chapter  7
Morphology 1: the nominal elements
Pages 21

When Bopp and his successors began their work in comparative IndoEuropean linguistics, morphology was well understood. The classical lan­ guages were thoroughly mastered on the basis of handbooks that included nominal and verbal paradigms as well as descriptions of uninflected parts of speech. Sanskrit grammars provided a clear pattern for portrayal of a somewhat more complex set of verbal forms than either Greek or Latin. And concern since the time of Leibniz with all known languages provided information on types of morphology and categories, as its characterizations brought to their high point in Adelung’s Mithridates may illustrate. The first volume of the Mithridates, published in 1806, begins by present­

ing samples of various Chinese dialects among “monosyllabic languages.” It then continues with “polysyllabic languages,” among them Sanskrit (ibid. 134-76). After citing considerable bibliography on Sanskrit, includ­ ing publications produced before those of Jones and contemporaries, Adelung briefly characterizes the language, pointing out among other traits that nouns have seven cases besides the vocative, and verbs have ten classes. Later in the volume (ibid. 459-68) he deals with Osmanli Turkish, again citing a large bibliography dating from 1599 to 1780. Here too his characterization is accurate though informal. Inflectional and derivational elements at the ends of words are said to be very “manifold.” Substantives do not indicate gender nor take articles, but have six cases; and verbs are said to be the most difficult part of the language, some forms seeming to be “phrases.” In short, languages were described for form; categories were identified. The functions expressed through such forms and by the cat­ egories and subcategories were determined. This brief sketch may indicate that procedures were available for analysing the data of the various IndoEuropean languages, classifying them, and comparing the results to find the common characteristics.