-1

Why are PIE oe changes to ī in Latin and Old Slavic?

English PIE Latin Old Slavic
wolves *wĺ̥kʷoes lupi vlĭci

Is it a result of short u singular ending in place of PIE o?

English PIE Latin Old Slavic
wolf wĺ̥kʷos lupus vlĭkŭ

Proto-Germanic plural ending has long ō *wulfōz (as I understand lengthed singular ending *wulfaz). If we lengthen Old Slavic short u singular ending "Ъ" we will get long ū "ЪI" and so we will have additional "I"

7
  • 7
    I'm not sure there's any answer to "why" here. It's just a thing that happened. Vowels just tend to change over time. – Draconis Mar 7 at 17:55
  • @Draconis I updated – fedor Mar 7 at 17:58
  • 1
    Is this just two separate questions mashed into one, about Latin, and also about Slavic, or do you think there is some relationship between the two changes? – user6726 Mar 7 at 20:14
  • 3
    /oi/ also changed to /i/ in Greek later on, and also in Celtic. It’s not an uncommon development. The form *wĺ̥kʷoes (as given by Wikipedia) is sort of archiphonemic – if it ever existed as such, it would have been in very early PIE, not relevant here: **-o-es gave PIE *-ōs, and that’s where the Germanic *-ōz comes from, not from lengthening the singular *-az (< *-os). The Latin, Greek and Slavic forms are all from *u̯ĺ̥kʷoi̯, with the pronominal plural suffix taking over from the nominal one – and with a clearer *oi as well. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 7 at 20:17
  • 2
    @fedor In Modern Greek (and ever since something like the 7th century or so, if memory serves), <οι> in Greek is pronounced /i/, so what would in Classical Greek be οἵ λύκοι /hoi lykoi/ is now /i liki/ (h has also been lost and /y/ > /i/). In all four languages mentioned, the chain of development is /oi/ > /ī/ > /i/ > /ĭ/ > /Ø/ (some of them having gone further in the chain than others). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 7 at 20:36
5

There's no real "why" here; vowels tend to change a lot over time, and sometimes diphthongs turn into monophthongs, or vice versa. It's just an accident of fate.

For /oi/ in particular, /i:/ is a pretty natural thing for it to turn into; you can think of it as the second element "taking over" the whole diphthong, or the first element assimilating completely into the second. You see this in Old Latin and in Proto-Slavic, as you mention, but there are other possibilities too: Greek turned it into /ø(:)/ (taking the rounded-ness and mid-ness from the first element and the front-ness from the second), then /y/ and eventually /i/, and post-Classical Latin turned it into /oe/ and then to /e:/. Or it can just survive for a long time without changing into anything else; English has preserved /oi/ remarkably well across time and dialects, compared to what's happened with other vowels and diphthongs.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.