Origin / Original meaning of Latin conjugations

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
Hello!

From what I gathered throughout my life, all bound morphemes developed out of free morphemes at some point, so there's reason to assume that so did the Latin verb theme vowels a, e, i and ø also had a meaning of their own (maybe less so ø :D).

It is pretty clear to me that -e-, in most cases, denotes some kind of state or stationary condition as in habere, tenere, carere, egere, patere, latere, iacere, haerere, valere, rubere, vigere, virere, silere, tacere, placere, licere, paenitere, pigere, pudere, taedere, sedere, nitere etc. (to name just a few that came to my mind).

Maybe that meaning is a bit less clear in words like
parere, studere, mederi, vereri
... although it is not too big of a leap to trace them back to some static meaning, as Hemo Rusticus did with mederi recently.

I was wondering about the other conjugations.
It has occured to me that there are some verbs from the i-conjugation like sitire, esurire, parturire which denote the idea of 'wanting to do something' ... I wonder if that can be extended to the other verbs from the i-conjugation as well. If not, what was the original idea behind the i?

I have no idea about the a-conjugation. It seems to be a bit watered down as by the time of classical Latin, it appeared to be the only open verb class (correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me like any neologisms invented in Latin in and after the classical [possibly earlier] went into the a-conjugation). I have no idea what the original idea behind that conjugation could have been.
 

Hemo Rusticus

J. Wellington Wimpy
I'll try to arrange a few useful thoughts on this while I do some chores & then I'll get back to yiz.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
as in habere, tenere, carere, egere, patere, latere, iacere, haerere, valere, rubere, vigere, virere, silere, tacere, placere, licere, paenitere, pigere, pudere, taedere, sedere, nitere etc. (to name just a few that came to my mind).
I like how you showed off there.
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
It has occured to me that there are some verbs from the i-conjugation like sitire, esurire, parturire which denote the idea of 'wanting to do something' ... I wonder if that can be extended to the other verbs from the i-conjugation as well. If not, what was the original idea behind the i?
Hmm, it's interesting, there's definitely the class of 'desiderative verbs' in -urio like esurio, parturio, cenaturio, empturio, cacaturio, proscripturio, Sullaturio (the last three seem to be silly coinages, and I'm not familiar with any other standard examples – though A&G lists the 3rd-conj. viso as an 'inherited desiderative of a different formation'), but I'm not sure if that can be generalized to other 4th-conj. verbs.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Hmm, it's interesting, there's definitely the class of 'desiderative verbs' in -urio like esurio, parturio, cenaturio, empturio, cacaturio, proscripturio, Sullaturio (the last three seem to be silly coinages, and I'm not familiar with any other standard examples – though A&G lists the 3rd-conj. viso as an 'inherited desiderative of a different formation'), but I'm not sure if that can be generalized to other 4th-conj. verbs.
Before you posted, I was about to say that desiderative verbs had more than the i, but all ended in -urire as far as I knew, so that I didn't think the desiderative idea lay in the i, but then I realized sitire, which Bitmap listed, doesn't have the -ur-. Sitire, in its meaning, certainly sounds desiderative. I don't know if it's an exception where -ire alone has desiderative force, or if it simply isn't originally a desiderative verb.
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
Yeah, that's why I found his sitire example interesting.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Actually, sitire is different because it's based on a noun (sitis) not on a simple verb like, say, esurio from esse/edere.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Actually, sitire is different because it's based on a noun (sitis) not on a simple verb like, say, esurio from esse/edere.
So it can't be desiderative in the sense of meaning "I want/need to do the action of the simple verb this verb is based on".

It means "I'm affected by thirst" (sitis) not "I need to drink" (which would be *bibiturio, *poturio or something).
 

Godmy

A Monkey
Yeah, I think the only two attested desideratives are these two (if I recall correctly: ēsuriō, parturio) & that the desiderative morpheme is not productive in the classical Latin any longer (one couldn't use it). Any way, no further thoughts on the subject...^ (maybe: the first conjugation, unlike the second one, seems often the first choice for a transitive verb anytime you decide to make/derive a new verb from a noun [not even mentioning the supine stem], but that doesn't add much to the discussion and ... I have no idea about the etymology either)
 

Hemo Rusticus

J. Wellington Wimpy
It is typical of the daughter languages to focus on, & expand upon, only a few of the verb-formations that IE had in abundance. Unfortunately, what this usually amounts to is that one can’t learn a great deal about the verb’s history from the ‘theme-vowel’ alone because, odds are, it has little to do with the inherited significance.

In Latin, which to the best of our meager knowledge represents well the Italic family at large, the chief formative ‘infix’ continued from IE is *-y- which, though present virtually everywhere, is seen most clearly in the 3rd conjugation. The 3rd conj. has, in addition to full-grade thematic verbs like ferō (cf. G φέρω, Goth baíra, S bhárā (subj.), OB бьрѫ), a subdivision of verbs (largely reduced or zero-grades) which features this ‘infix’, as in capiō, faciō, morior, etc.

The *1st conj. was originally home to denominative verbs: that is, verbs that are derived from nouns, or more specifically the old ‘inanimate plural’ (our ‘neuter plural’) form of nouns. A perfect example is dōnāre, which reflects PI *dōnā-yezi (< PIE *deH3-o-neH3). Of course, it was expanded onto other noun types:
nasal-stems, e.g. nōmināre, dental-stems, e.g. mīlitāre, etc.
to adjectives, e.g. levāre
to deverbatives, e.g. cantāre (< *canitāre, where the frequentative suffix ‘-it-’ was diluted by popular usage, so that the two words became synonymous)

The long ī of the 4th conj. is merely the result of this ‘infix’ combining with an i-stem (with a resulting -iyō), like sitīre, which you’ve already mentioned. This is, again, the reason we get so little out of the Latin morphology alone. We end up asking what ‘proto-noun’ could possibly be behind something like amāre or venīre (if ever there was one) &, if there had been something like *uenis ‘a coming’ (< *gwṃis), where the hell did it go?

*In Germanic, the analogue to Latin 1st conj. is the 2nd class of ‘weak verbs’, which are also denominative (e.g. OE lufian < PG *luβōjōną‘love’).
 

Ser

鳥王
Hmm, it's interesting, there's definitely the class of 'desiderative verbs' in -urio like esurio, parturio, cenaturio, empturio, cacaturio, proscripturio, Sullaturio (the last three seem to be silly coinages, and I'm not familiar with any other standard examples – though A&G lists the 3rd-conj. viso as an 'inherited desiderative of a different formation'), but I'm not sure if that can be generalized to other 4th-conj. verbs.
While it's true we can't rely on Martial using a normal verb instead of coining something funny on a whim, since cēnāturiō existed, I don't see much of a problem about cacāturiō being real though... Maybe it was just vulgar.

There's a moment in Plautus' Persa where a character makes a pun by interpreting his name Saturiō as 'I am sated of food' (satur sum):

Toxilus. Prope me hic nescio quis loquitur. Saturio. O mi Juppiter
terrestris, te coëpulonus compellat tuos.
Tox. O Saturio, opportune advenisti mihi.
Sat. Mendacium edepol dicis, atque haud te decet,
nam Esurio venio, non advenio Saturio.

"Somebody is speaking close to me here!"
"O, my Jupiter-on-Earth, your banquet friend is speaking!"
"Oh, Saturio, it's a great time for you to come visit me."
"You're telling a damn lie, and that doesn't suit you. I've actually come as Hungry-o the Hungry, not Saturio the Sated."
(my translation, not that you need it)
 
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