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The Indo-European Verb

The Indo-European Verb

Proceedings of the Conference of the Society
for Indo-European Studies, Los Angeles 13–15 September 2010

Edited by
H. Craig Melchert

Wiesbaden 2012
Reichert Verlag
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Table of Contents

Foreword vii
BENEDETTI, Marina: Valency Alternations with Perception Verbs in Indo-European
Languages 1-6
BOZZONE, Chiara: The PIE Subjunctive: Function and Development 7-18
DAHL, Eystein: Towards an Account of the Semantics of the PIE Imperative 19-28
DAUES, Alexandra: Hittite Verbs in -šša-: Can a Function Be Recognized? 29-41
DI GIOVINE, Paolo: The Function of *o-Ablaut in the PIE Verbal System 43-50
ESKA, Joseph F.: Absolute and Conjunct, Cowgill and Apocope 51-59
GARCÍA CASTILLERO, Carlos: The Old Irish Paradigm of Clause Types 61-72
GARCÍA RAMÓN, José Luis: Aspect and Mood in Indo-European Reconstruction 73-85
HACKSTEIN, Olav: When Words Coalesce: Chunking and Morphophonemic Extension 87-104
HILL, Eugen, and Michael FROTSCHER: The Accentuation of Old Indic Reduplicated (3rd
Class) Presents 105-114
HOCK, Hans Henrich: Phrasal Prosody and the Indo-European Verb 115-126
JASANOFF, Jay H.: Long-vowel Preterites in Indo-European 127-135
KIM, Ronald I.: Unus testis, unicus testis? The Ablaut of Root Aorists in Tocharian and
Indo-European 137-149
KLOEKHORST, Alwin: Hittite “/e”-ablauting Verbs 151-160
KOCHAROV, Petr: Perfect Reduplication in Late Indo-European 161-165
KÖLLIGAN, Daniel: Patterns of Suppletion in Classical Armenian: The Case of Motion
Verbs 167-177
KRASUKHIN, Konstantin G.: Indo-European Conjugation: History and Pre-History 179-189
KROONEN, Guus: Reflections on the o/zero-Ablaut in the Germanic Iterative Verbs 191-200
KÜMMEL, Martin Joachim: The Inflection of the Hittite Verb Class of mema/i- 201-208
LEHNERT, Christian: Anmerkungen zum homerischen Augment 209-212
LÜHR, Rosemarie: Ereignistyp und Diathesenwechsel im Indogermanischen 213-224
MAJER, Marek: An Archaic Indo-European Verbal Form in the Slavic Generalizing Particle
*-ždo? 225-234
MALZAHN, Melanie: Archaism and Innovation in the Tocharian Verbal System: The Case
of Valency and the Case for a Conspiracy Theory 235-240
OETTINGER, Norbert: Das Verhältnis von nominaler und verbaler Reduplikation im
Indogermanischen und Anatolischen 241-246
PEYROT, Michaël: e-grade in Tocharian Verbal Morphology 247-256
PINAULT, Georges-Jean: Interpretation of the Tocharian Subjunctive of Class III 257-265

POOTH, Roland A.: Zum Aufkommen transitiver Verben im frühen Vedischen am Beispiel 267-284

RASMUSSEN, Jens E.: The Origin of the Albanian Mediopassive 285-288
REINHART, Johannes: Inheritance or Innovation in the Proto-Slavic Verb: the Ending -mo
(1st Person Plural) 289-294
SCHEUNGRABER, Corinna: Nasal Suffix Verbs in Germanic and KLUGE’S Law 295-304
SOWA, Wojciech: The Phrygian Middle 305-313
DE VAAN, Michiel: Latin Deverbal Presents in -- 315-332
VILLANUEVA SVENSSON, Miguel: The Ablaut of the Middle Root Athematic Presents in
Indo-European 333-342
YOSHIDA, Kazuhiko: Notes on Cuneiform Luvian Verbs in *-ye/o- 343-351
ZIEGLER, Sabine: Zur Konzeption moderner Wörterbücher: Probleme der Philologie und
der Lexikographie dargestellt anhand der uridg. Wurzeln *h1esh2- “antreiben”, *h2es-
“suchen” und ihrer Fortsetzer im rigvedischen Sanskrit 353-363
Contact Information of Contributors 365-367
The PIE Subjunctive: Function and Development

Chiara BOZZONE (Los Angeles)

1. Form
In the IE languages that have inherited this category (such as Indo-Iranian, Latin, and Greek), the label
PIE subjunctive covers a few different entities. On a purely formal basis, I will speak in this paper
about Type I and Type II subjunctives – only to propose a more fine-grained classification in Section 3.3.

