Tag Archive: imperfect tense



CRITICAL POST! The 4 major tenses of the derived (D) optative mood of thematic verbs in Mycenaean Linear B:

Here is the paradigm of the 4 major tenses of the optative mood in Mycenaean Linear B, based on the derived (D) template verb, naie (ancient Greek, naiein) = to dwell in, inhabit:

paradigm-of-the-optative-mood-in-linear-b

Note that we have provided two examples of derivative (D) sentences in this table of the paradigms for the 4 tenses of the optative mood in Mycenaean Linear B and ancient Greek in order to facilitate a better understanding of its functionality.

As can be seen from the table above, there are only 4 primary tenses for the optative mood of thematic (and indeed for athematic) verbs in Mycenaean Linear B, as well as in ancient Greek. These are:

the optative present
the optative future
the optative aorist (or simple past)
the optative perfect

There is no optative imperfect. It is a contradiction in terms. How is it possible that something was in fact happening, kept on happening or used to happen, when it is readily apparent that the optative mood always runs contrary to reality. The optative mood only and always refers to potentialities or possibilities, never to actual situations, which of course strictly call for the indicative mood. 

The optative mood has no equivalent whatsoever in any modern Centum or Occidental language, including modern Greek. It lapsed out of use before the advent of modern Greek. The optative mood sometimes plays a similar role to the subjunctive mood in ancient Greek, but by no means always. As a matter of course, we shall not be deriving a table of the tenses of the subjunctive mood in Mycenaean Linear B, for two conclusive reasons:
1. The subjunctive mood occurs nowhere on any Linear B tablets, i.e. it is not attested, or so it would seem so... because...
2. The subjunctive mood is virtually indistinguishable from the active in Mycenaean Linear B, whether or not we are dealing with thematic or athematic verbs, for the simple reason that Mycenaean Linear B cannot distinguish between short and long vowels. In other words, while ancient Greek allows for the subjunctive mood, which calls for the lengthening of the vowel in any person of the present tense, this is impossible in Mycenaean Linear B.

So there would simply be no point in attempting to reconstruct a mood which could not even be observed on Mycenaean Linear B tablets, even it were present. But it never is to be found on any extant tablet, i.e. it is nowhere attested (A), because Mycenaean Linear B tablets almost exclusively deal with inventories, which are by nature factual, thereby automatically calling for the indicative, and precluding the subjunctive.

It may seem counter-intuitive to find the optative on at least one Linear B tablet, but there is a tenable explanation for this phenomenon. Since the tablet in question deals with religious matters, it makes sense for the optative to be present. For instance, it is possible to say in Mycenaean Linear B,

May we all worship the Goddess of the Winds.
-or-
If only they believed in the gods!

These sentences make perfect sense in Mycenaean Greek.

But this still leaves us with the burning question, what on earth is the optative mood?

This is no easy question to answer. But I shall do my level best. To begin with, it is highly expedient to consult the Wikipedia article on the optative mood in ancient Greek:

wikipedia-optative-ancient-greek

since doing so will expedite your understanding of the functions of the optative. Essentially, these are as follows:

1. to express a wish on behalf of the welfare of someone, e.g.:

May you be happy.
May you live long and be prosperous.

2. to express the wish or hope,... if only (which is contrary to reality, as it never happened anyway, no matter how much or how dearly one might have wished it had happened), e.g.:

If only the Mycenaeans had not conquered Knossos.
If only Donald Trump had not won the U.S. Election! (Fat chance of that!)

3. The potential optative expresses something that would or could happen in a hypothetical situation in the future, e.g.

I wouldnt be surprised if the fortress of Mycenae were to fall in the next few years.
I wouldnt be surprised if Donald Trump were impeached. (Good luck for that one!)

4. Potential in the aorist or the past tense, e.g.     

The king of Knossos fled the city for fear that he might be caught and imprisoned.

5. For purpose clauses in past time, the optative can follow the conjunction so that:

The king has brought us all together so that we might discuss the situation regarding the possibility of an outbreak of war.

6. After verbs expressing fear: 

I was afraid that he had gone out of his mind.

