Innocence Seekers: The Black Rose – Upper monograde and bigrade verbs in Namari

This post will detail two particular categories of Namari verbs. One thing I noticed when going through Japanese verbs is that there are only a small number of upper vowel-stem verbs (ending in -iru) compared to their lower counterparts (ending in -eru). As such, I will analyse each Japanese upper vowel-stem verb and see if its Namari counterpart is also upper bigrade or upper monograde.

In Japanese, the upper vowel-stem class originates from verbs whose Proto-Japonic stems ended in *-uy-, *-oy- or *-əy-. However, only stems in *-uy- and *-oy- (as far as I know, no attested Japonic language distinguishes between *-uy- and *-oy-) result in Namari upper bigrade/monograde verbs; stems in *-əy- are lower bigrade/monograde (e.g. *ətəy-i becomes ote compared to Japanese ochi). Hence the number of upper bigrade/monograde verbs in Namari is even lower than the number in Japanese.

While I won’t give all the details on how I came to a reconstructed or Namari form, there are a number of things I will take into account:

  • Arisaka’s Law, which dictates that */ə/ cannot co-occur with */a/, */u/ and/or */o/.
  • Not all Japanese upper vowel-stem verbs are native. Many of those ending in -jiru are actually derived from Sino-Japanese.
  • I do not include compounds.

Here is the list of Namari upper bigrade/monograde verbs:

  • aku (Japanese akiru, Proto-Japonic *ak-[u,o]y-)
  • abu (Japanese abiru, Proto-Japonic *amp[u,o]y-)
  • eku (Japanese ikiru, Proto-Japonic *ik-[u,o]y-)
  • ī (Japanese iru, Proto-Japonic *wo-y-)
  • kayu (Japanese kariru, Proto-Japonic *kar[u,o]y-)
  • kī (Japanese kiru, Proto-Japonic *ki-)
  • kobu (Japanese kobiru, Proto-Japonic *komp-[u,o]y-)
  • koyu (Japanese koriru, Proto-Japonic *kor-[u,o]y-)
  • kutu (Japanese kuchiru, Proto-Japonic *ku-t[u,o]y-)
  • kuyu (Japanese kuiru, Proto-Japonic *kuy-[u,o]y-)
  • mī (Japanese miru, Proto-Japonic *mi-)
  • mitu (Japanese michiru, Proto-Japonic *mit-o-y-)
  • pī (Japanese hiru, Proto-Japonic *po-y-; cf. Amami hiri)
  • pinabu (Japanese hinabiru, Proto-Japonic *pinam-p-[u,o]y-)
  • sabu (Japanese sabiru, Proto-Japonic *samp[u,o]y-)
  • shimu (Japanese shimiru, Proto-Japonic *so-y-m[u,o]y-)
  • shinabu (Japanese shinabiru, Proto-Japonic *sinamp[u,o]y-)
  • shiu (Japanese shīru, Proto-Japonic *sip[u,o]y-)
  • sugu (Japanese sugiru, Proto-Japonic *sunko-y-)
  • tozu (Japanese tojiru, Proto-Japonic *ton-t[u,o]y-)
  • tubu (Japanese chibiru, Proto-Japonic *tumpu-y-)
  • tuku (Japanese tsukiru, Proto-Japonic *tuko-y-)
  • wabu (Japanese wabiru, Proto-Japonic *wamp-[u,o]y-)

List of Namari lower bigrade/monograde verbs whose Japanese cognates are upper vowel-stem:

  • nei (Japanese niru, Proto-Japonic *nəy-)
  • obu (Japanese obiru, Proto-Japonic *əmpəy-)
  • oku (Japanese okiru, Proto-Japonic *əkə-y-)
  • otu (Japanese ochiru, Proto-Japonic *ətə-y-)
  • ou (Japanese oiru, Proto-Japonic *əyə-y-)
  • oyu (Japanese oriru, Proto-Japonic *ərə-y-)
  • pokoyobu (Japanese hokorobiru, Proto-Japonic *pə(tə)kərə-bə-y-)
  • poyobu (Japanese horobiru, Proto-Japonic *pərəbə-y-)

The above two lists contain a total of 31 verbs. Of these verbs, seven are lower bigrade, one is lower monograde, 19 are upper bigrade, and four are upper monograde.

In most cases, I am unable to determine whether the thematic diphthong is *-uy- or *-oy-. I typically use the notation *[u,o] in this context, especially since the distinction is often irrelevant and cannot be determined from the known corpus. However, there are a number of verbs whose thematic diphthongs I can at least tentatively reconstruct:

  • ī, from *wo-y, based on *wo-r-, whence Namari oi, Japanese oru and Okinawan wun.
  • mitu, from *mit-o-y- (tentative), based on Amami miθuri.
  • , from *po-y-, based on Amami hiri and Japanese hiru and hosu (if it were **pə-y-, the Amami form would be *hïri).
  • sugu, from *sunko-y-, based on Japanese sugoi.
  • tubu, from *tumpu-y-, based on Japanese tsubu (if it were */o/, the noun would be *tsubo).
  • tuku, from *tuko-y-, based on *tuko-r-, whence Namari tukoyu, Japanese tsukuru and Yaeyama tsïkurun.

That will be all for now.

Edit (2019-07-10): I just realised that Japanese niru had an intransitive form noru in Old Japanese, and Okinawan niyun confirmed the */ə/ (if it were */u/ or */o/, I would have expected Okinawan *njun).

Also, I have an explanation as to why I think verbs ending in -ay- are overrepresented in Japonic. This *-ay- was actually a verbal suffix that changed the transitivity of the original verb. Also, the larger number of *-uy-/*-oy- verbs compared to *-əy- verbs (21 versus eight from the above lists) may also be explained by *-ay-.

Where Japanese has an -iru/-asu alternation (e.g. michiru versus mitasu) it is possible that there is a third verb derived directly from the root (in this case the third verb is attested as mitsu). My hypothesis is that in these trios of verbs, the base form is simply, for example, *mit-, while the derived forms are, for example, **mit-ru-ay-*mit-oy- (mediopassive; derived from the attributive of *mit-, **mit-ru-a*mit-o) and *mit-as- (causative; derived directly from the root).

I believe a number of upper vowel-stem verbs actually originate from the above construction, and thus end in *-oy-, alternating with *-as- and a null suffix. The remaining verbs ending in *-uy- are most likely inchoatives (marked by the verbalising suffix *-y-) or derived from nouns, although it is still possible that *-ay- was used and the */a/ was simply elided.

As for verbs ending in *-əy-, their existence may in fact be a side effect of Arisaka’s Law (which prohibits */ə/ from coexisting with a back vowel within a morpheme), or an ancient vowel harmony system that led to Arisaka’s Law. When *-ay- is suffixed to a stem ending in */ə/, there appears to be a very strong preference to eliding the */a/ instead of the */ə/, almost always resulting in *-əy-.