Question about contract verbs (first principal part)

How can I best learn the paradigms of nouns and verbs and the other inflected parts of speech?
Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: Question about contract verbs (first principal part)

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » February 10th, 2016, 2:22 pm

cwconrad wrote:
Thomas Dolhanty wrote:
cwconrad wrote: ... That's one reason why many of us have been voicing a preference for the present infinitive as the lexical form for verbs; the forms ποιεῖν, δηλοῦν, τιμᾶν clearly indicate that these are contract verbs with stems in -ε-ειν, -ο-ειν, -α-ειν, respectively.
-ε-ειν, -ο-ουν, -α-αν respectively
I'm not quite sure what is intended by that last line. What I intended to indicate was that contract verbs in -εῖν involve a contraction of ε + ειν, contract verbs in -οῦν involve a contraction of ο + ειν and contract verbs in -ᾶν involve a contraction of α + ειν. The infinitives are each contractions of the stem vowel ε, ο, or α with the infinitive ending -ειν.
Ah! Sorry. I was thinking post-contract, and that your line was a 'cut-and-pasto' (as opposed to 'typo'). Your expression is the more essential way to state it.
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Re: Question about contract verbs (first principal part)

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » February 10th, 2016, 5:37 pm

cwconrad wrote:
Thomas Dolhanty wrote:
cwconrad wrote: ... That's one reason why many of us have been voicing a preference for the present infinitive as the lexical form for verbs; the forms ποιεῖν, δηλοῦν, τιμᾶν clearly indicate that these are contract verbs with stems in -ε-ειν, -ο-ειν, -α-ειν, respectively.
-ε-ειν, -ο-ουν, -α-αν respectively
I'm not quite sure what is intended by that last line. What I intended to indicate was that contract verbs in -εῖν involve a contraction of ε + ειν, contract verbs in -οῦν involve a contraction of ο + ειν and contract verbs in -ᾶν involve a contraction of α + ειν. The infinitives are each contractions of the stem vowel ε, ο, or α with the infinitive ending -ειν.
Forgive me for pursuing this a bit further, but when I look at this as a pre-contract it seems like the ending that is added to the tense stem is not "ειν" but rather "εν". Or have I misunderstood Smyth 469? The "εν" contracts as expected in each case (εεν => ειν; οεν΄=> ουν; αεν => αν), whereas the "ειν" leaves you with the extra ιοτα.
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cwconrad
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Re: Question about contract verbs (first principal part)

Post by cwconrad » February 10th, 2016, 6:36 pm

cwconrad wrote: ... That's one reason why many of us have been voicing a preference for the present infinitive as the lexical form for verbs; the forms ποιεῖν, δηλοῦν, τιμᾶν clearly indicate that these are contract verbs with stems in -ε-ειν, -ο-ειν, -α-ειν, respectively.
Thomas Dolhanty wrote: -ε-ειν, -ο-ουν, -α-αν respectively
cwconrad wrote:I'm not quite sure what is intended by that last line. What I intended to indicate was that contract verbs in -εῖν involve a contraction of ε + ειν, contract verbs in -οῦν involve a contraction of ο + ειν and contract verbs in -ᾶν involve a contraction of α + ειν. The infinitives are each contractions of the stem vowel ε, ο, or α with the infinitive ending -ειν.
Thomas Dolhanty wrote: Forgive me for pursuing this a bit further, but when I look at this as a pre-contract it seems like the ending that is added to the tense stem is not "ειν" but rather "εν". Or have I misunderstood Smyth 469? The "εν" contracts as expected in each case (εεν => ειν; οεν΄=> ουν; αεν => αν), whereas the "ειν" leaves you with the extra ιοτα.
I'm glad that you do want to pursue this further; the facts are indeed more complicated. Yes, the infinitive ending involved in these present infinitives is -εν (Smyth would not mislead you!). However, we're not dealing with -μι verbs here (they take -ναι as an infinitive ending), but rather with thematic verbs that are conjugated with an intervening "thematic" vowel ε/ο (ο before a nasal ending: 1 sg. -ο-μ which becomes -ον, 1 pl. -ο-μεν, 3 πλ. -ο-ντi which becomes -ουσι (τ before ι becomes -σ-; -ν- between ο and σ undergoes compensatory lengthening to become -ου- so that -οντι turns into -ουσι); elsewhere the -ε- is found, and that is also true of the infinitive, so that the infinitive of a thematic verb is formed with the present stem + thematic vowel ε + infinitive ending -εν: λύ-ε-εν becomes λύειν after contraction of the two ε's. Consequently the contract verbs have present active infinitive formed with stems ending in α, ε, ο to which the ending -ειν, itself already a contraction of ε-εν.

