Re: Architecture of NT Greek

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Tue May 20 1997 - 00:17:47 EDT

At 10:50 AM +0000 5/17/97, Clayton Bartholomew wrote:

>What is the relationship between morphological marking in NT Greek and
>meaning? This is a question about language architecture. Abstract, yes,
>but worth discussing none the less.
>I don't see in any of my 25 Greek grammars a discussion of the semantic
>significance of iota stem third declension nouns? Why not? It is a
>marked form. Do not marked forms have meaning?
>I see in most of these same grammars a discussion of the semantic
>significance of the verbal augment. Does verb augment always have
>meaning? Always the same meaning?
>I think there is probably a clear answer to this question. Could some
>one state it clearly? Could someone demonstrate how the morphological
>architecture of NT Greek relates to the semantic architecture of NT

I don't know how clear this will be, but here's my attempt at an explanation:

You use 'marked' in two different ways in posing your question. Iota stem
third declension nouns are marked in the sense that they do not represent
the usual way of marking case (they have a different set of forms). They
*always* have these forms, however. They do not have them in certain
contexts and not have them in others. Augmented verbs are 'marked' in a
very different sense. The same verb does appear in some contexts with the
augment and in others without it. The augment indicates that something is
different from those contexts in which the same verb appears without the
augment. For this reason, the grammars must attempt to state what that
'difference' is. In the case of iota stem third declension nouns, there is
no variation of this sort. Some nouns are iota stem third declension nouns,
while others are not, but no verb is a iota stem third declension noun in
some contexts and an alpha stem first declension noun in others. For this
reason it is not immediately obvious that there should be a specific
semantic value attached to iota stem third declension nouns (although there
*could* be).

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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