A Tour of Greek Morphology: Part 16

Part sixteen 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 post we went through and made sure we had all our active endings covered ready for counting. As pointed out (and in detail in Part 13), though, we still had some ambiguities. If we want to assign just a single inflectional class to each form in the SBLGNT, we need some way of disambiguating. Fortunately, the lemma does this (even if it resorts to using fake forms like the uncontracted circumflex 1SGs).

This allows us to write code that basically follows these rules:

1SG:Xημι or 3SG:Xησι(ν) is PA-7 if lemma ends in τίθημι or ίημι
PA-9 if lemma ends in ίστημι or φημι
1PL:Xῶμεν or 3PL:Xῶσι(ν) is PA-5 if lemma is ζάω
PA-4 otherwise
1PL:Xοῦμεν or 3PL:Xοῦσι(ν) is PA-2 if lemma ends in έω
PA-3 if lemma ends in όω
2PL:Xετε is PA-1 if lemma ends in ω
PA-7 if lemma ends in ημι
1PL:Xομεν is PA-1 if lemma ends in ω
PA-8 if lemma ends in ωμι
1SG:Xῶ is PA-2 if lemma ends in έω
PA-3 if lemma ends in όω
PA-5 if lemma is ζάω
PA-4 if lemma otherwise ends in άω
INF:Xέναι is PA-7 if lemma ends with ίημι
PA-11-COMPOUND if lemma ends with ειμι

Part 13 also mentioned the 2SG:Xης ambiguity between PA-7 and PA-9 but that doesn’t crop up in the SBLGNT: there are in fact no PA-7 OR PA-9 2SGs in the SBLGNT.

There ARE however three 1PL forms which do still cause a problem with the rules above:

  • ἀφίομεν
  • ἱστάνομεν
  • συνιστάνομεν

Each of these matches 1PL:Xομεν BUT the MorphGNT lemmas are ἀφίημι, ἵστημι, and συνίστημι respectively.

What is happening here is that new forms have developed belonging to a different inflectional class than the particular form chosen for the lemma. For example ἱστάνομεν is an ω verb but it’s otherwise the same as the athematic ἵστημι. Arguably the MorphGNT lemmatization could be changed to ἱστάνω if you consider a difference in inflectional class to be a new lexeme. This is a topic I’ll be covering in my talk at SBL 2017 in Boston in November. For now, in our Python code, we’ll just special-case these as PA-1 but we will come back to discussing this more. Note that we only caught this here because it was an ambiguous form so we were checking for particular lemma patterns.

We now have an inflectional class for all 5,314 present active infinitive or indicative forms in the MorphGNT SBLGNT.

The output of my Python script begins:

010120 ἐστί(ν) 3SG PA-10 εἰμί PA-10
010123 ἐστί(ν) 3SG PA-10 εἰμί PA-10
010202 ἐστί(ν) 3SG PA-10 εἰμί PA-10
010206 εἶ 2SG PA-10 εἰμί PA-10
010213 μέλλει 3SG PA-1 μέλλω PA-1
010213 ζητεῖν INF PA-2 ζητέω PA-2
010218 εἰσί(ν) 3PL PA-10 εἰμί PA-10
010222 βασιλεύει 3SG PA-1 βασιλεύω PA-1
010303 ἐστί(ν) 3SG PA-10 εἰμί PA-10
010309 λέγειν INF PA-1 λέγω PA-1
010309 ἔχομεν 1PL PA-1/PA-8 ἔχω PA-1

The columns are:

  • the book/chapter/verse reference
  • the normalized form
  • the morphosyntactic properties
  • the inflectional classes possible without disambiguation
  • the lemma
  • the disambiguated inflectional class

You can download the entire thing here.

We’ll use this to do our counts in the next post.

One question comes to mind: are the disambiguated inflectional classes consistent for all the forms of a lexeme (beyond the three exceptions we already saw above)?

Well, looking at the full output of the script, we find there are a few more in the SBLGNT:

ὀμνύω INFὀμνύναι PA-6a
ὀμνύειν PA-1
all other forms
δείκνυμι INFδεικνύειν PA-1
1SGδείκνυμι PA-6a
συνίστημι 1PLσυνιστάνομεν PA-1
1SGσυνίστημι PA-9
ἀφίημι 1PLἀφίομεν PA-1
2SGἀφεῖς PA-2
all other forms PA-7
συνίημι INFσυνιέναι PA-7
3PLσυνίουσι(ν) PA-1
συνιᾶσι(ν) PA-9

In each case we have an originally athematic verb occasionally acting like it’s thematic (and, in the case of ὀμνύω even the lemma is written as if it was thematic). We WILL have more to say about this in a few posts but we’ve now done enough that we can count how many times each inflectional class appears in the SBLGNT and how many different lexemes follow each inflectional class. We’ll do that in the very next post.

There is still another thing worth checking: is the value of X in our paradigm patterns consistent across a lexeme too? Yes it is, accent aside, if you only compare within the same inflectional class. The X for the δείκνυμι cells in PA-6a is always δείκν, for example, but the PA-1 cases have X = δεικνύ.

UPDATE: I just discovered a mis-disambiguated παριστάνετε that needs to be special-cased as a PA-1.

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