[B-Greek] the Passive for the Aggressive (was Active for Passive?)

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Thu Apr 15 13:42:58 EDT 2010

On Apr 15, 2010, at 8:45 AM, Mark Lightman wrote:
> Eric wrote:
> <The Wikipedia article on "deponent verb" gives examples from Norwegian
> and English
> of an active form having a passive meaning: "The book sold
> a thousand copies".>
> Hi, Eric.  Have you done your taxes yet?
> What's interesting about this sentence is that if you translate it into Greek, you can use the Active...
> το βιβλιον επωλησε χιλια αντιγραφα (TO BIBLION EPWLHSE CILIA ANTIGRAFA)
> "He (the book seller) sold the book to the extent of a thousand copies" (Accusative of Extent, Smyth 1582)

The accusative of extent concerns extension in space and time. Smyth §1582 deals with extent of time.

> ...or you can use the Middle...
> το βιβλιον επωλησατο (EPWLHSATO) χιλια αντιφραφα
> "The book sold for itself, sold to its interest, a thousand copies of itself"

I don't think this verb could be used in the middle.

> ...or you can use the Passive...
> το βιβλιον επωληθη (EPWLHQH) χιλια αντιγραφα
> "The book was sold, that is, a thousand copies (were sold.")

Well, I think this would at least be understood.
> Only the voice of the verb is changed, and yet all three Greek sentences basically mean the same thing.
> In real Greek, more often than you would think, analyzing Voice is complicated by the fact that
> the neuter nominative and accusative have the same form, and by the fact that
> neuter plural subjects take singular verbs.
> One of my Ad Nauseams is that the guy who finally figures out Greek Voice
> is more likely to be a Metaphysician or a Psychiatrist than a Grammarian or a Linguist.

Why? No, no, don't tell me!

> The only real question here, is whether this English sentence, or any sentence from any other
> language, will help the student understand Greek Voice, or will just complicate things.

I have my doubs about whether the sentences above will help much either.
> Carl wrote:
>>> "active form with PASSIVE MEANING????
> Ordinarily the term is applied 
>>> to middle/passive forms with ACTIVE meaning.
>>> I think that's a pretty pitiful discussion of "deponency" --
> poorly 
>>> written, unreferenced. Of course Wikipedia stuff varies considerably
> in quality.
> I have often wondered whether you can trust the Wikipedia article on "Wikipedia."  :)

Caveat lector.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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