"Deponent" verbs--Hurrah for Carl Conrad!

From: Edward Hobbs (EHOBBS@wellesley.edu)
Date: Sat Jan 18 1997 - 13:13:56 EST

From: LUCY::EHOBBS "Edward Hobbs" 18-JAN-1997 13:11:34.89
To: IN%"cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu"
Subj: RE: deponency


You 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."


When I saw your comment that you "have expressed here several times" your
view on "deponent verbs", apparently without response, I realized I have
been delinquent. You expressed the view so well, and did so again in this
latest post as well ["so well"..."as well" -- that must be a clever
rhetorical trope, no?], that I assumed everyone would see the truth in it,
and didn't comment at all. Well, here's my comment at last:


I know this is true, because I have been saying the same thing myself for
over 30 years--surely that is the best evidence! I have not said it so
well, and I have not published it, not even in my 20-year-ago effort at a
T-G Grammar of Greek (but I did totally avoid using the category "deponent"
and contented myself with describing the group, leaving them as puzzles for
the English-only reader). Carl has gone on-line with it, and he has put
himself on-the-line with it, and he has my enthusiastic vote in support of
it. His explanations deserve publication in the new revision of Blass-
Debrunner (with one of my own Ph.D.'s chairing the propject, maybe that can

Addendum: And maybe this is another point in favor of the notion that
learning to read Greek is not learning to translate it; translation usually
betrays something about the original. The Italians have a phrase for that,
but I think they say "always".

Edward Hobbs

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