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In short : what's the final -t in déḱm̥t?

Full details : The Proto-Indo-European root for ten is traditionally defined as déḱm̥/déḱm̥t(ᵃ). The final -t may be analyzed as a casual ending, e.g. as a "collective form"; Szemerényi describes déḱm̥ as derived from déḱm̥t(ᵇ).

The final -t is required by various languages, like OCS desętĭ and Lithuanian dešimt(ᵃ). Likewise, according to Don Ringe, the Proto-Germanic form for ten is derived from déḱm̥t, surfaced as déḱm̥d(ᶜ), hence tekun(ᵈ) leading to Gothic taíhun(ᵉ).

My question : I would like to know the details behind this -t : if it's a collective form ("marking collective number (group of ten)"), is there any other example of a PIE word using -t as a collective form? The only way I know to create collective PIE forms is (for direct cases) by adding the ending -h₂ to the stem.

Any help, any reference would be appreciated !


related question here.


(a) See e.g. (Szemerényi) Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics, 8.5.2 p.223

(b) (Szemerényi) Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics, 8.5.3 p.226 Reconstruction:Proto-Indo-European/déḱm̥ (Wikipedia)

(c) Don Ringe, From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic, 2.2.4(iv) p.20

(d) Don Ringe, From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic, 3.2.2(i) p.81

(e) Don Ringe, From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic, 3.2.2(ii) p.87

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    Don'get confused with Slavic (and possibly Baltic?) languages. Our numerals from 5-10 are derived from ordinals of the original numerals and all end with -t because of that (also they have rather unusual syntax because of this). – Eleshar Nov 26 '16 at 11:53
  • @Eleshar : thanks, I didn't know. Is there any online reference describing the way OCS numerals have been made ? – suizokukan Nov 26 '16 at 14:43
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    I can try looking up something but it is fairly easily visible even in modern Czech - you have penkwe/pemnk-to-s - pě-t; sweks/sweks-to-s - šes-t; septm/septm-m-os - sedm (cf. hebdomos); h3ektó/h3ektow-o-s - osm; h1newn/h1newn (cf. nin-th) - devě-t (probably from earlier nevě-t); dekm/dekm-m-os (cf. ten-th) - dese-t – Eleshar Nov 26 '16 at 16:01
  • Looking at my comment, I was obviously incorrect - not all the mentioned numerals end with -t (but all developed from the ordinals - this is also evidenced by the strange syntax, numerals 2-4 work like regular adjectives and are followed by plural; 5+ is behaves like a head of NP in Nom/Acc where it is followed always by plural genitive). Reg. the developement though, note also the principle of paired rhyming in eg. Czech: tři/čtyři; pět/šest, sedm/osm, devět/deset. – Eleshar Nov 27 '16 at 11:55
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    In Phrygian dekmoutais means 'tenth', not plain ten (10). Unfortunately, we lack the word for plain 10, which makes it hard to pin point the function of -t. – Midas Jan 4 '17 at 13:12
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The only language to preserve both is Sanskrit: dáśa- 'ten' ~ daśát- f. 'a set of ten; decade'.

A similar form is Lith. dešimtìs which reflects a Balto-Slavic consonant stem, as shown by gen.pl. dešimtų̃, gen.sg. dešimtès, dat.sg. dešimti:

Ponas … pasirodo dešimti savo apaštalams. 'The lord appeared to his ten apostles.' (Bretke, Postilla II, 35)

Furthermore, the OLith. and dial. indeclinable form dešim̃s probably represents a fossilized nom.sg. *deḱm-t-s. The Lith. form is therefore identical to the Sanskrit one. The same formation is found in Old Prussian dessimpts (II) 'ten'. Standard Lithuanian dẽšimt could be from *deḱm with -t- on the basis of this form (dial. dešim̃ 'ten' is actually attested).

Gm. *tehun has restored -n- on the basis of ordinal *tehunþas. PIE *deḱm should have given *tehu with a lost *-m, a Verner variant of which, *tegu is preserved in the suffix fif-ty, OE -tig, OHG -zig.

It appears that IE *deḱm was an indeclinable numeral like *penkʷe, *sueḱs, etc., while *deḱm-t- was a derived feminine t-stem, possibly meaning 'a group or set of ten', cf. the Sanskrit meaning, which developed into a cardinal number in Baltic.

The t-suffix is also found in the decades, cf. *penkʷe-dḱomt- > Skt. pañcāśát- f., Gr. πεντήκοντα 'fifty'.

I am not aware of any cases where a t-suffix has a collective function, however the function of the suffix here is rather nominalizing, i.e. *deḱm 'ten' vs *deḱmts 'a ten'.

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    Why the difference in the reflexes of *ḱ in the two Sanskrit words? – TKR Oct 21 '18 at 17:25
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    Sorry, I accidentally copied the Proto-Indo-Iranian reconstruction rather than the Sanskrit form. Corrected. – Anthony Jakob Oct 21 '18 at 18:00
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It depends if you're ready to believe it means 'two hands' in which case the 't' is the last letter of the root of *komtos > PG *xamðaz > NE 'hand'.

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  • lol " *komtos > PG *xamðaz " is a common, standard and still current Abanian for legs not hands. – Bekim Bacaj Nov 29 '16 at 4:05
  • If it is from the root for hand, it is a suffix. Because the word for right hand came from the root for "right" dec-. – Anixx Jan 4 '17 at 3:03

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