The role of analogy in the spread of the PIE root extensions.

2018. №2, 99-121

Maria N. Kazanskaya
Institute for Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, 199053, Russian Federation;


The paper examines the role of analogy in the spread of Proto-Indo-European root extensions. Analogy is shown to have been an influential factor in the extension of PIE roots, and its constancy accounts for the fact that PIE root extensions continued to spread even after PIE diverged into separate language groups; it furthermore may explain the lack of recognizable semantic change in a large part of extended roots vs. simple roots. These conclusions are illustrated by two case studies. The first focuses on a pair of similarly sounding roots: *bhlei̯d-, which, despite being attested only in Greek, is considered by LIV a PIE extended root, and *ghlei̯d-, which, in spite of close Germanic parallels, is not included by LIV among PIE roots due to the unusual sematic development of its derivatives. It is shown that the *bhlei̯d- (φλιδάω ‘to overflow with moisture’, φλοιδούμενος ‘seething’, etc.) acquired its extension under the analogical influence of χλίω / χλιδάω from *ghlei̯(d)- and that this change must have happened at a relatively late stage, already in Ancient Greek. The second case study concerns the relationship between two synonymic roots, *h2u̯elk- ‘to drag’ and *selk- ‘to draw’. Besides their semantic closeness, these roots share the same extension -k- and produce similar derivatives in different IE languages (in particular, the Greek word for ‘furrow’, ὦλξ / αὖλαξ from *h2u̯elk-, and Latin sulcus from *selk-, cf. OE sulh, Grk. ἕλκω ‘to drag’). Their resemblance is so striking that there have been attempts to reconstruct a single root from which they could both derive. It is argued that this is a case of an early analogical extension involving a pair of two synonymic but independent roots, one of which (probably *h2u̯elk-) transmitted the extension -k- to its close synonym (*selk-), and that the distribution of their derivatives in Indo-European languages suggests that this must have happened in PIE. The fact that both roots appeared in the agricultural vocabulary accounts for the preservation of their derivatives ὦλξ / αὖλαξ and sulcus, remarkable for the similarity of their structure and semantics.