Category Archives: Greek

Questions Worth Asking: Πᾶς ὁ NOUN vs. Ὁ πᾶς Noun

What motivates the ordering.  I’m looking into the question right now. Stephanie Bakker’s book on the noun phase deals with the issue to some degree, but her discussion lacks explanatory power and I’d say she focuses too much on traditional Greek grammar concepts too much.

More to come…I’ll be posting some data in a couple days.

Scholars in Press: An interview with Elizabeth Robar

Scholars in Press: An interview with Elizabeth Robar.Scholars in Press: An interview with Elizabeth Robar

Kris’ second interview, this time with Elizabeth Robar, is up. Elizabeth also studied at GIAL and has been heavily influenced by Paul Kroeger. I never knew Dr. Kroeger as a teacher (he was on sabbatical when I took the classes he taught), but I met him a number of times. And, of course, I used both his linguistics textbooks in class and continue to recommend them as excellent introductory texts for grammatical analysis.

Analyzing Grammar: An Introduction (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics)

Analyzing Syntax: A Lexical-Functional Approach (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics)

Scholars in Press: An interview with Elizabeth Robar

Happy Birthday Tischendorf

Constantin von Tischendorf, the great textual critic and New Testament scholar turns 200 years old today. Pour a glass of wine and give him a toast (maybe not till this evening). And then maybe spend some time reading his 8th edition, rather than your Nestle/Aland.

Or perhaps pick up Stanley Porter’s new volume about his life and work: Constantine Tischendorf: The Life and Work of a 19th Century Bible Hunter.

While the print edition appears to be being released in February, apparently the Kindle edition has already been available since December. That’s a little odd.

From the publisher:

Constantin von Tischendorf was a pioneer. He existed in an age when biblical studies as we know it was being formed, when the quest for forgotten manuscripts and lost treasures was being undertaken with no less zeal and intrigue than it is today. It was Tischendorf who found, and preserved, the oldest extant version of the complete bible that we know of, the so-called Codex Sinaiticus, which he discovered in poor condition at St Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai, in 1846.

With the discovery of the Codex Tischendorf, and others, was to take the study of biblical texts further than ever before, through linguistic methods, and attention to the most ancient sources available. In many ways Tischendorf was a father figure of the modern Historical Critical Method.

In this short biography, Stanley E. Porter, himself one of the most respected scholars of the New Testament and Koine Greek currently writing, gives a portrait of Tischendorf’s life and work, together with an annotated republication of Tischendorf’s influential work on the Gospels.

Published to celebrate Tischendorf’s bicentenary, in 2015, this volume will be a must for those seeking to understand how the study of biblical manuscripts began, and to understand the man who discovered the oldest version of the bible as we know it.

Some books on Greek to watch for that nobody can afford…

Ancient GreCompoundingek Verb-Initial Compounds: Their Diachronic Development Within the Greek Compound System by Olga Tribulato

I don’t know anything about this volume or its author.  But the topic is one that is surely understudied and for that reason alone this volume is one to look forward to. There’s been a substantial amount of quality linguistic work on Greek coming out of Italy over the past decade or so.

Reduplication at the Word Level: The Greek Facts in Typological Perspective (Studia Typologica) by Haritini Kallergi

I’m looking forward to getting a glance at this volume in the summer. I anticipate it will be an important contribution to the ongoing discussions of the Greek perfect and its morphology that have been taking place over the past couple years.

GenderGrammatical Gender in Interaction: Cultural and Cognitive Aspects (Brill’s Studies in Language, Cognition and Culture) by Angeliki Alvanoudi

This volume is on Modern Greek. Nevertheless, I’m hopeful that the insights and ideas will at least be relevant to earlier periods of the language.

As a bonus, here’s an actually affordable volume albeit a short one. I’ve had a chance to look at it briefly, but not enough to develop a strong opinion about it. I do, however, place a high value of the scholarship of its authors.

Pre-Greek: Phonology, Morphology, Pre-GreekLexicon (Brill Introductions to Indo-European Languages) by Robert S. P. Beekes and Stefan Norbruis

I would encourage anyone interested in Ancient Greek grammar, even if its just Koine, to take some time at least reading about earlier ears of the language and proto-language. Responsible grammatical analysis requires a pan-chronic view of the language.