Type I R(é) -e/o- Endings Ved. kár-a-ti, Gk. --, Lat. er-

Type II Stem -e/o- Endings Type IIa: to athematic stems:
subjunctive Ved. bíbhar-a-s, gsi
Type IIb: to thematic stems:
Ved. bháv--ti, Gk. --

Type I subjunctive is an independent formation made to a verbal root. As such, it resembles a tense-
aspect stem; namely, it is identical to a bhávati-type present stem. It displays full-grade of the root
throughout, thematic vowel, and primary/secondary endings.1 Type II subjunctive is a dependent for-
mation made to a tense/aspect stem. As such, it resembles a mood. To an existing tense-aspect stem,
Type II subjunctive attaches the thematic vowel and primary/secondary endings. Type II subjunctive
can be made to athematic or thematic stems; when made to thematic stems, it gives rise to the long-
vowel subjunctive (Type IIb), a formation that tends to spread in Greek and Indo-Iranian.
Admittedly, this dichotomy allows for a gray area: by definition, a Type IIa subjunctive made to an
existing full grade root aorist/root present stem is indistinguishable from a Type I subjunctive. This
gray area precisely allows one to derive Type II from Type I through reanalysis.2 There are several
considerations that indicate that Type I is original: first, Type I is recessive, while Type II is spreading.
Second, paradigmatically isolated Type I forms like Hom.  point to the subjunctive being an
originally independent, non-derived formation within a verbal paradigm. The idea that the PIE
subjunctive was originally formed directly to verbal roots is already proposed by Szemerenyi 1990.

2. Function
2.1 Methodological Issues
2.1.1 How do we reconstruct function?
The method of traditional reconstruction (the comparative method), as used in historical phonology,
has a clear logical structure and follows a series of rules. Structurally, we start from several phonemes

1 The PIE subjunctive takes both primary and secondary endings, though the latter are recessive in Greek, and
Latin is not helpful on this point. In Vedic and Avestan, a combination of primary and secondary endings
occurs. For an account of the distribution, see Beekes 1981. I will comment further on the endings in Section 4
2 The formation -- precisely falls within the gray area I have just mentioned. One could equally analyze it
as a primary, bhávati type formation, or as a secondary formation to the athematic present stem. See Section
3.3 below.
8 Chiara Bozzone

in the daughter languages, and we reconstruct a single phoneme in the mother language, from which all
daughter phonemes can be derived. In doing so, we use a limited set of phonemes, which are clearly
defined (and most often agreed upon) for each language in question. Moreover, we have rules or
guidelines that tell us, for each phoneme, which phonological changes are likely, on a phonetic basis,
and which are not. Lastly, since no phoneme is more generic than another, there is no loss of specificity
in the reconstruction: we go from one specific phoneme in a daughter language to a specific phoneme
in a mother language.3
When one carries this methodology over to the reconstruction of function, however, several dangers
arise. Although we maintain the same logical structure, we often use different rules of reconstruction.
First, instead of operating with typologically established labels (like phonemes in phonology), we
often use idiosyncratic categories, which, in the worst cases, are limited to the language in question.4
Such labels may be impervious to typological analysis; as a result, it is harder to establish rules of what
is, for a given category, a likely change, and what is not. At best, one proposes a typological parallel,
but the ill-definedness of the compared categories can make comparison imprecise, or meaningless.
Second, we often tend to reconstruct functional categories through abstraction (sometimes creating
yet another label for our reconstructed category), thereby leading to loss of specificity from the
daughter to the mother language. We start from a list of specific functions in the daughter languages,
and we abstract across them, obtaining a more general function in the mother language from which the
others can be derived. By this operation, the further back in time we go, the more information we lose,
and the more generic our categories are destined to become.5
Typological research in the grammaticalization framework,6 however, shows that this direction of
development is not standard. Morphological categories and their function tend to become more generic,
and not more specific, over time.
A morphological marker starts out with a limited distribution and a specific meaning, and as its
distribution becomes wider, its meaning becomes accordingly more general – semantic bleaching in
fact drives the development. A parallel compression in form normally takes place, mirroring the high
frequency of use and the lower lexical weight of the marker.
When reconstructing function within grammaticalization theory, then, we start from a list of
specific functions in daughter languages, but: (a) we define those functions using cross-linguistically
valid categories, (b) we arrange those functions in a chronological sequence, on the basis of typological
data (as such, the oldest function of a category will be the most specific, and the newer ones will be the
more generic).
This method of reconstruction is then closer in spirit to the comparative method for phonological
reconstruction, in that (a) it starts from well-defined entities, and (b) it follows typologically established
rules to relate them in time.
2.1.2 How do we synchronically determine function?
A yet more radical question is how we determine and describe the synchronic function of a
morphological category. Here too, different methodological approaches yield opposite solutions. I will
speak of a “maximalist” vs. “minimalist” approach to the description of function. A simple case will
suffice to illustrate this problem: formally, Latin has just one subjunctive mood, but in traditional Latin
syntax it is not uncommon to talk about as many as 11 types of semantically distinct functions of the

