Part twenty-seven of a tour through Greek inflectional morphology to help get students thinking more systematically about the word forms they see (and maybe teach a bit of general linguistics along the way).

 

A Tour of Greek Morphology: Part 27 and more...



A Tour of Greek Morphology: Part 27

Part twenty-seven of a tour through Greek inflectional morphology to help get students thinking more systematically about the word forms they see (and maybe teach a bit of general linguistics along the way).

Let’s finish our survey of imperfect middle endings in the indicative with the athematic verbs.

 IM-6 IM-7 IM-8 IM-9
1SG Xύμην Xέμην Xόμην Xάμην
2SG Xυσο Xεσο Xοσο Xασο/Xω
3SG Xυτο Xετο Xοτο Xατο
1PL Xύμεθα Xέμεθα Xόμεθα Xάμεθα
2PL Xυσθε Xεσθε Xοσθε Xασθε
3PL Xυντο Xεντο Xοντο Xαντο

The classes are similar to their IA- equivalents except there is no ablaut between the singular and plural.

IM-6-νυ- verbs like δείκνυμιstem ends in ῠ
IM-7τίθημι, ἵημι and their compounds stem ends in ε
IM-8δίδωμι and compoundsstem ends in ο
IM-9ἵστημι and compoundsstem ends in ᾰ

The intervocalic sigma in 2SG generally does not drop out in the athematics although it sometimes can, particularly in IM-9 which seems to be the class most starting to merge with the thematics. Note, though, that the lack of circumflex in this case eliminates confusion with an IM-4 2SG.

The lack of circumflex in the 3SG and 2PL also eliminates confusion with IM-4 in those cells.

IM-7 can be confused for IM-1 in the 3SG and 2PL, though.

In the next few posts we’ll summarise the inference rules and ambiguities for the imperfect and look at some type and token frequencies, just like we did for the present.

       
 

A Tour of Greek Morphology: Part 26

Part twenty-six of a tour through Greek inflectional morphology to help get students thinking more systematically about the word forms they see (and maybe teach a bit of general linguistics along the way).

We’ve looked at the imperfect endings for the thematic actives and middles. Now let’s look at the athematic active endings.

 IA-6 IA-7 IA-8 IA-9 IA-9b IA-10 IA-11
1SG Xῡν Xην/Xειν Xουν Xην Xην ἦ/ἦν ᾖα/ᾔειν
2SG Xῡς Xεις Xους Xης Xης/Xησθα ἦς/ἦσθα ᾔεις/ᾔεισθα
3SG Xῡ Xει Xου ἦν ᾔει/ᾔειν
1PL Xυμεν Xεμεν Xομεν Xαμεν Xαμεν ἦμεν ᾖμεν
2PL Xυτε Xετε Xοτε Xατε Xατε ἦτε ᾖτε
3PL Xυσαν Xεσαν Xοσαν Xασαν Xασαν ἦσαν ᾖσαν/ᾔεσαν

IA-6 is the -νυ- verbs like δείκνυμι. There is ablaut between the singular and plural (ῡ vs υ).

IA-9 is ἵστημι and compounds. There is again the expected singular/plural ablaut (η vs α).

IA-8 is δίδωμι and compounds. There is a vowel alternative but it is ου/ο and not ω/ο ablaut like in the present.

IA-7 is τίθημι, ἵημι and their compounds. The vowel alternation here is ει/ε and not η/ε ablaut like in the present except for the η in the 1SG.

IA-9b is φημί which is like ἵστημι but with the added 2SG Xησθα.

IA-10 and IA-11 are εἰμί and εἶμι respectively. The -σθα 2SG ending comes up again but there are other differences that we will eventually want to unpack.

For the most part, the endings follow those of the thematic imperfects. The consistent difference is the 3PL -σαν (although see below).

We’ll save for later posts what’s going on with the -σθα ending and with various parts of the IA-10 and IA-11 paradigms. But I want to note something intriguing about the unexpected vowel alternations in IA-7 and IA-8.

Xουν ~ Xους ~ Xου is what we see in IA-3 and Xεις ~ Xει in IA-2. This suggests that these athematic verbs were starting to be inflected as if they were thematic.

Along similar lines, John 21.18 has ἐζώννυες with a theme vowel. Acts 27.1 has παρεδίδουν for the plural (yet παρεδίδοσαν in Acts 16.4).

       
 

Back from International Colloquium on Ancient Greek Linguistics

Last week I attended the ninth International Colloquium on Ancient Greek Linguistics at the University of Helsinki.

It was an excellent conference with a lot of good linguistic and philological content featuring some nice quantatitive analyses.

Some of the paper highlights for me:

  • Paul Kiparsky on a regular sound change explanation (via Optimality Theory) for various alternations usually explained via analogy
    abstract
  • Robert Crellin on the ambiguity of Greek without vowels as part of an exploration of why Greek introduced written vowels in the first place
    abstract
  • Lucien van Beek on atelic perfects in Homeric Greek
    abstract
  • David Goldstein on differential agent marking (dative vs prepositional phrase) in Herodotus
    abstract
  • Sandra Rodríguez Piedrabuena on (im)politeness strategies in Ancient Greek
    abstract

I may do individual follow-up posts to some of these as they inspired potential investigations of my own in the future.

It was also great just catching up with people I’ve met the last couple of years at Greek and Indo-European conferences at UCLA, Oxford, and Cambridge.

       
 

A Tour of Greek Morphology: Part 25

Part twenty-five of a tour through Greek inflectional morphology to help get students thinking more systematically about the word forms they see (and maybe teach a bit of general linguistics along the way).

