Tag Archive: verb



The ubiquitous present participle passive in Mycenaean Linear B & in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects:

Here is a chart of attested (A) present participles passive in Mycenaean Greek found on Linear B tablets, and derived (D) present participles passive nowhere to be found extant in Mycenaean Greek:

present-participle-passive-in-mycenaean-linear-b-620

As anyone familiar with ancient Greek can attest to, the present participle passive was ubiquitous in Mycenaean Linear B and in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects. Since (a) students and researchers with ancient Greek understand the full functionality of the present participle passive and (b) since all others not familiar with any ancient Greek dialect do not understand how the present participle passive functions, I am not bothering to provide examples of its usage in any ancient Greek dialect... although perhaps I should.


CRITICAL POST! Progressive Linear B grammar: active thematic aorist infinitives in Mycenaean Linear B: Phase 3

With the addition of this table of active thematic aorist infinitives:

thematic-aorist-infinitives-in-mycenaean-linear-b-620

we have completed the first 3 stages in the reconstruction of the grammar of natural Mycenaean Greek as it was spoken between ca. 1600 (or earlier) and 1200 BCE. These stages are: 1. the present infinitive 2. the future infinitive & 3. the aorist infinitive. Although there were other infinitives in ancient Greek, they were rarely used, and so we are omitting them from our progressive grammar.

While it is a piece of cake to physically form the aorist infinitive either in ancient alphabetic Greek or in Mycenaean Linear B, the same cannot be said for the innate meaning of the aorist infinitive. What does it signify? Why would anyone even bother with a past infinitive when a present one does just fine? What are the distinctions between the present, future and aorist infinitives in ancient Greek and in Mycenaean Linear B?

ANALYSIS & SYNOPSIS:

What is the meaning of the aorist infinitive or, put another way, what does it signify?

While the use of the present infinitive corresponds exactly with infinitives in almost all other Occidental languages, ancient and modern, the same cannot be said of the future and aorist infinitives in ancient Greek and Mycenaean, for which there are, in so far as I know, no equivalents in modern Centum languages.

The impact of understanding the future infinitive on grasping the aorist in ancient Greek.

First, the future infinitive. We feel obliged to review its function in order to prepare you for the even more esoteric aorist infinitive. The future infinitive is used when the sentence is in either the present or the future. How can it be used with a verb in the present tense? The reason is relatively straightforward to grasp. If the speaker or writer wishes to convey that he or she expects or intends the infinitive modifying the principle verb to take effect immediately, then the infinitive too must be in the present tense. But if the same author  expects or intends the action the infinitive conveys to take place in the (near) future, then the infinitive must be future, even though the main verb is in the present tense.  The distinction is subtle but critical to the proper meaning or intent of any Greek sentence employing a future infinitive with a verb in the present tense. The best way to illustrate this striking feature of ancient Greek is with English language parallels, as we did in the post on future infinitives. But to make matters as clear as possible, we repeat, here in the present tense, the 2 sentences I previously posted in Latinized Linear B along with the English translation. First we have,

Konoso wanaka eqetai qe katakause etoimi eesi.
The King and his military guard are prepared to set about burning Knossos to the ground.
Compare this with:
Konoso wanaka eqetai qe katakaue etoimi eesi.
The King and his military guard are prepared to burn Knossos to the ground. 

In the first instance, the subjects (King and military guard) are prepared to raze Knossos in the near future, but not right away. This why I have translated the infinitive katakause as – to set about burning Knossos to the ground.

But in the second case, the King and his military guard are prepared to burn Knossos to the ground immediately. The future does not even enter into the equation.

In the second example, we have:

Wanaka tekotono wanakatero peraise poroesetai.
The King is allowing the carpenters to soon set about finishing the palace.
(future infinitive)... versus   
Wanaka tekotono wanakatero peraie poroesetai. (present infinitive)...
The King allows the carpenters to finish the palace. (i.e. right away).

The distinction is subtle. But if you are to understand ancient Greek infinitives, including Mycenaean, you must be able to make this distinction. The question is, why have I resorted to repeating the synopsis of the future infinitive, when clearly the subject of our present discussion is the aorist or past infinitive? The answer is... because if you cannot understand how the future infinitive works in ancient Greek and Mycenaean, then you will never grasp how the aorist infinitive functions.

What is the aorist infinitive and how does it function?

The aorist infinitive describes or delineates actions or states dependent on the main verb which have already occurred in the (recent) past. It can be used with principal verbs in the present or past (aorist or imperfect), but never with those in the future. Once again, the distinction between the present and aorist active thematic infinitives is, if anything, even subtler than is that between the future and present infinitives. Allow me to illustrate with two examples in Latinized Linear B.

First:

Wanaka poremio taneusai edunato.
The King was in a position to have put an end to the war (clearly implying he did not put an end to it).
Note that the main verb, edunato = was able to, is itself in the past imperfect tense.  But this sentence can also be cast in the present tense, thus:

Wanaka poremio taneusai dunetai. 
The King is in a position to have put an end to the war.
In this case, the use of the aorist infinitive is not mandatory. But if it is used, it still signifies that the aorist infinitive operates in the past, and it is quite clear from the context that he could have ended the war, but never did.

Compare this with the use of the present infinitive in the same sentence. 

Wanaka poremio taneue dunetai.
The King is able to put an end to the war (immediately!)
To complicate matters even further, even if the main verb is in the simple past (aorist) or the imperfect (also a past tense), you can still use the present infinitive, as in:

Wanaka poremio taneue edunato. 
The King was able to put an end to the war (right away).
This clearly calls for the present infinitive, which always takes effect at the very same time as the primary verb.

