Middle Voice Quote of the Week

“If we go even further back and examine the oldest stages of the Indo-European language, it emerges that really the main opposition is between active and middle and that the passive voice is something additional that grew up and developed later. In Greek this can still be seen especially in the fact that there are basically no specifically passive forms at all: passive functions are served partly by the same forms as the middle and partly by the specially deployed active forms, the former in the present and the perfect, the latter in the aorist. Now, as soon as we regard active and middle as fundamental and primary, the so-called deponents become clear, of which Greek has a great number, as well as Latin. Our account will now be as follows: there are (1) verbs with both active and middle endings, whose middle forms can sometimes have passive meaning, e.g. φέρω (‘I carry’), φέρομαι (‘I carry for myself’ or ‘I win’ (middle), or (passive) ‘I am carried’); (2) verbs which occur only in active forms, such as κλύω, στείχω, στίλβω, φεύω (‘hear’, ‘go’, ‘gleam’, ‘flee’); and (3) verbs which occur only in middle forms, such as ἧμαι, κεῖμαι, νέομαι (‘I sit’, ‘I lie’, ‘I go, come’), and there are more of type 3 than of type 2 (active only). In other words, deponents are simply middle verbs which have no active forms and our task becomes to discover the middle meaning in the deponents.”

Jacob Wackernagel (trans. David Langslow), Lectures on syntax: With special reference to Greek, Latin, and Germanic, 160 (vol 1, 121 in the German edition). Bold text is original (at least to Langslow).

In case you missed it, Wackernagel basically says that “deponent” is a misnomer.

The supposedly “new” view put forward by people like Carl Conrad, Rutgar Allan, Bernard Tayor, M. Klaiman, and others isn’t new. It’s the old view. 1923. What these modern scholars who have written on voice have done, is simply carry out exactly what Wackernagel sates in his final sentence: “[O]ur task becomes to discover the middle meaning in the deponents.” There is no “active in meaning and passive in form.”

Those who want to talk about Greek as having laid something aside (whether the active form or the passive meaning) are the ones who take an idiosyncratic and novel approach.

So let’s all say it together now:

“[D]eponents are simply middle verbs which have no active forms and our task becomes to discover the middle meaning in the deponents”

41 thoughts on “Middle Voice Quote of the Week

  1. “Those who want to talk about Greek as having laid something aside (whether the active form or the passive meaning) are the ones who take an idiosyncratic and novel approach.”

    This is not novel — it’s why the latin term was applied in the first place. It’s also why grammarians have been dissatisfied with the term since Winer, Moulton on forward.

    “Wackernagel basically says that “deponent” is a misnomer.”

    Virtually all grammarians have seen deponency as a misnomer… but you’re framing the issue as if one’s calling depoentia a misnomer is determinative.

    1. You’re both right and wrong. When we talk about pre-scientific grammar, Bernard Taylor, both in his published article and in his recent SBL presentation, has clearly demonstrated that the native Greeks never would have called these verbs deponent. All we can really say for sure from that period is that Latin speakers thought Greek middle verbs were in some way parallel to the Latin deponents. And that was an analogy that was useful to them in learning the language. There is no time in the history of the language where we can say definitively that deponencia was used for Greek verbs because Greek verbs had laid something aside because there was not science of language at that time. Minimally, we can say that it looked like they had laid something aside. But there was just as much lack of evidence for that then as there is now.

      The fact that grammarians since Winer have been dissatisfied with the term is exactly my point. The scientific study of language arose during that period with men like Wilhelm von Humboldt and Franz Bopp?

      Virtually all grammarians have seen deponency as a misnomer… but you’re framing the issue as if one’s calling depoentia a misnomer is determinative.

      Absolutely. Is that a problem?

      1. yes it is a problem. b/c it is lexical fallacy. Hardly any grammars in the modern day define deponency as such. Wallace is the only one I know who calls upon the etymology in the present day.