3 This is true except for those cases in which we do not have enough data to decide which phoneme we should
reconstruct: in those cases, a notation like *H (for unidentified laryngeal) stands for a more generic entity, still
to be specified.
4 Though such dedicated or traditional labels may be useful in a synchronic description of the language, their use
in reconstruction is not commendable, though widespread.
5 This holds true for semantic reconstruction as well: as J.P. Mallory pointed out in a lecture at the 2007 Leiden
Summer School of IE Linguistics, when projecting our reconstructions back in time, so many of our roots seem
equally to mean ‘set into motion’, ‘shine’, ‘make a noise’, etc.
6 Bybee et al. 1994, Hopper and Traugott 1993.
The PIE Subjunctive: Function and Development 9

subjunctive.7 If the form is identical in all of these instances, how are all of these different functions
determined? They are inferred by means of context. If the subjunctive form is used in a context where
an order is being issued, we label it imperative subjunctive, and so on.
This “maximalist” approach to the description of function is common in traditional handbooks for
the Classical languages, and is useful when teaching a language as non-native. It provides a precise –
albeit static – image of the synchronic situation.
A native competence in language, however, may be based on a different kind of functional
categorization. Some theoretical orientations, and in particular the Columbia School of linguistics,8
argue for a “minimalist” approach to the synchronic description of function. They would claim that the
function of a morphological category is the same throughout all the contexts of use (which explains
why the same form is used in all those contexts in the first place), and that context-available
information determines the apparent variety of meanings; in other words, an appropriate description of
a function will be a single, generic idea that underlies all synchronic usages. Such a description would
be dynamic and flexible, though fuzzy.
Though both approaches are pertinent to linguistic description, their impact on reconstruction is
different. To use a phonological analogy again, one should make sure to distinguish allophones from
phonemes before one starts reconstructing: a balanced position between the minimalist and the
maximalist approach to the synchronic description of function should precisely take care of this matter.
2.2. Existing Theories
I will now examine three representative9 approaches to the reconstruction of the function of the PIE
subjunctive, trying to point out in each case the logical structure of the reconstruction and the claimed
direction of the historical development.
2.2.1 Delbrück
Delbrück’s analysis of the function of the PIE moods has been deeply influential. In his synchronic
analysis, Delbrück isolates two macro-functions (Relative Grundbegriffe) of the PIE subjunctive: the
subjunctive of will, and the subjunctive of prospective.
Subjunctive of will:10
(1) ' '   
     . (Od. VI 126)
“But I want to try (sigmatic future) and see (aorist subjunctive) for myself.”
 ! "
  ‫! ܜ‬# $"
 "' % & # ' (. (Il. XXII 359-61)
“Mind now, lest I become (aorist subjunctive) for you a reason of the gods’ anger,
On the day that Paris and Phoebus Apollo
will kill you (aorist subjunctive)11 at the Scaean Gates, despite all of your valor.”
Subjunctive of prospective:
(3)    $ ) !
%   # 

