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Joseph H.Greenberq
In Greenberq (1987:332) a family of lanquaqes, Eurasiatic,
is proposed with the followinq membership: Indo-European, uralic-
Yukaqhir, Altaic (Turkic, Monqolian, Tunqusic), Korean, Ainu,
Japanese, Gilyak, Chukotian and Eskimo-Aleut. Of these Korean,
Ainu and Japanese probably form a subqroup.
It is natural to ask what the relationship is between the
Nostratic hypothesis of the Moscow school and Eurasiatic as just
outlined. What miqht be called "classical" Nostratic consists of
the six lanquaqe qroups contained in IIlich-svytich's
comparative dictionary, namely Indo-European, Afroasiatic,
Khartvelian, Dravidian, uralic and Altaic. It should also be
noted that Korean entries also fiqure .in Illich-Svytich's
dictionary under Altaic. The overlap between Nostratic and
Eurasiatic, consistinq of Indo-European, Uralic and Altaic has
led some writers to employ the term EurasiaticfNostratic. My own
view is that althouqh all the lanquaqes included in Nostratic are
related they do not form a family. By a family at any level is
meant a set of lanquaqes whose members share an exclusive common
heritaqe and is complete in that it contains all of the lanquaqes
which share this heritaqe. Thus the Romance lanquaqes and the
Indo-European lanquaqes are families in this sense , althouqh at
different levels. on the other hand a qroup consistinq of
swedish, Albanian and Hindi is a set of related lanquaqes because
they are all Indo-European but they do not form a family. This
is, I believe, the case with the classical Nostratic qroupinq.
For one thinq, Indo-European is more closely related to Uralic,
and, I would add, a whole series of lanquaqes of Northern Asia
than to Afroasiatic. Nostraticists themselves have recently moved
in this direction. At least one prominent member of the school
Allan Bombard has come to share a view almost identical with my
own. For details the reader is referred to Greenberq (to appear).
In the present paper there will be presented but a small
portion of the qrammatical evidence linkinq the Eurasiatic
lanquaqes, centerinq on certain aspects of the first and second
person pronouns.
We may beqin with the first person sinqular pronoun which in
Indo-European shows suppletion between the nominative and oblique
forms. The nominative is usually reconstructed as eq(h)om, while
the other cases begin with m-
Of special importance here is the
genetive usually reconstructed as mene whose stem men- has in
some languages been extended to other oblique cases e.g. Old
Church Slavonic instrumental minojo, dative mine.
This suppletion between nominative and oblique stems has
survived in almost all Indo-European languages e.g. English Ifme,
French je/moi, Sanskrit ahamfma:m etc. Brugmann said that this
suppletive paradigm took us into the abysses of Proto-Indo-
European in which we could only find our way by groping. Brugmann :
made two suggestions regarding eq(h)om. One was that the initial
was a deictic element like that of Classical Greek keinos
alongside of e-keinos 'he'. The final -om he identified with the
neuter singular nominative of the thematic stems, e.g. Latin -um,
Greek -on, to which he attributed an abstract meaning. He
translates the whole form as 'meine Hierheit','my hereness'.
In 1960 savchenko proposed that the final m was to be
identified with the first person singular m of the oblique cases
of the pronoun and of the first person singular inflection of the
verb. This view was supported in Myrkin (1964) and is accepted in
the standard comparative work of szemerenyi (1970).
The first person singular pronoun of Chukchi is

form is, of course startlingly similar to that of Proto-Indo-
European and this has, to my knowledge, never been noted before.
