ἐπίστασθαι 

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.
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cwconrad
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ἐπίστασθαι 

Post by cwconrad » February 22nd, 2016, 8:19 am

cwconrad wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote:Within that analysis διδαχή seems different. How is the chi a formative unit in διδαχή in Breekes's analysis?
What's odd here is the persistence of boththe δι- reduplication throughout the entire conjugation of the verb and the guttural -κ/γ/χ- with the δα- root. Chantraine's older etymological dictionary (1970) is in agreement with Beekes' account and points to an article by Debrunner on the matter that might be interesting to look at: it's in a volume entitled Mélanges Boisac 1, 251-256. Suggestions of linkage with Latin docere and discere (di-dc-sc-) don't seem to be convincing.
[Rather than piggy-back onto the discussion of διδάσκειν -- which probably belongs in this sub-forum rather than in "Other" --, I'll start a new one.]
I sometimes wonder whether there are any Greek verbs that are not idiomatic. I love what Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty says about verbs: “ 'They've a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they're the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs …”

We’ve been talking about the verb διδάσκειν, in particular about the fact that, although it appears to form a present stem (from an old and rare root (δα) according to standard patterns (iota reduplication and the -σκ- iterative/inchoative formative element), it extends that present stem as a root that appears throughout the verb’s entire paradigm: διδάσκειν, διδάξειν, διδάξαι, δεδίδαχα, δεδιδάχθαι, διδαχθῆναι — and there’s a whole range of middle-passive forms as well, not to mention derivative adjectives and nouns such as διδαχή, διδάσκαλος, κλτ.

ἐπίστασθαι is another verb that would seem to be originally compounded; it came into use very early as a fixed compound that never formed a reduplicated present stem (it’s ἐπι-στα, not ἐφιστα < ἐπ(ι) ἵστασθαι < ἐπι + σίστασθαι); rather it’s compounded of the adverbial prefix ἐπῖ and the root στη/α directly with a meaning, evidently, something like “hold a solidly-grounded assurance of truth”. It takes the temporal augment (ἐπιστα- > ἠπιστα-) rather than a temporal augment on the root (*εφ-ε-στη/α-). I don’t have access to Beekes, but Chantraine (1970) notes that there is already in Homer a distinction between ἐπίστασθαι and ἐφιστάναι, and he notes the suggestion that the unaspirated π might indicate Ionic origin of the compound from the reduplicated root as ἐπ-ίστασθαι; even so, however, the combination ἐπιστα- functions as a root form for the entire conjugation of this verb.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Stephen Carlson
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Re: ἐπίστασθαι 

Post by Stephen Carlson » February 22nd, 2016, 7:30 pm

cwconrad wrote:ἐπίστασθαι is another verb that would seem to be originally compounded; it came into use very early as a fixed compound that never formed a reduplicated present stem (it’s ἐπι-στα, not ἐφιστα < ἐπ(ι) ἵστασθαι < ἐπι + σίστασθαι); rather it’s compounded of the adverbial prefix ἐπῖ and the root στη/α directly with a meaning, evidently, something like “hold a solidly-grounded assurance of truth”. It takes the temporal augment (ἐπιστα- > ἠπιστα-) rather than a temporal augment on the root (*εφ-ε-στη/α-). I don’t have access to Beekes, but Chantraine (1970) notes that there is already in Homer a distinction between ἐπίστασθαι and ἐφιστάναι, and he notes the suggestion that the unaspirated π might indicate Ionic origin of the compound from the reduplicated root as ἐπ-ίστασθαι; even so, however, the combination ἐπιστα- functions as a root form for the entire conjugation of this verb.
Beekes often follows Chantraine (except when the etymon appears to be from a non-Indo-European pre-Greek language), and his comments largely echo yours, except for the speculation about Ionic origins:
Beekes 2010:445 wrote:επίσταμαι ... From *ἐπι-hίσταμαι with early loss of the breath and vowel contraction (hyphaeresis). Through the semantic development *'stand before something' > 'be confronted with sth., take knowledge of sth.'; likewise, OHG firstan, OE forstandan. The word ἐπίσταμαι was also formally separated from ἵσταμαι, which already in Homer had lead to a new verb ἐφ-ἰσταμαι 'stand at'. Acc. to others, it is an old fo[r]mation without reduplication (litt. in Schwyzer: 675^2); acc. to Brugmann-Delbrück 1897-1916 2:3, 160, it is a recent formation from an aorist ἐπι-στάμενος, -σταίμην.
I would give a Koine example that the differing placements of the augment for προφητεύω is an indication of the differing extents to which this verb was felt to be a compound.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

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