      2. It’s not my lexical fallacy. It’s Wallace’s. And Wallace is the most used intermediate grammar in existence. If a person only does one year of Greek, they most likely use Mounce who tells them to simply pretend that middles are actives. If they go on to a second year they get Wallace and his etymologizing. I don’t know which is worse!

        I could have just as easily attached the frustratingly popular phrase, “active in meaning, but passive in form” with just a few extra keystrokes. Such a phrase arises directly from the kind of etymologizing we see in Wallace. And you won’t find it in reference grammars. It’s something that has arises only in teaching Grammar–whether beginning or intermediate. The earliest I’ve traced it is to Moulton’s 1898 An introduction to the study of New Testament Greek. And it’s been down hill ever since.

        If we want to treat “deponent” as a technical term, that’s fine. In theory, I have no problem with that, but when there are hundreds of people teaching Greek who simply go to etymology as their starting point either because they use Wallace or simply because they think its a useful pedagogical tool, then we have a huge problem. It’s acceptable theory. It’s terrible practice.

        1. “active in meaning, but passive in form” with just a few extra keystrokes. Such a phrase arises directly from the kind of etymologizing we see in Wallace.”

          This is untrue. This language is used even by one of the earliest formal grammars, Winer, and used by most grammars which follow. See, Treatise, §38.7.

          The problem with Miller, Taylor, Pennington et al, is that they want to speak of a middle as if it means something other than an active meaning. True, perhaps such verbs are middle because at one point the participation of the subject warranted such. But by the time of the NT, is there really anything to be brought out exegetically? Is writers of such vulgar greek actually aware of the rules of how the middle works? Or do they put the verb in the middle form because that’s how they were trained, not intending to attach any significance to it.

        2. You statement, in my mind, would seem to be a better response to:

          The earliest I’ve traced it is to Moulton’s 1898 An introduction to the study of New Testament Greek. And it’s been down hill ever since..

          I think that would be a better place for you words: “This is untrue. This language is used even by one of the earliest formal grammars, Winer, and used by most grammars which follow. See, Treatise, §38.7″ with perfect ease.” Otherwise, I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. Hopefully the discussion that follows here might clarify why I think “active in meaning passive in form” arises from etymologizing. Let me know if it doesn’t. My ability to write clearly comes and goes and I never know which it’ll be doing…

          But it does nothing to nullify my claim that phrases like “active in meaning, but passive in form” arise from the kind of etymologizing we see in Wallace. The statement implicitly suggests that something, whether medio-passive meaning or active form has been laid aside.

          But even then, what modern scholars have labeled “deponents” and what Winer/Moulton have labeled deponents are quite different. Let’s look at exactly what Winer/Moulton says:

          From middle verbs must carefully be distinguished the deponents. These verbs, with a passive (middle) form, have a transitive or neuter meaning: their active form either does not occur at all (in prose), or is used in precisely the same signification.

          Modern scholars who want to hold tight to deponency have no category for Middle Verbs. Both are deponent in their eyes. Winer’s deponents are those that are transitive. That’s an important point here. The assumption seems to be that middles should only be intransitive and never transitive, but that in these cases, the transitive meaning has been taken over by these middles. And thus, something has been laid aside. And All of the verbs on his list are transitive (or at least ambitransitive–including ἔρχομαι).

          And for the “problem” with Miller, Taylor, and Pennington et al,…I don’t know what to say. You concede their point (I wonder if you’ve read Allan. I hope so its an absolutely incredible book and its FREE online in its dissertation form–no excuse now!), but reject it because you feel it doesn’t provide exegetical benefit? How about seeking to gain an accurate understanding of how the language functions apart from the grammar of English? Isn’t that enough?

          Is writers of such vulgar greek actually aware of the rules of how the middle works? Or do they put the verb in the middle form because that’s how they were trained, not intending to attach any significance to it.