7. for formal benedictions or prayers (primarily in the New Testament), e.g.:

May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
May the Lord grant you mercy.

There are even more uses of the optative, but I do not wish to belabour the point. Suffice it to say, this mood is extremely flexible in ancient Greek. It always references actions or situations contrary to reality. It is often quite difficult for us in this present day and age to really get a grip on the various functionalities of the optative tense in ancient Greek, but get a grip we must if we are ever to really, clearly grasp what ancient Greek sentences relying on the optative actually mean, once we have embarked on that most challenging of journeys, to learn ancient Greek, to easy matter, let me tell you from personal experience.

CRITICAL POST: The active middle voice template, akeomai = I repair or I make amends for...  in the five major tenses in Mycenaean Linear B & ancient Greek:

In all of the ancient East Greek dialects, right on down from Mycenaean Linear B to Arcado-Cypriot, its closest cousin (ca. 1100-400 BCE), through to Homeric Greek (ca. 800 BCE, a hodgepodge amalgam of various early ancient Greek dialects), to Ionic and Attic Greek (ca. 500-400 BCE), right on through to Hellenistic Greek (ca. 300-100 BCE) to New Testament Koine Greek (ca. 100 AD) and even to modern Greek, the active middle voice was extremely common, playing an indispensable role in the expression of verbal actions. In fact, it was probably even more common than the standard active voice, which we have already covered under the verb kauo = to burn.

In Mycenaean Linear B and in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects, the template for active middle voice is here represented by the verb, akeomai = I repair -or- I make amends (for myself). The 5 major indicative active tenses represented are, once again:

the present active middle voice
the future active middle voice
the imperfect active middle voice
the aorist (or simple past) active middle voice
the perfect active middle voice

all conjugated in full in this table:

mycenaean-linear-b-active-middle-verbs-akeomai-620

What is the function of the active middle voice in Mycenaean Linear B & ancient (as well as modern) Greek?

It is a very good thing to ask — in fact, it is crucial to the proper understanding of the critical difference between the standard active voice and the middle voice of verbs in Greek. The two voices are simply not the same. The standard active voice, as in the verb, kauo (present), kauso (future), ekauon (imperfect), ekausa (aorist or simple past) & kekausa (perfect) simply indicates something that someone does, will do, was doing, did or has done, with no further qualifications.

The active middle voice is quite another kettle of fish. It is much more active (quite literally!) and much more dynamic. The active middle voice denotes any of the following activities:

1. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject takes a powerful personal interest in whatever action he or she is undertaking;
2. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject acts strictly on his or her own behalf, without any direct influence of or consideration of whatever anyone else may think or adjudge about said action;
3. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject acts independently, of his or her own volition, regardless;
4. Any action undertaken by the subject, which is of a reflexive nature, ie. by means of which the subject does something for or to oneself.

It goes without saying that an active present voice as so utterly complex as the active middle voice exists in no modern language, except for the fourth (4th.) application. The middle voice was of primal importance to the ancient Greeks because they were highly individualistic and egocentric (as opposed to being egoistic, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the active middle voice, except in rare instances). Reflexive verbs (4) are common in practically all modern languages. Thus, we have:

in English: I wash myself, you wash yourself, we wash ourselves etc.
et en français : je me lave, tu te laves, nous nous lavons – et ainsi de suite,
to cite just two examples.

On the other hand, the strict emphasis on personal responsibility for one’ s actions which is the preeminent characteristic of the active middle voice in Mycenaean Linear B and in ancient and modern Greek is nowhere to be found in modern Centum (Occidental) Indo-European languages such as English, French, Italian, Spanish, German etc. etc. In order to express the emphasis on direct personal responsibility innate to the active middle voice in ancient and modern Greek, modern languages have to resort to (sometimes cumbrous) circumlocutions. For instance, to express the first (1.) function of the active middle voice in ancient Greek, English has to resort to this circumlocution:

I am taking a powerful personal interest in repairing... etc.

And for the second (2.) function, this is what English has to resort to:

I am acting strictly on my own behalf in repairing (regardless of what anyone else thinks of it)

And for the third (3.) function:

I am acting entirely on my own (or independently) to repair etc.

