7

In Classical times, the first singular ablative pronoun ("from me") was , with a long ē. However, the older form seems to have been med, with a final -d.

Do we know whether this earlier form was med or mēd? In other words, was the vowel long or short? Evidence from etymology, or poetry, or an apex in an inscription, etc, would all be appreciated: since it's an older form, I doubt there'll be as many attestations.

5

As varro says, the forms are reconstructed with a long vowel, as mēd, tēd, sēd. AFAIK there's no direct evidence for the vowel quantity. The reason for the long-vowel reconstruction is that there seems to have been a sound change between Old Latin and Classical Latin in which final -d was lost after a long vowel; this is the reason for the final long vowel of ablatives in -ā (< -ād), -ō, (< -ōd), etc.

The loss of -d is thought to have occurred only after long vowels. I'm not sure how certain we can be about that, though. Old Latin did have -d after short vowels, resulting from word-final voicing, e.g. FECED = fecit, and it's true that these were not lost. But it's also true that these -d were replaced by -t (perhaps analogically) at some point, and if that happened before the -d-loss sound change, then these forms aren't evidence either way.

As Sihler mentions, Sanskrit has short vowels in the corresponding forms (mat) etc., but as he says, it's plausible that these could have been lengthened in Latin by analogy to the noun declensions, so that also isn't too helpful.

There may well be other relevant evidence I'm missing, but it seems that the answer is "probably the vowel was long but we can't be sure".

4

This is what Andrew Sihler says in his New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin:

Abl.sg. L. , , , are from OL mēd, tēd, sēd, with the same ablative -d as in nouns and other pronouns. Cf. Ved. mát, tvát, ... whose short vowels, being unexpected, are likely to be faithful to the original state of affairs. The significance of the long vowels in L. is ambiguous; they may be from lengthening in monosyllables, but are more likely to be importations from the otherwise ubiquitous long vowels in the abl. ending of various noun classes.

  • What does the abbreviation Ved. in that quote mean? – Wilson Apr 3 '19 at 8:50
  • @Wilson..... Vedic – fdb Apr 3 '19 at 9:18
  • I'm not sure this really answers the question; the quote from Sihler states that the e was long, but it doesn't say how we know this. – TKR Apr 4 '19 at 4:35

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.