Fakultäten » Philosophische Fakultät » Vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft, Institut für » Indogermanistik » Prof. Dr. George E. Dunkel (emeritiert) » Dunkel

Completed research project

Title / Titel Lexicon of the Indo-European Particles
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Original title / Originaltitel Lexikon der indogermanischen Partikeln
Summary / Zusammenfassung For most Indo-Europeanists, "particle" is just a term for whatever is left over after they have gotten through picking through the roots, suffixes, and endings. But one man's garbage sometimes becomes another man's data. In fact, the particles are a morpheme class of equal scientific worth with the other three. Although generally denied their rightful place(s) in IE word-structure formulas, despite not being commutable with any other morpheme class, the particles are themselves the only morpheme-class which can serve alone as a complete word. Thus beside expanding the usual word-structure formula to Word = (P+)R+(S+)E(+P), we also need a completely different word-structure formula: Word = (P+)P(+P). Such particle-chains often end up as pronominal stems. Since, like suffixes but unlike endings and roots, the particles can be combined not only with the other morpheme-classes but also with each other, it can be said that the particles have a syntax of their own.

Other than distributionally, the particles can be defined as uninflected, non-clausular morphemes and morpheme sequences which modify the meaning of words and sentences in various ways. In terms of parts of speech, they comprise in Indo-European the primary adverbs, pronouns, conjunctions, certain numerals, and deictic elements. All but the last are generally also words.

The project will produce the first-ever systematic collection and analysis of the "last frontier" of Indo-European, the indeclinable particles of the proto-language (with excurses on formations of the daughter languages).

Aside from its own inherent interest, the study of the particles can have implications which reach far beyond the confines of this class. Particles are a known repository of archaic features, preserved due to their extraparadigmatic nature. That is: a priori one can expect to learn more about historical morphology from the study of the so-called "indeclinables" (actually frozen forms) than from that of living paradigms (actually hotbeds of analogy and innovation). The study of the particles has already enabled breakthroughs in problematic areas for which the indeclinabilia had never been considered in the slightest degree relevant; more of the same is to be expected on the basis of the Gesamtmaterial.
Keywords / Suchbegriffe Indo-European, historical linguistics, particles, comparative linguistics, reconstruction, adverbs, conjunctions, deictic, Vedic, Sanskrit, Greek, Hittite, Anatolian, Latin, Slavic, Lithuanian, Baltic, Germanic, Albanian, Armenian, Tocharian, Homer, Rig-Veda
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Prof. Dr. G. E. Dunkel, Ph.D. (Project Leader)
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
SNF (Personen- und Projektförderung), Private Sector (e.g. Industry)
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Apr 2000 to Dec 2013