Quite the circumlocutions in comparison with the active middle voice in ancient Greek, which is always so compactly and eloquently expressed by a single word, regardless of tense!

Consequently, it is virtually impossible to grasp the several meanings (at least 4) inherent to the active middle voice in ancient Greek, unless one has a firm grasp on the 4 principal functions I have outlined here. I repeat, the distinction between the simple active voice and the active middle voice in both ancient and modern Greek is fundamental to a proper understanding of the divergent functioning of these two active tenses, the simple active and the active middle.

For the first time in history, the conjugation of athematic MI verbs in 5 active tenses in Mycenaean Linear B:

We now continue with the conjugations of 5 active tenses for athematic MI verbs in Mycenaean Linear B, represented here by the athematic verb, didomi (Latinized), which was  extremely commonplace right on down from Mycenaean Greek through to Attic and Hellenistic Greek and beyond, to New Testament Greek. We can safely confirm that the conjugation of athematic MI verbs underwent almost no perceptible changes (if any at all) from the Mycenaean era to the New Testament. The reason for this is apparent. Since the conjugation of athematic MI verbs was already cemented, in other words, fossilized, by as early as the Mycenaean era, there would have been no need whatsoever to change, modify or supposedly improve on its conjugations. For this reason alone, regressive extrapolation of the conjugations of 5 active tenses of athematic MI verbs is a simple matter. So in the case of athematic MI verbs, the method of retrogressive extrapolation we normally apply to grammatical elements in Mycenaean Linear B derived (D) from later ancient Greek dialects does not apply. Since the conjugations  of MI verbs were already fully consolidated in Mycenaean Greek, it is quite beside the point. It The 5 tenses of the indicative active we have accounted for in our table of conjugations of athematic MI verbs are:

the present active
the future active
the imperfect active
the aorist active (both first and second)
the perfect active

as illustrated in this table of paradigms:

athematic-mi-verbs-in-linear-b-conjugations-in-5-tenses

As I have already pointed out in the previous post on thematic active verbs in 5 tenses, I  have deliberately omitted the pluperfect tense active, as it was extremely rare in all ancient Greek dialects. Note that it is assumed that scholars, researchers and linguists reviewing our tables of conjugations of verbs in Mycenaean Greek are well versed in ancient Greek, and hence familiar with the subtle distinction between the first and second aorist (simple past tense). For this reason, we shall not attempt to differentiate between the two. Should anyone wish to do so, that person can refer him or herself to the Wikipedia articles on this topic. As for those of you who are not yet versed in ancient Greek, most notably, the Attic dialect, you will have to learn ancient Greek in the first place before you can even hope to grasp the distinction between the first and second aorist, let alone understand so many other elements of ancient Greek grammar.


For the first time in history, the complete conjugations of 5 major derived (D) active indicative tenses of thematic verbs in Linear B progressive grammar:

The tenses of active thematic verbs are:
the present indicative active
the future indicative active
the imperfect indicative active
the aorist indicative active
the perfect indicative active

Here is are the 2 tables (A & B) of the complete derived (D) conjugations of these 5 tenses of the active thematic verb kaue = the archaic ancient Greek kauein (Latinized), to set on fire:
 
aa-present-future-imperfect

ab-aorist-pluperfect

The ability of a linguist specializing in Mycenaean Linear B, i.e. myself, to cognitively restore no fewer than 5 active tenses of thematic verbs by means of progressive Mycenaean Greek derived (D) grammar boils down to one impressive feat. However, I have omitted the pluperfect indicative active, since it was rarely used in any and all of the numerous dialects of ancient Greek, right on down from Mycenaean to Arcado-Cypriot to Aeolic, Ionic and Attic Greek, and indeed right on through the Hellenistic and New Testament eras. So since the pluperfect tense is as rare as it is, why bother reconstructing it? At least, this is my rationale. Other researchers and linguists specializing in Mycenaean Linear B may disagree. That is their perfect right.  

Is Mycenaean Greek in Linear B a proto-Greek dialect? Absolutely not!

