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What is the root in word "вынуть"?

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Aleks G is right, there are many theories about the structure of this word. Here is the one I like most, it is connected with the history of this word.

From the historical point of view, the root of this word is -им- which, before consonants, has an alternative form -я-. The reason for this alternation is the fact that according to the Law of open syllables a nasal consonant could not be followed by a voiceless stop, like т in the infinitive suffix -ти > -ть, so the Proto-Slavic diphthong *im before voiceless stops became a nasal monophthong which later in Russian changed into я. Thus Old Church Slavonic had an imperfective-perfective pair of words имати - яти (take), these words could be used without prefixes then, but in modern Russian only prefixed forms are used, and there are many imperfective-perfective pairs with the 2 forms of this root, -им- / -я-:

снимать-снять, внимать-внять, обнимать-обнять, поднимать-поднять, взимать-взять, etc. {1}

The -н- between the prefix and the root is also due to historical reasons. The modern prefixes (which derive from prepositions) в- and с- in Old Church Slavonic had the form of *vъn and *sъn and this final -n regulary reoccurs before vowels in modern Russian, both in verbs and before pronouns:

его, but в него, с него

By analogy this -n is used after other prefixes and prepositions, too.

So, taking into the account everything said above, the word, actually, had to have the form *вынять with the imperfective counterpart вынимать, fitting well the word-building pattern {1}. But for some reasons the morpheme boundaries inside the word shifted, the -ня-, which consisted of the last sound of the prefix and the root, got contaminated with the single act suffix -ну-, by analogy with the verbs прыгнуть, вдохнуть, чихнуть, etc.

In modern Russian it is impossible to find the root of this word, but such explanation shows the reason for that and gives us the clue to where the root is hidden.

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  • 3
    +1. An actual answer to the question would be "it has zero root".
    – Quassnoi
    Jun 10 '13 at 15:48
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    @Quassnoi - Thank you. You know, I'm against the idea of "zero" morphemes, that's why I avoided using the term. If one accepts the existence of zero morphemes, this will entail the need to accept the existence of zero words, which, in turn, will entail the need to compile dictionaries of such words. :)
    – Yellow Sky
    Jun 10 '13 at 16:03
  • Interesting transition from morphemes to words! What is to word as allomorph is to morpheme?
    – Quassnoi
    Jun 11 '13 at 17:06
  • @Quassnoi The transition from morphemes to words is logical: "books" has a plural marker "-s", "book" is singular, it has a zero morpheme singular marker. "Is not" is negative, it's marked by the word "not", and "is" is positive, it's marked by the zero "not" word. You accept zero morphemes, then you must accept zero words, like "make" is present since it has a zero "will" future marker, and "made" is past since it has a zero "have" perfect marker. The question is if all those zero morphemes and zero words are different or they are the same zeros? That's quite interesting to discuss.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jun 21 '13 at 23:08
  • you are talking about zero constituents, not zero words. Concepts of zero subject (Ты ∅ красивая.) and zero predicate (∅ вечереет.) are universally recognized. "No word" = "zero constituent", just the same as "no morph" = "zero morpheme".
    – Quassnoi
    Jun 24 '13 at 10:31
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Вынуть is quite a unique word. There are multiple theories about its structure. One of them states that it's

Вы-ну-ть

вы- - prefix
-ну- - root
-ть - suffix (or ending - depending on your favourite theory)

Another one states that it's

Вы-н-уть

вы- - prefix
-н- - root
-уть - suffix

and that word вы-ним-ать has the same root.

According to yet another theory, this word does not have a root at all and only has prefix вы- and two suffixes -ну- и -ть-. This theory was taught to us in school in 1980s.

Generally, there are loads of discussion on this subject - and specifically this word. Search google for корень слова вынуть - and you'll see what I mean about theories. (I am assuming that you're ok reading Russian.)

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Here one meets the phenomenon of application. When root ends with the same phoneme as the suffix starts, then the both phonemes fuse into one. In this case underlyingly the root is -н- as seen from the verb "вынь". But it was fused with the suffix -нуть-: вы-н-нуть => вынуть. Now one can consider either root or the suffix deformed by the process of application, or count the last root phoneme as belonging to both root and suffix.

A similar process can be seen in у-сн-нуть => уснуть, об-ман-нуть => обмануть, регби-ист => регбист, такси-ист => таксист

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  • The common known history of "вынуть" from "вы(н)ять" contradicts to your response, and the latter is quite radical POV. Could you please ground it with authoritative sources?
    – Netch
    Jun 15 '13 at 9:25
  • @Netch application is the common rule of the language, it happens always. One can say that after н the suffix -нуть becomes -уть.
    – Anixx
    Jun 15 '13 at 11:45
  • There is no original suffix -ну- in "вынуть", it's result of reinterpretation. So the "application" described by you has never happened in this word.
    – Netch
    Jun 16 '13 at 12:57
  • @Netch you have a misconception that the application is some historical process. It is not. There was no moment when "усннуть" became "уснуть". The application is a language rule, rather than some historical sound change.
    – Anixx
    Jun 16 '13 at 13:10
  • if you show possible forms with asterisk, you mean some historical form and describe historical process. Maybe "application" is rule, but then you should avoid to describe it as some development.
    – Netch
    Jun 22 '13 at 5:06
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There is no root in this word. It is one word in all Russian language that has no root.

Вы - prefix
ну - suffix
ть - suffix

ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/вынуть

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Феликс Кривин утверждал что в глаголе "вынуть" исчез корень.

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    Спасибо за Ваш ответ. К сожалению, он не содержит никакой новой информации по сравнению с предыдущими ответами. Постарайтесь избегать дублирования существующей информации.
    – Aleks G
    Jun 14 '13 at 15:03

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