The interaction of Greek voice with other parts of the language

Mike Sangrey msangrey at
Wed Oct 31 19:32:04 EST 2001

First let me say a big thank you to Carl and Iver for having this
conversation out in the open.  It gives those like me a chance to see
the STUFF which ends up getting distilled into a grammar.  It's not
without some rather intense thinking on my part, but it is still hugely

Second, I have two questions that I'd love to see you two (and others)
address, work through (and hopefully out the other side), stumble
through <chuckle>, etc:

        1. OK, I'm sitting here looking at a verb in my GNT.  It is
           morphologically (A) or (M) or (P), pick one.  If that
           morpheme doesn't tell me what it is, then what does?  And I
           mean this to be a very serious question.  I'm looking for
           guidance so that I can look at a GNT text (with its
           associated grammar and lexis) and tell from how the author
           has used that grammar and lexis how to interpret the
           morpheme.  There is an interplay going on between the
           morpheme and other semantic pieces; what are those pieces and
           what's the interplay[1]?
        2. Why is it that future and aorist have three voice paradigms
           and the other tense/aspects don't?  Even if you can argue
           that the other tenses/aspects actually do have all three
           voices, the fact would still remain that people of the time
           rarely used them.  What is there about the intersection of
           the semantics of voice with the semantics of tense/aspect in
           Greek that causes what to us English people looks anomalous?

And there is interaction between these two questions, too.  If there is
something in the language which disambiguates middle and passive in
(say) the present, then why is that not utilized in (say) aorists?

Thank you loudly!

FWIW, it's the inter-relationships of things like this that make me sign
every email message with "A net of highly cohesive details reveals the

[1] This is sort of similar to how a word that is lexically perfective
(eg `die') interacts with tense/aspect.  When I learned that a word's
lexical semantics can have a tense/aspect feature to it, that helped me
a lot to see how the word is functioning in a given sentence.  I'm
searching for the same type of help here with voice.

Mike Sangrey
msangrey at
Landisburg, Pa.
                        "The first one last wins."
            "A net of highly cohesive details reveals the truth."

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