A new rule in Vedic metrics.

Author:Begus, Gasper


In Vedic, consonantal *v (or *u) is regularly lost before the high back vowel *u (AiG I: 261-62). There were two main sources of the sequence *vu in pre-Vedic: the Proto-Indo-European sequence *(C)uRH, which yields *(C)vur and subsequently (C)ur (e.g., uru--'wide, broad' uvaC-, e.g., *vuvaca > uvaca). (2) The loss of glides also occurs in external sandhi. When word-final--o (*-av) is followed by word-initial u-, *v is lost, resulting in--a u-, e.g., RV 1.2.2a vaya ukthebhir for Pada-Patha vayo ukthebhih. If, on the other hand, any other vowel (except for short a-) follows word-final--o (*-av), *v is preserved and the result is--av V-, e.g., RV 7.92.3b vayav istaye for Padapatha vayo istaye (cf. AiG I: 261-62).

The few exceptions to the glide loss can easily be explained by analogy. AiG I: 262 lists three such examples: the compound hotr-vurya--'election of priest', the 3rd sg. medial form of the optative vurita, and 3rd pi. forms with the--ur ending, such as babhuvur. In the first two cases v was restored on the basis of other forms in the paradigm of the verb [??]vari 'to choose'. In the latter case *v was a hiatus-preventing glide that was inserted in order to avoid the sequence **uu or was analogically transferred from forms with other vowel-initial endings (e.g., babhuvathur). The same is true for the--v-u--outcome in the weak form of the perfect participle in--us--to roots in--u /-u,, e.g., susuv-usas.

The glide loss before homorganic vowels targeted not only *v but also *y (or *i). The examples of this loss are, however, limited to word-internal position: pre-Vedic *sray-istha-(

There is one example where *y may have been lost before i word-initially in the reduplication syllable: the middle participle iyana-. However, this participle could go back either to the root present *iyana--(

The purpose of this paper is to show that the lost glides *v and *y were still present before the corresponding high short vowels--or at least accessible to the poets--at the time when books 2-8 of the Rigveda were composed, and that they still "make position," in the sense that the glides must be restored for metrical purposes and that word-final syllables of the shape--VC must be scanned long if they were followed by *vu--or *yi--(*-VC. vu-; *-VC. yi-). This new rule repairs at least twenty-six irregular cadences to their canonical structure (thirty-two by a less conservative count). I also show that this new scansion that restores the lost *v and *y repairs irregular openings as well, although their metrical structure is less regular and therefore less relevant. Finally, I argue that the rule can be employed decisively for cases with unclear etymology, such as the participle iyana-. To my knowledge, no such rule has previously been proposed in the existing literature on Vedic metrics. (5)

[section]2 METRICS

The cadences of the tristubh (eleven-syllable verse) and jagati (twelve-syllable verse) are metrically the most regular features in the Rigveda. According to van Nooten and Holland (1994: xvii), 15,855 of 16,450 (or 96.4%) tristubh cadences have the canonical structure--[??] x. Likewise, 4,863 of 5,011 (or 97.0%) jagati cadences have the canonical structure--[??] --[??] x. (6) This leaves room for only 3.6% or 3.0%, respectively, of cadences that have other structures and are therefore "irregular" or non-canonical.

Openings in the Rigveda are much less regular than cadences. Nevertheless, there exist some tendencies for metrical regularity even in openings. The structures x [??]-[??]--and x ---constitute 72.6% of all openings, with structures such as x-[??] and x [??] [??] [??] occurring at frequencies as low as 2.1% and 0.4%. The most canonical structure for openings is thus x-x--(Arnold 1905: 193-94). More precisely, the second syllable of the tristubh openings is long in 13,823, or 83.9%, of all cases (cf. van Nooten and Holland 1994: xvii-xviii).

The evidence for the proposed rule will only be taken from cadences, since openings are not regular enough to be conclusive. Moreover, lengthening of any syllable in the opening of a verse will automatically yield a better structure. However, if restoration of glides proves to be necessary in cadences, there is no reason not to restore them in openings as well.

[section]3 THE DATA

Let us now take a look at words that feature an initial u--that goes back to *vu--and appears after the sequence--VC in cadences of the Rigveda. The most frequently attested such word is the verb urusy--'to widen', formed from the adjective uru--'wide, broad'. The adjective goes back to PIE *urH-u--(EWAia, I, 227), which yields pre-Vedic *vum-. The verb urusy-appears eight times in cadences after the sequence--VC. In all eight of these instances, the restoration of *v repairs the irregular cadence. In (1), we see that the traditional scansion (7) gives the metrical structure [??][??]-x, which occurs in only 250 (1.5%) tristubh cadences in the Rigveda. Restoring the *v, we get the canonical structure--[??]-x, which accounts for 96.3% of the tristubh cadences.

(1) RV 1.58.8c agne grnantam amhasa urusya [??][??]-x agne grnantam amhaso *vurusya -[??]-x (8) On the subject of examples with final--ah, Van Nooten and Holland (1994: 582) remark that "[t]he uncommon cadence .. . can be normalized by reading amhaso (with long final vowel) for S. amhasa (Pp. amhasah) before a following vowel." However, we see that there is no need to invoke a special reading of--ah, (9) because it is the lost *v that has caused the preceding syllable to be heavy (the sandhi outcome was in fact most probably *-o v--or--az v-for *-as v-). (10) Moreover, as seen in (2) and subsequent examples, the reading with *v should be employed not only after--ah, but also after any other sequence--VC, even--e

(2) RV 1.152.6d asavivasann aditim urusyet [??] [??] - x asavivasann aditim *vurusyet - [??] - x (3) RV 1.158.4a upastutir aucathiyam urusyen [??] [??] - x upastutir aucathiyam *vurusyen - [??] - x (4) RV 4.2.6d visvasmat sim aghayata urusya [??] [??] - x visvasmat sim aghayata *vurusya - [??] - x (5) RV 4.2.1 Id ditim ca rasva aditim urusya [??] [??] - x ditim ca rasva aditim *vurusya - [??] - x (6) RV 4.55.5d mitro mitriyad uta na urusyet [??] [??] - x mitro mitriyad uta no *vurusyet - [??] - x (7) RV 7.1.15b sameddharam amhasa urusyat [??] [??] - x sameddharam amhaso *vurusyat - [??] - x (8) RV 8.48.5a ime ma pita yasasa urusyavo [??] [??] - [??] x ime ma pita yasaso *vurusyavo - [??] - [??] x One example of the jagati verse is provided in (8). Here, the traditional reading gives the cadence structure [??][??]-[??] x which accounts for 83 (or 1.7%) of all jagati cadences. The restoration of *v, on the other hand, yields the reading--[??]-[??]x, which accounts for...

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