In the previous part we looked at the endings of the active imperfects with theme vowels. Now we are going to look at the middles.

 IM-1 IM-2 IM-3 IM-4 IM-5
1SG Xόμην Xούμην Xούμην Xώμην Xώμην
2SG Xου Xοῦ Xοῦ Xῶ Xῶ
3SG Xετο Xεῖτο Xοῦτο Xᾶτο Xῆτο
1PL Xόμεθα Xούμεθα Xούμεθα Xώμεθα Xώμεθα
2PL Xεσθε Xεῖσθε Xοῦσθε Xᾶσθε Xῆσθε
3PL Xοντο Xοῦντο Xοῦντο Xῶντο Xῶντο

The vowel differences between these five different classes of verb should largely be familiar to you by now as they’re pretty much the same pattern we’ve seen in the present active, present middle, and imperfect active—namely:

  • The -2 class historically had an ε before the theme vowel and this led (depending on whether the theme vowel was ε or ο) to ει or ου
  • The -3 class historically had an ο before the theme vowel and this led (regardless of whether the theme vowel was ε or ο) to ου
  • The -4 class historically had an α before the theme vowel and this led (depending on whether the theme vowel was ε or ο) to ω or ᾱ
  • The -5 class is like the -4 class but with a η for the ᾱ

One difference in the above table from what we’ve seen before is that the 2SG ending is identical between IM-2 and IM-3 and between IM-4 and IM-5.

The fact the distinguisher is a bare diphthong might remind you of the 2SG in the present middle, which in part 9 we partially explained as historically coming from a dropped intervocalic sigma (e.g. ε+σαι > εαι > ηι > ῃ). This is indeed what happened here too.

The pattern is clearer put alongside the 3SG and 3PL as well.

 PM-1 IM-1
2SG ε+σαι > ῃ ε+σο > ου
3SG ε+ται ε+το
3PL ο+νται ο+ντο

We can see here that, prior to the dropping of the sigma (and subsequent contraction) to a long-ο written as a spurious diphthong ου, the present and imperfect endings in the 2SG, 3SG, and 3PL just differed in a final αι/ο alternation (which is tantalisingly close to just a iota/no-iota alternation like we might expect).

If we try to summarise the historical origins of the personal endings, we might get something like the following:

  PA IA PM IM
1SG μι μ μαι μην
2SG σι σ σαι σο
3SG τι τ ται το
1PL μεν μεν μεθα μεθα
2PL τε τε σθε σθε
3PL ντι ντ νται ντο

There is a clear μ/σ/τ/ντ pattern in the 1SG/2SG/3SG/3PL. Cross-cutting this there is a clear ι/-/αι/ο pattern in the PA/IA/PM/IM. The exception is the μην in the IM 1SG (where we might expect μο).

The 1PL and 2PL seem to be playing by a different set of rules and notice they don’t make a distinction between the present and imperfect at all.

Note that this summary of endings, while providing a historical background to the Greek forms we see, is really in the realm of Indo-European comparative linguistics rather than Greek. It’s the foundation to how Ancient Greek came to be the way it was but doesn’t reflect the way native speakers would have internalised inflections nor should be suggestive of the way they should be taught nowadays.

The goal here is to explain some things once the actual endings are already familiar.

       
 

A Tour of Greek Morphology: Part 24

Part twenty-four of a tour through Greek inflectional morphology to help get students thinking more systematically about the word forms they see (and maybe teach a bit of general linguistics along the way).

Now let’s look at the imperfect forms corresponding to the active omega verbs we looked at in the present way back in part 4.

We’ll use IA-1 through IA-5 for the distinguisher patterns corresponding to the verbs that followed PA-1 through PA-5 in the present.

 IA-1IA-2IA-3IA-4IA-5
1SGXονXουνXουνXωνXων
2SGXεςXειςXουςXᾱςXης
3SGXε(ν)XειXουXᾱ
1PLXομενXοῦμενXοῦμενXῶμενXῶμεν
2PLXετεXεῖτεXοῦτεXᾶτεXῆτε
3PLXονXουνXουνXωνXων

Recall:

PA-1barytone omega verbs
PA-2circumflex omega verbs with INF -εῖν / 3SG -εῖ
PA-3circumflex omega verbs with INF -οῦν / 3SG -οῖ
PA-4circumflex omega verbs with INF -ᾶν / 3SG -ᾷ
PA-5ζάω + compounds

It is clear that the imperfect endings shown above had a theme vowel (alternating ο/ε exactly as with the present) which historically contracted with the preceding vowel (if it existed) under exactly the same rules as with the present forms (explained in detail in part 8).

 theme vowelending
1SGον
2SGες
3SGε-
1PLομεν
2PLετε
3PLον

Too often with paradigms we only look at the person/number alternations within a fixed tense/aspect/voice. Let’s now look at the possible present / imperfect alternations in the endings we’ve seen (ignoring the augment for now):

 presentimperfect
1SG Xον
Xῶ Xουν or Xων
2SG Xεις Xες
Xεῖς Xεις
Xοῖς Xους
Xᾷς Xᾱς
Xῇς Xης
3SG Xει Xε(ν)
Xεῖ Xει
Xοῖ Xου
Xᾷ Xᾱ
Xῇ
3PL Xουσι(ν) Xον
Xοῦσι(ν) Xουν
Xῶσι(ν) Xων

With 1PL and 2PL endings identical between present and imperfect.