01: The Semantic Value of the Tense Stems

Exploring Albert Rijksbaron's book, The Syntax and Semantics of the Verb in Classical Greek: An Introduction, to see how it would need to be adapted for Koine Greek. Much of the focus will be on finding Koine examples to illustrate the same points Rijksbaron illustrates with Classical examples, and places where Koine Greek diverges from Classical Greek.

01: The Semantic Value of the Tense Stems

Postby Jonathan Robie » June 1st, 2012, 10:47 am

Why does Rijksbaron chose to use the infinitive when he presents the five tense stems, rather than the principal parts? Why does he choose the future perfect?

Why does he use the perfect middle for the perfect stem?

Is there need for the future perfect stem?

If we were writing this for Koine, would it be better to use the principal parts? Would we choose a different verb?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: 01: The Semantic Value of the Tense Stems

Postby Stephen Carlson » June 1st, 2012, 4:02 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:Why does Rijksbaron chose to use the infinitive when he presents the five tense stems, rather than the principal parts? Why does he choose the future perfect?


Perhaps the infinitive shows the verb stem better because it lacks the augment. The six principal parts that students memorize all use the first person singular indicative, which carries the augment in the aorist. I guess this helps students recognize the forms with the temporal augment.

Jonathan Robie wrote:Why does he use the perfect middle for the perfect stem?


It's because of his choice of the middle verb βουλεύεσθαι, but I don't know why he chose that verb. Presumably, our old friend λύω would be more recognizable. It is shorter.

Jonathan Robie wrote:Is there need for the future perfect stem?


BDF §§ 65(1)(b) and 352 indicate that it is extinct in Koine. There is an apparent future perfect middle in the Byzantine reading in Luke 19:40, κεκράξονται (cf. κράξουσιν NA27), but I think it should be considered to be future middle of a reduplicated verb *κεκράζω, which may have been a relexicalized form of a future perfect when it was more productive. At any rate, oblique aorist forms of *κεκράζω are attested in the Septuagint: infinitive κεκράξαι (Isa 65:24), participle κεκράξαντες (Exod 22:22), and imperative κεκράζατε (Jos 6:16; Jer 4:5, 30:19, 32:34; 1 Macc 9:46). The few other apparent synthetic future perfects in the LXX should also be regarded as reduplicated futures. We had a thread on them a couple months ago.

Jonathan Robie wrote:If we were writing this for Koine, would it be better to use the principal parts? Would we choose a different verb?


I am a recent convert to the value of principal parts because that is how the Greek verbal system is organized. I would also chose a different verb and present it like this:

1. the present stem λύ-ειν as in λύω (ἔλυον)
2. the future stem λύ-σειν as in λύσω
3. the aorist stem λῦσ-αι as in ἔλυσα
4. the perfect active stem λελυκ-έναι as in λέλυκα (ἐλελύκη)
5. the perfect middle stem λελύ-σθαι as in λέλυμαι
6. the passive stem λυθῆ-ναι as in ἐλύθην (λυθήσομαι)

Except for the future stem, all the stems convey aspect (indeed, I would claim that the passive stem conveys perfective aspect, even in the future). (Con Campbell argues that the future too is perfective.) I would also suggest that Koine students would find the Rijksbaron's term "confective" less familiar than "perfective."
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Re: 01: The Semantic Value of the Tense Stems

Postby Jonathan Robie » June 1st, 2012, 4:42 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:If we were writing this for Koine, would it be better to use the principal parts? Would we choose a different verb?


I am a recent convert to the value of principal parts because that is how the Greek verbal system is organized.


When we can, I think it's also helpful to use things like principal parts simply because they are well known, and there are lots of things out there to help people memorize principal parts.

Stephen Carlson wrote:I would also chose a different verb and present it like this:

1. the present stem λύ-ειν as in λύω (ἔλυον)
2. the future stem λύ-σειν as in λύσω
3. the aorist stem λῦσ-αι as in ἔλυσα
4. the perfect active stem λελυκ-έναι as in λέλυκα (ἐλελύκη)
5. the perfect middle stem λελύ-σθαι as in λέλυμαι
6. the passive stem λυθῆ-ναι as in ἐλύθην (λυθήσομαι)


Sounds good. I'd probably use a table for this.