As an aside, I might just note that my first Greek teacher was a fantastic grad student at Tulane, a graduate from Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville who had himself learned in the tradition of A.T. Robertson there; when he taught Homer's Iliad in my second-year class, it was a class in what I like to call "the archaeology of the Greek language." One of the neat little snippets of information he taught us was that all of the infinitives one finds in Greek can be seen in combination in the Homeric infinitive of εἰμί: ἔμεναι: among the various infinitive endings in Greek we find the whole group -εμεναι, -αι, -ναι, -εναι, -μεναι, -εμεν, and -εν. The MP -σθαι is a combination of the MP infix -σθ- and -αι. All of this is information that is not really often very useful, but it's fun -- if you like this sort of thing.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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Re: Question about contract verbs (first principal part)

Post by Stephen Carlson » February 10th, 2016, 8:18 pm

With even more detail, the infinitive ending -ειν involves one those cases where "the sigma goes on vacation": -ειν < -εεν < *-εhεν < *-εσεν.
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Re: Question about contract verbs (first principal part)

Post by cwconrad » February 11th, 2016, 8:59 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:With even more detail, the infinitive ending -ειν involves one those cases where "the sigma goes on vacation": -ειν < -εεν < *-εhεν < *-εσεν.
Just out of curiosity, Stephen, are you deriving this from Sihler, §552A, p. 608?
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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: Question about contract verbs (first principal part)

Post by Stephen Carlson » February 11th, 2016, 9:19 am

cwconrad wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:With even more detail, the infinitive ending -ειν involves one those cases where "the sigma goes on vacation": -ειν < -εεν < *-εhεν < *-εσεν.
Just out of curiosity, Stephen, are you deriving this from Sihler, §552A, p. 608?
Not directly (I thought it was pretty standard), but Sihler there makes a clear case for that development.
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Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: Question about contract verbs (first principal part)

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » February 12th, 2016, 7:54 pm

cwconrad wrote:I'm glad that you do want to pursue this further; the facts are indeed more complicated. Yes, the infinitive ending involved in these present infinitives is -εν (Smyth would not mislead you!). However, we're not dealing with -μι verbs here (they take -ναι as an infinitive ending), but rather with thematic verbs that are conjugated with an intervening "thematic" vowel ε/ο (ο before a nasal ending: 1 sg. -ο-μ which becomes -ον, 1 pl. -ο-μεν, 3 πλ. -ο-ντi which becomes -ουσι (τ before ι becomes -σ-; -ν- between ο and σ undergoes compensatory lengthening to become -ου- so that -οντι turns into -ουσι); elsewhere the -ε- is found, and that is also true of the infinitive, so that the infinitive of a thematic verb is formed with the present stem + thematic vowel ε + infinitive ending -εν: λύ-ε-εν becomes λύειν after contraction of the two ε's. Consequently the contract verbs have present active infinitive formed with stems ending in α, ε, ο to which the ending -ειν, itself already a contraction of ε-εν.
I'm just getting back to this now, and I have a certain appreciation for the "going deeper" - into the abyss - discussion from the other thread. Solid ground suddenly becomes the edge of a sinkhole! All of the above seems quite basic, except (1) that I wasn't really clear about how the present infinitive was formed, and (2) some of the explanations of how ending vowels/consonants resolve are different that what I've read elsewhere. With regard to the infinitive, I knew, of course, that the morpheme is -ειν but didn't understand where that comes from.

So, how should think of contract verbs forming the infinitive? Is the following correct, and if so what is the order of contracting?
  • λυ + ε + εν => λύειν
  • ποιε + ε + εν =>
  • αγαπα + ε + εν
  • πληρο + ε + εν
Does one contract the vowels 'out from the stem'? For example ποιε + ε + εν => ποιει + εν => ? From what you've said above, it sounds like you are adding the -ειν to the stem, in which case the stem epsilon in this verb would disappear. Is there a general guideline for which vowels to contract first when there are more than two vowels involved?

With regard to the formation of endings, I found some of your explanations different from what I've encountered elsewhere. I suspect that this is because what I've read is further 'downstream'. For example here is Mounce's explanation for what happens with the 3pl"
Mounce BBG 3rd edition pg 16, note 9 wrote:The nu in the original ending drops out because of the following sigma (just as it does in the accusative plural of second declension nouns), and the connecting vowel omicron lengthens to ou to compensate for the loss (λυονσι  ▸  λυοσι  ▸  λύουσι). It is important to remember that the ending actually is nsi because it will make other forms easier to remember.
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Re: Question about contract verbs (first principal part)

Post by Shirley Rollinson » February 12th, 2016, 8:20 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:With even more detail, the infinitive ending -ειν involves one those cases where "the sigma goes on vacation": -ειν < -εεν < *-εhεν < *-εσεν.
I've never heard it described that way before.
I always thought of it as getting kicked out.
Your expression is much nicer :-)
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Re: Question about contract verbs (first principal part)

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » February 13th, 2016, 1:18 am

Thomas Dolhanty wrote:The Mounce reference in my post above should be: BBG, 3rd Edition, Ch. 16, pg. 133, note 9.
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Re: Question about contract verbs (first principal part)

