Re: The suffix -IA

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat May 16 1998 - 09:23:42 EDT

At 8:19 PM -0400 5/16/98, Paul Zellmer wrote:
>This question has to do with the three -IA nouns. If I understand the
>grammars correctly, these are noun forms which are based on -EUW verbs,
>which, in turn, have been based(?) on adjectives. Many of the nouns
>with this ending seemed to be translated in English with the English
>suffix -ness, which expresses having an expressed quality. But I am
>unclear about the bias of the form in the Greek.

Let me say something general about the -IA suffix; it is one of the most
important formative elements, not only for Greek nouns but for making
feminine forms of adjectives and participles; and it is not at all
RESTRICTED to any relationship to -EUW verbs. It seems particularly
functional to create nouns out of stems in -S-, -f- (digamma, the -w-
sound, not phi), -Y- (iota consonant, the -y- sound, not upsilon), any many
of these nouns are generalizing or abstract
        ALHQES + IA --> ALHQESIA, then with loss of intervocalic S, ALHQEIA
        hUGIES + IA --> hUGIESIA, then with loss of intervocalic S, hUGIEIA
        PAIDEf + IA --> PAIDEfIA, then with loss of intervocalic f, PAIDEIA
        BASILEf + IA --> BASILEfIA, " " " " " f, BASILEIA

PAIDEIA does indeed seem to be from PAIDEUW, but it is less clear whether
BASILEIA derives more directly from BASILEUW or from BASILEUS. My guess is
that the noun and verb are equally old.

But the suffix also, particularly if the I is consonantal ("y") forms nouns
and feminine adjectives with phonetic principles of change involved,
particularly change of Ty to S, often with a loss of preceding N
compensated for by lengthening of the preceding vowel, e.g.

        from MER/MOR "part" MORyA --> MOIRA "destiny"
        from TACEf "swift" TACEfIA --> TACEIA, fem. of TACUS/TACEIA/TACU
        from PANT "all/each" PANTyA --> PANSA --> PASA

And it plays a vital role in formation of feminine participles:

        from (S)ONT (EINAI) ONTyA --> ONSA --> OUSA (WN/OUSA/ON)
        from BANT (BAINW) BANTyA --> BANSA --> BASA (BAS/BASA/BAN)

and even perfect active participles whose m/n forms are built on fOT, the f
form on fIA, in which instance the consonantal U (digamma) is vocalized:

I think your question regarding RUPARIA has already been answered by
others; let me go on to your last one:

>On a similar line of thought, have any of you intermediate grammars
>that you would recommend that would address issues of interpretations
>of affixes, like the -IA above or -MAT- or -SIS? Apparently I have
>found one of my many weak areas. (Now if I could only find a strong

>From the reference works that I brought with me for the summer I find the
following: Robertson, Ch 5, pp. 143-176; Smyth (very clear and very good),
pp. 225-254; BDF ##108-125, pp. 58-68. I think that the Black book on
linguistics for NT students would probably cover this also, but I don't
have my copy with me here in NC; The reference given earlier this month
was: David Alan Black, _Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek_,
2nd edition (Baker Book House), in paperback; $12 list; $8.95 from CBD.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243

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