Stephen Carlson wrote:Except for the future stem, all the stems convey aspect (indeed, I would claim that the passive stem conveys perfective aspect, even in the future). (Con Campbell argues that the future too is perfective.) I would also suggest that Koine students would find the Rijksbaron's term "confective" less familiar than "perfective."


Yes, 'perfective' is better.

Rijksbaron has a phrase to summarize the aspect of the present, aorist, future, and perfect stems.

Do perfect active and perfect middle differ in aspect? I would assume the aspect is the same - a state of affairs is completed, resulting in a state (stative-perfective aspect).

Is the "passive stem" a marker of aspect? Do ἐλύθην and λυθήσομαι have the same aspect?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: 01: The Semantic Value of the Tense Stems

Postby Jonathan Robie » June 1st, 2012, 8:31 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:Is the "passive stem" a marker of aspect? Do ἐλύθην and λυθήσομαι have the same aspect?


Oops, you already answered this:

Stephen Carlson wrote:I would claim that the passive stem conveys perfective aspect, even in the future


Can you say more?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: 01: The Semantic Value of the Tense Stems

Postby Stephen Carlson » June 1st, 2012, 9:14 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:Can you say more?


It's more of a hypothesis, based on some reading I've done. I would need to test it against occurrences to confirm, looking for ingressive or complexive uses for atelic verbs (telic verbs are no problem).
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Re: 01: The Semantic Value of the Tense Stems

Postby Jonathan Robie » June 3rd, 2012, 4:55 pm

Rijksbaron's "tense stems" are not the same as Smyth's stems, and not as closely related to the principal parts. Rijksbaron has only 5 stems:

Rijksbaron wrote:- the present stem (e.g. βουλεύε-σθαι)
- the aorist stem (e.g. βουλεύσα-σθαι)
- the perfect stem (e.g. βεβουλεῦ-σθαι)
- the future stem (e.g. βουλεύσε-σθαι)
- the future perfect stem (e.g. βεβουλεύσε-σθαι)


His stems are not the same as Smyth's 9 stems:

Smyth wrote:I. Present, including present and imperfect.
II. Future, “ future active and middle.
III. First aorist, “ first aorist active and middle.
IV. Second aorist, “ second aorist active and middle.
V. First perfect, “ first perfect, first pluperfect, and fut. perf., active.
VI. Second perfect, “ second perfect and second pluperfect active.
VII. Perfect middle, “ perfect and pluperfect middle (pass.), future perfect.
VIII. First passive, “ first aorist and first future passive.
IX. Second passive, “ second aorist and second future passive.


Rijksbarons' stems grammaticalize time and aspect, but not voice. This is nicely simple, but it doesn't correspond to the traditional notion of what a stem is, at least not in my world.

Is Rijksbaron oversimplifying here? I haven't read the entire book yet, does he say there are some kinds of stems that are not "tense stems"?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: 01: The Semantic Value of the Tense Stems

Postby Stephen Carlson » June 4th, 2012, 4:14 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:Is Rijksbaron oversimplifying here? I haven't read the entire book yet, does he say there are some kinds of stems that are not "tense stems"?


Smyth's stems are mainly morphological. The first aorist means the same as the second aorist, but Smyth discriminates them.

Rijksbaron seems to focusing on a subset of the morphological stems where they seem to have a fairly pure temporal (aspect or tense) value. He ignores voice, so there is nothing about the perfect active (!) or the so-called "passive" stem. In fact, the latter complicates Rijksbaron's presentation because it is a stem that supplies an aorist passive, for its "confective" aspectual value, and a future passive for its posterior value.

There is another simplification going on, in that Rijksbaron only shows middle infinitives. These have the nice feature of having an invariable ending that clearly separates from the stem and the thematic vowel (if present), unlike the present infinitive, where the thematic vowel combines with the infinitive ending.

It's a neat hook to get the discussion started, but I fear that it may be too oversimplifying for use beyond the hook. The two issues I would have for the typical Koine student (e.g., one who had a year of Mounce), would be:

(1) The unfamiliarity of the verb βουλεύεσθαι, and
(2) The extinction of the future perfect.

In addition, they may be more familiar with, and wondering about, the principal parts.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
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Re: 01: The Semantic Value of the Tense Stems

Postby Jonathan Robie » June 4th, 2012, 6:27 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:The two issues I would have for the typical Koine student (e.g., one who had a year of Mounce), would be:

(1) The unfamiliarity of the verb βουλεύεσθαι, and
(2) The extinction of the future perfect.