          No. They weren’t “aware” of the “rules.” But virtually no Ancient Greek writer or speaker was. Ancient Greek grammar may have become quite sophisticated, but not far enough that all of these were fleshed out–and especially not for everyone. These aren’t the kind of language rules you learn in primary and secondary school. These are rules bound up on the cognitive system of the speaker. They’re there, but they’re not conscious rules. When you speak or write a sentence, do you need to pause and think (and you were never taught in school!):

          “Okay…what was the rule…oh righ! I need to use a past tense fom in the protasis of counterfactual hypothetical situation conditionals. Now I can say it: If you were me, wouldn’t you do exactly the same thing?

          But that doesn’t make the “rule” less real. Its merely a subconscious rule. The “rules” for middles in Ancient Greek are the same. Language is a cognitive system. It’s in the brain. You don’t think it. You just use it the same way I’m not currently thinking: “Type ‘t’ ‘y’ ‘p’ ‘e’ ect.” on the keyboard. I just do. This is basic linguistics going back to Wilhelm von Humbolt.

        3. No I find it an appropriate response b/c it seemed like you were pinning it on wallace b/c of his “etymologizing,” when in fact this definition of deponency (“active in meaning, but passive in form”), was offered by those who were dissatisfied with the term deponency b/c the etymology did not accurately describe what happened historically.

          That is, historical grammarians may not agree that the active actually “laid aside” its form, but they still view a deponent-type verb as active in meaning and middle in form.

          As for your other comments, if you want to quibble over how a t is crossed and how an i should be dotted that’s fine. But your spirit does not seem to be say, Pennington’s, who seems to try to make something out of the middle voice of a so-called “deponent” verbs exegetically.

          Yes I have read R. Allan’s book. I’m guessing you’ve read Baerman (2007) who in his cross-linguistic study supports the idea of deponency as a mismatch of voice form and voice function?

      3. I’m perfectly fine with the possibility of mismatch. It’s just not in Greek. Baerman’s analysis was an impressive discussion of Latin, but when I got to the end of the book and read Matthew’s concluding chapter on Latin (“How safe are our analyzes?”), I was left wondering why I should accept any of Baerman’s claims at all. Matthew’s article is easily the best piece of scholarship in that work–at least when it comes to the studies on IE languages.

        Ladewig’s dissertation, well, out of respect for him, I will not post my criticisms online. I’d be willing to e-mail you privately, but I will not make that available for all to see. Absolutely not.

        I will say this. In choosing between Baerman (or Lavidas & Papangeli) and Matthews and then between Ladewig and perhaps the most brilliant IE linguist who has ever lived, Jacob Wackernagel, I’m reminded of the story in Acts with the men who were trying to cast out demons: “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”

        As for what the historical grammarians say, well, this post itself demonstrates that in no way can you attribute a consensus to them. There’s no consensus even among the NT grammarians. There is no agreement among the historical grammarians any more than there is today. Consider Robertson:

        “‘THE SO-CALLED “DEPONENT’ VERBS. These call for a word (cf. ch. XVII, III, (k)) at the risk of trespassing on syntax. Moulton is certainly right in saying that the term should be applied to all three voices if to any” (Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research,” 332)

        In fact, at least among specialists, there is more consensus today than there was then. It just hasn’t yet spilled over to the class rooms. Intro Greek classes are taught by historians and theologians, but they are rarely taught by those who actually specialize in the study of language.

      1. @SC Wallace and Mounce define it differently. Mounce does not call on the etymology, but defines it within the history of grammatical scholarship. My point is that all this fancy rhetoric to thrust in the face of the traditional grammatical of deponency is pointless. Whether one think a word like erxomai its middle with active meaning, or middle b/c the subject participating in the action does change that the Greek writer still saw this middle as active in meaning (as does Thrax). The argument is quibbling over something that has absolutely no pay off because in the end, you wouldn’t translate erxomai as “I go myself” or “I go with myself/for myself” or any other way except “I go.”