Is it just an amazing accident? That it is not can be shown by
other data both from Chukotian, of which Chukchi is a member and
from Eurasiatic data which will be cited in the course of this
The Chukchi data immediately shed light on the two
conjectures of Brugmann. In Chukchi, alongside of there is
the form gam. Th grammars of Chukchi treat the longer form as
basically a marker of the category of first person of the noun to
which it is suffixed. Though it is uncommon, languages in which
the noun has a category of person are found e.g. Tupi. When
suffixed to the stem of the noun for 'man' it may be paraphrased
as 'I-a man' or 'I-being a man'. in Chukchi it also has
important predicative uses e.g. "I am a man" and qe-
cejv-iq;;m "I have gone". The shorter form
g2m is the absolutive case in an ergative case system and is also
used as the object pronoun in some bipersonal forms of the
transitive verb as in ne-l'u-qc,m "they see me"
.It is also the
base of oblique forms of the pronoun e.g.the locative k "in
All this, of course. supports the view that the initial
element of Proto-Indo-European e-q(h)om is a deictic.
Demonstratives can be markers of predication as, for example, in
Coptic in which the enclitic (masc. sing.),
te (fem. sing.) and ne are used as predicators. An
example is u-aqathos pe p-cois "The Lord is good" (a-good-(one)
this the-Lord".
However the Chukchi second person singular eq9=t, with the
common Indo-European second person obviously supports
savchenko's conjecture that the final m of eq(h)om is an exponent
of the first person.
Further occurrences supporting the Eurasiatic ancestry of
Indo-European. eq(h)om are found in other branches of Eurasiatic,
namely oralio and Eskimo. In Hungarian th,re are independent
pronominal accusatives en-qe-m 'me' and te-qe-d 'thee'. the
initials en- and te- derive from the independent pronouns en 'I'
and te 'thou' used as emphasizers. Forms related to these are
found in Vogul (Ob-ogric) and the samoyed languages Kamassian,
Enets and Henets thus showing that these forms go back to Proto-
The transitive verb in Eskimo has sets of bipersonal subject-
object pronominal suffixes. one of these is am-kit, 'I thee'.
Here m is the well nigh universal first person singular pronoun
of Eurasiatic and -kit corresponds to the second person In
Bering Island Aleut whose inhabitants were transported from Atka
and who therefore spoke the central of the three major dialects
of Aleut, a first person plural pronountammas is reported by
Menovshchikov (1968: 389), employed as a first person plural
possessive pronoun 'ours' or less frequently as a nominative
Except for the survivals just noted in Oralie and Eskimo-
Aleut, the usual development outside of Indo-European and
Chukotian has been to generalize the oblique stem m- to the
nominative often with the genetival -n-, seen in Proto-Indo-
European mane. The generalization of a genetive to other oblique
cases is a common typological development. In English 'of' is
used in locative and instrumental expressions such as 'on top
of', 'in front of' and 'by means of'. In Proto-European the
oblique -n- of the r/n stems is an example of this tendency. The
further extension of -n- to the nominative is seen in Finnish
mini:, but Vod, a Finnic language, mia 'I', minu 'my' and
Azerbaijani Turkish man but Mongolian mi 'I', genetive minu.
We now turn to a further consideration of these forms not
only in Chukchi but in other.languages of the Chukotian (also
called Chukchi-Kamchadal) grouping. We find a clear division
between a northern Chukchi-Koryak branch and a southern Kamchadal
one. The only surviving dialect of Kamchadal is western Kamchadal
and it is the only one of which we have detailed descriptions. As
we shall see however there were other dialects , chiefly the
Southern and Northern of which we have early recordings and which
will be considered below. In Kamchadal the deictic prefix ~ is
not found and the second person forms derive not from ~ as in
Chukchi-Koryak but from Jl Indo-European of course has both e.g.
Latin tu 'thou' but ami-a 'thou lovest'. Thus present day
Kamchadal (i.e.Western Kamchadal) bas tamma 'I' and k ~ z 'thou'
in the absolutive case. In agreement with Chukchi-Koryak the
oblique cases are built on the absolutive, for example Kamchadal
kPmma-nk, (locative) 'in me'.
