LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 45, No. 1 - Spring 1999
Editor of this issue: Violeta Kelertas
Copyright © 1999 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
AORIST OR FUTURE?
HARVEY E. MAYER
At AABS 1998 I told Bill. J. Darden that I had read his (1995) with great interest and had even written this article in response to it. He expressed interest in receiving a copy of it. It contains the following suggestions for continuing Darden (1995).
I advise Darden to consider carefully some of the new things which Levin has been saying. They show that Levin has been silently paying attention to me. In his 1994 AABS conference address, he talked about Baltic's and Slavic's having been mutually opposed systems and, very likely, intentionally so. No more talk about that old time illusion, the "Balto-Slavic" protolanguage. I was waiting for Levin to mention that his "change of heart" had come from my having influenced him. From his having heard me proving the "Balto-Slavic" protolanguage as a fiction at earlier AABS conferences. From his having read my articles proving this. I am still waiting. As for Darden, I also suggest that he study Klimas (1996) as well which talks about Lithuanian's using "formal/real future tense to describe an action in the past" (p. 71). This together with what I am about to say will form an indispensable framework and add vital perspective to what he, Darden, might say. Especially since he might want to eliminate what might be considered two shortcomings in Darden (1995).
Darden's minor error of having named črėsti OCS when it was, in fact, Old Russian can easily be corrected. But there is his having seen no systematic motivation for Slavic's preferred use of s-forms for the aorist versus Baltic's preferred use of s-forms for the future, sometimes with length differences between the two. And then there is his having implied by omission of Latvian and Prussian evidence in his pp. 217, 220 remarks on Slavic long o-suffixed infinitive-aorist-future stems versus Lithuanian lack of this suffix (and, really, any suffix) in cognate stems that this is true of all Baltic. This seems to need revision. Especially when we consider Darden's leading example, OCS p'sati, p'sax"/Lith.. piẽšti, piẽš and are not told about Prussian peisāton, a past passive participle with long ā in that very stem with a conceivable future *peisās.
As for motivations of choice, Darden may continue Darden (1995) and improve it by applying Levin's suggestions and Klimas's data in somewhat the following way. Darden (1995: 221-222) assumes limited distributions of s-aorists and s-futures to different stems at the end of Balto-Slavic which he sees as a protolanguage but should see as an early dialect or language cluster (Sprachbund) to explain the otherwise unexpected diametrical oppositions of choices of functions of these s-forms. Thus, if there was one Balto-Slavic language, why should the Slavic and Baltic branches have decided to differ? What made "Slavo-Balts" say: "s-forms are now futures?" Darden may wish to alter entirely his opinion supporting the Balto-Slavic protolanguage theory. Especially if he considers the following.
If Baltic and Slavic had always been Indo-European entities separate from one another, the extreme difference in choices is readily explainable. Two related but distinct linguistic entities clashing against one another. And for all we know from available data, the stems to which s-forms, aorist or future, were affixed (with, presumably, specific tense markers), might indeed have been originally identical with further differences developed later.
With Levin's mutually opposing systems in mind, we note that at the oldest levels of morphology, Slavic maximally opposes its s-aorists to Baltic's futures by length (OCS vės'YLith. vès), by grade (OCS vlėx/Lith. vilks, and this opposition reversed in the present: OCS v' lko/Lith. velkù), by the more frequent keeping of zero grade in the aorist stem versus full grade in the present stem (OCS p'sax"/piše-(*peik'-je-) vs. Lith. piẽš, piẽšia; OCS z" vax" /zove- vs. Lith žavės, žāvi, Latv. žavės, zavẽju; OCS z'dax"/zižde- (*g'heidh-je-) vs. Lith. žiẽs, žiẽdžia. A revised Darden (1995) will note that it is not so that the opposition is presence versus Baltic absence of a suffix as we shall see from the following contrary examples: Slavic and Baltic suffix presence, long vowels -ā-/-ẽ-(OCS z"vax" and Lith. žavės, Latv. zavẽs): Slavic absence versus Baltic presence of a suffix (zero versus long ẽ in OCS tẽx" (*tẽk-s-)/Lith tekės, Latv. tecẽs, OCS klęs"/Lith. klentẽs and zero versus long ĩ in OCS čis" (*kĩt-s-)/Lith. skaitys, Latv. skàitis together with different Slavic versus Baltic grades: Slavic zero in OCS čis", č't e-/Baltic a from Indo-European o in Lith. skaitys, skaĩto; Latv. skàitĩs, skàita regardless of tense). See below for a full explanation of this.
