Character of the Indo-European moods with special regard to Greek and Sanskrit

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When the present is found not to be distinctive enough, periphrastic forms come in. In other languages, like Latin and Greek, there is constant confusion between subjunctive and future forms.


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The future perfect is, strictly speaking, only a future made from a perfect stem; in the Latin sense it is certainly a late development, and even in early Latin, videro has occasionally no different meaning from videbo. The imperative, which was originally an exclamatory form to the verb, of the same kind as the vocative was to the noun, and which consisted simply of the verb stem without further suffixes, developed, partly on the analogy of the present and partly with the help of adverbs, a complete paradigm. The infinitives of all the languages are noun cases, generally stereotyped in form and no longer in touch with a noun system, though this, e.

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The participles differ only from other adjectives in governing the same case as their verb; and this is not an early distinction, for in the earliest Sanskrit all verbal nouns may govern the same case as their verb. The system here sketched in the barest outline tended steadily to fall into decay. The case system was not extensive enough to express even the commonest relations. Thus there was no means of distinguishing by the cases between starting from outside and starting from inside, ideas which, e. Finnish regards as requiring separate cases; without a preposition it was impossible to distinguish between on and in , though to the person concerned there is much difference, for example between being on a river and in a river.

There are other difficulties of the same kind.

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These had to be got over by the use of adverbs. But no sooner had the adverbs become well established for the purpose of defining these local relations than the meaning was felt to exist more in the adverb than in the case ending. For this syntactical reason, as well as for mechanical reasons arising from accent q. In Sanskrit it has been kept entire, in Balto-Slavonic the only loss has been the disappearance of the original genitive and its replacement by the ablative. In Latin the locative has been confused with the genitive and the ablative, and the instrumental with the ablative.

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The loss of the locative as an independent case had not long preceded historical times, because it survives in Oscan, the kindred dialect of the neighbouring Campania. Greek has confused ablative with genitive, except for one small relic recently discovered on an inscription at Delphi; in the consonant stems it has replaced the dative by the locative form and confused in it dative, locative and instrumental meanings. In some other members of the family, e. Germanic, the confusion has gone still farther.

The fate of the verb is similar, though the two paradigms do not necessarily decay at the same rate. Thus Latin has modified its verb system much more than its noun system, and Greek, while reducing seriously its noun forms, shows a very elaborate verb system, which has no parallel except in the Aryan group. From the syntactical point of view, however, the Greek system is much superior to the Aryan, which has converted its perfect into a past tense in classical Sanskrit, and to a large extent lost grip of the moods.


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The decay in Aryan may be largely attributed to the power, which this group developed beyond any other, of making compounds which in practice took the place of subordinate sentences to a large extent. The causes for the modifications which the Latin verb system has undergone are more obscure, but they are shared not only by its immediate neighbours the other Italic dialects, but also to a great degree by the more remote Celtic dialects.

The origin and spread of the Indo-European languages has long been, and remains, a vexed question. No sooner had Bopp laid the foundation of Comparative Philology in his great work, the first edition of which appeared in , than this question began to be seriously considered. The earlier writers agreed in regarding Asia as the original home of the speakers of these languages.

For this belief there were various grounds,—statements in the Biblical record, the greater originality according to Schlegel of Sanskrit, the absurd belief that the migrations of mankind always proceeded towards the west. The view propounded by an English philologist, Dr R. Latham, that the original home was in Europe, was scouted by one of the most eminent writers on the subject—Victor Hehn—as lunacy possible only to one who lived in a country of cranks. At 60 the systems crossed, and 60 was a very characteristic element in Assyrian numeration, whence come our minutes and seconds and many other units.

Reinach, op. Truth to tell, however, we are not yet ready to fix the site of the original home. Before this can be done, many factors as yet imperfectly known must be more completely ascertained. The prehistoric conditions of Northern, Western, Central and South-eastern Europe have been carefully investigated, but important new discoveries are still continually being made.