        Moreover, I’m not even sure I am convinced of Allen and other’s thesis on the Indo-Europoean assessment of language—there is at least one other study that comes to mind that demonstrates the existence of deponency in such languages.

        1. I’m having a hard time understanding your objection, Rob. In fact, I’m not even convinced you understand it sufficiently well either.

          For example, English doesn’t really have a middle so the fact that one might translate ἔρχομαι with an English active “I go” rather than a reflexive “I go [for] myself” is rather beside the point of understanding the Greek middle. We’re talking about Greek, not English.

        2. (I’ll ignore the misconceived English reflexive gloss on ἔρχομαι as if that’s what the middle means.)

          I don’t see any problem with Thrax. What is it about Thrax that you think I should?

        3. What traditional grammar?? There’s no basis to say that there is a tradition. There is no consensus. There never was a consensus. Thrax is far from conclusive. And there is no agreement on what Thrax means. For one, what Thrax called “middle” isn’t what we call middle.

          You’re well-read, Rob, but I don’t know how you can draw such fast and hard conclusions about something for which there’s never been agreement.

          Again, if you want my thoughts on that “one other study,” I’ll e-mail you privately.

          As for ερχομαι, I’m at a loss as to why you think that either Stephen (or anyone) would claim that it means “I go [for] myself.” One of the biggest points of all of this is that the basic meaning of the middle is not reflexive. If you haven’t gotten that and you’ve read the literature, I don’t know what else to say.

  2. Don’t forget the many reflexive verbs in all European languages (except, of course English). We can learn a lot about Greek middles by looking at them. They are the successors to older deponents. Like deponents obligatory reflexives have meanings with low-agency subjects. And reflexives in some languages can function like passives.

  3. Also with truly reflexive meanings (like wash and shave) and motion verbs (although not all of them for reasons not well understood).

  4. And I would go further to urge that we look not for “the middle meaning in the deponents”, which still suggests that there is some intrinsically “middle” meaning somehow ingrafted to the verb, but simply to observe the way these words are used, and interpret them accordingly. We don’t have to force the sense of Greek words into a matrix defined by morphology in order to understand them (surely very few Greek-speakers thought of these verbs as “middle” — they just used them in accordance with communicative custom).

    1. We don’t have to force the sense of Greek words into a matrix defined by morphology in order to understand them.

      Quite. But that’s because the morphology is a perfect fit. There’s nothing to force. The circle goes into the circle shaped hole.

      (surely very few Greek-speakers thought of these verbs as “middle” — they just used them in accordance with communicative custom)

      Indeed. No native speaker thinks about language. They just use it. But the patterns and form-meaning pairings are still there. If they weren’t language wouldn’t be useable.

  5. Thanks, Mike. It’s hard to lay the ghost of misconceived notions grounded in an effort to fit Greek forms and usage into the framework of a language other than Greek. Wackernagel is, of course, by no means alone. A. T. Robertson said in his big grammar (p. 333) “Moulton7 is certainly right in saying that the term should be applied to all three voices if to any. The truth is that it should not be used at all.” Those who in this day an age are still learning Latin are probably taught about Latin deponents, but the standard Latin school grammar, Allen & Greenough (§§156n., 163n. 2, 208dn.) explains that these are really surviving forms of the middle voice. Traditional pedagogy keeps alive misconceptions long since recognized as misconceptions for many decades.

  6. Sorry not Thrax, Dyscoli. And I am not suggesting the middle is inherently reflexive (btw, I also offered Indirect middle glosses), but this is a point Pennington seems to make in the Pedagogy book, so I am responding to him. That is, he seems to want to make something out of the middle exegetically, which would require some sort of rendering. But Dyscoli merits consideration before subscribing to contemporary thought on deponency:

    Here’s the Dyscoli comment in question:

    τὸ γὰρ ἐλοθσάμην καὶ ἐποιησάμην καὶ ἐτριψάμην καὶ τὰ τούτοις ὅμοια ἔχει ἐκδηλοτάτην τὴν σύνταξιν ὁτὲ μὲν ἐνεργητικήν, ὁτὲ δὲ παθητικήν (For, τὸ ἐλοθσάμην and ἐποιησάμην and ἐτριψάμην and kindred verbs have in plain syntax, on some occasions, activity, yet on other occasions, passivity)

    Translation mine. I’m losing interest in the conversation here because while I want to engage in a lengthy discussion I just don’t have the time. I might blog my thoughts in a more organized and articulate way in the future. This is an issue I am in constant conversation with Fanning over.

