Alpha to Eta?

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Mon Aug 13 07:32:08 EDT 2001

At 7:41 PM -0400 8/12/01, Barry Hickey wrote:
> Carl,
> Thank you for the timely response.  I truly appreciate the existence of a
>resource like b-greek.  May I inquire as to which beginning grammars might
>best detail such morphological changes?

As Ward Powers noted or implied in his own response to this message,
primers of Greek don't go into such historical-phonetic explanations
generally, although it becomes imperative, I'd think, to do so to explain
genitives like NEWS from NAUS or POLEWS from POLIS. There is so very much
that beginning students of Greek must necessarily master by rote
memorization and so little time normally allotted to the presentation of
the fundamentals of the Greek language (whether one is teaching/learning
Koine or Homeric or classical Attic makes no difference in this regard)
that a teacher has to make decisions regarding what is essential to include
and what may be postponed to later years of instruction (or neglected
altogether). I personally am inclined to think that Beginning Greek ought
to be taught for three successive semesters (I'm thinking in terms of the
15-week semester we had at Washington University from which I've just
retired; with four or preferably five class meetings each week) in order to
allow time for full presentation and exercise in the most important aspects
of the language. I've always made Greek phonetics and the phonetic factors
disrupting regular nominal and verbal paradigms. In my last several years
of teaching Beginning Greek I've distributed to my classes a brief
compendium of Greek phonology and I am now incorporating that into a
"Supplement to Beginning Greek" which I'm composing/editing as a
supplementary work aimed at answering the sorts of questions that
better/more curious students tend to raise when they aren't satisfied with
memorizing paradigms that seems seriously flawed in one or another aspect
in their regularity--the sort of question you've just raised about the
genitive and dative singular of GLWSSA taking -H- instead of -A-. I'd hope
such a work could be useful to students using just about any textbook for
Beginning Greek, not as a substitute for the textbook but as a supplement
for those who keep looking at something that doesn't seem quite right and
ask "why?"

A book recommended in this forum in the past and still useful in many
regards to students of Biblical Greek is:

	David Alan Black, _Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek: A
	Survey of Basic Concepts and Applications._

The second edition was published by Baker Book; I'm pretty sure it's still
in print but I'm not sure who's publishing it now.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at OR cwconrad at

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