There are still a few researchers and historical linguists specializing in Mycenaean Linear B who would have us believe that Mycenaean Greek is a proto-Greek dialect. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact that so many fully developed grammatical forms are attested (A) on Linear B tablets confirms once and for all that Mycenaean Greek is the earliest intact East Greek dialect. Among the numerous grammatical forms attested (A) in Mycenaean Greek, we count: [1] verbs, including infinitives active and some passive for both thematic and athematic MI verbs; a sufficient number of verbs either in the active present or aorist tenses; a considerable number of participles, especially perfect passive; and even the optative case in the present tense, [2] nouns & adjectives, for which we find enough attested (A) examples of these declined in the nominative singular and plural, the genitive singular and plural and the dative/instrumental/ablative singular & plural. The accusative singular and plural appear to be largely absent from the Linear B tablets, but appearances can be deceiving, as I shall soon convincingly demonstrate. Also found on the extant Linear B tablets are the comparative and superlative of adjectives, and [3] almost all of the prepositions to be found in later ancient Greek dialects. Taken altogether, these extant attributed (A) grammatical elements form a foundation firm enough to recreate templates for all of the aforementioned elements in a comprehensive derived (D) progressive Mycenaean Linear B grammar. If you are still not convinced, I simply refer you to the previous post, where examples of many of  these grammatical elements are accounted for.  Moreover, once I have completely recompiled ancient Mycenaean Greek grammar, you should be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Mycenaean Greek was the very first true ancient Greek dialect.

What is progressive derived (D) Mycenaean Linear B grammar? 

By progressive I mean nothing less than as full a restoration as possible of the corpus of ancient Mycenaean Greek grammar by means of the procedure of regressive extrapolation of the (exact) equivalents of any and all grammatical elements I shall have reconstructed from the two major sources of slightly later archaic Greek, namely: (a) the Arcado-Cypriot dialect, in which documents were composed in the Linear C syllabary, a direct offshoot of Mycenaean Linear B (Even though the two syllabaries look scarcely alike, the symbolic values of their syllabograms are in almost all instances practically identical), and from so-called Epic Greek, which was comprised of diverse elements haphazardly drawn from various archaic Greek dialects, in other words yielding nothing less than a mess, but a viable one nonetheless.

At this juncture, I must emphatically stress that, contrary to common opinion among ancient Greek literary scholars not familiar with either Mycenaean Linear B or Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, the gap between the scribal Linear B tablets and the next appearance of written ancient Greek is not around 400 years (1200-800 BCE), as they would have it, but only one century. Why so? Hard on the heels of the collapse of the Mycenaean Empire and of its official script, Linear B, ca. 1200 BCE, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C first appeared in writing a mere 100 years after, give or take. The revised timeline for the disappearance and reappearance of written Greek is illustrated here:

revised-timeline-for-the-reappearance-of-written-ancient-greek    
If this is not convincing enough, Mycenaean Greek’s intimate cousin, Arcado-Cypriot, of which the syllabary is Linear C, is even more closely related to Mycenaean Greek than Ionic is to Attic Greek. In fact, you could say that they are kissing cousins. Now it stands to reason that, if Arcado-Cypriot in Linear C is a fully developed East Greek dialect, as it most certainly is (subsisting at least 700 years, from 1100 – 400 BCE), then it follows as day does night that Mycenaean Linear B must also be a fully functional East Greek dialect (in fact, the first). The two factors addressed above should lay to rest once and for all that Mycenaean Greek is merely proto-Greek. That is sheer nonsense.


CRITICAL POST: The Present and Imperfect Tenses of Reduplicating – MI – Verbs in Linear B [Click to ENLARGE):

linear b mi verbs present and imperfect tense
NOTE: If you are a researcher in Linear B, it is highly advisable that you read and thoroughly digest this post in its entirety, as it constitutes a major milestone in the exegesis of my Theory of Regressive Linear B Grammar & Vocabulary.  Failure to read this post may result in an inability to further confirm or reject, either in whole or in part, the premises upon which my entire theory rests.
 
