Grammatical Terms in Greek

Biblical Greek morphology and syntax, aspect, linguistics, discourse analysis, and related topics

Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby Paul-Nitz » November 8th, 2013, 10:06 am

cwconrad wrote:The question, however, is what word/term should we use for the morphological category whereby we distinguish λαμβάνω from λή(μ)ψομαι, ἔλαβον,εἴληφα, εἴλημμαι, and ἐλή(μ)φθην -- in English -- or in Greek?


Just to emphasize, this is the current question on the docket.


RandallButh wrote:2. ὁ μέλλων is closer to ἀόριστος ὅψις  than παρατατική. However, only modern Greek distinguishes 'continuative' and 'perfective/aorist' in the future


Yea... I discovered that for myself with a blush. There I am showing my students this sheet of verbs and pointing out how consistently παρατατικη stem is through out εσθιω and ησθιον and, and, and.... well... I guess φαγομαι doesn't quite fit. I think my corrected explanation of that is going to be "So, the future doesn't really have anything to say about οψις, but it sure does look aoristic, doesn't it."

Actually, I would never use the word "aoristic" with my students. That must of popped out from a note I read yesterday in Rienecker/Rogers Linguistic Key...
    "αφίενται pres. pass. ἀφίημι to release, to forgive, an aoristic pres. indicating punctilliar action (s. RG. 864f.)."

I'm sure that means something.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby RandallButh » November 8th, 2013, 2:23 pm

Yes, Paul.
Not only does it look aoristic, but it functions that way, too.

Generally, in a particular context, the view of the future is wholistic:
when we say "he will come" we picture the whole event, including the arrival, and we are not looking at the incomplete process, nor at repetitious events.

However, modern Greek allows a distinction
θα αγορασω τα κρέα(τα) I will buy the meat(s) (for the picnic, etc.) aoristic future
θα αγοραζω τα κρέα(τα) I will be buying the meat(s) (off and on for our recurrent meals together). continuative future
[PS: modern Greek has changed the morphology of the ancient noun towards regularizing extended stems, as it is wont to do, though I'm only guessing on the form here.]
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby cwconrad » November 9th, 2013, 8:44 am

Paul-Nitz wrote:
cwconrad wrote:The question, however, is what word/term should we use for the morphological category whereby we distinguish λαμβάνω from λή(μ)ψομαι, ἔλαβον,εἴληφα, εἴλημμαι, and ἐλή(μ)φθην -- in English -- or in Greek?


Just to emphasize, this is the current question on the docket.

`A la recherche du temps perdu ... = "hunting for the lost "tense" ..." In the absence of any words of higher wisdom regarding a term for this grammatical category, I would suggest that we abandon the quest for the Holy Grail (for now, at least) and stick with the Greek term χρόνος and the English term "tense." The Greek word is in fact employed for a whole range of usages having to do with temporal duration and temporal relationships, and I think (being fully prepared to be corrected on this matter) that the distinct subcategories of verbal aspect ordinarily discussed are all concerned with temporal perspective, so that the word "tense" = French temps = Latin tempus = Greek χρόνος may continue to suffice to designate what we have in fact traditionally referred to as "tense."

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here ... " There is, of course, little danger that Biblical Greek pedagogy will acknowledge or even take note of what terminological suggestions are made in our little communiity of teachers and students, but that should not deter us from endeavoring to reach some consensus among ourselves regarding these matters.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby Stephen Carlson » November 29th, 2013, 10:31 am

MAubrey wrote:
RandallButh wrote:1. a 'tense' is a linguistic categorary that can encompasses both aspectual and temporal reference.


Maybe 100 years ago, but it isn't any longer standard usage.

Well... it's not so clear just what is standard usage. I just so happen to be reading something from 2012 that uses tense in the sense of Randall Buth above. The citation is Pier Marco Bertinetto, "Tense-aspect acquisition meets typology," Cahiers Chronos 25 (2012): 45-68.

Here's how Bertinetto, no marginal player in modern research into aspectuality, argues for his terminology:
Bertinetto 2012:45-46 wrote:1. A matter of clarification

Throughout this paper, the semantic domain under scrutiny will be designated by the acronym ATAM (i.e., Actionality / Temporality / Aspect / Modality). This involves a modification of the usual practice, in which TAM (or TMA) is routinely used. As will soon become clear, however, the Actionality category cannot be neglected, considering its role in the semantics and acquisition of tense and aspect phenomena.

