Feedback on Greek Voice Tagging and Rationale

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Re: And what about the future?

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 21st, 2014, 4:52 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:Why are transitive verbs special?

I wasn't referring to all transitive verbs and I had in mind mainly those which had the "indirect middle" or autobenefactive sense for the middle. See Mike's chart above.
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Re: And what about the future?

Postby cwconrad » April 21st, 2014, 8:10 am

MAubrey wrote:... Anyway, they're certainly not allomorphs and they never become allomorphs because the distribution of the sigmatic middle simply becomes more constricted.

Yes, I don't really like referring to ἀπεκρίθησαν as an allomorph of ἀπεκρίναντο. Isn't the term normally used for inflectional forms of the same paradigm, e.g. ἀπεκρινάμην and ἀπεκρίνατο?

Stephen Hughes wrote:Carl,
Does your thinking extend to the future? λύομαι and λύσομαι λυθήσομαι? Do you see the MP1 & 2 as allomorphs?

(I've corrected your λύσω to λύσομαι as you intended.) Again, I would prefer not to use the term "allomorph" here. The verb λύειν is not a middle verb but a transitive one that may have middle usage; generally for transitive verbs the θη forms do bear a passive semantic force. I'd have to see an actual instance of λύσεται in context -- that would require a TLG search. I can conceive of a pair of sentences like (1) λύσεται ὁ ἵππος "The horse will come untied" and (2) λυθήσεται ὁ ἵππος "The horse will be untied (by someone)". That's my sense: that the θη form of a transitive verb will regularly indicate semantic passive.

In the future tense, the θησ form doesn't survive down to Modern Greek (except θα βοηθήσω which can look confusing), and the σ in the Modern greek simple future is actually the sigma of the aorist.

Where does the -κα of Modern Greek aorist passive indicative αγαπήθηκα "I was loved" come from?

The future tense in Modern Greek is, of course, based wholly on the morphology of present and aorist subjunctives. I don't claim any real competence in Modern Greek, but doesn't θα βοηθήσω mean "I'll be helped"?

I assume -- but I'm not wholly confident about this -- that the form of αγαπήθηκα is to be understood (historically/archaeologically) analytically as aorist passive stem + aorist/perfect 1st sg. personal ending (further analyzed as -κ- (aorist stem marker) + 1st sg. secondary ending. Isn't this the modern equivalent of ancient ἠγαπήθην?
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Re: Feedback on Greek Voice Tagging and Rationale

Postby cwconrad » April 21st, 2014, 9:08 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
cwconrad wrote:Here are my revised paragraphs; I'm asking whether this is any clearer.

Middle-marking indicates that the subject is somehow involved in the action or process to which the verb refers, not simply as the agent – one of several semantic roles described by linguists: patient, beneficiary, experiencer, undergoer.


Now it conveys what I want to hear. It's just a bit complex English and required several readings to understand grammatically. But I'm not a native reader. The rest is certainly enlightening. It's a bit difficult to know what a first-time reader thinks about this because I have read your ideas (from your website) earlier and already agree. But the text looks clear and simple now.

If you want to be as persuasive as possible, I can give some personal reflection. The idea that active is not marked but MP is marked may be unpersuasive. From what was written in this forum about the SBL panel about this subject (if I remember correctly) even highly knowledgeable academic researchers didn't understand this. It could be good to mention that the idea of asymmetrical markedness is a well known idea in general linguistics. I found it confusing when I first read about it. When people see a new idea which is not (yet) mainstream they often think "well, that's a nice idea, but it's not a consensus, and because I can't judge all the details and don't know as much as the professionals, I just want to take the most probable opinion, which is the current consensus." It's critical for success that the proponents of a new idea explain the difficulties which well-known authorities attack or don't understand.

I hope to have time to write more later.

Eeli, this has really been helpful to me. I note also Stephen Carlson's remarking that he too recalls a comparable difficulty in understanding the distinction between the two basic morphoparadigms in the SBL discussion of Deponency in Atlanta.