Athematic – MI –verbs are shared in large part by Greek and and Sanskrit, respectively the Occidental & Oriental agnates or close/near descendents of the same extremely ancient (proto-) Indo-European class.  All verbs of this athematic class invariably share the standard ending –  mi –  in the 1st. person sing. of the present tense.

Ancient Greek and Indic (Sanskrit) are similar in many respects, which may strike some as surprising since they cross the hypothetical “satem/centum” line, which the Occidental sub-class (all ancient Greek dialects & Latin & its dialects) treats the Proto IE gutturals as hard (Gr.e9kato/n Lat. centum = 100,) as against Sanscrit, chatam, and Old Persian, satem. But there are so many structural affinities, from parallel verb forms down to musical pitches, that some special connections must have existed between and prior to these two groups, which appear to have almost certainly sprung from the same Proto IE ancestral language. On the other hand, while Sanskrit is normally considered solidly IE, less than 40% of Greek vocabulary and grammar appears to derive directly from Proto IE roots, giving rise to the hypothesis that other extra-structural factors are surely involved in the evolution of ancient Greek. This phenomenon, peculiar to Greek alone, may also have significant implications for the eventual decipherment of Linear A. But this is mere speculation on my part.  Still... you never know. At any rate, I intend eventually to follow this avenue of approach, my small contribution to the eventual decipherment of at least a tiny substrate (superstrate?) of Linear A sometime in 2016.

Seminal Characteristics of Athematic MI Verbs:

Athematic MI verbs are characterized, for the most part, by their own unique set of endings, although the 2nd. and 3rd. plurals are virtually the same as those of the Thematic so-called “regular” verbs in ancient Greek. It would appear, then, that “regular” verbs retained the athematic 2nd. and 3rd. plurals of their ancestors, the athematic Mi verbs, while casting all other athematic endings aside.

Reduplication in the Present Tense:

The most striking phenomenon of MI verbs is reduplication in the present tense, which is restricted to perfect formations of “regular” thematic verbs in ancient Greek. This state of affairs raises two critical questions in my mind: [1] are so-called “regular” verbs in ancient Greek derived from the more ancient athematic  MI verbs, or did they simply borrow the athematic endings of the athematic 2nd. and 3rd. plurals the ancestral MI verbs? Later this year, I shall demonstrate the apparent yet quite possibly significant link between the SI endings of the present indicative and san endings of the perfect indicative in both classes of verbs, thematic and athematic. Another truly striking similarity between the more archaic and early “regular” forms in Homeric Greek is the sharing of the SI ending in the dative plural. I am highly inclined to stress the statistically probable significance of these endings, in both their verbal and nominal forms, shared by their more ancestral and and early “regular” forms in both Mycenaean and Homeric Greek.

This phenomenon will re-appear frequently in both the attested [A] and derivative [D] forms of the 3rd. person plural of all verbs, thematic or athematic regardless and in the SI ending of the dative plural, not only in Homeric, but also in Mycenaean Linear B, which attests to their extreme antiquity in ancient Greek. The fact that these forms were already fully developed in Mycenaean Greek strongly points to the likelihood that they arose from the earliest ancestral (proto-) Greek of Mycenaean and Homeric Greek alike (above all in the Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad). All of these grammatical constructs are already firmly rooted in Mycenaean and Homeric Greek, giving rise to my hypothesis that it is not only possible, but highly feasible to regressively reconstruct huge chunks of Mycenaean Greek grammar and vocabulary from their (quasi-direct) descendent, the Homeric Greek of (the Catalogue of Ships) of the second Book of the Iliad.

All of this raises another hypothetical question in my mind: did there exist ancestral forms of thematic verbs in ancient Greek which shared all or most of their endings, in all tenses, with their (apparently) more ancient MI counterparts, giving rise to the hypothesis that both athematic and thematic verbs were derived from even more ancient verbal constructs, in which all remotely ancient (proto-) Greek verbs were in fact athematic? That this is possible, and even probable, is reinforced by the uncontested fact that in Sanskrit both MI and O verbs alike share reduplication, meaning there is no marked distinction between “thematic” and “athematic” verbs in Sanskrit, in other words, they are of one and the same class. This phenomenon then reappears in a restricted number of Latin perfects, like tutudi from tundo "beat", old tetuli from thw stem tul- which supplements the forms of Latin. fero (Gr.fe/rw ). Since Latin developed in parallel with ancient Greek, but independently from the latter, this then raises the question yet again, how on earth can it be that such reduplication occurs in Latin but not in Greek, unless there is a possibility (however remote) that reduplication occurred in both thematic and athematic verbs of their proto-Greek and proto-Latin ancestors?

