[b-greek] Re: LOGIZOMAI: passive or active?

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Tue Mar 12 2002 - 12:23:54 EST

At 7:24 AM -0800 3/12/02, Dale M. Wheeler wrote:
>Moon-Ryul Jung wrote:
>>By the way, have you thought about why only the aorist and future
>>have passive forms different from middle forms, whereas the present and
>>imperfect have middle/passive forms?
>>One hypothesis is that in the present/imperfect there is no need to
>>distinguish the passive from the middle, whereas in the future/aorist,
>>there is need to distinguish the passive from the middle for some
>This is a question for Carl, methinks!! Did he not at one time make a
>suggestion about this?? Carl, what sayest thou???

So here we go again; I did manage to procure and copy some bibliographic
resources on the matter of Greek verb voice while I was in St. Louis in
December, but I haven't really focused on the topic since November. Moon's
question and Dale's response have been sufficiently provocative that I'll
have to respond for myself.

(1) We'll take things hysteron-proteron: UNLESS one is speaking only of
morphology, it is not really quite true to say that "only aorist and future
have passive forms different from middle forms." What IS true is that only
aorist and future have -QH- forms; however, -QHN/QHS/QH and
QHSOMAI/QHSHi/QHSETAI endings may convey either middle or passive semantic
force depending on the verb in question. As I have shown in a post in
November, it is not really possible to distinguish EGENETO and EGENHQH
semantically, and I personally think that the attempt (as in Wallace) to
distinguish between APEKRINATO and APEKRIQH is utterly unconvincing. What I
have argued and am still hoping to demonstrate more fully in a formal
document is that--at least for Hellenistic/Koine Greek (not necessarily the
neo-Attic)--the -QH- aorist and future morphoparadigms may, just like the
MAI/SAI/TAI;MHN/SO/TO morphoparadigms, be used with either middle or
passive semantic force depending either upon context or upon the particular
verb being used. I would say, therefore, that Moon's question above is
really pointless: the distinction is unreal and therefore in no need of

(2) Now, to turn to Dale's message from yesterday afternoon:

At 9:13 AM -0800 3/11/02, Dale M. Wheeler wrote:
>LOGIZOMAI is a **classic** example of why the Latin concept of deponency
>should not be applied to Greek verbs.

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to see any value in the concept of
"deponency" even with regard to the Latin verbal system, and evidently the
same inconsistency in what is understood by the term is evident in the late
Latin usage of the participial adjective DEPONENS:

L&S at Perseus: "Hence, de-po-nens , entis, P. a., subst. (sc. verbum,
lit., a verb that lays aside its proper pass. signif.), in the later
grammar. a verb which, in a pass. form, has an act. meaning; deponent,
Charis. p. 143 P.; Diom. p. 327 ib.; Prisc. p. 787 ib. sq. et saep."

It's evidently only late Latin grammarians that develop and use this
notion; they don't seem to understand that such classical verbs as UTOR,
POTIOR, VESCOR, etc. are really middle, that SEQUOR is unquestionable
middle, that VERTOR is an authentic middle of VERTO, VOLVOR an authentic
middle of VOLVO, and so forth.

> If you look at LSJ at Perseus
>you will see exactly the same thing laid out for the entire history of
>Greek that is found in the NT and the LXX. All the passive forms of LOGIZ-
>are *true* passives, "to be reckoned, considered", while all of the middle
>forms are *true* middles...the only problem is that they get translated
>into English as actives "to reckon", because its awkward in English to say
>"to personally, mentally, [by] himself, etc., reckon", but that's exactly
>what IS going on in Greek. There are NO active uses of this verb in Greek
>acc. to LSJ, but that does NOT mean that its "deponent". All it means is
>that from the Greek perspective, whenever anyone "reckoned", that person
>"reckoned, calculated, accounted, counted, considered" *personally*, ie.,
>no one else did it for you, it is a personal, internal process,
>etc....that's what the Greek middle is really all about. It can be used
>reflexively like English, but that's not its primary use.

In the above paragraph Dale makes perfectly clear that he understands the
concept of the Greek middle, and he also demonstrates that much of the
problematic nature of voice in the Greek verb resides in the attempt to
think of the Greek verb forms in terms of voice in the English (or other
target language's) verb system.

>If it weren't for the fact that ALL the dictionaries/lexicons up to this
>point in history, following the Latin idea of deponency, have listed the
>lexeme as LOGIZOMAI, in updating the CCAT/UPenn MorphLXX and the GRAMCORD
>MorphGNT, I'd go ahead and change this one to its correct form LOGIZW, for
>that *certainly* is what it should be. Maybe someday lexicography will
>catch up with linguistics...and then we can get rid of this deponency
>discussion and talk about what Greek verbs are really doing as to their
>"voice", sort of like the enlightening discussions we've had over the past
>several years about tense/aspect/lexis.

