Re: deponency

Carlton Winbery (
Sat, 18 Jan 1997 20:32:05 +0400

Carl Conrad wrote;
>You "find yourself" --coming to the conclusion that ...? hHURHKAS!
>Is it conceivable that I have found a convert to a view that I have
>expressed here several times? I abhor the term "deponent" precisely because
>it implies a quirky notion that the English language (or whatever language
>the grammarian chances to speak as a native tongue) quite naturally and
>rightly uses an active verb to express, let's say, the notion of RECEIVING.
>"I receive a gift from my friend." Greek however says DWRON PARA TOU FILOU
>DECOMAI. "Aha!" we say, "Greek (in this instance) has "misplaced" the voice
>of the verb which God intended to be in the active voice. Let's mark that
>verb 'deponent' and thereby indicate that the Greeks' heads were not
>screwed on right when they came to using this verb."

Don't blame me, I don't even speak French (deponare that is).

Seriously, I agree with Carl here and wish we did not take such shortcuts
trying to get students to the place where they can just say something in
English while looking at Greek. Carl's example is excellent and the middle
voice is what needs to be emphasized. I have found no instances where the
nature of the verb and the interest of the subject could not be explained
as middle. Of course that leaves the term "middle" in the minds of most
meaning between active and passive. Carl's complaints about the "aorist
passive" also needs to be heard and as Edward points out we need to learn
to read Greek before we try to translate meaning into English. Reading and
translating are two different exercises.

I will be gone for ten days and so I think I will unsubscribe and read the
archive whenever I can get to a telephone with my portable. The flow of
mail on b-greek and tc-list will overwhelm our servers. I will post when I

Grace & Peace


Carlton L. Winbery Fogleman Professor of Religion Louisiana College Fax (318) 442-4996 Phone (318) 487-7241