A Tour of Greek Morphology: Part 17

Part seventeen 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).

As mentioned in the last post in the series, we now have an inflectional class for all 5,314 present active infinitive or indicative forms in the MorphGNT SBLGNT in a file that looks like the following:

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

Where 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

Now it’s time to do some counts.

Let us first of all look at the number of distinct lemmas in each of our 13 classes.

The numbers for classes PA-5 and above are low enough that we should look at them individually:

PA-1 barytone omega verbs338
PA-2 circumflex omega verbs with INF -εῖν / 3SG -εῖ145
PA-3 circumflex omega verbs with INF -οῦν / 3SG -οῖ21
PA-4 circumflex omega verbs with INF -ᾶν / 3SG -ᾷ31
PA-5 ζάω + compound (συζάω)2
PA-6a ὀμνύω; δείκνυμι + compound (ἀμφιέννυμι)3
PA-7 τίθημι + compounds (ἐπιτίθημι παρατίθημι περιτίθημι);
compounds of ἵημι (ἀφίημι συνίημι)
PA-8 δίδωμι + compounds (διαδίδωμι ἀποδίδωμι μεταδίδωμι παραδίδωμι5
PA-9 compounds of ίστημι (καθίστημι μεθίστημι συνίστημι);
compound of φημί (σύμφημι);
that one weird case of συνίημι
PA-9-ENC φημί1
PA-10 εἰμί1
PA-10-COMP compounds of εἰμί (ἄπειμι ἔξεστι(ν) πάρειμι)3
PA-11-COMP compounds of εἶμι (ἔξειμι εἴσειμι)2

Notice that even the small counts are elevated due to compound verbs. Folding compounds of the same base verb, the classes from PA-5 on have only one or two members.

This is just looking at the number of unique lemmas in each class but there are two other sets of numbers that are worth looking at: (1) the total number of tokens in the SBLGNT; (2) the distribution of classes amongst the hapax legomena.

class lemmas tokens hapax hapax details
PA-1 338 2563 151
PA-2 145 856 65
PA-3 21 35 15
PA-4 31 117 16
PA-5 2 41 1 συζάω
PA-6a 3 5 2 ὀμνύω ἀμφιέννυμι
PA-7 6 37 3 εἴσειμι παρίστημι παρατίθημι
PA-8 5 35 2 διαδίδωμι μεταδίδωμι
PA-9 5 9 3 συνίημι σύμφημι μεθίστημι
PA-9-ENC 1 22 0
PA-10 1 1551 0
PA-10-COMP 3 39 1 ἄπειμι
PA-11-COMP 2 4 1 εἴσειμι

Why do the hapax legomena matter? Well they give an indication of what classes were still productive.

Note, however, that the hapax in PA-5 and above are VERY low in number and, with the exception of ὀμνύω in PA-6a they are all compounds. This strongly suggests that only PA-1, PA-2, PA-3, and PA-4 were productive.

Notice that the token numbers for PA-6a, PA-9 and PA-11-COMP are particularly low too. Potentially relevant in the case of PA-6a and PA-9 is that these are the classes most like to have developed thematic alternatives. This might be worthy of a future post in this series!

Let’s now look at counts for each paradigm cell for each class:

  PA-1 PA-2 PA-3 PA-4 PA-5 PA-6a PA-7 PA-8 PA-9 PA-9-ENC PA-10 PA-10-COMP PA-11-COMP
INF 394 171 5 21 13 1 11 10 1 - 124 3 3
1SG 460 116 3 21 6 1 7 10 2 4 138 1 -
2SG 164 46 - 5 2 - - 1 - - 92 1 -
3SG 923 295 16 35 13 3 11 13 5 17 896 31 -
1PL 141 52 2 19 5 - 1 - - - 52 1 -
2PL 218 99 4 8 1 - 4 - - - 93 1 -
3PL 263 77 5 8 1 - 3 1 1 1 156 1 1
  2563 856 35 117 41 5 37 35 9 22 1551 39 4

What is obvious from this is just how important, regardless of inflectional class, the 3SG form is. The INF is also very important. We’ve seen in a previous post that both cells are very good predictors of inflectional class (much better than 1SG) but they are also just both very common. The 1SG, despite being a bad predictor, is still important in terms of frequency.

The 3PL is a distant fourth with one apparent deviation: it is very common in PA-10 (i.e. the copula), more so than the INF or 1SG. In fact, the proportion of 3PL in this class is actually average, it’s the INF and 1SG that are unusually low (with much of the frequency drop taken up by the 3SG).

As well as εἰμί, φημί (PA-9-ENC) is also disproportionately 3SG.

Of course, given how common PA-1 is, even the plurals there outnumber the most common cells in the other classes.

If the goal is just to identify the person/number, not the class, (which is true in reception but not learning) then a lot of those numbers collapse because of shared endings. Here are the counts just focused on the common endings (without accents):

INF 604
-ναι 153
1SG 606
-μι 163
2SG -{ι}ς 217
(-)ει 93
3SG -{ι} 1282
-σι(ν) 49
(-)εστι(ν) 927
1PL -μεν 273
2PL -τε 448
3PL -σι(ν) 511
-ασι(ν) 7

This just emphasises even more (even though it was in the previous table) that there is only 1 2SG in -ς (without an iota, subscripted or otherwise): the παραδίδως in Luke 22.48.

The 7 3PLs in -ασι(ν) are:

  • τιθέασι(ν) in Matt 5.15
  • ἐπιτιθέασι(ν) in Matt 23.4
  • περιτιθέασι(ν) in Mark 15.17
  • φασί(ν) in Rom 3.8
  • συνιᾶσι(ν) in 2Co 10.12
  • εἰσίασι(ν) in Heb 9.6
  • διδόασι(ν) in Rev 17.13

One could argue that these are subsumed by saying 3PL ends in -σι(ν) but given that, in the very same lexemes, -σι(ν) can also indicate 3SG, it is useful calling out the α, even though the root vowel alternation is enough to distinguish singular and plural.

That’s it (for now) for counts of the present actives. In the next couple of posts, we’ll turn to the middle forms.

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