In addition, they may be more familiar with, and wondering about, the principal parts.


If we're looking for a verb that is actually used in the New Testament, that is highly regular, and well represented in many forms, it's hard to beat πιστεύω.

We can just drop the future perfect.

Might as well introduce the principal parts at the beginning, even if it does add a little more complexity. We can ignore voice for now, and focus on tense and aspect.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: 01: The Semantic Value of the Tense Stems

Postby RandallButh » June 5th, 2012, 2:13 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:...

Might as well introduce the principal parts at the beginning, even if it does add a little more complexity. We can ignore voice for now, and focus on tense and aspect.


There is an 'apples and oranges' problem going on. The principle parts are presented to students in order to see the morphological complexity of a particular verb. And as students are well-warned, many verbs are not used in all the morphological categories because of idiosyncratic semantic-functional properties.
However, Rijksbaron is presenting the semantic stem-categories and it may be good for someone coming from a mixed-system to start to rethink their categories in terms of real communicative use.

I would drop the future-perfect as unnecessary. However, since Rijksbaron already included them, then all that is needed is a footnote saying that the stem is very, very ... rare.

Basically, that means that the reader needs to consider FOUR stems, or more precisely, four tense-aspect categories. This is very close to Dionysios' "three families", where he grouped the future with the aorist. We can certainly forgive Dionysios' such a viewpoint, practically speaking that works out pretty well. Four categories also gets someone closer to seeing the abstract Greek system.

The four-fold system will allow the student to follow and integrate what is learned in Rijksbaron with discussions in Fanning, et al.

On verb choice, I like the middle verbs in order to get the student in a new track of thinking and outside of morphology. On the other hand, most of the "good" verbs are irregular are are not attested in all four classes in NT/LXX. πορεύε-σθαι, πορευθῆ-ναι, πεπορεῦ-σθαι, πορεύσε-σθαι could work but borders on irregularity by switching to a theta-based aorist. Maybe better would be λούε--σθαι, λούσασθαι, λελοῦ-σθαι, λούσε-σθαι. It has the advantage of being the verb that most USA-NT students pronounce and in a verb that is very practical for daily use. However, the 'continuative/imperfective' stem is not so common outside of the indicative, only turning up in the Bathsheba story in biblical Greek.
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Re: 01: The Semantic Value of the Tense Stems

Postby Jonathan Robie » June 5th, 2012, 3:12 pm

RandallButh wrote:Basically, that means that the reader needs to consider FOUR stems, or more precisely, four tense-aspect categories.


I started down this path yesterday, and got stuck. I got as far as what you mention above - we need tense-aspect categories that can include more than one stem. The first step is relatively easy:

- the present stem (e.g. πιστεύ-ω)
- the aorist stems (e.g. ἐ-πίστευσ-α) - 1st, 2nd, active, middle
- the perfect stems (e.g. πεπίστευκ-α) - 1st, 2nd perfect, 1st, 2nd pluperfect, future perfect, perfect and pluperfect middle (pass.), future perfect middle
- the future stem (e.g. πιστεύσ-ω)

Note that reduplication is part of the perfect stem for Rijksbaron, I kept that here.

This is reasonably clean at this point, but I haven't managed to keep it clean while adding in these:

VIII. First passive, first aorist and first future passive.
IX. Second passive, second aorist and second future passive.

Any thoughts on how best to fit these two cleanly into the model? Do these principal parts each represent two different stems? Makes it a strange model, but it does account for the facts ...

- the present stem (e.g. πιστεύ-ω) - present, imperfect
- the aorist stems (e.g. ἐ-πίστευσ-α) - 1st & 2nd active, 1st & 2nd middle, 1st & 2nd aorist passive
- the perfect stems (e.g. πεπίστευκ-α) - 1st & 2nd perfect, 1st & 2nd pluperfect, future perfect, perfect and pluperfect middle (pass.), future perfect middle
- the future stems (e.g. πιστεύσ-ω) - future active, 1st & 2nd future passive

RandallButh wrote:The four-fold system will allow the student to follow and integrate what is learned in Rijksbaron with discussions in Fanning, et al.


I agree.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
Jonathan Robie
 
Posts: 1299
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm

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