Sunday, October 28, 2012


Lucie Pultrová​, The Latin Deverbative Nouns and Adjectives. Acta Universitatis Carolinae: Philologica monographia, 162. Praha: Université Charles de Prague; Éditions Karolinum​, 2011. Pp. 180. ISBN 9788024619446. (pb).

Reviewed by Jeremy Brightbill, University of Chicago (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

This will be a helpful reference book for anyone who is interested in a diachronic approach to Latin linguistics. As the title suggests, its focus is clearly defined: Latin nouns and adjectives that derive directly from verbs, i.e. excluding those that arise from primitive roots or derive from other parts of speech. The introductory chapter does a good job of situating the work in relation to previous scholarship and spelling out its goals. While there have been many works on historical and comparative Latin grammar, there have been few recent studies of how the particular classes of word formation originated and changed over time. Traditional historical grammars have also failed to distinguish consistently between inherited and analogical word-formation types: sometimes a particular form derives directly from Indo-European, but the pattern is then generalized by analogy to other words that share certain features with them. The importance of this distinction is seen throughout the present work, most clearly, for instance, in the formation of perfect passive participles (20-8).

In layout, Pultrová divides the subject matter on a broad level into adjectives and personal nouns on the one hand, and impersonal nouns on the other. Participles and infinitives are included in the analysis, as these are types of deverbative nouns and adjectives that were grammaticalized as part of the verbal paradigm. Through comparison with them, parallels with other word-formation types can be elucidated.

For each type of word formation, Pultrová begins with a survey of previous scholarship on the subject. Often there has been wide disagreement among scholars, and Pultrová does an admirable job in evaluating previous proposals and presenting ideas of her own, while remaining non-dogmatic in areas where certainty is impossible. For example, for the suffix -ndo-, found in gerundives and in adjectives such as oriundus, at least four different origins have been proposed: it could be from 1) *-n̥dh, found in the Vedic infinitive; 2) *- n-i̯o-, as in the Vedic gerundive; 3) *-tn-, the oblique stem of ancient r/n-stems; and 4) the suffix of the middle participle *-meno-, still used in Greek. Pultrová discusses some disadvantages to each suggestion, and finally opts for the fourth one, but with modifications of her own: the PIE form *-mno- would have passed into Latin via the sequence *-mno- > *-nno- > *-ndo-, due to assimilation of nasals and then dissimilation. In favor of this argument, she notes that adjectives of the oriundus type are formed exclusively from deponent verbs, which are vestiges of the original middle voice system (31-2). When the middle voice disappeared from Latin, the suffix -ndus was left without a function; the natural next step was to grammaticalize it as part of the verb paradigm, thus creating the gerundive with passive meaning (57).

Some of these points depend on the author's original hypothesis about stress and medial vowel weakening in Latin, published previously1 and only summarized in this volume (Appendix 1.5). Briefly put, the traditional theory explains alternations like faciō and cōnficiō by positing a time when all Latin words were stressed on the first syllable, and short medial vowels were then weakened. Pultrová argues that this view is no longer tenable due to the large number of exceptions, and the fact that the exceptions all fall into specific word-formation categories. Her own hypothesis is that "Latin 'reduced' vowels stand in place of original zero-grades (be it in the root or in the stem) in non-initial syllables," which then vocalize differently in initial and medial syllables according to a clear system of rules (150). Whether a compound was formed before or after the vocalization process took place determines why reduction occurs in some compounds and not in others (such as laudāre > collaudāre). In addition to this hypothesis about vowel reduction, Pultrová makes extensive use of a classification system of Kurzová,2 in which the fundamental PIE verb division was between active and inactive diathesis: "Active verbs express intentional actions ascribed to an external agent oriented to an external goal, namely imperfective (= present) or perfective (= aorist), whereas inactive verbs express processes (= medium) and states (= perfect), which have no such orientation to external actants" (37, summarizing Kurzová p. 120). Pultrová finds great explanatory power in this system for determining, for instance, why certain suffixes combine only with certain forms of the verb base (143-4).

The volume is nicely laid out, with clear formatting and no obvious factual or typographical errors. As an aide to reference, it includes an "Alphabetical index of interpreted nominal suffixes" and an "Index of Latin words."

The most significant problem with this book is a frequent lack of clarity in the writing. Much of the technical terminology from Latin linguistics and Indo-European studies will be unfamiliar even to a more general audience of classicists; this terminology is sometimes explained, but often is not, and the reader has to figure it out from context, or by searching for outside reference works. For instance, p. 19 explains the formation of the present participle by using the terms "hysterodynamic" and "acrostatic" from Indo-European studies; these words are not defined until their second occurrence, on p. 66. The problem of terminology is compounded by traces of non-native English throughout the work; it is often difficult to tell if a particular odd expression is accidental, or has a technical meaning. Despite these difficulties on the level of wording, the arguments as a whole are clearly presented and well organized, and will be useful to anyone who wishes to know more about Latin word formation.

