[b-greek] Re: Question about development of Greek verbal system from Ancient/Koine Greek to modern Greek

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Wed Nov 21 2001 - 12:42:16 EST

At 5:07 PM +0100 11/21/01, Thomas Dachsel wrote:
>please excuse me if this is off-topic, but I cannot think of a
>better suited mailing list to ask the following question (if
>someone knows of a better suited mailing list please tell me
>off-list and I will be happy to subscribe there and ask my question
>there), and again excuse me if it is a beginner's question.
>I have been reading in grammars of modern Greek that modern
>Greek verbs have two stems, one for a punctual action, and
>one for an ongoing action (e.g. for "to write", the stems are
>"graph-" and "graps-", can't remember which is which right now).
>My question is, I have been wondering out of which forms
>from Ancient or Koine Greek did these two forms develop?

GRAF- (to use standard B-Greek transliteration) is the "ongoing action"
form and GRAY or "graps-" is the punctual action form. GRAF- is derived
from the ancient "present" tense stem, GRAY or "graps-: from the aorist
stem. Modern Greek thus makes two futures: QA GRAFW, the "progressive"
form, something like "I'll keep writing" and QA GRAYW, the "punctual" form,
something like "I'll write/get written".

>I have been reading the book of Mr. Geoffrey Horrocks
>Greek: A History of the Language and Its Speakers
>(they have some nice sample pages there)
>but I have to admit for a beginner this is pretty heavy
>stuff, I wouldn't even know where to look in this book
>for an answer to my question, and I have to admit that
>I have not been able to finish reading it yet :-/

Fancy that! I'm currently reading the same book, on recommendation of
Randall Buth. It is rather technical and laborious reading, but very good,
the only good currently in-print account of the development of the language
from Linear B to the present day that I know of. Long, long out of print is
a wonderful little book by George Thomson (originally published by Heffer
in 1960) entitled, _The Greek Language_ --this is a survey of developments
in the langauge over the centuries with charts of ancient and modern Greek
noun declension and verb conjugation and a marvelous appendix of Greek
texts beginning with the very early Nikandra inscription in Ionic dialect
to a modern Alexandrian poem of Cavafy, with very helpful notes explaining
changing morphoparadigms. I really wish this still were available. I still
consult a xeroxed copy of the 1960 volume.

>So if any one of you have either read this book and
>know whether the answer to my question is described
>there, or know of some other book elaborating on this
>question, please let me know.
>Thank you very much for your efforts.
>I really have been enjoying reading the messages
>of this list for many years (and hope to do so
>for many years to come :-))

Glad to hear from you directly finally! More lurkers should come out of the

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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