Alfermann's Law

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Alfermann's Law (named after the fictional linguist Juliane Alfermann) is a complex change in the phonology and morphology of the West Hesperic languages. In these languages, non-paradigmatic final *a is lost; this loss affected inanimate a-stem nouns (e.g. *khara > *khar 'stone') and oblique case endings (e.g. *xnarana > *xnaran 'man' (dative).

In animate nouns and verb endings, number inflection was reorganized such that *-a marked the singular, *-u dual and *-i plural in all cases. This involved suffixation of *-a to i-stem and u-stem animate nouns (e.g. *xasi > *xasia 'star'). Also, the objective suffix *-m was now also used in the dual and plural. The nominal paradigm thus changed from the Proto-Hesperic paradigm

Case Singular Dual Plural
Agentive *xnara *xnarax *xnaras
Objective *xnaram *xnarax *xnaras
Genitive *xnarasa *xnarawsa *xnarajsa
Partitive *xnarala *xnarawla *xnarajla
Dative *xnarana *xnarawna *xnarajna

to this type:

Case Singular Dual Plural
Agentive *xnara *xnaru *xnari
Objective *xnaram *xnarum *xnarim
Genitive *xnaras *xnarus *xnaris
Partitive *xnaral *xnarul *xnaril
Dative *xnaran *xnarun *xnarin

In all West Hesperic languages except Albic, this paradigm underwent a further change due to the neutralization of final nasals as *-n. This change led to the merger of the old dative and objective case, and the shift of the old partitive case to the meaning of a dative case.

The adverb-forming suffix *-s on adjectives also became *-i, the source of the Old Albic instrumental case.

The East Hesperic languages (Valdiska and Duniscian) did not undergo this change, nor did Viddan.

See also