, "  
 * +  !  · (Od. XI 134-6)

7 See Allen and Greenough (1903: 278ff.).

8 This linguistic school was initiated by the Indo-Europeanist William Diver in the 1960s. For an overview see
Diver (1995). This orientation resonates with other usage-based approaches to language, and in particular with
Cognitive Grammar (Langacker 2008).
9 This selection is of course limited, and inevitably idiosyncratic. These specific approaches were picked for a
mix of historical significance and their ability to stand in for other similar approaches. For a detailed account of
approaches to the PIE subjunctive see Tichy 2006.
10 These examples are taken from Delbrück 1871.
11 A “subjunctive of perspective”: see immediately below.
10 Chiara Bozzone

“A gentle death will come (sigmatic future) to you away from the sea: it will kill you (aorist
subjunctive) once you are consumed by a splendid old age.”
Delbrück identifies the subjunctive of will as the more general category (Absoluter Grundbegriff), from
which both synchronic functions can be derived. The direction of development is then subjunctive of
will to subjunctive of prospective.
Importantly, Delbrück’s subjunctive of will always expresses the will of the speaker, not of the
agent12 (the two coincide only in the first person). As such, it is unlike the periphrasis with ‘will’ that
gives rise to the future tense in some Germanic languages.13 A more accurate label for it would be
hortative. As we will see in 2.3 below, Delbrück’s subjunctive of will is a speaker-oriented modality,
while most modal periphrases that evolve into a future are instead agent-oriented modality.
2.2.2 Hahn, Goodwin and Hopkins
Many scholars have argued that a single synchronic function can be isolated for the PIE subjunctive,
and that function is simply future time reference (corresponding to Delbrück’s prospective subjunc-
tive). Modal readings of the PIE subjunctive (corresponding to Delbrück’s subjunctive of will) are then
either secondary (that is, available by means of context) or plainly wrong (that is, they arise from over-
interpreting the context).
In Goodwin’s words (1897: 372ff): “The only character that is beyond question in the subjunctive is
its reference to future time, and if we were left to this use alone, we should have no hesitation in
designating the subjunctive as a form expressing futurity like a future tense.”
This conclusion was reached a few years before by Hopkins 1892, with regard to the Indo-Iranian
subjunctive. The fullest statement of such hypothesis, however, is found in Hahn 1953.
Apart from the interpretation of subjunctive forms in their context, there are a few good external
arguments for this hypothesis:
1. The Greek subjunctive is functionally interchangeable with the future indicative.
See examples (1) and (3) above, where the aorist subjunctive is regularly coordinated with the
sigmatic future, and a clear distinction in meaning is elusive. In these cases, notably, where the
subjunctive is translated with a voluntative meaning (i.e. “I want to”), the sigmatic future takes that
translation as well (1).
2. Isolated Type I subjunctives work as futures in Greek.
Greek has several isolated future formations that match the formal description of a Type I
subjunctive; 14 historically subjunctives, these formations are normally labeled as futures in the
standard grammars.
(4) < , ‫ ܜ‬-  >  
 (@l. XV 194)
“Thus I will not live by Zeus’ will.”

12 In the third person, for instance, Delbrück’s subjunctive of will is to be translated: “I want him to X”, and not
“He wants to X.” See the so-called exhortations to the gods in Vedic. E.g.: agním l.e: sá u ravat (RV
VIII.43.24) “I praise Agni, I want him to hear me (=may he hear me)”. Hopkins (1892: 38) takes issue with
these interpretations.
13 The confusion, however, between the “subjunctive of will” and modern usage of ‘will’ as future formant in
Germanic (and many other) languages, is precisely what has allowed Delbrück’s theory often to go unques-
tioned. By translating PIE subjunctives, especially in Vedic, with a construction containing ‘will’, one thinks
that one can both (a) obtain the future meaning required by the passage and (b) maintain some nuance of
modality, as required in Delbrück’s description. The modality in question, however, is different.
14 The forms are:  ‘I will live’,   ‘I will eat’,  ‘I will be’,  ‘I will drink’ (without full
grade of the root),  ‘I will return’, % ‘I will pour’ (the latter two also attested as presents). Very
interestingly, all of these forms take middle endings, and resemble the full-grade middle inflection of
# <
PIE *kéi-toi.
The PIE Subjunctive: Function and Development 11

(5) /0     

1 2' 3 ,
4 '   "
·    $
[ . (Od. IX 369-70)
“I will eat Nobody last, after his fellows,
And the others before: this is my gift of hospitality.”

