Third Declension πατρός

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Third Declension πατρός

Postby Jonathan Michaels » May 27th, 2014, 8:55 am

Hello:

I am studying a Greek grammar and the third declension.

I am curious about the nuances of the third declension noun πατηρ.

The genitive singular form of this word is πατρος.

If you drop the genitive case ending, you are supposed to arrive at the stem...but this isn't the case here.

Can someone please explain to me what happened to the "e"? Why does it behave this way?

Thanks.
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Re: Third Declension

Postby Stephen Carlson » May 27th, 2014, 3:53 pm

It's irregular. There is a strong tendency in language for very common words to be spoken more efficiently, for example, by dropping unstressed vowels. This process apparently happened with πατρός, where *πατερός would be more expected.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
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Re: Third Declension

Postby Barry Hofstetter » May 28th, 2014, 5:54 am

Jonathan Michaels wrote:Hello:

I am studying a Greek grammar and the third declension.

I am curious about the nuances of the third declension noun πατηρ.

The genitive singular form of this word is πατρος.

If you drop the genitive case ending, you are supposed to arrive at the stem...but this isn't the case here.

Can someone please explain to me what happened to the "e"? Why does it behave this way?

Thanks.


Another way to look at this is to realize that when the genitive is dropped, that is the normal stem of the noun. With -a and -o declension nouns, dropping the nominative or the genitive normally yields the same result. Because of the way the nominatives were formed in the third declension, the only way to get the stem of those nouns is to cut off the genitive singular. As for any other paradigm in Greek, the best thing to do is "memorize, and ask questions later..." Or ask questions now, but don't stop until it's memorized!
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Re: Third Declension πατρός

Postby cwconrad » May 28th, 2014, 9:57 am

The fact is that there are several nouns that are sufficiently irregular that one needs to memorize their declensions; among these are the kinship words: ἀνήρ, γυνή, μήτηρ, πατήρ, θυγάτηρ; then there are ναῦς and βασιλεύς and πόλις. I used to introduce these nouns -- and the heteroclitics like υἰός/υἱεύς, etc. -- and make it an occasion for talking about the phonetic and orthographical factors in play -- what I call "the archaeology of Greek morphology". Of course, understanding the "archaeology" doesn't free one from the obligation to know the paradigms of these "irregular" nouns, but I always thought it easier to get a grip on them by understanding how those apparently anomalous forms emerged, e.g. the δ of ἀνδρός where the root is ἀνερ-, or the α of the dative plurals πατράσι, μητράσι, ἀνδράσι.
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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