Part five of a tour through Greek inflectional morphology to help get students thinking more systematically about the word forms they see (and maybe teach a bit of general linguistics along the way).

In part four, we introduced the circumflex verbs in the present active. Now we’re going to look at their middle forms.

Here they are alongside the middle of λύω:

INF λύεσθαι ποιεῖσθαι δηλοῦσθαι τιμᾶσθαι χρῆσθαι
1SG λύομαι ποιοῦμαι δηλοῦμαι τιμῶμαι χρῶμαι
2SG λύῃ or λύει ποιῇ or ποιεῖ δηλοῖ τιμᾷ χρῇ
3SG λύεται ποιεῖται δηλοῦται τιμᾶται χρῆται
1PL λυόμεθα ποιούμεθα δηλούμεθα τιμώμεθα χρώμεθα
2PL λύεσθε ποιεῖσθε δηλοῦσθε τιμᾶσθε χρῆσθε
3PL λύονται ποιοῦνται δηλοῦνται τιμῶνται χρῶνται

As you can see, the circumflex pervades except in the 1PL where the law of limitation prohibits it. This is also the one place the λύω accent is on the distinguisher.

Note also that, as was the case with the active, the forms in each row essentially have the same endings just with a vowel change.

Here are the common elements of each row of the distinguisher in both the active and middle:

  active middle
INF -σθαι
1SG - -μαι
2SG -{ι}ς -{ι}
3SG -{ι} -ται
1PL -μεν -μεθα
2PL -τε -σθε
3PL -σι(ν) -νται

The iota in the 2SG active and middle and the 3SG active is questionable because we’re splitting a diphthong but we’ll return to that in another post.

The vowels prior to this common element seem to change as follows:

  • if the distinguisher has a monophthong ε in λύω,
    it will have ει, ου, α, η in the other paradigms
  • if the distinguisher has a monophthong ο in λύω,
    it will have ου, ου, ω, ω in the other paradigms

This applies to the active too (although the diphthongs there are found in more cells of the λύω paradigm).

We’ll explore this more in the next post.

Before we end this one, though, let’s label the paradigms for our present middle distinguishers:

  PM-1 PM-2 PM-3 PM-4 PM-5
INF Xεσθαι Xεῖσθαι Xοῦσθαι Xᾶσθαι Xῆσθαι
1SG Xομαι Xοῦμαι Xοῦμαι Xῶμαι Xῶμαι
2SG Xῃ or Xει Xῇ or Xεῖ Xοῖ Xᾷ Xῇ
3SG Xεται Xεῖται Xοῦται Xᾶται Xῆται
1PL Xόμεθα Xούμεθα Xούμεθα Xώμεθα Xώμεθα
2PL Xεσθε Xεῖσθε Xοῦσθε Xᾶσθε Xῆσθε
3PL Xονται Xοῦνται Xοῦνται Xῶνται Xῶνται

Notice that the 1SG, 1PL, and 3PL distinguishers are identical for PM-2 vs PM-3 and for PM-4 vs PM-5. This was similar to what we saw in the active case (although there, the 1SG was even less helpful in identifying the paradigm).

Notice also that these are exactly the rows where the distinguisher in λύω starts with an omicron.