Here I am puzzled. WHY on earth should the "correct" form of LOGIZOMAI in a
dictionary be LOGIZW if the "active" morphoparadigm doesn't appear in the
language? Randall Buth has argued that we've no business putting forms like
POIEW and AGAPAW as "correct" forms in the lexicon when what we actually
see of these verbs is POIW and AGAPW (I'll grant that the lexicon needs to
indicate somehow that these are epsilon- and alpha- contract verbs
respectively so that the user may know what paradigm to use for them); even
for IE roots it's customary to mark hypothetical forms with an asterisk, so
I can imagine putting something like *LOGIZW in a lexicon, but it seems to
me that LOGIZOMAI is right--and that it's the business of the user to
recognize that this is a middle form, no matter what voice-form is required
to convey it into English or another target language.

>By the way, as pointed out by my colleague in revising the MorphLXX,
>Bernard Taylor (in his paper presented at the most recent SBL on the topic
>of deponency in the LXX)

By the way, Dale, would it be possible for me to obtain an electronic or
hardcopy version of that paper--i.e. will you let me have an e-address so I
can request it for myself? Thanks.

, you can add to LOGIZOMAI the following
>non-deponent lexemes which only occur in the Mid and Pass: AISQUNOMAI,

Do you mean AISQANOMAI or AISCUNOMAI or some hybrid form of either verb? Or
did you find it on some newly-discovered papyrus fragment?

>PUNQANOMAI. We've actually catalogued many others which follow exactly the
>same pattern; some of them develop a late active form, which however does
>not skew the understanding of the use of the verb from Classical up thru NT
>times. A large number of others are again true middles, but speakers have
>started using the passive form in place of the middle, evidently because it
>was more common (I think this is what Carl has pointed out

Yes, precisely. What I have argued is that the -QH- morphoparadigms have
become in Hellenistic/Koine Greek pretty much "first middle-passive" in
relation to the older MAI/SAI/TAI;MHN/SO/TO "second middle-passive"--i.e.,
a newer standard form of middle-passive for the aorist and future that is
increasingly displacing older "second middle-passive" morphoparadigms:
that's the simple explanation for the equivalency of EGENETO/EGENHQH and
APEKRINATO/APEKRIQH. And I think this is exactly what Geoffrey Horrocks is
saying in _Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers_, pp. 54 and

And yes, it IS a "consummation devoutly to be wished" (is that what Hamlet
actually said?) that linguistics and lexicography--yes, and textbook
grammars as well--may "get in synch"--or hINA PANTES hEN WSIN, so to speak.
But I have the impression that there isn't any real consensus on this sort
of thing even among the linguists (and it's a notorious fact that
Linguistics was created in the Tower of Babel and that since the
destruction of the Tower, Linguists and Grammarians and Lexicologists just
haven't ever been able to understand each other. Nor, though now we ARTI
DI' ESOPTROU EN AINIGMATI BLEPOMEN is it by any means certain that TOTE

>Most likely ERXOMAI fits into this category; but until we get
>verbs like LOGIZOMAI out of the discussion, we'll not be able to analyze
>verbs like ERXOMAI to see if they are just middles (when you "go", its YOU
>doing it, not someone else) or whether there really are Greek deponents
>(ie., words which cannot bear a transitive or passive meaning, viz., you
>cannot be "go'ed"...you can be brought, however). I suspect from the Greek
>perspective its the former, since a couple of times the active ERXW
>actually occurs, and in the Aor the verb becomes active...but that remains
>to be seen.

No we cannot be 'go-ed' but we may perhaps be "goaded." One of the "facts"
which I thought came to light in our discussions back in November on this
list was that SEMANTIC voice does not bear any necessary relationship to
the terms we apply to "active," "middle-passive" and "passive"
morphoparadigms. I still am inclined to think that Greek originally had
only two morphoparadigms, that the W/EIS/EI;ON/ES/E is a "default"
morphoparadigm for most "active" and intransitive verbs and that the
MAI/SAI/TAI;MHN/SO/TO morphoparadigm is a morphoparadigm "marked" for
subject-focus and employed in either a true middle or in a passive sense as

An active ERCW (see, we can't even agree on standard transliteration!)?
Really? Isn't that employed by the same sort of person who would say
"go-ed"? Well, there's that marvelous line in Aeneid 6, ITUR IN ANTIQUAM
SILVAM, and methinks I've heard at least one undergraduate English that as
"it is go-ed into the primeval woods." As for your comparable Marcan MHTI
wouldn't deign to English ERCETAI even in this instance as "is go-ed"; I'd
say that it's much like LUETAI hO hIPPOS in classical (NOT NT Koine, where
there is no middle of LUW): "the horse gets loose"--it really is
semantically middle, although if you add hUPO TOU EMBAINONTOS ("by the
rider") it becomes passive semantically.

I hope we don't get to the point of entering lexical forms such as LOGIZW
and ERCW; by that time, I fear, we'll all have become digitized and ceased
to be human.

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/

B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: [jwrobie@mindspring.com]
To unsubscribe, forward this message to leave-b-greek-327Q@franklin.oit.unc.edu
To subscribe, send a message to subscribe-b-greek@franklin.oit.unc.edu

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:21 EDT