UPDATE (a couple hours later…):

Expressions of time in Ancient GreekI also just found that Coultier George has a new monograph that was released this past fall that follows up on his Expressions of Agency in Ancient Greek, aptly titled: Expressions of Time in Ancient Greek. I just ordered a copy and am looking forward to perusing its contents next week.

Publisher’s blurb:

How did Ancient Greek express that an event occurred at a particular time, for a certain duration, or within a given time frame? The answer to these questions depends on a variety of conditions – the nature of the time noun, the tense and aspect of the verb, the particular historical period of Greek during which the author lived – that existing studies of the language do not take sufficiently into account. This book accordingly examines the circumstances that govern the use of the genitive, dative, and accusative of time, as well as the relevant prepositional constructions, primarily in Greek prose of the fifth century BC through the second century AD, but also in Homer. While the focus is on developments in Greek, translations of the examples, as well as a fully glossed summary chapter, make it accessible to linguists interested in the expression of time generally.

Power Point Presentation on Greek Syntax Databases

I uploaded a power point presentation on Greek syntax databases that presented at BibleTech 2010. It’s available for download there.

The content is somewhat dated. The situation has changed since 2010 (particularly with some new databases since spring 2010), but many of the same questions and issues continue to remain today.

Greek Syntax Databases: Retrospect & Prospects

I uploaded now at this time because I think we are at a point where there’s momentum for moving forward within this area of research.

Thesis on

With the posting of the second portion of background/prefatory material to my thesis, I have officially uploaded my thesis to

If you’re a Greek student/scholar. I would encourage you to read to the two posts dedicated to discussing my thesis. This is because it’s not a work that’s oriented toward biblical scholars to classicists. It’s a work by a linguist for linguists. The two posts I’ve put up here on my blog are designed to provide some orientation for people whose primary interest is Greek rather than linguistics proper.

Part I: Challenges in language analysis: thesis prefatory material

Part II: Thesis Prefatory Material: A Narrative Account

My thesis is available on here:

The Greek perfect and the categorization of tense and aspect: Toward a descriptive apparatus for operators in Role and Reference Grammar

Note: Even if it hasn’t finished being converted to Scribd, you can still download the pdf.

Thesis Prefatory Material: A Narrative Account

The purpose of this second post (for the first post, see here: Challenges in language analysis: thesis prefatory material) is to provide some introduction to my analysis and provide some background for the conclusions at which I arrived. In a sense, this is the narrative of the inductive process by which I came to my conclusions about the Greek perfect. This narrative isn’t in my thesis because the meaning of the Greek perfect is not a part of my central research question. It’s also not in my thesis because it is incredibly casually written.

I should also note that the fact that my thesis chooses to use a particular set of linguistic terminology and a particular metalanguage for describing the perfect does not mean that I view all other descriptions of the perfect with suspicion. I am certainly interested in debates about the semantic substance of the Greek perfect. However, semantic substance and metalanguage are separate issues.

Lastly, I should mention that the concept of telicity is one that is pretty essential for understanding both this post and also my thesis. I would encourage you take a moment to skim the Wikipedia article on the topic: Telicity.

Some important books of note:

Bybee, Perkins, & Pagliuca. 1994. The evolution of grammar: tense, aspect, and modality in the languages of the world. University of Chicago Press.

Bhat. 1999. The prominence of tense, aspect, and mood. John Benjamins.

Van Valin & LaPolla. 1997. Syntax. Cambridge

Van Valin. 2005. Exploring the Syntax-Semantics Interface. Cambridge

1. Working through the data

When I began working through the data on the perfect, I had not yet begun digging through the secondary literature on perfect-like categories across languages. To some extent I had some expectation as to what I would find having already read the majority of the work on the perfect from scholars like Haspelmath (1992) and Haug (2004, 2008).* The standard view of the perfect and its historical development is of its shift from referring to a resultant state, where the state denoted by the perfect is the culmination of a change of state (these are typically called resultatives and in Greek verbs like the ἵστημι/ἕστηκα are representative) in the earlier eras of the language to a slow shift toward usage more akin to the standard English perfect, which really doesn’t care about things like telicity very much at all (Comrie’s [1976—Amazon] description of the perfect generally is primarily about perfects that are more English-like…even though he talks about Greek). In the literature, the English perfect tends to be called either simply perfect or anterior. This sort of development parallels, for the most part, what is discussed in the standard grammars of the language: the Greek perfect over time shifted in meaning and merged with the aorist.

