[b-greek] Morphological Tagging - A/M/P

From: Dale M. Wheeler (dalemw@teleport.com)
Date: Thu Nov 01 2001 - 11:17:19 EST

Iver Larsen wrote:

>When it comes to grammatical tagging, I am wondering whether it would not be
>simpler - and linguistically more accurate - to drop the whole question of
>deponency - thank you, Carl - keep the three tags A, M and P but make the
>distinction between M and P on contextual grounds only, not morphology, for
>all tenses. In that case, one would find a number of instances where a form
>is unquestionably middle in meaning, others which are unquestionably passive
>in meaning, but many which would need double tagging as either middle or
>passive. (I have suggested this to Tim Friberg, but whether he takes the
>suggestion, I don't know. There may be disadvantages that I don't see at the

I've been resisting jumping into this great discussion of deponency
because...well, I'm just too busy fixing the grammatical tagging in the
MorphLXX and MorphBHS right now. But this is irresistible!!

As Editor of the GRAMCORD GNT, I guess the buck stops here! Those of you
who use GRAMCORD in some form will already know that GC does not tag for
deponency, but rather has always tagged for A/M/P form. Several years ago
I thought about adding a deponent tag to GC, but the more I studied and
analyzed the issue, the more I became convinced that, not only was
"deponency" a wrong concept to describe what was going on with the majority
(perhaps all) of Greek verbs, but tagging the text that way ultimately
would lead users to the wrong conclusions about the verbs' actual function,
esp., the middles. Then Carl began his posts on the issue and I was
convinced...thank you Carl!!! So GC remains A/M/P. When that is not
morphologically clear there are a couple of guidelines which are followed:

(1) follow BAGD (though I've not yet checked all of the lexemes against
BDAG), unless they make a mistake or are inconsistent (perish the
thought...but it happens!). The reason for this is that BAGD has been
scrupulous about looking at the history and use of a word to see if, when
its "deponent", it occurs exclusively in the middle or the passive forms in
the Aor and/or Fut. If you look at the lexicon carefully you can see
this...even though the lexeme listed will be Pres M/P form. Thus GC parses
ambiguous forms--Pres, Impf, Pf--as Mid or Pass based on that information.

(2) when #1 doesn't work--ie., the verb only occurs in M/P forms, but
exhibits both Mid and Pass forms in the Aor/Fut--try to figure out if there
are patterns to the use of the middle and passive and/or contextual clues
that indicate whether a specific use is Mid or Pass. Let me hasten to add
that the pattern analysis is limited to Koine...I heard one person mention
the fact that he had found one or two active uses of a verb in
Classical/early Hellenistic which in Koine was always M/P, and so, he
concluded, it wasn't "deponent." Well, it is wasn't "deponent", but not
for that reason! ERXOMAI is still "deponent" even though we do
occasionally find, what LSJ calls, the barbaric ERXW! This of course
leaves the door open for interpretation...but the good thing is that with
so many users, someone will most likely catch such interpretive errors and
give some good data/reasons for rethinking the issue.

Currently I've got a list of verbs that I'm scratching my head about on
this issue, esp., when they fall into category #2. I've been demurring
changing their lexemes and/or tags until I can do broader analyses of their
uses in Koine and Hellenistic Greek. In working thru the MorphLXX for the
past couple of years in great detail I've found some interesting things
which have helped solve some of the dilemmas...but there are others still
up in the air. If there are obvious errors, I'll fix them right away...but
I'm planning on starting on a full scale analysis of this (and some other
issues) starting this next summer, which will result in a new version of GC
sometime after that. So if any of you wish to opine on any of these
issues, please do so...I can use all the help I can get...this is
complicated stuff!!

Dale M. Wheeler, Ph.D.
Research Prof., Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan St. Portland, OR 97220
V: 503-2516416 F: 503-251-6478 E: dalemw@teleport.com

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