I welcome whatever suggestions I can get to help make this notion intelligible, the more so because I am painfully cognizant of my own ignorance and lack of orientation in Linguistics. At the same time, I must say that I wonder whether there's full appreciation of the two voice categories "active" and "middle-passive" identified by linguistic historians as characterizing Proto-Indo-European. I've suggested referring to the Greek categories using the Greek terms κοινὴ διάθεσις and ἑαυτικὴ διάθεσις; these might be anglicized as "common disposition" and "reflexive disposition." I'm not recommending these latter terms, however much I think it would be healthy to rid ourselves of the misleading terms "active" and "voice". It's hard to shake names for recognized referents, which is why I've felt we should continue to refer to "Active" and "Middle-Passive" as the two "voices" of PIE -- and of the historical Greek language. So here's my question: WHY is this is so difficult a conception to grasp -- even by people supposedly knowledgeable in Greek Linguistics?

If I've read and rightly understood Suzanne Kemmer (The Middle Voice and Rutger Allan, they are building on the self-same understanding of this basic distinction between the two διαθέσεις or "voices" in Greek. If I had to bet on a single overwhelming reason why the two-διαθέσεις conception seems unintelligible, it would be the assumption/conviction that "voice" is fundamentally a matter of the relationship of agent, patient, and verb in transitive usages and a corresponding suspicion that any other usage of verb forms is anomalous and to be explained as some sort of mismatch of morphology and meaning.

What do you think? I really do want to know whether the conception really is unintelligible or if it just needs to be formulated in a clearer and more convincing fashion?
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Re: Feedback on Greek Voice Tagging and Rationale

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 21st, 2014, 9:51 am

I think your article is pretty close to explaining it. It just needs to be a little more explicit about it.

For example, in the paragraph that states:
Most Greek verbs do in fact have active voice morphology and are transitive; these verbs bear “active” meaning in the traditional sense. Many are causative forms of contrasting middle intransitive verbs (e.g. ἐγειρειν, ἱστάναι “raise up, make stand” vs. ἐγείρεσθαι, ἴστασθαι “rise, stand”, ἅπτειν “bring into contact” vs. ἁπτεσθαι “touch”). But intransitive verbs and even verbs in which the subject is involved in the action may employ active morphology, as may verbs bearing what is essentially passive meaning (e.g. ἀποθνῄσκειν “be put to death”, πίπτειν “be felled (in battle)”, πάσχειν “be affected”.

Aside from fixing the breathing on ἴστασθαι [sic], I would change "subject is involved in the action" to "subject is affected by the action" and simply add something along the lines of: "In other words, active voice morphology does not mark how the subject is affected by the action: in many cases the object is affected by the action (e.g., ἐγειρειν, ἱστάναι) but in some cases the subject is (ἀποθνῄσκειν, πάσχειν)." I am tempted to add ἐλθεῖν as another example of subject-affected actives (e.g. the subject changes position) for the following reason.

What confuses people (at least in the SBL session) was the alternation between ἔρχεσθαι and έλθεῖν. After Rutger explained how the subject is affected in ἔρχεσθαι, there was an expectation in the audience that ἐλθεῖν should likewise be middle even though it is active. Similarly with so-called "future deponents." This inconsistency bothered people, so the active member of these pairs must be explicitly explained as being unmarked for subject-affectedness instead of marking non-affectedness or activity. Diachronically, the reason may be that the middle forms are more recent, when the voice system was more established in Greek, but synchronically the reason has to be that only the middle forms are marked for subject-affectedness while the active ones are not so marked.
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Re: Feedback on Greek Voice Tagging and Rationale

Postby cwconrad » April 21st, 2014, 10:07 am

Thanks, Stephen. That too is very helpful.
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Misleading Modern Greek form for classicists

Postby Stephen Hughes » April 21st, 2014, 11:26 am

cwconrad wrote:I don't claim any real competence in Modern Greek, but doesn't θα βοηθήσω mean "I'll be helped"?

I thought the same thing "intuitively" too. The verb is βοηθώ. "I'll be helped" would be θα βοηθήσομαι, I believe.

You have mentioned the order you studied Greek. I studied New Testament Greek, then Modern Greek by itself then Classical (the usual range of genres, dialects and periods) concurrently while continuing Modern (mostly δημοτική, a litte καθαρεύουσα along with some mediaeval and early Modern texts). Studying proportedly two (in fact about ten) forms of Greek at the same time didn't encourage comparision between them

cwconrad wrote:I assume -- but I'm not wholly confident about this -- that the form of αγαπήθηκα is to be understood (historically/archaeologically) analytically as aorist passive stem + aorist/perfect 1st sg. personal ending (further analyzed as -κ- (aorist stem marker) + 1st sg. secondary ending. Isn't this the modern equivalent of ancient ἠγαπήθην?

