Icelandic: t-insertion in adjectives (like 'nakinn')

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Alxmrphi, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Hi all,

    Quick question:
    Is nakinn (naked) a special case when it comes to adding its -t- into the declension?
    So in the strong declension it appears in the masculine/feminine nom/acc plural, and the whole dative declension (which is the same anyway for all genders).
    Then it's there in the whole of the weak declension, too. Is this something that happens to adjectives that end in -kinn or is nakinn just a special case?

    So I need to think of a word that in the adjective form masculine nominative singular (strong) there is no -t- but one appears elsewhere in the paradigm. I just wanted to know if this was a normal rule or if something idiosyncratic was going on with this specific word? By chance I've just found klakinn (hatched), which does behave in the same way. So maybe it's just a normal pattern, unless this is another deviant pattern alongside nakinn.

    I'll try to reformulate my question in an easier way:
    Is there a word/adjective in Icelandic that has ?_?_ k i n n in the masculine nominative singular that would not be ?_ ?_ k t i r in the masculine nominative plural?

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011
  2. Magb Senior Member

    Norway, Norwegian
    Vakinn, rakinn and þakinn also get a -t-, but tekinn, strykinn, lokinn, rekinn and drukkinn do not. So all signs point to it being determined by whether the stem vowel is /a/.

    Edit: I don't know what "stolinn" was doing in my list.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011
  3. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Cool ;)
    That's exactly the kind of response I was hoping for!
    I'll keep my eye out and see if it can be disproved, if not then we have a good basis for calling it a rule.
  4. This is over six years old now, and I am really feeling nervous about posting this, but I would like to have this explained for anyone in the future wondering about this and I couldn't see anything in the rules about replying to old posts. Still, if I'm doing something wrong by posting this let me know and I will stay away from years old questions in the future.

    I had actually researched this very phenomenon before out of curiosity, and can therefore explain it quite a bit in detail. I am no expert though, so some of my knowledge and/or conclusions might not be completely correct.

    What you are seeing here is actually just a fraction of a much larger amount of adjectives with what I guess I should call a dental-insertion, as the t here is only a t because of the k by it, but is at its core a ð. Though I guess a more descriptive name for it is partial strong-verb participle declension, or something like that.
    It has however, unlike what you've determined here, nothing to do with the stem vowel being a. It just happens that a as a stem vowel is much more common where it happens than where it doesn't.

    Before I explain this I want to touch the irregularity that is nakinn first.

    The basic rule that I believed before was that all of the adjectives that behaved in this way were past participles of verbs.
    The adjective nakinn does kinda disprove that, so I had to search a bit to find out what was going on with that.
    Turns out nakinn comes from a much older nǫkkviðr (which was also sometimes nøktr) that, although not from any verb, was close enough to the past participle form that got this strange declension that it seems to have underwent the same change (this also explains why the English naked has the -ed usual for past participles even though it also has no verb it derived from)

    With that done let's move on the the complicated stuff.

    What you must keep in mind is that -inn / -in / -ið is usually a sign of a past participle from a strong verb, like for example boðinn, and that those also have the normal shortening of the i when a third vowel is added, e.g. boðnum.

    Leaving aside all the complicated conjugations of strong verbs, weak verbs are usually (both in Old Norse and modern Icelandic) categorised in three classes, those classes originating from the Proto-Germanic verb class distinction.
    Of those class 2 is the most simple, being the class with all the -aði endings in the preterite, while class 1 is further split into two types depending if they are "long-stemmed" or "short-stemmed" (which I believe has something to do wheither there was a -j- or a -ij- in them in Proto-Germanic).

    The short or long difference has some effects but the most important one regarding this is that short-stemmed verbs usually form the past participle with an -(i)ðr (the i being in brackets because of the later tendency for it to drop out).

    Now, as I'm sure you've never seen a past participle with the form -iður / -ið / -ið you can be sure it dropped out of the language, possibly as an effect of the already common tendency to lose the i, but in almost all of these verbs the supine (sagnbót) kept the -ið.
    And it seems that by analogy of the strong participles these participles gained the -inn / -in / -ið pattern, but only where the i is not dropped out. In all places the i would be shortened out the ð (or d, or t, when next to certain consonants) came back into play.

    This all means that weak verbs that have (-d, -t) in its preterite but -ið in its supine have a past participle that declines in this weird fusion of declension patterns.
    Examples being barinn (from berja, ég barði) having plural barðir, hulinn (from hylja, ég huldi) having plural huldir, and þakinn (from þekja, ég þakti) having plural þaktir.

    Not a perfect rule (as nakinn proved), but generally if the adjective ends in -inn and comes from a strong verb (e.g. tekinn, from the strong verb taka) it has a -n- when it loses the -i-, and if it comes from a weak one it has a -ð-/-d-/-t-.

    Hope this will be useful for anyone who comes looking for help with this in the future. I know I'm not the best at explaining things, and I can kinda ramble a lot, but I tried my best at explaining both the underlying origins of this and how you can know where it happens.

    Wish anyone reading this a great day :D

    Edit: I also must point out that there is one glaring exception of this little "rule" of mine. That is flúinn from flýja, which has a complete normal -inn declension with -n- in all cases even if from a weak verb. Not sure why that is, but I would guess it is because there is no consonant between the -i- and the stem vowel, and that messes things up a bit.
    But I don't know, just wanted to point it out.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  5. xrisr New Member

    English - Australia
    Thanks for reviving this thread. In my own attempts to catalog Icelandic morphology, I became aware of many pesky anomalies. The idea that there was a class of 'short-stemmed' weak verbs in proto-Germanic helps to make sense of a few oddities.

    Of course there will always be exceptions. You mention flúinn from flýja. Perhaps another is þveginn from þvo.
  6. Roman A. New Member

    Maybe, that is because the verb flýja was once a strong verb?
  7. Roman A. New Member

    þvo also can be a strong verb of class 6 with preterite forms þó and þógum.

Share This Page