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587. Especially in the RV

In the early language, especially in the RV., the occurrence of forms identical with those of augment-tenses save for the lack of an augment is quite frequent. Such forms lose in general, along with the augment, the specific character of the tenses to which they belong; and they are then employed in part non-modally, with either a present or a past sense; and in part modally, with either a subjunctive or an optative sense — especially often and regularly after  prohibitive (579); and this last mentioned use comes down also into the later language.

a. In RV., the augmentless forms are more than half as common as the augmented (about 2000 and 3300), and are made from the present, perfect, and aorist-systems, but considerably over half from the aorist. Their non-modal and modal uses are of nearly equal frequency. The tense value of the non-modally used forms is more often past than present. Of the modally used forms, nearly a third are construed with  prohibitive; the rest have twice as often an optative as a proper subjunctive value.

b. In AV., the numerical relations are very different. The augmentless forms are less than a third as many as the augmented (about 475 to 1450), and are prevailingly (more than four fifths) aoristic. The non-modal uses are only a tenth of the modal. Of the modally used forms, about four fifths are construed with  prohibitive; the rest are chiefly optative in value. Then, in the language of the Brāhmaṇas (not including the mantra-material which they contain), the loss of augment is, save in occasional sporadic cases, restricted to the prohibitive construction with ; and the same continues to be the case later.

c. The accentuation of the augmentless forms is throughout in accordance with that of unaugmented tenses of similar formation. Examples will be given below, under the various tenses.

d. Besides the augmentless aorist-forms with  prohibitive, there are also found occasionally in the later language augmentless imperfect-forms (very rarely aorist-forms), which have the same value as if they were augmented, and are for the most part examples of metrical license. They are especially frequent in the epics (whence some scores of them are quotable).