Now then, independent of the ongoing debates in NT studies about aspect and tense (which aren’t at all relevant here), I encountered two major problems with this normal view. One was a problem with the data. The other was a problem with theory and methodology. We can discuss them in that order.

Because both Haspelmath and Haug had made telicity a central factor in their discussions, I had resolved that it would be wise to use telicity as an organizing principle as I worked through instances of the Greek perfect.

1.1 Rabbit Trail on theory & method

Telicity is an important feature in Role and Reference Grammar’s approach to types of predicates (derived from the Vendler/Dowty typology).

a. States: be sick, be dead, know, believe
b. Achievements: pop, explode, shatter (the intransitive versions)
c. Accomplishments: melt, freeze, dry (the intransitive versions); learn
d. Activities: march. walk, roll (the intransitive versions); swim, think, write

To these four classes, RRG makes a few adaptions, adding semelfactives (instantaneous events with no change of state): pop, flash, flicker, etc. and also active achievements, which are related to both activities (which involve duration, but no change-of-state) and achievement (which involve a change of state, but no duration). Active achievements are events where half the situation is activity-like duration with with no change -of-state, followed by an instantaneous change of state, as we see in (2) below.

a. The soldiers marched in the park. Activity
a’. The soldiers marched to the park. Active achievement
b. Dana ate fish. Activity
b’. Dana ate the fish. Active achievement
c. Leslie painted for several hours. Activity
c’. Leslie painted Mary’s portrait. Active achievement

In Vendler/Dowty, these sorts of predicates are labeled as accomplishments. However, over the decades, this categorization of such predicates was regularly criticized since other accomplishments a distinctly different. Consider example (3).

a. The soldiers learned how to disassemble their guns.
b. The soldiers marched to the park.

While both sentences here involve duration and a change of state. The sentence in (3a) involves the duration and the change of state happening at the same time, while the sentence in (3b) involves a situation where the duration and the change of state exist separately. If the soldiers started at their barracks, when they are half way to the park, they are not also half way in the park. The change from not being in the park to being in the park exists as a single step of their feet. The change is, for the purposes of the discourse, instantaneous. Conversely, when the soldiers are halfway through learning to clean their guns they are also halfway through the change of state: they know how to disassemble half of their gun. It is because of this criticism of Vendler/Dowty that RRG introduced the category of the active achievement.** All of this gives us a set of semantic features that practically summarize the semantic content of each category:

a. State: [+static], [−dynamic], [−telic], [−punctual]
b. Activity [−static], [+dynamic], [−telic], [−punctual]
c. Accomplishment [−static], [−dynamic], [+telic], [−punctual]
d. Semelfactive [−static], [±dynamic], [−telic], [+punctual]
e. Achievement [−static], [−dynamic], [+telic], [+punctual]
f. Active achievement [−static], [+dynamic], [+telic], [−punctual]

Lastly, RRG makes the methodological choice of treating causativity as an additional parameter for analysis, so that each predicate type has a causative counterpart, as in (4).

a. Tucker was terrified. State
a’. Pierre terrifies Tucker. Causative state
b. Dave walked around the park. Activity
b’. Dave walked his dog in the park. Causative activity
c. The door opened abruptly. Accomplishment
c’. Rachel opened the door slowly. Causative accomplishment
d. The car crashed into the barrier. Achievement
d’. Dave crashed the car into the barrier. Causative achievement
e. The soldiers marched to the park. Active achievement
e’. The captain marched the soldiers to camp. Causative active achievement
f. The lightning flashed in the night. Semelfactive
f’. Henry flashed his headlights at another car. Causative semelfactive

Anyway, this is the framework of categories I used for looking at telicity and the perfect. Only states and activities are atelic. Everything else (including all causatives) are telic. So when I began actually examining verb, I had two questions in mind. First, what role does telicity play in the usage of the perfect? And secondly, are there any other factors that are relevant to the perfect’s usage?

