[b-greek] Re: MIDDLE & PASSIVE: GINOMAI in the GNT 1

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Mon Nov 19 2001 - 08:04:33 EST

At 6:34 AM -0500 11/19/01, Harry W. Jones wrote:
>Dear Carl,
>I have been trying to follow your discussion with Ward Powers
>as best I can as well as your Middle/Passive posts. But could
>you tell us how exactly all of this would change the way NT
>grammar is taught right now? Could you give us specifics on
>how it would change?

If I had my 'druthers, much more care would be taken in teaching voice,
particularly in clarifying the meaning of the middle-passive and the
reasons why middle-passive forms are ambiguous in semantic voice and
require determination in terms of context and nature of the verb as to
whether they are intransitive, middle or passive in sense. The notion that
there are "deponent" verbs would be dropped: the student needs to learn
principle parts of verbs that don't conform to the "classical" pattern of
LUW/LUSW/ELUSA/LELUKA/LELUMAI/ELUQHN and needs to understand that verbs
such as POREUOMAI or EPOREUQHN are not "passive with active meaning" (as is
all too commonly asserted) but intransitive. Above all, the difference
between the names conventionally attached to morphoparadigms ("active",
"middle-passive", and "passive") and semantic voice needs to be made clear.
Finally, and this too is one of the most important things I think should
change: the -QH- morphoparadigms should be recognized as essentially a
later alternative to the older "middle-passive" morphoparadigms and as open
to interpretation as intransitive, middle, or passive as are forms in the
"middle-passive" morphoparadigm. If we can get used to the fact that
aorists in -(S)A and in -ON and in -HN/-WN all bear the same semantic
function in terms of TENSE, we should be able to get used to the fact that
aorists in -SAMHN/OMHN and in -QHN bear the same semantic functions in
terms of VOICE.

I'm inclined to think that the teaching of voice in the ancient Greek verb
has been hindered fundamentally by the attempt to explain it in terms of
voice usage in the native language of teacher and students. One really
needs to understand the distinctive character of the Greek voice system on
its own terms, and I believe that if one does so, one will recognize that
its complexity does NOT mean that it is subject to great numbers of
unintelligible "exceptions to rules."

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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