Note also – as the spelling-out of the above acronym suggests – that the term ‘temporality’, rather than ‘tense’, is used here. This is not a mere terminological expedient, as it points to an important conceptual issue. The term ‘tense’ is best constrained to the morphosyntactic categories observed in the grammar of individual languages, rather than used to refer to the semantic / cognitive domain of temporality. Consider for instance the Romance Imperfect : in its prototypical uses, this tense conveys the aspectual value ‘imperfectivity’ and the temporal value ‘past’. It thus conveys both aspectual and temporal information. Consequently, it is confusing to use the word ‘tense’ to indicate both a particular grammatical category (in this example, the Imperfect) and the temporality domain at large. Furthermore, the Romance Imperfect is no exception. Any tense conveys both aspectual and temporal information, even though one of the two (or both) may be underdetermined. The German Preterite, for instance, conveys the temporal value ‘past’, but is aspectually underdetermined as it neutralizes the values ‘perfective’ and ‘imperfective’. Yet, in most cases, the language user may assign the relevant aspectual interpretation to the German Preterite by exploiting the appropriate contextual cues (Bertinetto 2008). Indeed, all the relevant semantic dimensions (actionality, temporality, aspect and mood) are necessarily detectable in each predicative utterance, although some oppositions may be neutralized, either due to lack of explicitness in the given language, or to occasional contextual factors. Therefore, this paper systematically distinguishes between ‘tense’ and ‘temporality’.


The basic problem is that tense has been used to refer to both a morphosyntactic category and to a semantic notion. Those wishing to distinguish them generally propose a synonym such as temporality and then assign one term to the morphosyntactic category and the other to the semantic notion. Unfortunately, there seems to be no coordination among researchers and sometimes inconsistent terminologies get used.

An advantage of Bertinetto's terminology is that the morphosyntactic categories of Greek have already been named "tenses", going all the back to the χρόνοι of Dionysius Thrax (pseudo or otherwise), so one can retain a certain terminological continuity within the Greek grammatical tradition that is not completely at odds with those working in aspectology, esp. of Romance. A disadvantage is that his terminology tends to obscure the fact that aspect too relates to time (or temporality sensu lato), though in a different way than the Germanic tenses.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby Tim Evans » August 28th, 2015, 8:00 pm

I realise this is a bit of an old thread, however this is a highly ranked answer for a google search so its probably appropriate to ask this here.

Whats the state of standardisation of greek grammatical terms for ancient greek? I see earlier in this thread there were documents listing proposed terms. Are these now agreed upon, or is there another list, or has nothing changed in the past few years? :D
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby Louis L Sorenson » August 29th, 2015, 12:01 am

Rico's new book, Polis: Speaking Greek as an Ancient Language, Level One, Teacher's Volume, Polis Institute Press, Jerusalem, 2015, (cf http://www.polisjerusalem.org) has a list of 113 grammatical terms on pp. 7-10.

Dickey's book is really the only real popularized authority I know of as yet which includes many Greek grammatical terms. Buth's and Rico's book are primarily concerned with using grammatical terms which would be used in a beginning Greek class. Dickey states that the only real authority is Becares Botas (1985) http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=1758&start=10. There could be more work on this, but I'm not up to date on this. Dickey's book was published in 2007.

Students of Greek are obviously interested in this subject. At the current time, there have been 18,285 views of this thread.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby cwconrad » August 29th, 2015, 6:31 am

Tim Evans wrote:I realise this is a bit of an old thread, however this is a highly ranked answer for a google search so its probably appropriate to ask this here.

Whats the state of standardisation of greek grammatical terms for ancient greek? I see earlier in this thread there were documents listing proposed terms. Are these now agreed upon, or is there another list, or has nothing changed in the past few years? :D

To be sure, it would be convenient to employ standard Greek grammatical terms for ancient Greek. It would in fact be extremely helpful to have a suitable terminological framework in English or other modern languages to denote grammatical forms and usage. Some terms are far more useful/helpful than others. "Tense," "Aspect," "Mood" and "Voice" are not very helpful/useful. Under "mood" the terms "indicative", "subjunctive", "optative" are helpful -- provided one knows what the Latin roots from which they derive actually mean. "Voice" is really a dreadful term; "Active," "Middle" and "Passive" are more a hindrance than a help to understanding what the verbal category of "voice" is all about. διάθεσις is a pretty good term for "voice" -- but how did it ever get to be converted to Latin vox? I think that the academic Linguists have rightly recognized the need for better reference terms for grammatical elements and processes, but the multiplication of suggested terms and alternative terms in different theoretical frameworks has played a role in the multiplication of grammatical confusion.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby Paul-Nitz » August 29th, 2015, 10:36 am

Just to refresh memories, Seumas MacDonald maintains this "wiki" list of grammatical terms for Ancient Greek.

There are about 150 terms listed so far. The columns provided are:
    A - Grammatical term in English.
    B - Grammatical term in Greek
    C - Source or Comments
    D - Questions
    E - Examples of usage
    F - Grammatical term in Latin

As an open Google file, anyone interested can add to or revise that list.

When adding a new term for something already listed, insert a new row.

There is no character limit for a cell. Thus, in the comments cell (Column C) a person could write a tome.

If you are signed into a Google account, you can also add comments to a cell (button in upper right). The comment tool can be used to engage in a discussion of a particular term.
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