In terms of the data itself, I choose not to limit myself to a corpus like the NT or NT and LXX. Rather I started with a selection of verbs (just over 400—another 300 were examined as I came across them) and then proceeded to examine all instances of those verbs in the New Testament, Septuagint, Apostolic Fathers, Josephus, Philo, Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha, and New Testament Apocrypha. Moreover, when verbs only appeared rarely in those texts (less than 50 times), I expanded my corpus to the entirety of the Perseus database of Greek texts. The use of Perseus was essential especially for verbs that never appeared in the perfect in my corpus since it helped confirm with slightly more confidence the acceptability of the perfect with that verb. This was particularly relevant for the atelic predicate types (states and activities).

1.2 Back to the data problem

And that brings us back to our data problem. The secondary literature had me expecting a shift from the use of the perfect with telic predicates to atelic predicates. That is how their discussions go. However, when we actually examine the data, finding instances of perfect with true atelic predicates was complicated than I anticipated. The perfect with state predicates was a fairly simple affair. While there are plenty of state predicates that do not allow the perfect to be formed at all (e.g. ἀρκέω appears 855 times in my corpus and Perseus, but never once appears in the perfect). There is also a significant set that do. Those states that do collocate with perfects fall into specific well-defined classes that are predictable from very specific semantic factors, including the semantics of resultatives—the category that has defined the use of the perfect in the Homeric period according to the secondary literature.***

So what about perfects with activity predicates and semelfactive, the other two kinds of atelic predicates? This is where the data got interesting. In my data, I found not a single semelfactive verb that allows the formation of the perfect. Moreover, there are only handful of clauses with activity predicates that could conceivably be understood as atelic among thousands upon thousands of clauses. This discovery was both perplexing and surprising. It was surprising because nothing in the secondary literature had prepared me for it—though perhaps that was my own fault. For example, when Haug (2004) talks about “atelic VP’s,” I think it would have been better understanding him as talking about VP’s that had they not being the perfect would have been atelic. That’s my best guess.**** But either way, we are left with an odd situation: among quite literally thousands upon thousands of Greek perfects in the Koine and Early Roman periods, the number of possible activity predicates in the perfect can be counted on a single hand. This doesn’t make sense considering that the standard view of the historical development of the Greek perfect moved from resultative to anterior to perfective (i.e. eventual merger with the aorist).

That’s problem #1. What about problem #2?

1.3 D. N. S. Bhat’s typology of grammatical prominence

Problem #2 is only a problem from a certain point of view. It started out as a problem for me, but by the end of the ordeal, it also provided me my solution.

All the morphosyntactic data says to us that Greek is an aspect prominent language and that English is a tense prominent language. But what does that mean from the perspective of semantics? To some extent we can simply say that the Greek perfect is simply a combination of the imperfective and perfective like it is in other aspect prominent languages (e.g. Supyire, Carlson 1994).***** But what does that mean in practice? Again, the secondary literature views the history as a change from resultative to anterior.

Wait a second though.

The English perfect is an anterior. If English is tense prominent and Greek is aspect prominent, then what does that mean for the semantics of the Greek perfect…especially considering that the vast majority of perfects in the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods are more certainly not resultative? From the perspective of theory and metalanguage, it feels like we need a third category: a category that is still aspect prominent and allows us to distinguish the non-resultative Greek perfects from the anterior perfect of English.

1.4 The third option: the answer to both problems

It turned out, for me, that I had too been myopic in my work. I was working through the typological literature on perfects and swimming in activity predicates that never formed perfects. But I was doing those two things totally independently from the other. I knew two things.

· I knew that there was a large gap in the data with so many atelic activity predicates not forming perfects at all.

· I knew there was something I didn’t like about the standard resultative-anterior development in conjunction with my understanding of Bhat’s typology of grammatical prominence in terms of the difference between tense (English) and aspect (Greek) prominent languages.

Anyone who has actually read this far through this narrative can probably see the answer already: telicity is still the defining factor, even for non-resultative perfects. It seems so obvious now. But at the time I didn’t have the luxury of those two sentences juxtaposed so directly like that. Telicity is precisely the difference between the English perfect and the Koine Greek perfect. And that makes sense: an endpoint, as a conceptual entity, is semantically related to aspect, but it is not semantically related to tense. That gives us a true, data motivated distinction between the English perfect and tense prominent and the Greek perfect as aspect prominent. The Greek perfect interacts with telic predictions in a manner distinct from its interaction with atelic predicates. Conversely, English shows no favoritism one way or the other.