3. The position of the PIE subjunctive in Latin

While the Latin subjunctive derives from the PIE optative, the PIE subjunctive continues in Latin as
a future (Weiss 2009: 414ff.). That is true of both Latin simple future formations, the synthetic
long-vowel future of the III and IV conjugation (leg s, audi s <*- -si), and the periphrastically
derived short vowel future of the I and II conjugation (am-bs, mon -bs < *-bhuH- -si). Therefore,
from the vantage point of Latin, one could rather easily state that the PIE subjunctive has been a
future all along.15
If the modal readings are secondary or wrong, how do we explain the fact that subjunctive
utterances do lend themselves to such modal interpretations? Sentences with future reference are not
statements about the truth; they are statements about the beliefs or predictions of the speaker regarding
a future event. Modal readings can then arise from our inferring the speaker’s attitude or involvement
with regard to the content of the statement. In other words, modal readings arise pragmatically from
our interpretation of the context.
Now the difference between information that is grammatically encoded and information that is
pragmatically available is precisely the capacity to stand alone without context (once again, this is
analogous to the difference between phoneme and allophone in phonology). If the PIE subjunctive has
a simple future meaning in neutral contexts (i.e. not pragmatically charged), and only allows for modal
readings within given contexts of use, then we should infer that the PIE subjunctive is morphologically
marking only future time reference, and the context is doing the rest.
On the basis of these contextually marked usages, the PIE subjunctive could indeed evolve into a
grammatically marked modal form, but in that case, all of the usages (even the contextually-neutral
ones) would impose a modal reading. Since there are many cases in which the PIE subjunctive has to
be read as a simple future, this is not the case.
2.2.3. Tichy
Tichy 2006a is a synchronic analysis of the subjunctive in Vedic prose, contrasting the subjunctive
with its “neighboring categories”. Tichy adopts a single-function approach, and labels the function as
Expectativ: 16 “Der Konjunktiv in allen Gebrauchsweisen der betreffenden Text- und Sprachschicht
expectative 17 Funktion besitzt” (Tichy 2006a: 328). Tichy (2006b:104) concedes that a hortative
function for the subjunctive can originate from “an expectation that the speaker has involving the
person addressed,” thus implying that, diachronically, the Expectativ is the older function.
2.3. A Typological Approach
All of these hypotheses agree on identifying two possible readings/functions of the subjunctive: one
that is related to “will” (Delbruck’s subjunctive of will and Tichy’s hortative), and one that is more
“prospective” (Hahn’s future, Tichy’s expectative).

15 The case of Latin is particularly interesting in that the subjunctive and the optative are not here coordinated in a
closed system like one sees in Greek (and Indo-Iranian). One can then wonder whether this situation was
original, and our bias towards treating optative and subjunctive together arises from a Greco-Aryan innovation.
16 Though Tichy insists that the Expectativ is an epistemic mood, as we will see below, the Expectativ falls within
the definition of a future tense instead. Epistemic modality properly refers to the speaker’s commitment to the
truth-value of a statement, namely whether that truth-value is possible, probable, or counterfactual; as such,
epistemic modality is not limited to events located in the future, as the PIE subjunctive clearly is.
17 Tichy traces this interpretation back to Mutzbauer 1903, which first proposed to translate the subjunctive with
the periphrasis “I expect that…”.
12 Chiara Bozzone

