Roots like nind and jīv

This is our last lesson on the traditional Sanskrit verb root, and it is also the last lesson of Starting Out.

In the traditional system, an ordinary verb root starts at the weakest level and is strengthened to higher levels when we create new words. But not all verb roots follow this pattern. Oddly enough, there are some roots that can never be strengthened to the medium level. Of the roots we've studied so far, three — nind, jīv, and cint — can never be strengthened to the medium level. What makes these roots different from other ones?

The answer is that these roots are all doubly heavy syllables. They are heavy syllables with an extra consonant; if we remove the consonant, they are still heavy. A doubly heavy syllable can never be strengthened to the medium level.

But perhaps you're wondering: why do we have to specify this at all? After all, couldn't we just say that these roots are part of the -a0 class? We could, but that would not solve the problem. Recall that a verb root can strengthen in many different circumstances. For example, many primary suffixes require a verb root to strengthen to the medium level. In such a situation, nind and jīv will never strengthen to the medium level. So, even though a root like ji can form a noun like jayana, a root like nind can only form nindana, and jīv can only form jīvana.

Doubly heavy roots almost always use the itvā suffix instead of the tvā suffix.

One last discussion of roots

Some of you may still have some questions about this whole approach to roots. I've tried to address some of them below: