root of πλείων

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root of πλείων

Postby Jesse Goulet » February 13th, 2012, 7:28 pm

I need someone to check another root for me. I need the root for the comparative adjective πλείων, -ον. Mounce lists it as "πλειο" but I'm not sure that's correct because it declines in the 3rd declension and its genitive form (in all genders) is πλειονος so I figured it should actually be "πλειον" instead. And then Mounce lists the root of μείζων, -ον as "μειζον" instead of "μειζο".
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Re: root of πλείων

Postby David Lim » February 13th, 2012, 8:55 pm

Jesse Goulet wrote:I need someone to check another root for me. I need the root for the comparative adjective πλείων, -ον. Mounce lists it as "πλειο" but I'm not sure that's correct because it declines in the 3rd declension and its genitive form (in all genders) is πλειονος so I figured it should actually be "πλειον" instead. And then Mounce lists the root of μείζων, -ον as "μειζον" instead of "μειζο".


A brief mention of both can be found at http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/project/f ... on-17.html. However, there are mistakes in the example chart; the singular accusative masculine/feminine should be "αφρονα" and not "αφρονες" and the singular accusative neuter should be "αφρον" and not "αφρονα". I suppose it is best to consider the roots as "πλειον" and "μειζον". The only difference from normal third declension is that there is no compensatory vowel lengthening for the loss of nu before sigma in the plural dative. Can anyone explain that?
δαυιδ λιμ
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Re: root of πλείων

Postby Barry Hofstetter » February 14th, 2012, 3:13 am

It's perhaps more important to remember that πλείων is the comparative of πολύς, and μείζων the comparative of μέγας.
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Re: root of πλείων

Postby cwconrad » February 14th, 2012, 9:04 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:It's perhaps more important to remember that πλείων is the comparative of πολύς, and μείζων the comparative of μέγας.


Barry is 100% right here: what's important is to store away in mind the right forms of the irregular comparatives. The etymology of πολύς, πόλλη, πολύ and of πλείων and πλεῖστος, η, ον is more a mater of curiosity linguistic archaeology than of pedagogical utility.

ἀλλ’ ὅμως ... This is a puzzle that I have often pondered. There are two common items of ancient Greek phonology that come into play here:
(1) the "liquidity" of the liquid consonants (λ, ρ, μ, ν) -- we find that the vowels associated with these semi-consonants have a way of floating back and forth between the two sides of the phonema. Thus we have the correlative forms ἄρα, ἄρ, αnd ῥα in Homeric dialect, or the correlative forms of the word for boldness: θράσος and θάρσος, or the correlative forms of the root meaning "strike a blow": βελ/βολ/βαλ/βλη;
(2) the mysterious interaction of the ancient consonantal U, the Greek digamma (ϝ) that is equivalent to the English "w": depending on the neighboring phonemes the digamma may become a vowel ypsilon (υ) or it may evanesce, or it may bring about a doubling of a preceding consonant, as happens when the root form πολϝ is followed by a vocalic ending: πολλή, πόλλοι, πόλλα κτλ.
I haven't found this in an etymological dictionary, but my speculative thinking is
-- that the root of πολύς takes the variant forms of πολϝ, πλοϝ, πλεϝ -- perhaps others, (πελϝ) but at least these;
-- that this is an IE root meaning "abundance" or the like and that it is etymologically akin to English "fill," "full," "flow," "float," "fleet," "flotsam," -- to mention a few -- and that the root (assuming it really is just one root) appears in the Greek adjectives πολύς, πλέος/πλέως (the comparative and superlative forms πλείων, πλεὶστος are better explained from πλεϝ), the noun πλῆθος and the verb πλήθω, the verb πλέω and the nouns πλοῦς (πλόος) and πλοῖον.
I don't know if any of this is true, but as the old Italian mot puts it: " se non è vero, è ben trovato"
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… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: root of πλείων

Postby klriley » February 15th, 2012, 3:08 am

Sihler gives the IE root as pleH, with the form polu traced to polHu. He notes a number of irregularities. You are dealing with a syllabic resonant (l) and in some forms the effect of a following y. Some of the forms of polu and related words simply aren't what they should be according to theory. Some of the answers to your observations lie in the fact that l m n and r were vocalic/semivocalic in IE as well as consonantal. Some languages consistently translated syllabic 'consonants' to vowel + consonant, others to consonant + vowel, and still others seem to have had complicated (and sometimes unknown) rules of when either choice was to be made. Another part of the answer lies in vowel gradation, and the rest somewhere in the mists of history. It is good that there are still some mysteries left.
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Re: root of πλείων

Postby cwconrad » February 15th, 2012, 7:51 am

klriley wrote:Sihler gives the IE root as pleH, with the form polu traced to polHu. He notes a number of irregularities. You are dealing with a syllabic resonant (l) and in some forms the effect of a following y. Some of the forms of polu and related words simply aren't what they should be according to theory. Some of the answers to your observations lie in the fact that l m n and r were vocalic/semivocalic in IE as well as consonantal. Some languages consistently translated syllabic 'consonants' to vowel + consonant, others to consonant + vowel, and still others seem to have had complicated (and sometimes unknown) rules of when either choice was to be made. Another part of the answer lies in vowel gradation, and the rest somewhere in the mists of history. It is good that there are still some mysteries left.


I didn't check Sihler, and I should have. Is "H" a laryngeal? I've never quite understood laryngeals, guess I'll have to try once again to make sense of them. I did check Cal Watkins' supplemental etymological dictionary to American Heritage and he has it under "fill." Aye, the "mists of history" -- that is to say, of linguistic prehistory, where so much is speculation about what might have been. "Still some mysteries left" is, of course, a gross understatement. When it comes to such matters, one might well paraphrase what Protagoras says about theological inquiries: " ... the subject is too big and life is too short."
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: root of πλείων

Postby klriley » February 15th, 2012, 8:29 am

Yes, H is a laryngeal. It is actually H with a subscript 1, but I am not proficient enough with a keyboard to do that. It seem possible that it is in fact a plain [h]. There is an old saying 'things are not always as they seem'. I find it very applicable to the study of Indo-European. I am still waiting for the consensus on what the system of consonants actually is rather than monographs on what it probably isn't, and then theories can be adjusted accordingly. The verb system is also still somewhat unknown, with so many unanswered questions also about nouns. So there are mysteries enough to last to the end of my days.
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