Post by cwconrad » February 13th, 2016, 8:13 am

Thomas Dolhanty wrote:
cwconrad wrote:I'm glad that you do want to pursue this further; the facts are indeed more complicated. Yes, the infinitive ending involved in these present infinitives is -εν (Smyth would not mislead you!). However, we're not dealing with -μι verbs here (they take -ναι as an infinitive ending), but rather with thematic verbs that are conjugated with an intervening "thematic" vowel ε/ο (ο before a nasal ending: 1 sg. -ο-μ which becomes -ον, 1 pl. -ο-μεν, 3 πλ. -ο-ντi which becomes -ουσι (τ before ι becomes -σ-; -ν- between ο and σ undergoes compensatory lengthening to become -ου- so that -οντι turns into -ουσι); elsewhere the -ε- is found, and that is also true of the infinitive, so that the infinitive of a thematic verb is formed with the present stem + thematic vowel ε + infinitive ending -εν: λύ-ε-εν becomes λύειν after contraction of the two ε's. Consequently the contract verbs have present active infinitive formed with stems ending in α, ε, ο to which the ending -ειν, itself already a contraction of ε-εν.
I'm just getting back to this now, and I have a certain appreciation for the "going deeper" - into the abyss - discussion from the other thread. Solid ground suddenly becomes the edge of a sinkhole! All of the above seems quite basic, except (1) that I wasn't really clear about how the present infinitive was formed, and (2) some of the explanations of how ending vowels/consonants resolve are different that what I've read elsewhere. With regard to the infinitive, I knew, of course, that the morpheme is -ειν but didn't understand where that comes from.

So, how should think of contract verbs forming the infinitive? Is the following correct, and if so what is the order of contracting?
  • λυ + ε + εν => λύειν
  • ποιε + ε + εν =>
  • αγαπα + ε + εν
  • πληρο + ε + εν
Does one contract the vowels 'out from the stem'? For example ποιε + ε + εν => ποιει + εν => ? From what you've said above, it sounds like you are adding the -ειν to the stem, in which case the stem epsilon in this verb would disappear. Is there a general guideline for which vowels to contract first when there are more than two vowels involved?]
It would be easier, I think, to think about the resultant form as a linkage of the present stem and an infinitive ending that is already -ειν, result of contraction of the thematic vowel ε and the infinitival ending -εν. Consequently:
  • λυ + ειν => λύειν
  • ποιε + ειν => ποιεῖν
  • αγαπα + ειν => ἀγαπᾶν
  • πληρο + ειν => πληροῦν
However, it needs to be understood that the "spurious diphthong" ει that results from contraction of ε + ε has no sound of iota in it; it represents a lengthened ε, i.e. a long closed "e"; so also the "spurious diphthong ου that results from contraction of ο + ο has no sound of upsilon in it; it represents a lengthened ο, i.e. a long closed "ο". That means that the contraction of α- with -ειν is the contraction of an a-vowel with an e-vowel, and the contraction of ο- with -ειν is the contraction of an o-vowel with an e-vowel. Generally in such contractions the a-vowel prevails over the e-vowel and so too the o-vowel prevails over the e-vowel.

It also needs to be understood that this accounting for these infinitives depends upon what happened in Greek linguistic history centuries before the Hellenistic Koine era; they're sort of like explanations of why we pronounce English "enough" as if it were spelled "ee-nuff" and why we pronounce English "although" as if it were spelled "all-tho". There is a stubborn, altogether ornery inertia in traditional English orthography to preserve in written texts forms of words that were spoken centuries ago but no longer. The same is true of conventional Koine Greek orthography, which preserves the spelling in terms of the conventions established by an Athenian law of spelling reform of 403 BCE. The Greek papyri that were not written by government scribes tell a different story of commoners writing down Greek words with a spelling more representative of the way they pronounced them.
Thomas Dolhanty wrote:With regard to the formation of endings, I found some of your explanations different from what I've encountered elsewhere. I suspect that this is because what I've read is further 'downstream'. For example here is Mounce's explanation for what happens with the 3pl"
Mounce BBG 3rd edition pg 16, note 9 wrote:The nu in the original ending drops out because of the following sigma (just as it does in the accusative plural of second declension nouns), and the connecting vowel omicron lengthens to ou to compensate for the loss (λυονσι  ▸  λυοσι  ▸  λύουσι). It is important to remember that the ending actually is nsi because it will make other forms easier to remember.
As a now-long-retired teacher of Greek, I'm of two minds about this claim that it is "important to remember" these factors; I'm now inclined to think that these are matters of interest and value only to antiquarians of the language and that new learners should simply learn the paradigms as they are spelled out conventionally. My experience is that, although I am myself fascinated by the "archaeology of the Greek language", exposing beginners to these factors is more confusing than useful.
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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)

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