    1. And to respond to your comment above, I agree there never has been a consensus on how to define the term precisely, but there are several features of deponent like verbs which are agreed upon in the history of grammars. I’ve written a lengthy synthesis paper on the history of this that I might post in time.

      I wasn’t too happy about Ladewig’s diss. either. He misread the grammars in many places and did not engage the point about the Indo-Europoean langauges.

    2. Rob, I don’t know why this didn’t click for me before, but the reason Dyscoli says this is because of the morphology of ἔρχομαι–its middle in the present and active in the aorist. We have two completely different verbs that have been connected to each other after suppletion taking place sometime in the history of the language.

      Also ἔρχομαι is part of the language’s core vocabulary and thus tends to be far more archaic and less inclined to merge with the syncronic language system. The more often a word is used, the less likely it’s going to reflect the standard paradigmatic structures of the language. This is exactly like what we have in English with “go” and “went” for past tense: two completely different verbs have been joined together historically and because of their high frequency have refused to participate in the basic past/nonpast alternation.

      Were we to be describing English, we wouldn’t take go/went as any sort of standard to talking about how the English tense system works. We would, of course, discuss go/went, but it would be after examining the normal structure and it would be separate. Otherwise, talking about the English tense system as having a basic /-ed/ past tense morpheme wouldn’t happen and we would have overcomplicated our analysis.

      Likewise, I would say that verbs like ἔρχομαι/ἔλθον that have suppletive forms should not get a focus spot in explaining Greek voice. They definitely need to be discussed, but they are not determinative for the basic system of Greek voice.

      1. Where do you see that he’s talking about erxomai? And how are you so sure he is talking about partial deponents. I’d have to look to see if τὸ ἐλοθσάμην and ἐποιησάμην and ἐτριψάμην are all partial deponents. That’s the only way your theory would hold up.

      2. Well, that’s what I get for thinking too much away from the text. I was just thinking about what you had said–I wasn’t looking at the text. My bad. Well, that would have been my explanation if that was what he was talking about…uhm (I’m generally allowed a few mistakes every once and a while…). I’ll get back to you.

    3. I really don’t see how Apollonius Dyscolus (not the genitive “Dyscoli”) is relevant to the question here. None of ἐλοθσάμην [sic], ἐποιησάμην, or ἐτριψάμην are “deponents.” They are, of course, the aorist middle forms of λούω (“wash”), ποιέω (“do”), and τρίβω (“rub”). So the analysis of Dyscolus of these three verbs as a kind of reflexive (ὁτὲ μὲν ἐνεργητικήν, ὁτὲ δὲ παθητικήν) is of no import to the question of “deponents” or even middle verbs more generally.

      Dyscolus is fairly obscure. Who is your source for his comments on voice?

      1. Although I can’t speak for Rob Kashow, my guess is that the source is Ladewig’s dissertation: his discussion of Apollonius Dyscolus De Constructione 30, 151.

      2. The point here really is to observe that the Greek mind observes a distinction between form and function. Dyscolus is not defining deponency here to be sure, but he is observing that middle forms seem to either exhibit activity or passivity, which are both incongruous with the forms. It points one onto the question of how the Greek mind understood the middle. The confusion may be on account of me not connecting the dots very well in this conversation due to my attempt to be brief.