The Future Imperative of Indo-European - Persée

Investigation of other parts of Europe is less complete, and prehistoric conditions in Asia are at present very imperfectly known. In Western Europe two prehistoric races are known, the palaeolithic and the neolithic. The former, distinguished by their great skill in drawing figures of animals, especially the horse, the reindeer, and the mammoth, preceded the period of the Great Ice Age which rendered Northern Europe to the latitude of London and Berlin uninhabitable for a period, the length of which, as of all geological ages, cannot definitely be ascertained.

For the present purpose, however, this is of less importance, because it is not claimed that the Indo-European stock is of so great antiquity. But when the ice again retreated it must have been long before Northern Europe could have maintained a population of human beings. The disappearance of the surface ice must have been followed by a long period when ice still remained underground, and the surface was occupied by swamps and barren tundras, as Northern Siberia is now.

When a human population once more occupied Northern Europe it is impossible to estimate in years. The problem may be attacked from the opposite direction. How long would it have taken for the Indo-European stock to spread from its original home to its modern areas of occupation? Some recent writers say that it is unnecessary to carry the stock back farther than B. Wherever the original home was situated, this date is probably fixed too low. The discussion, moreover, is in danger not only of moving in one vicious circle but in two.

But the truth of this hypothesis is much more difficult to demonstrate.

In most countries known to the ancients where blond hair prevailed, at the present day dark or brown hair is much more in evidence. Moreover the colour of fair hair often varies from childhood to middle life, and the flaxen hair of youth is very frequently replaced by a much darker shade in the adult. This, however, is anything but certain, even when Vacher de Lapouge has collected all the passages in ancient writers which bear upon the subject. When Diodorus v. The ethnological argument as to long-headed and short-headed races dolichocephalic and brachycephalic seems untrustworthy, because in countries described as dolichocephalic short skulls abound and vice versa.

Moreover this classification, to which much more attention has been devoted than its inventor Retzius ever intended, is in itself unsatisfactory. The relation between the length and breadth of the head without consideration of the total size is clearly an unsatisfactory criterion. Anthropologists appear now to recognize this themselves. The argument from physical geography seems more important. But here also no certain answer can be obtained till more is known of the conditions, in early times, of the eastern part of the area.

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Indo-European Languages

According to Ratzel [7] the Caspian was once very much larger than it is now, and to the north of it there extended a great area of swamp, which made it practically impossible for the Indo-European race to have crossed north of the Caspian from either continent to the other. At an early period the Caspian and Black Sea were connected, and the Sea of Marmora and the Dardanelles were represented by a river which entered the Aegean at a point near the island of Andros.

While the northern Aegean was still land divided only by a river, it is clear that migration from south-eastern Europe to Asia Minor, or reversely, might have taken place with ease. Even in much later times the Dardanelles have formed no serious barrier to migration in either direction. At the dawn of history, Thracian tribes crossed it and founded, it seems, the Phrygian and Armenian stock in Asia Minor; the Gauls at a later time followed the same road, as did Alexander the Great a generation earlier. At the end of the middle ages, Asia sent by way of the Dardanelles the invading Turks into Europe.

The Greeks, a nation of seafarers, on the other hand reached Asia directly across the Aegean, using the islands, as it were, as stepping-stones. Though much more attention has been devoted to the subject by recent writers than was earlier the practice, it is doubtful whether migration by sea has even now been assigned its full importance. As time goes on, evidence seems more and more to tend to confirm the truth of the great migrations by sea, recorded by Herodotus, of Lydians to Etruria, of Eteocretans both to east and west.

An argument in favour of the original Indo-Europeans being seated in north-western Germany has been developed by G. It has certainly not been generally received with favour, and as Kossinna himself affirms that the classification of prehistoric pottery is still an undeveloped science, his theory is clearly at present unequal to the weight of such a superstructure as he would build upon it.

As the allied sciences are not prepared with an answer, it is necessary to fall back upon the Indo-European languages themselves. The attempt has often been made to ascertain both the position of the original home and the stage of civilization which the original community had reached from a consideration of the vocabulary for plants and animals common to the various languages of the Indo-European family.