For me, the epiphany came while I was reading Bybee, Perkins and Pagliuca’s (1994; hence forth BPP) third chapter: “Anterior, Perfective, and Related Senses.” At the time, I think it was probably my second or third read through. And it’s a little embarrassing that I had not noticed it before. It’s the related senses that are key here. Resultatives fall into that group and I spent a significant amount of time digging through, but because of my initial assumptions about what I would find in the data based on the secondary literature, I ignored another related sense: Completives. When I actually too the time to examine how completives behave according to BPP, I also found the missing link that not only explained the functions of non-resultative Greek perfects, but also motivated their usage as well. Moreover, it fit the descriptions of many grammars, both new and old. Completives are exactly what they sound like. They refer to grammatical morphemes that present an event from the perspective of having been totally completed. This is precisely what Goodwin (1897, 31-32; his emphasis) says: “As the perfect indicative represents an act as finished at the present time, so the perfect of any of the dependent moods properly represents an act as finished at the time (present, past, or future) at which the present of that mood would represent it as going on.” Jelf, in his translation of Raphael Kühner’s magisterial grammar similarly states, “The perfect expresses a complete action, whether it be not completed till the very moment of speaking, as γέγραφα, I have (just) written; or has been completed a long time before as ἡ πόλις ἔκισται, it has been built” (1866, 63).

In fact, essentially all grammars, with a few exceptions, make some reference to the completion of an event or actions as a central characteristic of the Greek perfect, going back thousands of years. Consider the Stoic’s view of the Greek verb (adapted from Robins 1993, 27):

Past Present Future
Incomplete παρῳχειμένος παρατατικός ἐνεστώς παρατατικός
Complete παρῳχειμένος συντελικός ἐνεστώς συντελικός
Undefined ἀόριστος μέλλων

The term συντελικός effectively means completed or completive. Not only is this the term used by the Stoic grammarians (according to Robins), LSJM in its entry for this word lists a reference from the scholia to Dionysius Thrax as stating, “ὁ παρακείμενος καλεῖται ἐνεστὼς συντελικός” (the perfect is called the completed present).

For me, this was the ultimate confirmation: independently collaborated statements about the meaning of a grammatical category from Ancient grammar, traditional grammar, and contemporary linguistic analysis, with all of them fitting quite clearly with what I saw in the data.

2. Conclusions: the meaning of the perfect

The perfect demonstrates a basic polysemic bipartite structure, organized around resultative semantics and completive semantics. In both cases, the perfect shows a clear preference for lexemes that are inherently telic. For example, with the historically older resultative perfects the causative state ἵστημι ‘I cause to stand’ in the imperfective aspect becomes ἕστηκα ‘I am standing.’ The final expression of the resultative perfect itself is not telic, but denotes the resultant state that persists following the telic change of state. With the completive semantics, the perfect refers to a change of state that has been totally completed or finished. Transitive active achievements tend to only have completives semantics, as in example (6)

ἀπεκρίθη ὁ Πιλᾶτος· Ὃ γέγραφα γέγραφα.
Pilate replied, “What I have written, I have written” (John 19:22).

There is no ongoing result expressed explicitly or implicitly, rather Pilate is stating that an event has been completed and that’s that.

While neither are technically inclined to be used with states, both resultative perfects and completive perfects demonstrate their own particular metaphoric extension with state predicates. Resultative perfects since they are supposed to refer to a state that persists as a result of a change of state, as in example (7).

διʼ οὗ καὶ τὴν προσαγωγὴν ἐσχήκαμεν τῇ πίστει εἰς τὴν χάριν ταύτην
Through whom we have gained possession by faith into this grace (Rom 5:2).

With completive semantics, state predicates gain a degree of intensification. This is only possible with certain lexical classes of states: states where the affectedness of the state can be expressed as having degree. Since Completives involve a participant being totally or completely affected by a change of state, the participant in the state predicate is presented as experiencing that state to the highest degree—i.e. completely affected. Verbs expressing mental states (anger, sorrow, etc.), expressing physiological states (weariness, hunger, etc.) readily allow this usage. We see this in examples (8-9).

Ἰσραὴλ μεμεθυσμένος οὐχὶ νοήσει
Israel, completely drunk, is unable to think (Sibylline Oracles 1.360).

He was exhausted (Josephus, Antiquities 14.462).