To expand our understanding of s-form length and grade oppositions, note the following. The following OCS/Lith., Latv. examples are clear: žax"/dègs, grės"/Latv. grebs, nės"/nèš, vės"/vès, vrės"/verš, tèėx"/tekės, bljus"/baũs, čis"/skaitys, skàitis; vlėx"/vilks, bas"/bès, -cvis-/Latv. kvitės (note also OCS -cvis"/-cv'te- versus Latv. kvitės, kvitu). The following are not clear as to grade and length mostly because of the Slavic: lęx"/leñks, męs"/mẽs, klęs"/klentė's; tręs"/trims, trems; ęs"/ims, pęs"/pins, čęs"/Latv. cĩslės.
Finally, to complete our understanding of motivations of choice, let us turn to Klimas (1996) coupled with Slavic residues of s-futures seen in the context of standard versus anti-standard Baltic versus Slavic tense choices for s-forms. Klimas (1996: 71-72) says that Lithuanian formal/real futures are used to express "certain sudden, unexpected past" actions and gives the following examples partially reproduced: "...ėjome, ...kad užrėks...; Lijo... kad trenks...; ėjome... kad spirs" with the futures as past tense translated as: "all of a sudden shrieked, suddenly struck, just kicked" and with the following interpretations: ("formally a future tense and) literally (it) means "will screech", "will strike", "will kick", but (here) the (real) meaning is past/kicked". Compared with the Old Russ., Russ. Church Slavic (not OCS) future participle byėšęščee, byšąščee (neuter only, not mase. -šč') and Old Czech probyšùčný based on a future participle, the Lithuanian past tense uses of future forms allow us to draw the following conclusions. Both the Slavic forms and the Lithuanian usage here are marginal and represent what I call "anti-standard" applications. Originally, I believe, the s-morpheme could mark both the future and the past in (what was to become) both Baltic and Slavic. As the two Indo-European entities clashed, to emphasize distinctness, differentness, (Pre-) Baits chose to use the s-forms as futures while (Pre-) Slavs chose to use the s-forms as pasts, as aorists for standard functions. For anti-standard functions, the two peoples reversed these procedures with (Pre-) Baits using s-forms as pasts while (Pre-) Slavs used them as futures. Though Slavic anti-standard usage dwindled to one verb stem, "to be", these were formally non-past with the suffixes *-otj-/*ętj-. And though Baltic anti-standard usage have maintained a language-wide distribution, none display past tense morphemes, none are formally past tense. This difference may also be included in the system of Baltic versus Slavic oppositions suggested by Levin. I explain Slavic's continued maintenance of formally non-past s-forms as a geographic phenomenon. Only those dialects originally farthest away from Baltic, ultimately represented by, originally, South Slavic (now reflected by borrowing in Old Russian, Russian Church Slavic) and western-most West Slavic, Old Czech, which shares more with South Slavic in features than do other West Slavic languages, did so. Only South Slavic and Old Czech, ultimately, could escape Baltic influence, at least, direct influence. Baltic could not do this so unambiguously as to form since, ultimately, none of its dialects could escape Slavic.
As for suffixless versus suffixed infinitive-aorist-future stems, Darden in his improved and amplified Darden (1995) would probably want to discuss them as parts of a comprehensive problem in, possibly, somewhat the following way. Both Baltic and Slavic inherited from Indo-European unsuf-fixed stems. For various functions, both developed suffixed forms, the first of which, I believe, included long -ä- whose function seems to have been intensive-iterative. Sometimes, for various reasons, only the suffixed form has remained.