Table of Contents

1. Preliminaries 

1.1 Subject and aim of work 

1.2 Ways of classification of word-formative means

1.3 Commentary on the present work 

1.3.1 Method

1.3.2 Technical and terminological notes 

1.3.3 Basic frame of the work 

2. Adjectives and personal nouns 

2.1 Chapter organisation

2.2 Adjectives of participial character 

2.2.1 Adjectives with the suffix -nt- (present active participles) 

2.2.2 Adjectives with the suffix -tus (perfect passive participles) PPP beside inherited root aorists PPP beside reduplicated perfects PPP beside Latin -s -perfects PPP beside "simple" perfects PPP beside -u-/v -perfects Participles in -tus in deponents and semideponents Adjectives in -tus not acting as PPP 

2.2.3 Adjectives with the suffix -tūrus (future active participles)

2.2.4 Adjectives in -ndus (not gerundives) and -bundus
2.2.5 Adjectives with the suffix -vus/-uus
2.2.6 Summary – adjectives of participial character
2.3 Non-actual adjectives of action 

2.3.1 Adjectives with the suffix -nus
2.3.2 Adjectives with the suffix -mus
2.3.3 Adjectives with the suffix -us Simplicia in -us Compounds in -us
2.3.4 Root adjectives – compounds 

2.3.5 Compounds with the suffix -t-
2.3.6 Adjectives with the suffix -ulus
2.3.7 Adjectives with the suffix -āx
2.3.8 Adjectives with the suffix -cundus
2.3.9 Adjectives with the suffix -ius
2.3.10 Adjectives with the suffix -cus
2.4 Modal adjectives 

2.4.1 Gerundive 

2.4.2 Adjectives with the suffix -bilis
2.4.3 Adjectives with the suffix -ilis
2.4.4 Adjectives with the suffix -tilis
2.4.5 Adjectives of purpose 

2.5 Nomina agentis 

2.5.1 Nouns with the suffix -tor
2.5.2 Root nouns Simplicia Compounds 

2.5.3 Compounds with the suffix -t-
2.5.4 N omina agentis in -us and -a Simplicia Compounds of the type agricola
2.5.5 Substantives with the suffix -ius
2.5.6 Subst. flāmen
2.5.7 Substantives in , -ōnis 

3. Impersonal nouns 

3.1 Definition and classification 

3.2 Names of actions, states and results of actions 

3.2.1 Grammaticalized action nouns Infinitives Gerund Supine 

3.2.2 Feminines with the suffix -tiō
3.2.3 Masculines with the suffix -tus (4th declension)

3.2.4 Neuters with the suffix -ium Compounds Simplicia 

3.2.5 Feminines with the suffix -tūra
3.2.6 Root nouns 

3.2.7 Feminines with the suffix -ti-
3.2.8 Masculines in -us and feminines in -a
3.2.9 Feminines in -iēs, -ēs (5th decl.) and -ēs (3rd decl.) Feminines in -iēs, -iēī Feminines in -ēs, -is Feminines in -ēs, -eī
3.2.10 S-stem verbal nouns Neuters in -us, -eris Neuters in -us, -oris Masculines in -or, -ōris
3.2.11 Less productive, secondary derivatives Feminines in -iō Feminines in -ēla Feminines in -ia(e) Feminines with the suffix -dō, -dinis Feminines with the suffix -gō, -ginis
3.2.12 Summary 

3.3 Impersonal participants in action

3.3.1 Neuters with the suffixes -men and -mentum Neuters in -men Neuters in -mentum
3.3.2 Substantives in -mo-/-mā- and -no-/-nā- Substantives in -mus, -ma Substantives in -num, -nus, -na
3.3.3 Nomina instrumenti and loci with the suffixes ending in -lum, -la, -lus and -rum, - ra -lum, -la, -lus -rum -ulum, -ula, -ulus -bulum, -bula -brum, -bra -culum, -cula -crum -trum -strum Summary

3.3.4 Masculines with the suffix -ti-
3.3.5 Masculines in -ex
3.3.6 Instrumental nouns in -ō, -ōnis
4. Conclusion 

Appendix 1: Sound phenomena resulting from the analyses of word-formative types

Appendix 2: Adjectives with the suffix -idus 



Alphabetical index of interpreted nominal suffixes 

Index of Latin words


1.   Pultrová, L. The Vocalism of Latin Medial Syllables. Praha, 2006.
2.   Kurzová, H. From Indo-European to Latin. The Evolution of a Morphosyntactic Type. Amsterdam- Philadelphia, 1993. ​

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