/-, cf. Untermann 2000:156 (“Wahrscheinlich < *dād, urspr. Abl. Sg. eines Pron.-Stammes *do-/-”); to be analyzed as ablatival d(e) + directional ad (as attested in Osc. ad-púd ‘as long as’).


Susque deque fero’ ⟨autsusque deque sum’⟩ autsusque deque habeo’—his enim omnibus modis dicitur—verbum est ex hominum doctorum sermonibus. ‘I’m taking/carrying it up and down, to and fro = it’s equal to me …’ (Gellius NA 16, 9, 1/27).


Differently Wackernagel (1926:209) in favor of a purely directional function: idg. * directional ‘in der Richtung’, with accusative argument → directional meaning ‘hin … zu’, with ablative argument → ablatival meaning ‘von … her’. For another account, cf. Dunkel (2014b:156): the ablatival meaning of *de arose by “Gliederungsverschiebung” [syntagmatic reanalysis] (as if Gk. δόμονδε Τροίηθεν ≈ Lat. domum de Troia ‘homewards, from Troia’).


On de-imperatival derivatives, cf. Garnier 2010 and Dunkel 2014a:54, e.g. *h1idhiOCS idoͅ, and Narten-present imperative, as S. Neri reminds me, *h1ed-dhí > *ἐσθί → ἐσθίω; cf. Schwyzer (1938:713 fn. 6) with lit.


In the case of habitualized and frequent phrases chunking-related phonological reduction might also have played a role, e.g., Engl. excuse me → ’scuse me. On phonetic reduction in chunking (and univerbation), see Bybee and Scheibmann 1999, and Hackstein 2014 with examples from older Indo-European languages.

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