        No, Ladewig is not my “source” although he does talk about it. This grammar is something we are generally made aware of in our advanced grammar courses (i.e. his De Constructione). L– diss. isn’t that good, but I suppose it is worth a look—at least for the survey of grammars from antiquity to the present (but beware sometimes he misinterprets the grammars). But see also Signes-Codoner, “The Definitions of the Greek Middle Voice between Apollonius Dyscolus and Constantinus Lascaris” in HL 32 for an interesting discussion.

        You’re going to have to give me a break on the genitive typo and typo of the Greek, I’m typing fast, from memory, and in haste. I appreciate hearing how you all are thinking about these issues.

        1. The point here really is to observe that the Greek mind observes a distinction between form and function.

          Consciously, yes. But that doesn’t mean anything. What a field linguist is studying a language that’s never been documented before and they’re working with native speakers as informants or consultants, the last thing they want to ask is, “What does this mean?” or “What is the difference between these two forms.”

          This applies completely even to languages with sophisticated grammar traditions. Consider English. Ask anyone on the street how many vowels their language has and they’ll say “five.” And consciously, because of English’s wretched orthography, that’s the obvious answer. But English doesn’t have five vowels. English has eleven vowels. Ask people whether its a good thing to use the passive voice and you’ll get some incredibly stupid answers. Here’s a link to some great examples of what I’m talking about by highly educated men: 50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice.

          Quote:
          “Some of the claims about syntax are plainly false despite being respected by the authors. For example, Chapter IV, in an unnecessary piece of bossiness, says that the split infinitive ‘should be avoided unless the writer wishes to place unusual stress on the adverb.’ The bossiness is unnecessary because the split infinitive has always been grammatical and does not need to be avoided. (The authors actually knew that. Strunk’s original version never even mentioned split infinitives. White added both the above remark and the further reference, in Chapter V, admitting that ‘some infinitives seem to improve on being split.’) But what interests me here is the descriptive claim about stress on the adverb. It is completely wrong.
          Tucking the adverb in before the verb actually de-emphasizes the adverb, so a sentence like “The dean’s statements tend to completely polarize the faculty” places the stress on polarizing the faculty. The way to stress the completeness of the polarization would be to write, ‘The dean’s statements tend to polarize the faculty completely.'”

          Anyway…I have to get to church…I have a few thoughts on Dyscolus too…

        2. Just to be clear, my comment was in response to SC–I didn’t specify that in my last comment

          I understand your point about linguistic study, you have stated it on a few occasions. I just don’t think I am on board with dismissing ancient grammatical discussion on a debated issue that only after 2000 years is finally being understood. I certainly am not going so far to say it is “not relevant” especially since a lot of what Pennington et al is doing is suggesting how the Greek mind worked. I am not so sure this issue is completely air tight solved, is my entire point throughout this entire thread. That is, those who hold to deponency are scoffed at as if it is something any educated grammarian/linguist would conclude.

          I’m embarking on another summer class and also begin a GRE class, so my responses may waver.

        3. Rob, thanks for the cite to Signes-Codoñer’s place. It was very illuminating.

          In that article, the author admits that Dyscolus is not clear at all (p.3 n.4, Dyscolus “attempts no clear definition of the category of the middle voice”), and I agree with that assessment. It is also clear to me that the pre-Modern Greek grammarians were all over the map. It is true that some attempted to force fit the Greek voice into an active-passive dichotomy, but it is also true that other proposals, including a five or more voice system, were proposed. Based on this diversity, I would dispute any appeal to “the Greek mind” premised on the grammatical writings of antiquity.

        4. That’s fair, Rob. I understand your point and agree with it–even if my rhetoric doesn’t always come out that way. My own frustration is that there are some who defend deponency more because of the existence of the tradition with little or no reference to the language data–in some sense Ladewig’s dissertation reflects this. He spends more time talking about what grammarians say that talking about examples and text. But even with my rhetoric, my words should not be interpreted as mere scoffing. I take seriously people’s claims and I condemn them when I think they do not hold water.