As each one works within the system of it's own language I would say they are as equivalent as could be expected.

Modern Greek says "he gave" as έδωσε, being regularised to pattern of the sigmatic aorists. At some point, presumably, the -κ no longer had the force of the perfect and could just be used to "carry" the (easier / more familiar) set of endings.
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Re: Misleading Modern Greek form for classicists

Postby cwconrad » April 21st, 2014, 11:40 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
cwconrad wrote:I don't claim any real competence in Modern Greek, but doesn't θα βοηθήσω mean "I'll be helped"?

I thought the same thing "intuitively" too. The verb is βοηθώ. "I'll be helped" would be θα βοηθήσομαι, I believe.

I hear the "Gotcha!" Of course, the θη there is in the verb stem, not the MP marker.

You have mentioned the order you studied Greek. I studied New Testament Greek, then Modern Greek by itself then Classical (the usual range of genres, dialects and periods) concurrently while continuing Modern (mostly δημοτική, a litte καθαρεύουσα along with some mediaeval and early Modern texts). Studying proportedly two (in fact about ten) forms of Greek at the same time didn't encourage comparision between them

I don't claim any real competence outside of ancient Greek -- and sometimes I doubt my competence in ancient Greek.

cwconrad wrote:I assume -- but I'm not wholly confident about this -- that the form of αγαπήθηκα is to be understood (historically/archaeologically) analytically as aorist passive stem + aorist/perfect 1st sg. personal ending (further analyzed as -κ- (aorist stem marker) + 1st sg. secondary ending. Isn't this the modern equivalent of ancient ἠγαπήθην?

Stephen Hughes wrote:As each one works within the system of it's own language I would say they are as equivalent as could be expected.

Modern Greek says "he gave" as έδωσε, being regularised to pattern of the sigmatic aorists. At some point, presumably, the -κ no longer had the force of the perfect and could just be used to "carry" the (easier / more familiar) set of endings.

In my view the fusion of aorist and perfect tenses that had already taken place in Classical Latin was already going on in Hellenistic Koine and the process, as Aristotle might put it, ἔσχε τὴν φύσιν.
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Re: Misleading Modern Greek form for classicists

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 21st, 2014, 1:41 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:Modern Greek says "he gave" as έδωσε, being regularised to pattern of the sigmatic aorists. At some point, presumably, the -κ no longer had the force of the perfect and could just be used to "carry" the (easier / more familiar) set of endings.

Modern Greek has a perfect, but it is analytic (i.e., periphrastic) instead of synthetic. It is built on ἔχω plus a special non-finite form that looks like a present infinitive minus the final ν. There is no κ involved.

Some Koine perfects became modern aorists, e.g., εὕρισκω (> mod. βρίσκω) lost its second aorist εὗρον in favor of one built on its perfect εὕρηκα (> mod. βρήκα).
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Re: And what about the future?

Postby MAubrey » April 21st, 2014, 2:02 pm

cwconrad wrote:
MAubrey wrote:\... Anyway, they're certainly not allomorphs and they never become allomorphs because the distribution of the sigmatic middle simply becomes more constricted.

Yes, I don't really like referring to ἀπεκρίθησαν as an allomorph of ἀπεκρίναντο. Isn't the term normally used for inflectional forms of the same paradigm, e.g. ἀπεκρινάμην and ἀπεκρίνατο?

Not quite. It's used for forms that have identical meaning but are realized in the same paradigm as alternatives. They're often phonologically conditioned (e.g. the possessive 's' in English is realized as, [z], [s], or [es] depending on its context). The η middles that lack the theta are allomorphs of the θη form. Allan has a lengthy discussion of their distribution and syllable structure, if I remember correctly.
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Re: And what about the future?

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 21st, 2014, 2:57 pm

MAubrey wrote:The η middles that lack the theta are allomorphs of the θη form. Allan has a lengthy discussion of their distribution and syllable structure, if I remember correctly.

Indeed he does. Pretty fascinating if you're into that kind of stuff.
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