If indeed that is the case, then it would appear that proto-Greek and proto-Latin shared this seminal characteristic with not only Sanskrit, but proto-Sanskrit, and hence, by inference, with the proto IE ancestor of all three of these languages. If this is that case, it necessarily follows that both the thematic O endings and athematic MI endings share one and the same singular ancestor, which must have been neither thematic nor athematic, but one and the very same root of both classes. So I have to wonder out loud whether thematic O and athematic MI verbs in Sanskrit, Mycenaean Greek and Homeric Greek alike all derive from a single class of verbs, embodying the characteristics of both of these classes of verbs. If that is even remotely a possibility, then we cannot afford to ignore it, since it allows us to regressivly reconstruct, to some degree at least, even some of the tenses of the Proto-IE ancestor of all of these languages. Wouldn't that be a revelation? Of course, all this is speculation on my part, but I love to indulge in speculative hypotheses, if there is even a remote chance that someday some of them may prove to be sound.

Only time and future refinements in the science of linguistics may lend some credence to the hypotheses I am making here. If anything, computational linguistics and the great leaps in the application of artificial intelligence to linguistic theory (-ies) are likely to give rise to even more speculative hypotheses, hypotheses which may yet prove to rest on a much more solid foundation in applied linguistics than we can hope to approach at present. We shall see.

In other words, the foundation of my theory of the Regressive Reconstruction of Mycenaean Linear B grammar and vocabulary rests firmly on the regressive extrapolation of all such forms from he Homeric Greek of (the Catalogue of Ships) of the second Book of the Iliad or from any of the following dialects, Cypriot Linear C (above all others), Aeolic, Arcadian and early Ionic Greek, all of which appear to have been (quasi-) direct descendents of Mycenaean Greek. Doric Greek does not properly enter into the equation.

Conclusions:

On thing, however, is certain: the athematic – mi – verbs, in all tenses & moods, and in the all-pervasive participial constructions in ancient Homeric Greek must have been already firmly entrenched in Mycenaean Greek, from the simple observation of the facts, namely, that at least some these forms of all tenses, moods and participles are already almost all attested [A] on Mycenaean Linear B tablets. And even where some forms of all tenses, moods and participles in verbs are not to be found on any Linear B tablets, enough of them are attested for us to be able to reasonably reconstruct them in their entirety or at least in part from the attested forms.

And what applies to verbs, applies also to all other parts of speech in Mycenaean Linear B (nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and even formulaic phrases shared with Homeric Greek). These happily fortuitous antecedents in Linear B to their later counterparts in Homeric Greek recur quite frequently enough for me to be able to regressively reconstitute the Linear B forms from their subsequent Homeric forms. This, in a nutshell, is the entire premise of the Theory of Regressive Linear B as I intend to clearly demonstrate in the reconstruction of large chunks of ancestral Mycenaean Greek grammar and vocabulary, both attributed [A] and derivative [D] from its direct descent, Homeric Greek, and in particular the frequent occurrences of archaic Greek in Book II of the Iliad, in which in turn even more archaic forms frequently recur in the Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-789), the most reliable source for ancestral Mycenaean Greek grammar and vocabulary in the entire Iliad. Concomitantly, and once again happily, any of the following dialects, Cypriot Linear C (above all others), Aeolic, Arcadian and early Ionic Greek also well serve the purpose as direct and indirect descendents of Mycenaean Greek, from which it is feasible to regressively extrapolate grammatical and terminological constructs in Linear B.  Doric Greek, however, does not enter into the equation, since the Dorian invasion transpired after the fall of Mycenaean civilization.

Richard 

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