In the nineteenth century extensive vocabularies. of
Northern, Western and southern Kamchadal were collected by
Dybowskij and recorded in the cyrillic a).phabet;.,: This material
was published by a Polish scholar Radlinski in 1891.._. who /
transcribed them into the Latin alphabet but also gave the ~
cyrillic original and translated the Kamchadal list into Polish
and Latin. In the southern dialect we find kim with the
translation ja/eqo and ma glossed by mnie/me. Thus the IE first
person suppletion existed in southern Kamchadal. Moreover this
same suppletion is found for the second person singular pronoun
also, in the form kis/si. our provisional interpretation of the
historical development here, which is strengthened by further
evidence to be presentd below, is that the IE pattern is the
original Eurasiatic one and that in Chukotian the (e)qom form
spread to the oblique cases of the first person singular and then
to the second person in the shape of Chukchi eq&-t and southern
Kamcbadal kys as well as to the oblique forms.of the second
person, e.g. Western Kamchadal k&zza-nk 'in thee'.
This suggests that forms like Indo-European *tu should
formerly have existed in Chukotian. Indeed this is shown by three
independent sources. one of these is Dall (1895) in which
vocabularies recorded by members of the Ringgold and Rodger's
North Pacific Exploring Expedition 1852-1863 are published for
the first time. These include a vocabulary of Chukchi in which
'I' is rendered by ichem, which we are told is to be pronounced
in the German fashion and 'thou' is tua. That similar forms
existed in Kamchadal is shown in the Radliiski-Dybowski
vocabulary in which ty/tu is rendered by tue in the Northern
An even earlier attestation is to be found in Klaproth's
Asia Polqlotta in which, under Kamchadal dialects, a word list
from Uka (modern Ukinsk) in the extreme northeastern part of
Kamchadal territory is given in which 'thou' is given as tu.
There is thus ample attestation of tu as the earlier form of the
second person singular pronoun in Chukotian.
The former existence of tu also helps to explain the first
person plural Chukchi pronouns muri 'we' and turi 'you', whose y
vowel is not paralleled for the plural pronouns anywhere else in
Eurasiatic. The plural -ri, discussed in more detail below, was
added to the singular tu producing tu-ri and then extended
analoqically to the first person.
But what was the source of the -ri plural found in both
Chukchi and Koryak? This plural is confined to pronouns. In
Chukchi -ri is also found in the third plural &t-ri so that it
appears in all three persons.
In Indo-European there is a third person verbalplural in
re/ri e.q. Latin dixere 'They have said', with similar forms in
Indo-Aryan, Anatolian and Tokharian. As early as in 1888(276,278)
Zimmer connected these forms with the ~ passive, known at that
time in Italic and Celtic but later found in Tokharian, Hittite,
Phryqian and venetie. To show the connection between the third
person plural and the passive, Zimmer pointed to the impersonal -
~ of Italic and Celtic e.q. Umbrian i-er, 'they qo. one qoes'
Breton am gwel-er 'they see me, one see me, I am seen'. This is a
typoloqically well known method of forminq a passive (cf.
Greenberq 1959).
. In Altaic two kinds of medial ~ are distinquished. One of
these (r
) appears everywhere in Altaic as ~ The other r
appears in non-Chuvash Turkic as I 1 everywhere else in Altaic as
~ e.q. Turkish biz 'we' but Chuvash e-pir in which Chuvash e- is
probably the same deictic we have already encountered in
Chukotian and Indo-European. It is qenerally accepted that r
qoes back to ri and is a palatalized consonant. Reflexes similar
to Turkic z are found in Northern Kamchadal buzhe 'we' and
Southern Kamchadal mush. Other examples of this -ri plural are to
be found in Tunqusic, e.q. Manchu mufa-ri 'qrandfathers'. In
Korean the first person plural pronoun is u-li. Ramstedt proposed
that this derived from wu-li, correspondinq to non-Chuvash
Turkic *biri >*biz . Further evidence for this ~ pronominal plural
is provided by Amur Gilyak me-r, cf. me-qi 'we two'.