They disagree about which function is to be regarded as the older one (that is, on the direction of
We can do two things to evaluate these hypotheses properly:
(a) Make the terminology across the different authors uniform by using cross-linguistically valid
(b) Use typological data on grammaticalization paths to determine which direction of historical
development is most likely.
2.3.1 Future and modality
Since our choice is between, largely speaking, future (prospective subjunctive) and modality (hortative
subjunctive), before proceeding, it is useful to list a few facts about future and modality in linguistic
theory, in order to remove prejudice against a temporal interpretation of the subjunctive:
(a) A language can have many futures (Fries 1927); thus the observation that a language like
Greek already had a future does not preclude that the subjunctive may be a future as well.
(b) Future, as a category, is always liminal between tense and modality (Comrie 1984, Dahl
1985). Languages can choose whether to express their future temporally or modally, and may
choose different options at different times. To argue, then, that the subjunctive is a future does
not contradict its paradigmatic position as a mood (Type II subjunctive) in Greek and Indo-
2.3.2 Cross-linguistic definitions of future and modality
Bybee et al. 1994, a vast cross-linguistic survey of grammaticalization paths, defines the future as
follows: “a prediction on the part of the speaker that the situation in the proposition, which refers to an
event taking place after the moment of speech, will hold” (p. 224).
Delbrück’s prospective future, Tichy’s Expectativ and Hahn’s future all fall within this definition.
As far as modality is concerned, Bybee et al. (1994:177-9) identify four different kinds of modality
(agent-oriented, speaker-oriented, epistemic, and subordinate). All of these kinds of modality behave
differently with respect to grammaticalization. All the functions we normally ascribe to the PIE
subjunctive fall within speaker-oriented modality. Within this category, the labels are:
(a) Imperative: the form used to issue a direct command to a second person
(b) Prohibitive: a negative command
(c) Optative: the wish or hope of the speaker expressed in a main clause
(d) Hortative: the speaker is encouraging or inciting someone to action
(e) Admonitive: the speaker is issuing a warning
(f) Permissive: the speaker is granting permission
Closest to Delbrück’s definition of the subjunctive of will is hortative modality (which is also the term
used by Tichy to identify the secondary development of her Expectativ). However, almost all of the
other categories can be applicable to readings of the PIE subjunctive (imperative and prohibitive are
especially salient).
To sum up, according to Bybee et al. 1994, all different approaches to the PIE subjunctive come
down to two labels:
(a) future
(b) hortative and speaker-oriented modality in general
2.3.3 Grammaticalization paths towards the future
We can now address the direction of development, to establish which category is more likely to come
The PIE Subjunctive: Function and Development 13

The following table is a reproduction of Hilpert (2008: 26), which sums up the results of Bybee et
al. (1994). The table tells us which meanings are likely to develop into a future, and which meanings
are likely to come from a future instead.

Agent-Oriented Modality Speaker-Oriented Modality

Intention Future Probability
Root Possibility Possibility
Immediate future Imperative
Use in complements
Use in protases
Æ Direction of Development Æ

While agent-oriented modalities (such as English ‘will’) tend to feed into futures, speaker-oriented
modalities (such as our hortative/imperative) instead develop from futures, and not vice-versa.
Bybee et al. (1994: 273) collect 13 examples of future morphemes (of all provenances) working as
an imperative; the hortative, being a cross-linguistically rare category, does not have strong statistic
representation in the database. However, Yagaria, a language of the Trans-New Guinea language
family, does show a future morpheme used to mark as well intention, imperative, and hortative (Renck
1975: 94). E.g.:
havi-s-une ‘we shall listen’ or ‘let us listen’
de-s-ae ‘you/they will eat’ or ‘you/they shall eat’
In this case, intention, an agent-oriented modality, is clearly the oldest usage, while imperative and
hortative, two speaker-oriented modalities, represent the more recent developments.

3. Development
Having established that future is likely to be the oldest meaning for the PIE subjunctive, we can address
the question of why a future would be formally identical to a present formation (here, I am referring to
the Type I subjunctive, the oldest formal layer).
3.1. Future/Subjunctives from old presents
3.1.1 Kury\owicz
Already Kury\owicz (1956, 1964) thought that the PIE subjunctive and the bhávati-type present must
go back to the same formation. In his analysis, these forms represent an old present which has been
pushed to the edges of the verbal system, and is now limited to secondary functions (undetermined
general present on one hand, future or modal form on the other hand):
The I.E. -e/o- future-subjunctive, evidenced by Indo-Iranian, Greek and Latin, is genetically
transparent. The formal identity between the thematic type *bhereti and the subjunctive *ieugeti
suggests a common origin of these formations. (...) the old present, ousted by new formations
and limited to secondary functions, becomes an undetermined (general) present or a future or a
modal form (subjunctive). (1964: 137-8)
14 Chiara Bozzone

