Re: adjectives

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Jun 09 1998 - 20:03:59 EDT

At 6:50 PM -0400 6/09/98, Paul R. Zellmer wrote:
>Carl wrote:
>> 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).
>You raised a point that caused a side question in my mind. My initial
>reaction to this statement was, "But hAMARTWLOS *is* a compounded
>adjective, the A-privative being the addition." But then I started
>asking myself where the rough breathing came in. I must admit that I
>don't have a good answer, yet the resources I've looked up seem to
>indicate that we do indeed have a compounded word here.
>Are you saying that hAMARTWLOS is not a compound, or does your
>"exceptional" mean that they are noteworthy illustrations? If it is a
>compound, where does the rough breathing come from?

An interesting point, Paul. In this case it would appear that the noun (and
adjective) derive directly from hAMARTANW, so that the word itself doesn't
involve an alpha-privative. There is older etymological speculation,
however, of some questionability but nevertheless interesting, that
hAMARTANW derives from older verbs AMERDW and AMEIRW (Renaissance English,
seen in Milton: "amerce"), which would be constructed of alpha privative +
the root MER/MOR/MAR "portion," or "part" (as seen in MOIRA, "destiny,"
MEROS, "part," and MOROS, "death"); the supposition is that the verb would
mean something like "have no part in/of" and would take an ablatival
genitive). But the rough breathing is still somewhat problematic in this
explanation. This is the sort of wondrous game-playing that etymology can
get into, often "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

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

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