A development parallel to Indo-European, by which the third
person proniminal plural ~ developed into a passive or
intransitive occurred in Konqolian. Examples are asqa- 'to spill'
(trans.), asqa-ra 'to spill' (intrans.) and ebede 'to break',
ebede-re 'to be broken'. Also in the oldest non-Chuvash TUrkic
that we have, the lanquaqe of the Orkhon inscriptions, there is
an ~ middle. Finally in the lanquaqe of the Ryukyu Islands,
qenetically the closest to Japanese there is a verbal suffix -ri
described in Chamberlain (1895) as 'passive, potential'. This
same formation is productive in Standard Japanese where in a
number of variants it is the chief indicator of intransitive& and
passives. In Old Japanese it takes the form -ar-, also -or- and
-or-. compare modern Japanese oku- 'to put' and ok-are-ru 'to be
There is no need for speculative theories based on internal
reconstruction in Indo-European, many of which are immediately
refutable by comparative evidence. The same is equally and as

importantly true for other branches of Eurasiatic. An example is
Korean with its vast elaboration of politeness levels and the
absence of the typoloqically usual kind of pronominal system and
lack of inflection for person in the verb. In Korean there is a
verbal suffix -ma which always immediately follows the verb base,
includinq here derivational elements and is not followed by any
other inflection. It is called the Intentionalis and expresses an
emphatic wish or promise on the part of the speaker, beinq only
used in the first person. Lewin (1970), followinq indiqenous .
qrammatical theory explains it as the verbal noun in -m followed
by the vocative -a, on the face of it an implausible theory. A
derivation from the well-niqh universal first person m of
Eurasiatic is far more likely. The Korean verb likewise has a
polite honorific -si- which is always first in the inflectional
complex in which it fiqures. It is used both for the second and
third person. It may be compared to the widespread second person
which we have already encountered. The -i is a common plural
marker in Eurasiatic, e.q. Indo-European and Uralic. This very
combination -si as an indicator of the second person plural has
already been encountered in Southern Xamchadal and is found in
this form in Eskimo as an indicator of the second person plural
of the intransitive verb and as a possessive suffixed to the
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Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen. 2nd. ed.
Strassburq: Truebner
Chamberlain, Basil Ball. 1895. Essay in Aid of a Grammar
and Dictionary of the Luchuan Language, supplement to
Transactions of the Asiatic society of Japan 23.
Dall, William B. 1897, Alaska and its resources. Boston: Lee and
Greenberq, Joseph B. 1959. "The oriqin of the Masai Passive,"
Africa 29:171-6.
--------, 1987. Language in the Americas, stanford: Stanford
university Press.
---------, to appear, The Convergence of Eurasiatic and
and Nostratic.
Illich-svytich, v.M. 1971-84. Opyt sravnenija nostraticheskich
jazykov, 3 vola. Moscow: Nauka
Klaproth, Julius Heinrich. 1823. Asia Polygotta. Paris:
Khelimskij, B.A. 1982. Drevnejshije vengersko-samojedskije
jazykovije paralleli. Moscov:Nauka.
Krasheninnikov, Stepan. 1755. Opisanije zemli Kamchatki. saint
Petersburq: Imperatorskaja Akademija Nauk.
Levin, Bruno. 1970. Morphologie des koreanischen Verbums.
Wiesbaden: Barrassovitz.
Myrkin, v. Ja. 1964. "Tipoloqia lichnoqo mestoimenija i
voprosy rekonstrukciji jeqo v indoevropejskom aspekte,"
Voprosy Jazykoznanija 13,5: 78-86.
Radlinski, J. 1891. Slovniki narzeczy ludov kamczackich .
~ Krakow: Nakladem Akademii Umijetnosci.
Szemerenyi, oswald. 1970. Einfuhrung in die vergleichende
Sprachvissenschaft. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche
Zimmer, B. 1888 "Keltische Studien," Zeitschrift fur
vergleichende Sprachforschunc;-. ~ o '., l _ 2-'t 2.. ,
5 ~ 0 )
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