Returning to the telic predicate types, most intransitive, telic predicates conceivably allow for either resultative or completive semantics. Thus in examples (10-11), either the resultant sense ‘know’ or the completive sense ‘has learned’ could arguably be understood here.

μεμάθηκεν ἡ γλῶσσα αὐτῶν λαλεῖν ψευδῆ
Their tongue has learned/knows to speak lies (LXX Jer 9:4).

πατὴρ μοι Βαθουῆλος ἦν· ἀλλ ̓ ὁ ἤδη τέθνηκε
My father was Bethuel, but he has died/is dead already (Josephs, Antiquities 1.248).

But some perfects will only allow a completive readings, as in example (12).

τοῖς δὲ ἄλλοις ἅπασιν ἠπείλησα μείζω τιμωρίαν ἐπιθήσειν μὴ κομίσασιν εἰς τοὐμφανὲς ὅσα ἡρπάκεισαν
I threatened everyone else that I would inflict a greater punishment upon them, unless they produced before us everything they had seized (Life 335).

With causative predicates, perfects have more tendency toward completive readings, as in example (13).

τοὺς φίλους αὐτοῦ πάντας ἀπεκτόνασιν
They have killed all his friends (Josephus, Antiquities 12.391).

This clause demonstrates a common correlation between completive semantics and exhaustive plurals, described by BPP in their discussion of completives.

When a speaker/author wants to use resultative semantics with a normally causative verb, they tend to use the perfect middle to express that. In fact, in general, the perfect middle in the Koine fills the role that the perfect by itself used to fill in the older set of verbs like the ἵστημι ‘I cause to stand’ vs. ἕστηκα ‘I am standing’ distinction. We see this in example (14).

τὰ σπλάγχνα τῶν ἁγίων ἀναπέπαυται διὰ σοῦ
The hearts of the saints are refreshed because of you (Phlm 7).

From a historical, diachronic perspective, this makes a lot of sense. The perfect and the middle in Proto-Greek (and even in early Greek) were not fully formed. But they had both developed from the Proto-Indo-European Non-eventive/stative verb class. As their functions become more well-defined and grammaticalized, the middle took over part of that semantic space and the perfect took over the other part. Both sacrificing some functions to the other. As a result, verbs like ἵστημι never became the dominate expression of perfect semantics. This in turn lead to the perfects demise, as well. Completive perfects over the centuries after the Hellenistic and Early Roman era tended to be replaced in usage by the perfective aspect, while resultative perfectives tended to be replaced in usage by the middle voice. Eventually, at some point during Late Byzantine or early Medieval Greek, the perfect simply stopped being used, only to eventually to appear again periphrastically in Modern Greek by the European areal periphrastic perfect derived from the possessive construction.

3. Bibliography

Bhat, D. N. S. The Prominence of Tense, Aspect and Mood. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1999.

Bybee, Joan, Revere Perkins, and William Pagliuca. The evolution of grammar: Tense, aspect, and modality in the languages of the world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

Carlson, Robert. A grammar of Supyire. Berlin: Mouton de Gryuter, 1994.

Clackson, James. Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Comrie, Bernard. Aspect. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976.

Gero, Eva-Carin, and Armin von Stechow. “Tense in time: The Greek perfect.” In Words in time, edited by Regine Eckardt, Heusinger, Klaus von, & Christoph Schwarze, 251-293. Berline: Mouton de Gruyter, 2003.

Goodwin, W. W. Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb. 4th. Boston: Ginn & Co., 1897.

Haspelmath, Martin. “From Resultative to Perfect in Ancient Greek.” In Nuevos Estudios Sobre Construcciones Resultativos, edited by Leza Iturrioz, & Luis José, 187-224. Guadalajara: Universidad de Guadalajara, 1992.

Haug, Dag. “Aristotle’s kinesis/energeia-test and the semantics of the Greek perfect.” Linguistics 42, no. 2 (2004): 387-418.

Haug, Dag. “From resulatives to anteriors in Ancient Greek: On the role of paradigmaticity in semantic change.” In Grammatical change and linguistic theory: The Rosendal papers, edited by Thórhallur Eythórsson, 285-305. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2008.

Horrocks, Geoffrey. Greek: A history of the language and its speakers. 2nd. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2010.

Janasoff, Jay H. Hittite and the Indo-European Verb. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Jelf, William. A Grammar of the Greek Language. 4th ed. Oxford: James Parker, 1866.

