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long alpha in dia?

Posted: October 13th, 2017, 12:30 pm
by David McClister

I was asked why compound verbs with dia augment with eta, but compound verbs with para augment with epsilon. For example, parakaleo becomes the imperfect parekaloun with the epsilon augment, but diakoneo becomes the imperfect diekaloun (with an eta augment).

My suspicion is that the alpha in dia is long, so when the Greeks augmented the compound verb that used it, they in a sense made it even longer by making the augment an eta (instead of switching to the short epsilon).

So does anyone know if the alpha in dia is long? Is there a reference that shows vowel values in prepositions?


David McClister

Re: long alpha in dia?

Posted: October 19th, 2017, 11:24 am
by Stephen Hughes
David McClister wrote:
October 13th, 2017, 12:30 pm
diekaloun (with an eta augment).
διηκόνει and διηκόνουν are the two extant imperfect forms of the verb in question.

Re: long alpha in dia?

Posted: October 19th, 2017, 12:29 pm
by Stephen Hughes
To give you a little more information to feed into your analysis model, consider the Hellenistic novel by Longus, named after the hero and heroine Daphnis and Chloe, specifically 3.13.1.
καὶ ἄρνες καὶ ταῖς μητράσιν ὑποκλάσαντες // τὴν θηλὴν ἔσπασαν

ὑποκλάσαντες (+dat.) refers to the lambs posturing itself under the ewe. The prefixed preposition ὑπο- can mean "under".

Then we find in LSJ that the past tense (aorist) is ὑπώκλασε γαῖα χανοῦσα (of an earthquake).

It appears that the aorist (a normally past time tense) of a verb with the preposition ὑπο- prefixed onto it needs to have an omega.

But..... the verb to which ὑπο- is prefixed is actually ὀκλάζω. ὑποκλάζω is a combination of ὑπο- "down", "under" and ὀκλάζω "to squat with bent knees", but which omicron is lost and which remains?

Re: long alpha in dia?

Posted: October 20th, 2017, 9:54 am
by Robert Crowe
διᾱκονέω has a long α because it survives from an early stage of the language when compounding entailed vowel lengthening. So Pierre Chantraine:
l'α long de dia- s'expliquerait par l'allongement des composés qui prouverait l'anciennté du term.
[Dictionaire Étymologique de la Langue Grecque, p277]

In Classical times, ambivalence as to its compound status is indicated by the presence of both ἐδιᾱκόνουν and διηκόνουν as imperfects. The η in the latter retains the length and accords with the Ionic orthography.

File under 'Irregular'.