[b-greek] Re: Intervocalic Sigma in third declension nouns

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Fri Nov 16 2001 - 20:55:04 EST

At 6:52 PM -0400 11/16/01, Brent Hudson wrote:
>With respect to third declension nouns whose stems end in a dental; is there
>an established rule/reason why the intervocalic sigma does not drop out in
>the dative plural (e.g., ELPISI ). This is not mentioned specifically in
>Mounce's Morphology of Biblical Greek (n-3c(1-3)) or in Smyth (120). Smyth
>says that S will remain because of phonetic change or analogy but I'm not
>sure if this applies here. I was wondering if it is related to the loss of
>the D or if the I in the ending is consonantal. Obviously this is not a big
>deal, I'm just curious. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

I think there are two factors here (probably): one is that what turns out
to be an intervocalic sigma in -ISI is actually a simplification of an
original double-consonant -ISSI (from -ID-SI, i.e. ELPID-SI rather than an
original intervocalic single S); the other more important factor is that
loss of this particular -S- would make the dative plural form
unrecognizable. It is true of course that the dental stem is also lost in
the dative plural participles such as OUSI from -ONSI <-- ONT-SI (verb
EIMI) but there the -N- is also a factor that caused compensatory
lengthening of the -O- into -OU-, and in that case also the -SI is retained
because it is vital as a marker of the dative plural ending. The operation
of the phonetic principles is not going to take place at the cost of wiping
out the discernible morphological marker. To be sure the sigma does vanish
in liquid and nasal first aorists, e.g. ESTEILA <-- ESTEL-SA, EMEINA <--
EMEN-SA, but I think it would be more proper to say that the real
distinguishing marker of the first aorist forms is the alpha endings, which
by the NT Koine period are making inroads into the conjugation of second
aorist verbs.

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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