2

What does the root "ject" mean? It occurs in words such as "subject", "object", "project", "injection", "surjection", "bijection". As far as I know these words came to English from French and, in turn, from Latin. Prefixes "ob-", "sub-", "pro-" also came from Latin as Wiktionary says.

1 Answer 1

9

The root is Latin iaciō (throw, cast), whose supine is iactum.

Because of Latin ablaut (vowel change), prefixes like sub-, ob-, pro- trigger a vowel change to *-iectum.

6
  • More grammatical terms (many used in mathematics as well) and their Latin derivations are available here.
    – jlawler
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 15:36
  • 1
    This isn't ablaut, as the term is usually used, but unstressed vowel weakening.
    – TKR
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 17:23
  • I'm not actually sure what the literature calls it -- possibly vowel mutation. But it's not called unstressed vowel weakening -- for one, the changed vowel in proiectum is actually stressed...
    – jogloran
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 4:49
  • Naturally, it's not ablaut, no prefix triggers it, it's the very fact of derivation that does, it's just a historical vowel alternation. The rule for this a > e change is: Short ă in a closed non-final and in a closed final syllable of a multi-syllable word changes to short ĕ. E. g.: Princĕps < *prim-căp-s (primus + căpio 'first taking'), here in a closed final syllable ă > ĕ.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 13:07
  • 1
    @jogloran This is about eight and a half years late, but yes, it is unstressed vowel weakening. The weakening happened at a pre-Latin stage when the language had fixed initial stress; so ˈprōiaciō, ˈprōiactum become ˈprōiciō, ˈprōiectum just like ˈprincaps, ˈprincapes/-os (from *ˈprīmo-cap-) becomes ˈprinceps, ˈprincipis. Then later on, stress distribution changed to the Classical paenult-or-antepaenult position, but by then the vowels had already changed. Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 2:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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