MIDDLE AND PASSIVE VOICE
iver_larsen at sil.org
Sun Oct 28 17:42:05 EST 2001
Let me comment on the new points raised by Carl:
> >The syntactical passive corresponds to making the agent role implicit.
> >This means that either the patient or beneficiary becomes the grammatical
> This is very helpful. The one point about which I am not yet clear and
> comfortable is the definition of 'passive' as a "derived" form, but it may
> be that I am thinking too specifically of Greek and what seems to me to be
> distinctive about how the Greek middle-passive paradigms (both MAI/SAI/TAI
> and -QH-) actually function to focus on the subject as
> patient/undergoer or
> beneficiary. It seems to me that both the M-P paradigms focus on the
> subject without even implicitly entailing an agent or cause, and
> that these
> paradigms BECOME passive when and only when an agent or cause becomes
> clearly implicit or explicit. But I may be confounding semantics with
> grammar here.
When I said that either the patient or beneficiary may become subject in the
passive transformation I was thinking of English. After having looked some
more at Greek, it looks to me like only the object (with roles of patient or
experiencer) may become the subject in the Greek passive transformation.
In general linguistics the passive is seen as a transformation from an
active form. It involves taking away focus from the agent by making the
agent implicit. This does not necessarily put greater focus on the patient
or experiencer role which then changes from grammatical object to subject. I
am talking from general linguistics and trying to apply this to Greek. I am
doing this while we are discussing the issue, and in no way presenting any
> (a) There are 1328 aorist 'middle' verb-forms in the GNT representing 194
> verbs that have aorist 'middle' (MHN/SO/TO) paradigms;
> (b) There are 1775 aorist 'passive' verb-forms in the GNT representing 340
> verbs with aorist 'passive' (-QH-) paradigms;
> (c) There are only EIGHTEEN (18) verbs represented by forms in BOTH
> 'middle' and 'passive' paradigms. These are:
> AGALLIAW (4x aor. 'middle', 1x aor. 'passive', identical sense)
> ANAPAUW (12x aor. 'middle', 1x aor. 'passive', identical sense)
> ANATREFW (1x aor. 'middle', 1x aor. 'passive'
> APOKRINOMAI (7x aor. 'middle', 213x aor. 'passive'
> BAPTIZW (2x aor. 'middle', 32x aor. 'passive'
> DIAMERIZW (3x aor. 'middle', 1x aor. 'passive'
> DIATASSW (3x aor. 'middle', 3x aor. 'passive'
> EKTIQHMI (1x aor. 'middle', 1x aor. 'passive'
> ENDUW (19x aor. 'middle', 6x aor. 'passive'
> EPIKALEW (7x aor. 'middle', 11x aor. 'passive'
> EUAGGELIZW (18x aor. 'middle', 4x aor. 'passive'
> hEURISKW (1x aor. 'middle', 27x aor. 'passive'
> KATALAMBANW (3x aor. 'middle', 1x aor. 'passive'
> LUTROW (1x aor. 'middle', 1x aor. 'passive'
> MERIZW (1x aor. 'middle', 1x aor. 'passive'
> METAPEMPW (7x aor. 'middle', 1x aor. 'passive'
> hORAW (root OP) (1x aor. 'middle', 23x aor. 'passive" (= "appear")
This is a helpful list. I need time to research them before commenting too
much. So far I have just looked at a couple of them.
For ENDUW the A-form (A stands for the first letter of the alphabet and
refers to the traditional active) has a special causative meaning "dress
someone in something". The underlying semantic verb would be trivalent with
the roles agent, experiencer and patient. The M-form is "to put on
something" or "to dress oneself in something". So this would have an
underlying semantic divalent verb with a combined agent-experiencer role
expressed as subject and a patient as object.
I could not find the passive forms with my search program. Could you give me
I cannot imagine a passive transformation from the M-form. A M-form like "I
put the dress on" would theoretically become passive as *"The dress was put
on (by me)".
The A-form "I put the dress on him" would become passive as "The dress was
put on him (by me)." I can imagine this, but it would be rare.
For BAPTIZW it seems that we again have two different semantic verbs. One is
the common BAPTIZW "baptize, cleanse" with an agent as subject and
experiencer as object. This can readily be made passive in which case the
agent is suppressed and the object-experiencer is made subject-experiencer.
When these passives are in the aorist, the QH is used.
Then I suggest there is a different semantic verb "get clean" which is
monovalent with a combined agent-experiencer role as subject. It is
intransitive and middle in form: BAPTIZOMAI. It occurs twice in the aorist
as you have listed (Mark 7:4, Acts 22:16). In the first instance, it is the
Jewish cleansing ceremony, in the second, it is the Christian baptism but
here viewed as a cleansing ceremony from sin.
The passive "be baptized" is different from the middle "get clean". In the
passive form the agent is suppressed and removed from the subject slot. The
experiencer which was the object before has now become the subject. The
agent can be re-supplied by a hUPO phrase.
In the middle form, the subject is simultaneously the agent and experiencer.
The agent is not suppressed and cannot be re-supplied. At least that is my
For EUAGGELIZW again there are two slightly different semantic verbs
underlying the word. One is a trivalent verb with agent, patient (content)
and beneficiary/recipient. The meaning is "proclaim something to someone".
The other is a divalent verb with agent and recipient/experiencer with the
meaning " to evangelize someone". The reason for splitting it up is that in
the first one, we have a nom. agent, an accusative patient/content and a
dative beneficiary. In the second we have a nom. agent and an accusative
experiencer. Both of these can be transformed into passive. In addition to
the four aorist passives there is a present passive and perfect passive. The
trivalent verb is made passive in Luk 16:16, Gal 1:11, 1 Pet 1:25, 4:6. In
these cases what was the patient/content has become the subject. The
divalent verb is made passive in Heb 4:2,6 where the former experiencer has
become the new subject.
> Now, to the forms of EPISTREFW;
I need to reconsider this verb. I was exploring whether a directional role
could become subject in a passive transformation. I now think that this is
not possible in Greek, so I need to find another reason for the use of the
passive participle in what appears an active sense (he turned around). It
may be related to passive deponency which I haven't properly understood yet.
All for now,
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