A Tour of Greek Morphology: Part 15

Part fifteen 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 the previous two posts in this series (part 13 and part 14) we summarized the paradigms we’ve seen so far for the present infinitive and indicative both in the active and middle.

Do these paradigms cover all the forms in the Greek New Testament? Which paradigms are more common? Which are productive? We’ll explore these questions in the next few posts.

Let’s start with the active forms.

The first test is whether every present active infinitive and indicative verb in the MorphGNT SBLGNT matches with one of the patterns we’ve discussed GIVEN ITS MORPHOSYNTACTIC PROPERTY SET. We want to test, for example, whether every verb tagged as -PAN---- matches one of Xειν, Xεῖν, Xοῦν, Xᾶν, Xῆν, Xύναι, Xέναι, Xόναι, Xάναι, or εἶναι. Or whether every verb tagged as 2PAI-S-- matches one of Xεις, Xεῖς, Xοῖς, Xᾷς, Xῇς, Xυς, Xης, Xως, Xης, or εἶ.

Running a short Python script over the MorphGNT, it turns out there are 14 forms in 69 instances that do NOT match.

Three of these forms are φημί. The issue here is that φημί is enclitic in the indicative and so, even though it otherwise follows a PA-9 paradigm, the accentuation doesn’t match. If we want to capture the enclitic nature of φημί in its inflection class, we’ll need to create a variant of PA-9 that is enclitic.

INF Xάναι Xάναι
1SG Xημι Xημί
2SG Xης Xής
3SG Xησι(ν) Xησί(ν)
1PL Xαμεν Xαμέν
2PL Xατε Xατέ
3PL Xᾶσι(ν) Xασί(ν)

The 2SG appears more frequently as φῄς in Classical Greek but neither form appears in the SBLGNT so we’ll put that issue aside for now.

Another eight of these forms are compounds of the copula and so have different accentuation and breathing (but are otherwise identical to PA-10).

INF εἶναι Xεῖναι
1SG εἰμί Xειμι
2SG εἶ Xει
3SG ἐστί(ν) Xεστι(ν)
1PL ἐσμέν Xεσμεν
2PL ἐστέ Xεστε
3PL εἰσί(ν) Xεισι(ν)

The only additional variation here is εἰσίασιν in Hebrews 9.6 but this is not, in fact, derived from εἰς + εἰμί but rather εἰς + εἶμι. Let’s create a new paradigm for εἶμι even though it doesn’t appear in the the SBLGNT just so we can derive a paradigm for the compound case from it.

Here PA-11 and PA-11-COMPOUND are shown alongside PA-10 for comparison (note the italic forms don’t appear in the SBLGNT):

  PA-10 PA-11 PA-11-COMPOUND
INF εἶναι ἰέναι Xιέναι
1SG εἰμί εἶμι Xειμι
2SG εἶ εἶ Xει
3SG ἐστί(ν) εἶσι(ν) Xεισι(ν)
1PL ἐσμέν ἴμεν Xιμεν
2PL ἐστέ ἴτε Xιτε
3PL εἰσί(ν) ἴασι(ν) Xίασι(ν)

PA-11 and PA-11-COMPOUND are very similar to PA-6a through PA-9 except with ει/ι instead of υ/υ, η/ε, ω/ο, η/α. The INF being ιε is a little unexpected but outside the scope of the current discussion as we really are just wanting to capture the 3PL of PA-11-COMPOUND for now.

Note that εἰσιέναι in Acts 3.3 is also from εἰς + εἶμι but this slipped us by because we have a Xέναι pattern already. Similarly, we have ἐξιέναι in Acts 20.7 and 27.43. With the addition of PA-11-COMPOUND we now have a slight ambiguity with PA-7 (in the INF) and PA-10-COMPOUND (in the 1SG and 2SG). This isn’t a problem at the moment but will come up again (as will other ambiguities) in the next post.

Adding these paradigm variants covers 12 of our originally non-matching forms. The remaining two are the impersonal χρή and ἔνι which represent fossilized phrases with the copula elided. For our stats we’ll ignore them.

In the next post, we’ll see if we can categorize the lexemes in the SBLGNT into inflection classes based on these paradigms and therefore be able to study how frequent they are from both a type and token perspective.

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