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Greek and the Indo-European Verb

In: Mnemosyne
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  • 1 Institut für Linguistik, Abteilung Historisch-Vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft, Universität zu Köln
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Abstract

This article reviews Andreas Willi’s study of the history and prehistory of the Greek and Proto-Indo-European (PIE) verbal system which tries to put the data of one of the ‘classical’ languages of PIE reconstruction back onto the centre stage after much attention has been given to Anatolian (Hittite, etc.) and Tocharian in recent decades. It argues that in the earliest reconstructable phase PIE had ergative alignment and that the switch to nominative-accusative alignment triggered a series of changes leading to the distribution of stem formations found in Greek and other ancient PIE languages (root aorists, reduplicated aorists and presents, thematic aorists and presents, s-aorists and s-futures, etc.). The review tries to show that the study presents a series of thought-provoking and well-argued hypotheses, while with its focus on prehistory its philological analyses tend to rely on a few chosen examples.

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