re: adjectives

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Jun 09 1998 - 13:40:13 EDT

At 11:36 AM -0400 6/09/98, Jim West wrote:
>Thanks for the help. My main interest is historical. I am curious
>specifically about how the masculine and feminine forms of the adjective
>were compressed into one form. So I offer the following reconstruction and
>ask for any clarification you all can offer:
>1- in the earliest stages, certain adjectives used both masculine and
>feminine forms. I.e., certain adjectives were used only of males and others
>were used only of females.
>2- at some point, adjectives which were only applied to males began to be
>applied to females, and vice versa.
>3- At some point this usage forced the case endings of the feminine form to
>be abandoned in favor of the masculine form.

I think the whole story is considerably more complicated than this, as may
be noted in BDF#59 and ATR pp. 70-74, Smyth##286-289. You asked
specifically about hAMARTWLOS, evidently used as an adjective of
2-terminations. One expects to find compounded adjectives as having only
one ending for m&f, another for the n. (e.g. AQANATOS, AQANATON; ARGOS
<A-ERGOS, ARGON; but hAMARTWLOS and the very common ERHMOS are exceptional
(we see hH ERHMOS early in the synoptic gospels repeatedly, often without
realizing that ERHMOS is an adjective and that the understood noun with it
is GH). Another source worth consulting is Andrew Sihler, _New Comparative
Grammar of Greek and Latin_. I'm not absolutely sure I remember what he
said, but I think it was thus: the -OS declension originally DID include
both masculine and feminine nouns (e.g. hH hODOS, hH NHSOS, hH NOSOS, and
lots of tree and plant names in -OS, all of them feminine), and when these
were used as adjectives, the one -OS form sufficed for both m. and f.

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

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