3.1.2 Haspelmath
Kury\owicz’s hypothesis has recently received new attention, and Haspelmath 1998 has collected
several parallels to the semantic change of old presents discussed by Kury\owicz.
Haspelmath argues that, cross-linguistically, a number of future/subjunctive18 forms show one or
more of the following anomalies:
(a) Markedness Violation: the future is less marked than the present.
Gk. -<- - and --
(b) Irregular Verbs: some presents and futures are formally identical.
Gk.  -- and  %--
(c) Unexpected Polysemy: e.g., the future also has habitual meaning.
(d) Unexpected Special Usages: e.g., the future is also used for proverbs.
Haspelmath (1998: 33) claims that: “the four synchronic anomalies ... can be explained diachronically.
In all these languages, the normal future or subjunctive forms come from an earlier present-tense form,
and the synchronic anomalies can be understood as residual properties reflecting this earlier stage.”
He collects several examples for both developments (present to future, present to subjunctive); see
table below for Udmurt, a Finno-Permic language (Haspelmath 1998: 46):

Language New Present Old Present Meanings of

Construction Old Present
Udmurt stem + iter. suffix “Future” future +
myn-ik-o myn-o habitual (in
go-ITER-1SG go-1SG “I’ll past)
go” proverbs

Haspelmath posits the following sequence of development: once a new progressive is introduced into
the verbal system, starting from telic verbs, the old present specializes as a future/subjunctive. The old
present will then develop into a future if the language lacks a dedicated future (this is the case for the
PIE subjunctive, since we agree that the sigmatic future is a recent innovation). Otherwise, the old
present will develop into a subjunctive (subordination mood).
3.1.3 Tocharian
On the basis of formal and semantic considerations, I believe that the Tocharian subjunctive is a good
candidate to be added to Haspelmath’s list of old presents. This is an old idea in the field, and most
recently defended by Malzahn (2010: 267). There is controversy as to what extent all the subjunctives
in Tocharian can have this origin, but at least some of them clearly do.
Tocharian subjunctives show (a) the same markedness violations, (b) the same “irregular verbs”, (c)
and some of the same semantic properties (see Krause-Thomas 1960: 180-1) as old presents do.19
Moreover, Tocharian shows a curious alignment system in which the subjunctive stem serves as the
base for other moods (and often for the preterite as well), in a way which one might expect the present
indicative to do. These observations point to the Tocharian subjunctive being an old present, but I leave
the complexities of the system for the Tocharianists to untangle.
3.2 Renou Revisited
The idea that the bhávati type present and the subjunctive have a common origin was also put forward
in Renou’s 1932 article on the Vedic subjunctive. Renou thought that bhávati-like forms had initially

18 Intended here as mood of subordination.

19 Altogether, the function of the Tocharian subjunctive is remarkably similar to the formally unrelated PIE
subjunctive, adding weight to the argument that the two may have arisen by independent but identical develop-
The PIE Subjunctive: Function and Development 15

an “eventual” (neither indicative nor subjunctive) value, and then the category split on the basis of
paradigmatic distribution, thereby generating the bhávati present and the subjunctive as we know them.
The paradigmatic split happened as follows: if a verb had a root aorist, the bhávati form would then
be perceived as derived from the root aorist, and reanalyzed as a mood (the subjunctive).
If the bhávati form were felt to be independent, lacking a corresponding root aorist, it would
develop into a present.
There are two problems with this interpretation. First, typologically, there is no such a thing as an
eventual developing into a present. Secondly, we find a consistent group of bhávati presents that have
corresponding root aorists. Under Renou’s hypothesis, all of these bhávati presents should have been
reinterpreted as subjunctives instead (see table below, after Got] 1987: 63-4).

