RE: Carl's refined theory of Greek Voices

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Apr 19 1999 - 11:27:48 EDT

At 10:11 AM -0500 4/19/99, Moon-Ryul Jung wrote:
>thanks for the clear re-statement of your theory.
>Another clarifying question about your new input.
>> And it may very well be that a
>> contributing factor to this ambivalence is the fact that Greek not
>> uncommonly uses verbs from different roots to supply the "passive" of other
>> verbs:
>Do you mean:
> Because there are clearly marked ways to provide for
> the passives of certain verbs, i.e. those derived from different roots
> the verbs in question, the usual "passive forms" of verbs are ambivalent
> with respect to the passive meaning?

Yes, that is exactly what I meant to say; but take note of two things: (1)
this is only a tentative suggestion ("it may very well be that a
contributing factor is ...") and (2) I'm not saying that all these factors
at work in Greek are equivalently strong at all periods--I am not ignorant
of the importance of looking at language synchronically as well as
diachronically, although I think it is a serious mistake to seek to
understand the state of a language synchronically while ignoring long-term
developments. One awe-inspiring fact about Latin and the Romance Languages
is how, despite the early emergence of a fairly clear-cut polarity of
active and passive voices in Latin, reflexive verbs emerged in ever greater
force, a process which continued in Vulgar Latin and in the Romance
Languages, with the end-result that the function of the Proto Indo-European
Middle/Reflexive voice pretty well re-established itself thereby, and in
fact, the reflexive verbs in the Romance languages often are used to supply
passive meanings. I don't have so clear a sense of that trend in Greek, but
it's a fact that many older active verbs became middle verbs, and it could
well be (but this IS speculation) that the -QH- forms ought to be
understood as reflexive in original nature rather than as passive.

>That makes sense to me.
>> e.g. APOQHNiSKW serves as a passive for APOKTEINW; PIPTW and its
>> compounds can be used as a passive for BALLW and its compounds (e.g.
>> EKBALLW: "divorce," "send into exile"; EKPIPTW: "be divorced," "be sent
>> into exile") and KEIMAI (lie) and its compounds may function as passives
>> for TIQHMI (put down) and its compounds (e.g. DIATIQHMI: "put X acc. into Y
>> pred.acc. condition" has as a passive counterpart DIAKEIMAI: "X nom. be put
>> into Y pred. nom. condition." And I think there are probably several
>> others that are similar.

Thanks again for asking the kinds of questions that are helpful in thinking
through these matters.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649

B-Greek home page:
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: []
To unsubscribe, forward this message to
To subscribe, send a message to

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:40:24 EDT