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Subject: Re: etymology of Copula: -did, -id, -d/-t
From: Elliott Lash <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 19 Dec 2007 01:51:50 -0800

text/plain (65 lines)

I tend to agree with David that these forms are very
difficult and unclear. I'm not sure if deriving it
from a form with a verb (i.e. 'esti') is at all
needed. Plently of languages create copulas from
particles which have no original verbal force - this
is perfectly natural as the copula's verbal force is
virtually nil. Given this other copula form that David
mentions (nis), I would hazard a guess that at least
some forms of the copula could have started out as
pronouns. This is well attested for various languages:
Hebrew, Akkadian, Arabic, Maltese, Amharic, Coptic,
Beja, Nubian, Margi, Kanuri, Nuer, Shilluk ...etc. And
just because most of these are 'exotic' languages,
doesn't mean that we should rule out their data. 
Anyway, my guess then, would be that some 3rd person
pronouns became copula morphemes. This may explain the
coincidence between -s- in (nis) and the -s- in
infixed 3pl pronouns as well as the coincidence
between -did-, -id-, -d- and 3s masculine pronouns and
the copula.  

 Anyway, I'll look up more information today about
this. All of the above are just my ideas right now,
nothing definite. 

--- David Stifter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Dennis wrote:
> > I see that David derives those forms from
> Proto-Celtic *-de esti in
> > _Sengoídelc_ (p. 121).
> Well, to be honest, this was just an attempt. These
> forms are far
> from clear.
> But speaking of the copula, I noted the other day
> that in some early
> Irish law texts, e.g. from the Senchas Már, there
> appears to be a
> negative 3rd pl of the copula "nís" "they are not".
> Thurneysen
> mentions them in ZCPh 20. I had never noticed them
> before; but my
> colleague Aaron Griffith discovered a puzzling
> instance of a gloss
> ".i. nís" in the Milan MS; a gloss that is neither
> recorded in
> ThesPal, nor in the earlier and often better work of
> Ascoli. The
> problem with that particular gloss, however, is that
> it is not clear
> at all what it refers to.
> David

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