A good example of this is provided by the verb "to know". We find suffixed forms throughout Baltic and Slavic: Prus. ersinnät, Latv. zinât, Lith. žinoti (with o from long ä), OCS znati. We still find unsuffixed forms of this verb in Lith. pažinti and Latv. (pa)zĩt, but none attested in Prussian or Slavic which originally had been geographically less remote from the cultural center of Europe. A Prussian form may someday be found. Its Slavic equivalent, *zęsti, has surely vanished forever, most likely, once it began to resemble forms of the noun zęt' 'son-in-law'.
Of North Baltic, Latvian appears to have kept the long ã-suffix better than East Baltic Lithuanian. That is because Latvian is, like Prussian, West Baltic (see Mayer, 1993) and, therefore, seems to have more forms matching those in Slavic which, I believe, was originally to the west of Lithuanian and, therefore, western (see Mayer, 1993) as the following examples suggest: Latv. dirãt (OCS d'rati), kūsãt, gvalzãt (iter.), gvelsãt (iter.), Dial, rindãt, šnãpâd, Dial, šnūkât (iter., Russ. xnykat', njuxat'), tenkât (Russ. tjakat') with no Lith. counterparts opposed by the following Latv. example with Lith. and Russ. counterparts: dragât (Lith. Dial, drãgoti, dragóti, Russ. dërgat'), and, finally, by one reversed relationship which I found: Lith. Dial, lūgóti (OCS l"gati) with no Latvian counterpart in long ä (i.e., only lūgt).
Rather than long a, Northeast Baltic, i.e., Lithuanian, seems to have developed or favored another vowel, long ï, for its intensive-iterative suffix as we see from the following: Lith. intensive: sprangýti (Latv. sprañgât), but which has another function, causative, in Lith. minkyti which we also find in Latv. mïcït where this function is shared by the suffix, long ë, in zaudët (Lith. žudyti), and the suffix -inât in skubinât with parallel Lith. suffix -inti in skùbinti. Now Latv. suffix -indt can also match Lith. frequentative suffix -inėti in Lith. spieginėti: Latv. spïdzinât. Occasionally, we find competing suffixes, e.g., for the intensive: smáugyti, smágioti.
Finally, as we match cognates with or without suffixes, we find that holes in these categories have appeared not just in Slavic and Lithuanian, but really throughout all Baltic as the following indicates with suffixless forms given first: Lith. skverbti (skvirbinti)/Latv. skvirbinât; OCS pręšti (Pol. pręžyc), Latv. possibly spruogt (sprañgât)/Liih. sprangýti; OCS strėšti'/Lith. sergėti; OCS tešti/Lith. tekėti, Latv. tecêt; Latv. riêbt/Lith. riebêti; OCS -cvisti/Laiv. kvitêt; OCS grajasti'/Lith grïdyti; Latv. kust, Dial, kūst (kūsât)/Russ. kisnut'; Latv. /lūgt/Lith. Dial, lūgóti, OCS l"gati.
My final, overall advice to Darden is this. First, his expanded version of Darden (1995) will surely benefit from presenting whole perspectives with Baltic represented as much as possible by elements from all three well-attested Baltic languages rather than relying too heavily on just Lithuanian. I would like to see many more examples from Latvian. He would, therewith, avoid the common error of specialists - expecting Lithuanian to represent also Latvian under the cover of "East Baltic". Bad! Latvian is West Baltic!
(See Mayer, 1993.) I am sure that Darden's expanded (1995) will benefit from this new view that Latvian is West Baltic. This will sharpen its readers' perspective. And Darden's expanded work will gain acuteness by noting what Klimas has to say about Lithuanian. Finally, Darden's new work will benefit from his paying attention to Levin. I am confident that he, like Levin, will find good reason to shift positions with respect to that old time illusion, the "Balto-Slavic Protolanguage".
Darden, Bill J. (1995). "The Slavic s-aorist and the Baltic s-future",
Kurytowicz Memorial Volume, Part Two, Linguistica Baltica (4:217-223).
Klimas, Antanas (1996). "The Future to Express the Past: a Strange Case in Lithuanian", Lituanus (42:2. 71-73).
Mayer, Harvey E. (1993). "West Baltic Latvian/East Baltic Lithuanian", Lituanus (39:3.57-62).