B. Ward Powers
bwpowers at optusnet.com.au
Sun May 26 06:04:20 EDT 2002
For those who may be interested, to comment further on the morphology of
At 08:18 AM 020525 -0400, Carl W. Conrad wrote (in a response to Harry,
after discussing his own identification of Third Aorists - upon which I
have commented in a separate posting):
>Unfortunately, even that doesn't fully resolve the confusion or leave the
>aorist "vista" a cloudless and serene picture: there are three other pesky
>aorist verbs in a morphoparadigm all to themselves which are important
>enough that one must know them and be able to recognize them: EDWKA,
>EQHKA, and -hHKA (usually in compound verbs such as AFHKA. Are we to call
>these "fourth aorists"? I confess that I haven't had the brazen
>shamelessness to speak of a "fourth aorist." And to their chagrin students
>of Koine Greek will eventually run into such aorists as AFHKEN (Mt 8:15)
>or AFHKAMEN (Mt 6:12) and perhaps strike their foreheads with their firsts
>and cry out "I could have had a V-8" or something equally helpful(?).
I agree with Carl. We don't want to have a category of "fourth aorists".
Actually, we won't need to. On the basis of the "Occam's Razor" approach
(i.e., the simplest possible explanation of phenomena - the approach which
is most favoured by linguists) the patterns of the Greek verb in the aorist
can be explained pretty simply.
>It is easy to say, as Ward has said on more than one occasion, that most
>Greek verbs are well-disciplined, well-mannered youngsters who abide by
>the rules of the grammatical establishment. And I say, as one who spent
>years teaching classical and Homeric and Koine Greek, "Thank God" for
>those verbs! BUT we who teach the language had better not ignore those
>pesky "unruly" verbs that don't follow the simple rules for conjugation of
>the "first aorist" and "second aorist," but nevertheless are sufficiently
>common in the GNT because they convey recurrent and important senses:
>"betray" (PAREDWKA) and "forgive" (AFHKA). 90% of learning Greek is a
>matter of learning the verbs
So, the simple explanations. But before that, a bit of background setting.
First step: we recognize that the issue has two areas: the endings, and the
stems, of verb forms.
Three clarifications re linguistic terminology.
1. "In morphological analysis ... one divides or 'cuts' forms of actual
utterances into minimal segments, or sequences of phonemes, to which it is
possible to assign meanings. ... such phoneme sequences or form-segments
are known in current usage as 'morphs'." (F G Lounsbury, "The Method of
Descriptive Morphology", in M Joos, "Readings in Linguistics", University
of Chicago Press). "Morph" (not "morpheme") is the correct terms for a
meaning-segment in a word.
2. "Morph slots" is the term for positions in the framework of a word where
morphs can be found. There are nine morph slots in the verb in Greek.
3. The term "stem" refers to the whole of a word except the bit that
changes in a particular paradigm, which is the "ending". The "stem" can be
described by what it means. Thus in EKLUQHSONTAI (Mark 8:3), EKLUQHSO- is
the future passive stem, and -NTAI is the ending (third person plural).
Now, re the three -KA verbs that Carl mentions, EDWKA, EQHKA,
These forms are in fact stems, to which the endings will be added for the
different pronouns in the aorist paradigm of each. (The pronoun ending for
the first person singular form in the aorist active is a nothing, called in
linguistics "zero morph". There is a "something" as a pronoun ending (Morph
Slot 9) in each other form of the paradigm.)
These endings which are added are exactly the same as for LUW. So these
three verbs take First Conjugation endings for their aorist active. The
problem occurs in a stem slot, Slot 7, the aspect morph slot. In LUW, in
this slot, the aspect morph (identifying the form ELUSA as aorist)
is -SA-. Note: this is -SA-, with the -A- as part of this aspect morph, not
part of the ending.
That's the background stuff. Now, here's the simple explanation of the
aorist active of all verb forms:
1. There are three conjugations in Greek. In the aorist active, in Slot 7,
the Aspect slot, Second Aorist verbs have "-o-" or "-e-" (meaning "no
change" in their underlying grammatical aspect, which is punctiliar), and
take the Second Aorist set of endings (e.g. EBALON, from BALLW).
2. Third Aorist verbs (when they are being Third Aorist and not
assimilating to First Conjugation) have zero in Slot 7, and take the Third
Aorist set of endings (e.g., ESTHN, from hISTHMI). Note: -N is the ending,
the -H- is part of the root, STH; similarly in EGNWN the root is GNW and
again the ending is -N.
3. First Conjugation verbs all take identical endings on the pattern of
ELUSA, ELUSAS, ELUSE(N), ELUSAMEN, ELUSATE, ELUSAN. They have slight
variations in the form of the aspect morph in Slot 7, as follows.
4. Three verbs, EDWKA, EQHKA, and -hHKA, have -KA- as their aspect morph
instead of the usual -SA-.
5. For First Aorist verbs with roots ending in a liquid, the sigma of the
-SA- aspect morph slides off the liquid, leaving the allomorphic form just
-A- as the aspect morph for these verbs. Thus EXHRANA, from XHRAINW (the
iota of the present form is a durative infix). If the phoneme before this
liquid is epsilon, this becomes -EI- by compensatory lengthening for the
loss of the stem phoneme sigma. Thus HGGEILA, from AGGELLW (the second
lambda of the present form is a durative infix); EDEIRA, from DERW; EMEINA,
6. All aspect morphs are elision morphs. This applies not only to the
punctiliar -SA-, but also to the -o-/-e- in the present/imperfect and the
Second Aorist, and the -KA- perfective aspect morph This means that
wherever the morph that is appended to the aspect morph commences with a
vowel, the vowel of the aspect morph elides. This occurs in the third
person singular form (imperfect, aorist and perfect tenses; thus LELUKEN);
throughout the aorist subjunctive active and middle (e.g., LUSWMEQA), the
pluperfect active (e.g., ELELUKEIMEN), and some other individual forms
(e.g., LUSON). I don't see any exceptions.
7. Where this -SA- is added to a labial or a palatal, the sigma amalgamates
into the corresponding double letter (e.g., EGRAYA, from GRAFW; EDIWXA,
I believe this explains all the aorist forms we find (and a bit more
besides, because the behaviour of the Greek language is overall pretty
consistent and regular).
Interesting, isn't it? I find it so.
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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