diachronic explanation of 1st/2nd aorist

Harry W. Jones hjbluebird at aol.com
Mon May 27 08:55:52 EDT 2002

Dear Ward,

I appreciate you and Carl sharing your information on third aorists and 
I have found it very interesting. If there is something that will make
learning NT Greek easyer I just cann't see anything wrong with it.

I've printed out what you and Carl have said and will be studying it.

Best Regards,
Harry Jones

> At 08:18 AM 020525 -0400, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
> >At 6:20 AM -0400 5/25/02, Harry W. Jones wrote:
> > >Dear Ward,
> > >
> > >I wonder why 3rd aorists are not mentioned in any of my basic grammars?
> > >I wouldn't even know about them if I hadn't seen a number of threads on
> > >3rd aorists. 3rd aorist forms seem to be important forms to know. So why
> > >aren't they in the books?
> >
> >I should (and certainly shall) let Ward offer his own answer to this
> >question. I must take the credit or blame, I think, for introducing it to
> >B-Greek. More about it after a broader comment about Greek grammatical
> >terminology.
> >
> >It is in fact hardly less than scandalous how inadequate is the terminology
> >we (the entire community--even if it's not quite really a community--of
> >people who talk about Greek grammar) use to describe even the "fixed"
> >elements of the Greek language, the morphoparadigms that have been and
> >must be painfully memorized by all learners of ancient Greek as a "foreign"
> >language as long as anyone can remember.
> >
> >Now, what about "Third Aorist": why don't traditional grammars talk about
> >it? The fact is that they DO talk about it but normally classify it as a
> >type of "Second Aorist."
> >
> >In traditional Greek grammatical usage descriptive of the morphoparadigms
> >of the verb "first" refers to the most common and most regular pattern
> >while "second" refers to a less common pattern into which a handful or two
> >(or more handfuls) of (more or less) irregular verbs will fall. Most 
> >aorists in Koine Greek will fall into the -SA/-SAMHN group that is
> >traditionally termed "first aorist." Three or four dozen other verbs will
> >fall into the -ON/-OMHN group that is traditionally termed "second" aorist;
> >so also, according to the traditional usage those very few verbs with
> >aorists in -HN or -WN or -UN will be classed as "second aorists," the
> >reason being that "second" as traditionally used simply refers to all verbs
> >falling into patterns other than the common and regular pattern.
> >
> >Unfortunately such terminology tends to become a snare and a stumbling
> >block to new learners of Greek: one encounters a form such as EGNWN or
> >ESTHN and is told by a teacher or reads in a reliable grammar that these
> >are "second aorists." They scratch their heads and ask, "But, if these are
> >second aorists, where is the -ON first-singular ending?
> >
> >And so therefore, for my own pedagogical purposes I adopted the expedient
> >of referring to the handful of aorists falling into the morphoparadigms
> >characterized by non-thematic vocalic roots and standard 
> >-N/-S/-/-MEN/-TE/-SAN endings as "THIRD AORISTS." That has seemed to be
> >useful pedagogically: it has helped my students to differentiate three
> >different aorist morphoparadigms: the "first" or "sigmatic" or "weak" type
> >(ELUSA), the "second" or "thematic" or "strong" type (EMAQON) and the 
> >"third" or "athematic/non-thematic" (and also "strong") type (ESTHN, EGNWN).
> Carl and I are in agreement about the recognition of a Third Aorist. I set
> out the three patterns in my last post to the list. When we have 
> (independently) done our analysis of what we find in the Greek, we find
> these three patterns of conjugating the aorist active. So there are three
> aorists.
> So, why don't other grammars recognize the Third Aorist? (as Harry asks). I
> will let other writers of grammars explain this for themselves, if they
> wish to contribute, but my assessment is, EITHER they have not received
> training in the tools and methods of linguistic analysis, OR, if they have,
> they are not applying what they have learnt to ancient Greek. Because the
> Third Aorist is THERE. It is not something Carl and I invented. It is real.
> It exists. Read all about it in the page references I gave in my last posting.
> Actually, we can go further. A Conjugation is a pattern of conjugating. On
> the basis of this understanding of the meaning of the term, there are three
> Conjugations in Greek (because there are three patterns of conjugation, as
> we can see).
> And this does not apply only in the aorist. In the present, the Third 
> Conjugation (e.g. hISTHMI) has again a different "pattern of conjugating"
> from the First Conjugation (LUW). (We can note here that the Second 
> Conjugation [e.g. BALLW] is not differentiated from the First in its 
> pattern of pronoun endings, but rather by taking a durative infix in its
> stem, in the case of BALLW a second lambda.)
> There are 1000 verbs in the G.N.T. (counting compound and simplex verbs
> together as one verb). Of these, 930 are First Conjugation, 34 are Second
> Conjugation, and 36 are Third Conjugation (many of which are defective in
> the aorist, and many others of which have assimilated to the First 
> Conjugation in the aorist).
> So what to do if you are using a grammar which does not recognize the Third
> Aorist (as implicit in Harry's question)? Especially if you are a teacher?
> Read about this Third Conjugation (and its characteristics, which are wider
> than solely the particular pattern of pronoun morphs it takes) in the page
> references given in my previous posting, and then explain these facts to
> your students. This will explain to them many things which they will notice
> in Greek and find puzzling (as Carl says).
> I will comment on some other points which Carl raises in a separate posting.
> Ward
> >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(?).
> >
> >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, and for myself I must say that I've never
> >quite felt that I've completely learned all the Greek verbs --which is
> >perhaps why one of the best-selling little manual aids used by Greek
> >students everywhere is the one originally entitled TUTTI I VERBI GRECI.
> >Here's the amazon.com blurb (I'm not trying to sell this book or urge its
> >use, just noting its notorious utility):
> >
> >http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0715617729/qid=1022328693/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/104-1299495-4663142#product-details
> >         All the Greek Verbs
> >         by N Marinone
> >         List Price: $19.75
> >         Our Price: $13.83
> >         You Save: $5.92 (30%)
> >         Availability: Usually ships within 24 hours
> >         Only 3 left in stock--order soon (more on the way).
> >         Edition: Paperback
> >         Product Details
> >         *       Paperback:
> >         *       Publisher: Duckworth; ISBN: 0715617729; (June 1985)
> >
> >--
> >
> >Carl W. Conrad
> >Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
> >Most months:: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
> >cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at ioa.com
> >WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/
> >
> >---
> >B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
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>                                 http://www.netspace.net.au/~bwpowers
> Rev Dr B. Ward Powers        Phone (International): 61-2-8714-7255
> 259A Trafalgar Street          Phone (Australia): (02) 8714-7255
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