Future "deponents"

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Tue Oct 13 14:32:20 EDT 1998

At 12:52 PM -0500 10/13/98, Randy LEEDY wrote:
>I sent this message several days ago, and I don't think it ever got
>through. I did get a receipt from the list server, but I haven't seen the
>message in any of the digests. I experienced some interruption; perhaps I
>missed a digest, or perhaps the list went haywire for a day or so. But the
>digests I finally received today make no mention of any problems, so I'll
>assume that the problem is with the email system here. On the assumption
>that this message never made the list, I'll re-post. If in fact it has
>appeared, ignore it, please. But, Carl, if you responded, as you can see,
>I never received your response.<

Actually it did come through on Friday, but the B-Greek server at Sunsite
was down for much of the weekend and even through much of yesterday--I got
a flood of mail this morning after it got back up. I made no response on
Friday at all as I really don't have anything more at this point to say
beyond what I've said before: I think that there are enough instances of
Greek verbs that go into the middle voice in the future even if they are
active in the present that it does constitute a pattern, whether or not we
can set forth an adequate explanation for that pattern. I readily concede
that the realm of impenetrable idiom constitutes a considerable element in
any particular language, certainly of Greek, and that there are depths
within the ancient Greek language beyond which no clarification I'll ever
be able to offer can probe. The only thing in this whole business of voice
of which I really feel pretty confident is that passive constructions,
however old they may be in ancient Greek, are secondary developments, and
that the role of the middle voice or of the reflexive type of verb is much
more deep-seated in those few Indo-European languages that I know than
traditional accounts of voice morphology and syntax have adequately
explained. At present I'm still inclined to think that the Future is one
point where the tendency of Greek reflects a general Indo-European tendency
to develop reflexive forms in verbs that don't seem by nature to be
reflexive at all. I still don't understand exactly why I can stride onwards
in the present tense with an active form BAINW but in the future I'm going
to be putting my "best" foot forward in a middle form BHSOMAI, or why in
the present tense I hear in the active voice, AKOUW, but in the future I'm
somehow going to be "keeping my ears open" in the middle voice, AKOUSOMAI.
I'll keep plugging away at it, insisting that there's a pattern, even if it
is as yet unexplained.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cconrad at yancey.main.nc.us
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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