Re: Classify deponents

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Jun 29 1999 - 19:23:30 EDT

At 10:17 PM +0200 6/29/99, Wieland Willker wrote:
>In a discussion with Michael Bushell (the excellent Bibleworks programmer)
>the question came up, how to classify deponents (in Pres, Imperf, and Perf)
>in the morphological tagging of a Bible program.
>If you have to decide, how would you do this?
>Classify according to form only? All Middle?
>Or according to meaning? Many Active?
>And would you try to find and assign any "hidden fine differences" in usage
>to distinguish middle and passive?

Here we go again! I've talked about this before, ad nauseam, I fear. Let me
call attention to a discussion that I found very useful at John Baima's

about which he wrote as follows very early this month:

At 2:31 PM -0500 6/2/99, John Baima wrote:
> ... the Fribergs have a
>significant discussion about deponent verbs in the Appendix of the
>Analytical Greek New Testament. I have the updated version (compared to the
>first printed edition) on our web page. I have also recently added a PDF
>format document so that you can download the whole thing in one swoop.

For my part I would avoid using the word "deponent"--it's one of those
words which, in my opinion, imposes conceptions grounded in one's
understanding of languages other than Greek, and besides, one always has to
learn the usage of each verb that is irregular along with its principal
parts anyway.

And if I were doing the tagging of verbs by voice I would restrict my
labels to those that indicate morphology only: I would mark all MAI/SAI/TAI
KTL. forms as middle/passive without trying to distinguish which is middle
and which is passive. Moreover, if I felt that the introductory material to
my tagging program made it perfectly clear how the tagging system works, I
would have all QH-/QE- forms also labeled as middle/passive; I am convinced
personally that these forms in the aorist and future simply displaced older
MAI/SAI/TAI forms in those tenses. In this regard, however, I expect to be
shouting in the wilderness.

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

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