[B-Greek] A new stab at voice

Kimmo Huovila kimmo.huovila at helsinki.fi
Thu Oct 18 11:33:54 EDT 2007

On Thursday 18 October 2007, Iver Larsen wrote:
> A few comments below from Iver:

<Snipped, good stuff>

> Semantically it is divalent, with two arguments in 
> its case frame, agent and patient. In all examples in the NT, agent is 
different from patient, which 
> means that it cannot be interpreted as semantically middle.

I think this is too narrow a definition of the middle. This makes it just a 
reflexive. I think middles are used in a variety of functions in different 
languages of the world. In my understanding Suzanne Kemmer's study points in 
the same direction.

> There is one other middle form in the NT:
> The middle may be used because it is an imperative and because it is 
coordinated with another middle 
> verb. The focus is on the active role of the patient in getting this event 
accomplished, in English: 
> Get up and get baptized and get your sins washed away. It does NOT mean: Get 
up and baptize 
> yourself.

Agreed. The middle may be used to emphasize the active role of the one getting 

Thank you, Iver, for jumping in the conversation. It seems to me that we (me, 
Iver, and Carl) pretty much agree on the Greek part, but we define the 
semantics of voice differently (our meta-language is different). It seems 
that Iver is more restrictive on middle semantics than I and Carl is more 
restrictive on passive semantics than I. I seem to allow for most latitude in 
semantics among us three.

Perhaps we need a discussion of the meta-language?


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