Re: The augment

From: Don Wilkins (
Date: Wed Apr 09 1997 - 21:55:58 EDT

At 6:25 PM 4/8/97, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>At 5:17 PM -0500 4/8/97, wrote:
>>Don Wilkins wrote:
>>>I might argue that the argument is strictly
>>>a morphological marker for secondary endings. The evidence is voluminous...
>>I am likely overlooking something very simple. If your argument is correct,
>>why is there no augment in non-indicative forms?
>Well, it is true that the optative uses secondary endings, but imperatives,
>infinitives, subjunctives and participles don't. I think that the augment
>served to mark the so-called "secondary" tenses (which, according to the
>linguistic historians were actually the basic endings, whle the "primary"
>endings were used to distinctly mark the present forms in the indicative)
>when they had past reference. Don has said he feels sure that the augment
>continued to serve this function throughout antiquity; that may be true,
>but I'm not so sure of it myself.
... I should perhaps reaffirm that the opinion expressed above was not
mine. As to Carl's comments, I think we may agree about the augment marking
past-referring tenses, and whether it maintained this function is of course
a matter of further research and debate. Regarding which endings were
basic, it seems clear that older verbs have aorist stems (e.g.
GIGNWSKW...EGNWN etc.), while many or most later verbs (first aorist) have
present stems.

Don Wilkins
UC Riverside

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