diachronic explanation of 1st/2nd aorist
B. Ward Powers
bwpowers at optusnet.com.au
Thu May 23 01:28:05 EDT 2002
At 07:05 AM 020521 -0400, Trevor Peterson wrote:
>This is probably something I could go to the library and look up if I were
>feeling ambitious enough, but at this point it's mainly just a curiosity. I
>think in every discussion I've seen of 1st and 2nd aorist, it's been
>presented that there are just two different ways to form the aorist.
Actually, Trevor, when koine Greek is assessed from the perspective of and
by the methods of linguistic analysis, there are three patterns for the
aorist active (and three Conjugations). They are:
First Aorist (pronoun endings: zero, S, E(N), MEN, TE, N)
Second Aorist (pronoun endings: N, S, E(N), MEN, TE, N)
Third Aorist (pronoun endings: N, S, zero, MEN, TE, SAN)
Similarly, ESTHN (hISTHMI); EBHN (BAINW); and some others, plus all aorist
passives, where this set of pronoun conjugation endings is simply added to
the passive morph "QE", which lengthens in this paradigm to "QH". In other
words, "all verbs have third conjugation endings in the aorist passive".
This third aorist conjugation pattern is also found in the pluperfect
active, where it was adopted in koine times in place of the very jumbled
pluperfect pattern of classical Greek.
This is set out in some detail (plus the setting-out of all the points of
similarity and difference between the First, Second and Third
Conjugations) in pages 81, 96-99, 142-145, 213, 235-237 of my Grammar
"Learn to Read the Greek New Testament" (of which many list members
obtained a copy when it was offered on-list last year).
The classification (by some grammarians) of such third aorists as "second
aorists" is linguistically invalid. They are obviously different in
pattern. (Note the similarities and differences in the sets of prounoun
endings given above for the three differing aorist active conjugation
The so-called second aorist passive is not a separate pattern of
conjugation, but has an identical set of morph endings with the first
aorist passive. The difference is actually that the passive morph in these
verbs is just "H", lacking the "Q" of the more usual passive morph "QH".
This is simply what is known as an allomorphic variation. The pattern of
pronoun endings is unchanged. Those verbs which contain this allomorph are
listed on page 239.
> But what is the diachronic explanation for how the two paradigms
> originated? Specifically, it seems to me that the sequence would somehow
> have gone 2nd aorist, then present, then 1st aorist, then imperfect, or
> maybe with the last two reversed.
There is evidence in many verbs of the Second and Third Conjugations that
they are in the process of transition to First Conjugation forms, either
fully or partly. Look at the aorists of PIPTW, hAMARTANW, hEURISKW, LEIPW,
ANAKRAZW, AGW and its compounds, and the suppletive aorists hEILON/hEILA,
HLQON/HLQA, EIPON/EIPA, EIDON/EIDA, HNEGKON/HNEGKA. And there are very few
Third Conjugation (-MI) verbs which have not come to take the -SA aorist
morph and follow LUW (ELUSA) in their aorists.
Actually, we can notice a similar transition in English right now: in the
speech of many people, some participles in "n" such as "proven", "shown"
have become "regularized" ("proved", "showed"); "swollen" has become
"swelled", and past "dove" from verb "dive" has become "dived". A tendency
in language to move irregular and unpredictable forms to become "regular".
>After all, I would think you'd have to have the present stem in existence
>before forms like 1st aorist and imperfect could build off of it.
There is evidence to indicate that the root of Second and Third Conjugation
verbs is their aorist. But First Aorists do build up from their present forms.
>But this is just speculation, of course. As I say, I could probably find
>some answers by looking myself, but if someone likes this sort of topic
>and feels inclined to provide a brief explanation, I'd appreciate it.
So, herewith a few comments to mull over.
Rev Dr B. Ward Powers Phone (International): 61-2-8714-7255
259A Trafalgar Street Phone (Australia): (02) 8714-7255
PETERSHAM NSW 2049 email: bwpowers at optusnet.com.au
AUSTRALIA. Director, Tyndale College
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