          I should clarify that I do not dismiss the ancient grammatical discussion. I take it seriously–just like I take A. T. Robertson seriously. But I take both with a grain of salt (I don’t accept Robertson’s eight case system either). And I definitely do not view Dyscholus or Thrax as any sort of higher gramamtical authority than, say, Blass or Moulton or Kuhner or Funk. But in terms of the science of language, the field of semantics had not developed to a point where it could handle the description of complex phenomenon like middle voice until probably the 1970. The result is that work before that point reflects a mix of statements: some suggest a view against deponence and some suggest one for deponency (often from the same author). I read Kemmer, and Allan, and Manney and I see a rich theory of semantics via cognitive linguistics being used that take seriously the research in to both how the human brain functions and how meaning is created and expressed. I am yet to see that in any of the modern pro-deponency research. The closest we get is Lavidas’ dissertation: Transitivity Alternations in Diachrony, but Chomskyan Miminalism may be more developed than past theories but its semantic theory continues to be significantly lacking.

          And to that end, here are my thoughts on your quote from Dyscolus:

          τὸ γὰρ ἐλουσάμην καὶ ἐποιησάμην καὶ ἐτριψάμην καὶ τὰ τούτοις ὅμοια ἔχει ἐκδηλοτάτην τὴν σύνταξιν ὁτὲ μὲν ἐνεργητικήν, ὁτὲ δὲ παθητικήν
          For, τὸ ἐλοθσάμην and ἐποιησάμην and ἐτριψάμην and kindred verbs have in plain syntax, on some occasions, activity, yet on other occasions, affectedness).

          I prefer affectedness as a better translation of παθητικήν. “Passive” has too much English grammatical history behind it and very little Greek. As for ἐλουσάμην, ἐποιησάμην, and ἐτριψάμην, I’m inclined to think that he’s actually talking about transitivity. All of these morphologically middle forms can either be transitive or intransitive depending on context [EDIT] Looking at Ladewig, I see that Householder suggests that same thing.[/EDIT]

          I would also caution you to avoid this phrase “Pennington et al.” While there are a number of things I like about Pennington’s work, he has not provided (and does not intend to provide) any sort of systematic analysis of Greek voice. Like you, I do not care for his focus on exegetical benefit (going on your statements–I haven’t actually read either of his articles for 6-8 months and don’t remember myself). In fact, until there is a comprehensive and thorough analysis of the Koine Greek voice system from a perspective that rejects deponency, I will continue to prefer Allan and Kemmer as the standard for discussion. And hopefully in the next year, my wife will have completed it.

          But again, thanks for discussing this with me. These last several comments have helped clarify your perspective for me quite a bit more. It sounds like you are more in the middle that it initially appeared (no pun intended), perhaps even on the fence a bit? Where would you place yourself?

  7. Well, thanks for the dialogue. I really do appreciate it. I’d be interested in your paper. If you don’t post it, would you be willing to e-mail it to me? mga318 AT-YAHOO.

    I understand being busy–if you’ve noticed this was the first post I’ve written since April. My wife is writing her thesis on middle voice and we regularly discussion the issue while on long walks.

    I hadn’t looked at Dyscolus’ discussion. I’ll have to do some thinking about that–though I’ll say in advance that I often don’t trust native speakers ideas about how their own language works…especially educated native speakers (consider Strunk & White as an example). Either way, it’s a very striking statement that does indeed give me pause. If that was truly the case in the 2nd century AD, though, things must have reverted later–Modern Greek continues with an interesting middle system (cf. Linda Manney, Middle Voice in Modern Greek).

  8. Wow! I can tell I’ve been away for a while with 39 comments already posted here!

    Thank you for stimulating the discussion.

    The notion of “deponent” verbs was not known in Ancient Greek (some people’s reading of Dyscolus notwithstanding), and I consider it unfortunate that it has played a part for so long in teaching Ancient Greek to English speakers. A more adequate view of the middle voice will serve us much better in the long run.

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