The Origin of the Ethiosemitic Verb hlw ‘to be present’

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Benjamin D. Suchard



The Ethiosemitic verb hlw ‘to be present’ is strange in three regards: it shows an unusual alternation between -o and -awa in Classical Ethiopic; it is formally Perfect, but used in the present tense; and it has no verbal cognates in other branches of Semitic. This is because it is originally not a Perfect, but a presentative particle, to be connected with other Semitic presentatives reflecting *hallaw. Due to the leveling of the second-person object suffixes to the Perfect endings in Ethiosemitic, suffixed presentative forms like hallo-ka could be reanalyzed as consisting of a verbal stem hallo- and a subject ending -ka. Other forms of the paradigm, including the 3M.SG Perfect hallaw-a, were then created by analogy with III-w 02-stem verbs like fannawa ‘to send’.

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