Simple Thematic Present More Marked Present Root aorist

bhávati ábhut
bháyate bibhéti20 bhes
ráyati áres
hárati áh5ths (B.)
rócate rucná
dyótate ádyaut
skándati skan
krándati kran
vártate -avart
vardháte v5dhánt-
spárdhate asp5dhran
bhrjati ábhr6

My hypothesis is then as follows: the bhávati present and the PIE subjunctive indeed had a common
origin; they were both bhávati-type presents. The deciding factor whether they stayed presents or they
became subjunctives is whether a new, more marked present (Haspelmath’s progressive) was intro-
duced into an individual verbal system and replaced the simple thematic present. In this situation, the
bhávati form was pushed to the periphery of the system, and specialized as a future.
All of the eventual forms listed by Renou (1932: 28-9) have a more marked present beside them.
Furthermore, all of these forms, with the exception of bhárati, are listed as subjunctive, and not as
Renou’s Éventuel More Marked Present Root aorist
kárati k5óti ákar
gámati gáchati ágan
yámati yáchati yámam
várate v5óti vár
bhárati bíbharti ábhar

One could object to my hypothesis insofar as one finds in Vedic several more marked presents
alongside simple thematic presents that never came to work as subjunctives. For all such presents listed
in Got] (1987: 57ff.), however, semantic distinctions apply: in other words, the old bhávati present was
never really replaced in its primary function, because the new more marked present expressed a
different semantics. This is the case for bhárati ‘he carries (to a destination)’ vs. bíbharti ‘he bears

20 Secondary: see Cardona 1992.

16 Chiara Bozzone

3.3 A hypothesis for the PIE subjunctive

I will now summarize my views on the process that lead to the creation of the PIE subjunctive The
progression, illustrated in the figure below, is meant to be logical, not strictly chronological, and it is
strongly simplified for expository purposes.21

21 Dahl (forthcoming) also proposes a detailed account of the grammaticalization of the PIE subjunctive, tied to
the general development of Aspect oppositions in PIE; his conclusions are similar to mine, though some of the
individual steps are different.
The PIE Subjunctive: Function and Development 17

In the development of the PIE present system, I posit three consecutive phases of increasing complexi-
ty: In Phase I, only simple athematic presents appear; in Phase II, the simple thematic presents are
introduced; in Phase III, finally, all the more marked presents types are added.
Within Phase III, the system starts to be crowded, and some older elements (belonging to Phase I
and II) are pushed to the periphery by some new elements; in this way, the opposition between center
and periphery comes into being. While both simple thematics and simple athematics can be pushed,22
most of the pushed elements happen to be simple thematics.
Now a single verbal root could happen to have two different present formations, one in the center
(newer, more marked), and one in the periphery (older, less marked). These two formations have one
salient difference, as far as meaning is concerned. While both the simple thematics and the simple
athematics could refer to the future (either as a general property of old grammaticalized presents, or as
a specific property of telic verbs with progressive marking), the more marked presents normally cannot
have future reference. As a result, within the individual verbal systems, the old presents are perceived
as marking the future, as opposed to the new presents, marking the present: the forms in the periphery
specialize as futures.
Since, in the periphery, most forms are simple thematics, the simple thematic type is perceived as
the morphological marker for the semantics of the periphery altogether (i.e., future), and is extended to
other forms. This creates the new futures, identical in form to bhávati-type presents, but which never
worked as such. An example of such a form is .
In Phase IV, the system is clearly split in two: PIE present and PIE subjunctive are paradigmatically
divorced, but, importantly, they both remain productive:

Within the PIE subjunctive, the subjunctive marker is extended first as a root formation (Type I
subjunctive), then, probably because a confusion arose within the athematic aorist stems, it starts to be
extended to all kinds of tense/aspect stems (Type II subjunctive). While Type I looks like a tense, Type
II looks like a mood.
Within the Type I subjunctive, one can attempt to distinguish between original present forms (Phase
II, like, arguably, ) and analogically formed subjunctives (Phase III, like ), on the basis of
Aktionsart. If a verbal root lacks a root present, but has a root aorist, its subjunctive form is likely to be

22 Gk.  ‘I will go’ is an example of an old athematic present pushed to the periphery by the more marked
present  ‘I go’.
18 Chiara Bozzone

an old present. If the opposite distribution is true, the Type I subjunctive is likely to be secondary
(Phase III).

4. Conclusion
The PIE subjunctive was a future, originating from an older marginalized present form. This explains
why the subjunctive would take both primary and secondary endings, like imperfective stems do. This
development, already proposed by Kury\owicz (1956), is now supported by the typological material
collocated by Haspelmath (1998).

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