In this paper I argue that the trigger of V-to-T lies in rich tense morphology in the sense of variations or asymmetries across teases, which happen to be provoked by the so-called stem or thematic vowel. The proposal consists in that the stem or thematic vowel segment gives rise to variations or asymmetries across tenses in certain languages, which makes the processing or derivation of verbal forms more complex or longer: such languages are V-to-T languages.
The idea that I would like to propose is that the morphological richness that is at the base of V-to-T is to be identified with the so-called stem or thematic vowel, in the sense that this segment can provoke systematic variations or asymmetries across the different tenses in the languages in question, in the way to be justified later on.
In essence, I defend in this paper that V-to-T movement is a core syntax process and that the trigger of V-to-T lies in a specific type of morphological segment that is known in the traditional philological literature as stem vowel or thematic vowel, and that is the segment mediating in the verbal forms of some languages between the root on the one hand, and [tau]-features and [phi]-features on the other.
Alternatively, verb stem can be defined as the morphological segment that results from the union of the so-called verbal root on the one hand and the stem or thematic vowel on the other.
However, adopting this assumption makes it necessary to explain two unexpected formal peculiarities of the morph: i.e., the appearance of a thematic vowel -i- (in competition with the usual -a-), and the presence of the consonant -h- instead of -ss- (from -sy-).
It should also be noted that Pisani's proposal cannot explain the appearance of the thematic vowel -i-.
Blau endorses to a certain degree Barth's theory that there is a connection between the thematic vowel
of the prefix conjugation and the thematic vowel
of nouns, e.g., that *zikr (z[e.bar]ker) underlies the *yaqtil pattern of yazk[i.bar]r (pp.
(4) that is, the root with the thematic vowel
; the other, based mostly on evidence from Arabic and Akkadian, assumes that the basic forms were the three different possible disyllabic alternations of the root with two identical short vowels after the first and the second radicals, either with /a/ or with /u/ or /i/.
But beyond the fact that this analogy is somewhat artificial, there are no n-stem proper name pairs attested in the languages that support this analysis, nor do proper names with n-stem second members seem to have regularly replaced this suffix with the thematic vowel
. Of all the Vedic, Avestan, and Old Persian names given in Mayrhofer 2003 and 1979, there are at least twenty compounds based on n-stems, and all have n-stem inflection, there being no certain cases of -a- replacing -an-.
The analysis of both authors obscures an original thematic vowel
-a- by treating it as part of the suffix (so also with the -i- theme in the case of +t-, +n-); they also conveniently (but incorrectly) overlook forms with an -o- thematic vowel
The distinctive characteristics of this class in Arabic are (1) the loss of the radical w in the imperative, present, jussive, and subjunctive forms (i.e., the imperative and those forms with a prefixed subject-marker); and (2) the systematic appearance of the thematic vowel
i (or a, in the environment of a post-velar radical or [r.sup.2]) in these same forms, at the expense of the other theoretically possible thematic vowels
u and a.
3.5.2 Like Brahui, Elamite has thematic vowels
, where a vowel (normally /a/) can be added to the root to form a verb stem.