Re: Interaction: middle and imperfect

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri May 30 1997 - 08:30:13 EDT

There is a significant problem with this way of looking at things that you
need to bear in mind, Jonathan. Although it is one that seems either
obvious or irrelevant to many, I think it is not unimportant:
ELEUQ/ELOUQ/EL(U)Q is a different root from ERC. The major French Greek
scholar Meillet argued somewhere that the same notion (come/go, in this
instance) may well have employed different roots (with different
voice-associations) in the three major systems that Greek originally
had--present, aorist, perfect (I realize that these are not the terms
linguists may now prefer, they are at least generally intelligible, whereas
I find I often don't really know quite what the linguists nowadays mean by
their terminology, even when I have vague suspicions). At any rate, my
point is simply this: we really have two different verbs here that supply
lacunae in each other's tense-systems. ERCOMAI is definitely
middle/reflexive (one of those peculiar "intransitive middle" verbs--and I
confess that I have no clear conception of the possible relationship
between transitive/intransitive and the voices) in the two tenses in which
we find it. ELEUQ/ELOUQ/EL(U)Q on the other hand is generally active in
form--EXCEPT for the FUTURE,where we have ELEUSOMAI <-- ELEUQSOMAI--and
why? I would guess that the future is middle just as the future for so many
active presents is middle (e.g. BAINW/BHSOMAI, LAMBANW/LHPYOMAI. In
Classical Attic, and I think occasionally in the NT one may also find
EI=/MI used as a future for ERCOMAI.

At 7:03 AM -0400 5/30/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>OK, I decided to check out the present of ERCOMAI, which also appears only
>in the middle. Is this right - with imperfective aspect, ERCOMAI occurs only
>in the middle, but with perfective aspect it never occurs in the middle? Are
>there other verbs that act this way? What does it all mean?
>>I've never thought of interactions between voice and mood,
>>but I just ran into an interesting fact: in the imperfect,
>>ERCOMAI always occurs in the middle (11 times); in the aorist,
>>it never occurs in the middle (168 times, all active). Being
>>a naturally speculative type, I wonder if this could have to
>>do with the force of the middle and the aspect of the imperfect
>>both reinforcing a more vivid depiction of the actual event of coming?
>>I hadn't expected this kind of interaction between tense and mood. Does
>this kind of pattern occur with other verbs, too? Has anybody written
>anything useful about it?
>>Jonathan (who still loves his GRAMCORD!)
>Jonathan Robie
>POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(704) 675-4243

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