[b-greek] Re: Question About 1st Declension Nouns

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Wed Nov 14 2001 - 15:50:20 EST

At 2:04 PM -0500 11/14/01, Erik Westwig wrote:
> Here's another beginner question for you concerning 1st declension
> My introductory grammer (Basics of Biblical Greek by William D.
>Mounce) says on p.61 : "If a 1st declension word has a stem ending in alpha
>where the preceding letter is epsilon, iota, or rho, it will form the
>genitive and dative with an alpha. Otherwise, the alpha will shift to eta."
>And the example noun Mounce gives for this shift from alpha to eta is the
>1st declension noun hH QALASSA (sea or lake), which in the genitive is THS
> So I learned this rule and thought everything was fine, until I ran
>accross the word hH MACAIPA (sword), for which my lexicon has the genitive
>form THS MACAIPHS. Now MACAIPA is a first declension word which ends in
>alpha and has a preceding letter of rho. So the rule I quoted above makes
>me expect the genitive to be THS MACAIPAS. My first reaction was perhaps
>this was a misprint in the lexicon, but I found Luke 21:24 and 22:49, and
>Acts 12:2, which agree with the lexicon.
> So now I ask, is this an isolated exception to this rule, or is the
>rule I learned only partially correct?

The rule you learned is correct for Attic Greek; Koine, more often than
some might lead you to believe, doesn't always follow Attic Greek patterns.
One of the things going on is a leveling: second-aorist verbs conjugated
with alpha endings, for instance, is a matter of making all the aorists
conform to the same conjugational pattern (in Modern Greek ALL past tenses
conjugate with alpha endings). Genitive in -HS, Dative in Hi--that's
increasingly the standard pattern for all Alpha nouns, but you won't find
the consistency you look for in Koine Greek because, as I like to reiterate
("all over again") is that Koine Greek is a language in flux, with older
and newer forms of the same patterns competing against each other.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad@ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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