Simple question

Jason A. Hare language_lover64801 at
Tue Mar 26 13:48:39 EST 2002

Just to give an illustration of what is being said...

Mounce's _Morphology of Biblical Greek_ has a great section on the
formation of tense stems.  I don't have the reference with me, but this
book is so readily accessible that it shouldn't be hard for anyone to

BALLW (I throw)
root - BAL
pres. stem. - BALL (actually, BAL + cons. iota)
aor. stem. - BAL

Many root changes (to form present tense stems) are noted in Mounce's
book, and they all happen (with few exception) according to morphological

There are some words, though, that have two or more roots that have meshed
together, and the different roots are evident in different tense stems. 
(E.g., LEGW, hORAW, etc.)

Stem is not another word for root, as was said two messages before in this
thread.  Rather, root refers to the structure that underlies the word and
gives it its distinctive meaning.  Stem refers to the form the root takes
in a particular tense/formation (which generally is formed according to
reasoned order).

To relate this to the B-Hebrew list... Hebrew uses a root system (as we
all know), too.  I guess you might think of the "root" (in relation to
Greek) as the tri-literal formulation (in Hebrew) that carries the
distinctive meaning of the word.  The Greek "stem" relates (ever so
slightly) to the Hebrew vowel patterns.

If that makes any sense, I've accomplished something.  As it is, I'm
exhausted and trying to get my thoughts down without too much confusion. 


> Uri wrote:
> > Nor would I describe it as 'stem'
> > which is another term for 'root', but perhaps others understand this
> > English term differently.
> I don't know. I think it's a workable distinction. At least it doesn't
> require any more clarification than explaining what binyanim means :-) There
> seems to be a fairly clear distinction in the way Greek verbs are
> described--the root refers to the most basic form, from which all others can
> be derived, while the stem refers to the base form of a verb in a given
> tense. (So, for instance, the present stem is different from the second
> aorist stem.) I'm not saying the distinction is semantically the same as in
> Hebrew, but the way the distinction is made is quite similar.
> Some standard English definitions are: stem--the main part of a word to
> which affixes are added; root--an element that constitutes the basis from
> which a word is derived by phonetic change or by the addition of other
> elements, such as inflectional endings or affixes. In one sense, these
> definitions could be describing the same thing, but I think the definition
> of "root" is more carefully constructed to refer to derivational morphology,
> which is exactly the kind of distinction I think we would want to make
> regarding Hebrew root and stem--the actual verb is derived from a
> hypothetical root, which produces a stem that can be inflected as necessary.
> The distinction needs some tightening up, but as I say, I think the Greek
> example shows that such a distinction is possible.
> Trevor Peterson
> CUA/Semitics

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