Although the analysis and synopsis above makes perfect sense to students and researchers familiar with ancient Greek, it is difficult for newcomers to ancient Greek to grasp the first time they are confronted with it. But patience is the key here. By dint of a large number of examples, it will eventually sink in.

So as the old saying goes, do not panic! 


Mycenaean Linear B Progressive Grammar: Derived (D) Verbs/Infinitives in D = 12:

In this post we find 12 derived (D) infinitives in natural Mycenaean Greek.

Here is the table of attested thematic and athematic infinitives starting with the Greek letter D in Mycenaean Greek:

d-derived-infinitives-620

The 4 sentences after the 12 verbs in D make it absolutely clear that we are dealing with natural Mycenaean Greek as it was actually spoken. It is also highly likely that official documents, poetry (if any) and religious texts were written in natural Mycenaean Greek on papyrus. However, the moist climate of Crete and the Greek mainland meant that papyrus, unlike in the arid climate of Egypt, was doomed to rot away. So we shall never really know whether or not there were documents in natural Mycenaean Greek. But my educated hunch is that there were.

Thematic Verbs:

Active Voice:

These are the so-called standard verbs, which are by far the most common in all ancient Greek dialects. Thematic verbs are sub-classed into three voices, active, middle and passive.

Middle Voice:

The middle voice is unique to ancient Greek, and is self-referential, by which we mean the subject acts upon him- or herself or of his or her own volition. The middle voice also includes reflexive verbs. I am posting the first person singular of verbs in the middle voice, as it is far more common than the infinitive.

Athematic Verbs:

Athematic verbs are far less common than thematic, but they are the most ancient of ancient Greek verbs. They have already appeared completely intact by the time Mycenaean Greek has entrenched itself. The Mycenaean conjugations of athematic verbs are very similar, and in some cases identical to, their conjugations in much later Ionic and Attic Greek, and must therefore be considered the root and stem of the same class of verbs in later classical Greek. The fact that athematic verbs were already fully developed by the era of Mycenaean Greek is a strong indicator that the Mycenaean dialect is not proto-Greek, but the first fully operative ancient East Greek dialect. We shall demonstrate over and over that Mycenaean Greek was the primordial fully functional East Greek dialect which was to be adopted and adapted by the later East Greek dialects (Ionic and Attic among others). I am posting the first person singular of athematic verbs, as it is far more common than the infinitive.

The reconstruction of natural language Mycenaean grammar by means of the methodology of progressive grammar is to be the subject of my fourth article in the prestigious international journal, Archaeology and Science, Vol. 13 (2017). The concept of progressive grammar is actually quite easy to grasp. It merely designates the reconstruction of natural, as opposed to inventorial, Mycenaean Greek grammar from the ground up. By the time I have finished with this project, I shall have reconstructed a huge cross-section of natural Mycenaean grammar, approaching the grammar of later East Greek dialects in its comprehensiveness.

NOTES:
[1]There are two (2) verbs in the middle voice under D. These are dekomai and dunamai.
[2] There are no athematic MI verbs under D.
[3]In the natural Mycenaean Greek language, the nominative masculine plural always ends in oi, e.g. tosoi. This is in contrast to the formalized, fossilized Greek of Linear B inventories, which very rarely give any words in the nominative masculine plural. Instead, the extant Linear B tablets simply give the words in the singular, e.g. toso.
[4]In the natural Mycenaean Greek language, the nominative feminine plural always ends in ai, e.g. heketai (which is actually a masculine noun with feminine endings). This is in contrast to the formalized, fossilized Greek of Linear B inventories, which very rarely give any words in the nominative masculine plural. Instead, the extant Linear B tablets simply give the words in the singular, e.g. heketa.

There are exceptions to attested plurals on the tablets. The nominative masculine plural of teo (god) is teoi, exactly as it appears in natural Mycenaean Greek. This is because the word teo is not a word found in inventories, but rather in religious texts, mimicking the natural language. It is the template upon which the nominative masculine plural of all words in natural Mycenaean Greek is formed.  

The total number of natural Mycenaean Greek derived (D) infinitives we have posted so far = 24 A + 12 D for a TOTAL of 36. I shall indicate the running total as we proceed through the alphabet.


Progressive Linear B Grammar: Verbs/Derived (D) Infinitives: A = 24

Beginning with this post, we shall be constructing a Lexicon of Derived (D) Infinitives in Mycenaean Linear B. This post lists all 24 derived verbs I have selected classed under A. The methodology whereby we reconstruct derived verbs, not attested (A) anywhere on any Linear B tablets, is termed retrogressive extrapolation, by which I mean that we draw each entry in alphabetical order from an ancient Greek dictionary, accounting for throwbacks to archaic East Greek, since that is what the Mycenaean dialect is. The dictionary we are using is the Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary. Since the entries in the classical dictionary are in Attic Greek, they frequently require readjustment to reflect their much earlier orthography in archaic Greek. I have also taken the liberty of selecting only those verbs of which the spelling is identical or very close to what would have been their orthography in Mycenaean Greek. This is because Mycenaean orthography is often problematic, insofar as it frequently omits a consonant preceding the consonant which follows it. Additionally, since Mycenaean Greek is represented by a syllabary, in which each syllable must end in a vowel, it is impossible for the spelling of a great many words (let alone verbs) to accurately correspond to the orthography of the same words in later ancient Greek dialects. So I have decided to omit such verbs for the sake of simplicity. Finally, since there are so many verbs under each letter of the Greek alphabet, I have had to be very selective in choosing the verbs I have decided to include in this Lexicon, omitting scores of verbs which would have qualified just as well for inclusion as the verbs I have chosen.

a-derived-infinitives-620

 

 

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