Kühner, Raphael. Ausführliche Grammatik der greicheischen Sprache. Hannover: Hahnschen Hofbuchhandlung, 1835.

Lehmann, Winfred P. Theoretical bases of Indo-European linguistics. New York: Routledge, 1993.

Rijksbaron, Albert. The syntax and semantics of the verb in Classical Greek: An introduction. 3rd. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

Sihler, Andrew. New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Van Valin, Robert D. Exploring the syntax-semantics interface. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Van Valin, Robert D., and Randy J. LaPolla. Syntax: Structure, meaning, and function. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Wackernagel, Jacob. Lectures on syntax: With special reference to Greek, Latin, and Germanic. Translated by David Langslow. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

*Of course, I read much more than these, including essentially everything I could get my hands on that discussed both the perfect and Greek from any historical period. But for the purposes of my little narrative, that’s less relevant.

**In some of the RRG literature, the term active accomplishment is used, but for our purposes which terms is used is immaterial to the point. So don’t get hung up on that.

***See chapter 4…and to some extent, below.

****The caveat here is that I have not examined the Classical data. Haug‘s other article (Haug 2008) provides a single instance of what is justifiably be an atelic perfect from the Classical period, but it would contradict everything we know about processes of grammaticalization if truly atelic predicates were more prevalent in the Classical period than they are in the Koine. It seems probable that like my handful of clauses, this instance, of an activity predicate (Lysias 25.12.5) is equally unusual (but still diachronically and theoretically significant).There is after all ergative syntax in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which should be impossible in English both then and now: “Bingley instantly prevailed on Miss Bennet to avoid the confinement of such an intrusion, and walk away with him into the shrubbery.”

*****Two things:

#1. No, that doesn’t mean that the Greek perfect is both imperfective and perfective at the same time. It means that imperfective aspect and perfective aspect got together and had a kid.

#2. Regardless what anyone says: Bhat’s is not talking about Aktionsart when he uses the word aspect. He is most certainly and indisputably talking about aspect.

The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek

If anything could supplant LSJ, this could be it. I’m looking forward to picking up a copy. The fact that it relies so heavily on the papyri & inscriptions is hugely significant. I have wanted to examine the Italian edition for some time, but having it available in English circumvents that entire issue. It would be, nice, however, if Brill did us the favor of giving us a non-online digital edition.

A list price of $125 for full lexicon is surprisingly reasonable, too.

There’s a pre-order already up on Amazon:
The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek (Amazon link)

Brill Dictionary of Ancient GreekMay 2015
ISBN 978 90 04 19318 5
Hardback (approx. 2400 pp.)
List price EUR 99.00 / US$ 125.00

Brill will be publishing the English translation of Franco Montanari’s monumental dictionary Vocabolario della Lingua Greca.

Be sure to take a look at the preview PDF.

From the publisher:

The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek is the English translation of Franco Montanari’s Vocabolario della Lingua Greca. With an established reputation as the most important modern dictionary for Ancient Greek, it brings together 140,000 headwords taken from the literature, papyri, inscriptions and other sources of the archaic period up to the 6th Century CE, and occasionally beyond.The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek is an invaluable companion for the study of Classics and Ancient Greek, for beginning students and advanced scholars alike. Translated and edited under the auspices of The Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC, The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek is based on the completely revised 3rd Italian edition published in 2013 by Loescher Editore, Torino.


  • The principal parts of some 15,000 verbs are listed directly following the entry and its etymology. For each of these forms, the occurrence in the ancient texts has been certified. When found only once, the location is cited.
  • Nearly all entries include citations from the texts with careful mention of the source.
  • The Dictionary is especially rich in personal names re-checked against the sources for the 3rd Italian edition, and in scientific terms, which have been categorized according to discipline.
  • Each entry has a clear structure and typography making it easy to navigate.


“For a number of years now, scholars at ease in Italian have benefitted enormously from the riches, layout, concision, and accuracy of Professor Montanari’s Vocabolario della Lingua Greca, with its added advantage of the inclusion of names. Hence classicists in general will welcome the English version of this very valuable resource.” Professor Richard Janko, University of Michigan

“Franco Montanari is a giant in our field, and his Dictionary is a major leap forward for us….” Professor Gregory Nagy, Harvard University