Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

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Random memory

When we learned Greek, verbs that end in -άω (or sometimes -ώ) -άς were called "second declension" verbs ("third declension" being this in -ώ -είς and "first declension" being verbs in ΄-ω). Those may not be what other people talking about Modern Greek grammar use, but it was good enough.

In Greek, I heard one missionary calling -άω -άς verbs "48a" verbs (or whatever it was) -- the number of the endings table in the dictionary we had. I found that a bit quaint.

But even more fun was what I heard from someone else, who came out a year or so after me: he called them "a-contract verbs" (and the ones in -ώ -είς "e-contract verbs"), which I found even more quaint. Those labels seem appropriate to Ancient Greek to me, but using them for Modern Greek verbs seemed like an anachronism. (FWIW, Ancient Greek "o-contract verbs" in -ώ -οίς are all but absent from Modern Greek, nearly all having been regularised into "first declension" verbs in -ώνω, presumably by back-formation from their aorist stem.)

He also called verbs such as λέω and τρώω contracted verbs, I think, because they go λέω λες λέει λέμε λέτε λένε (< λέγω λέγεις λέγει λέγουμε λέγετε λέγουν(ε); similarly for τρώω etc. < τρώγω etc.), which, I suppose, has the same set of endings (λέ-ω λε-ς λέ-ει λέ-με λέ-τε λέ-νε) as a-contract verbs (αγαπά-ω αγαπά-ς αγαπά-ει αγαπά-με αγαπά-τε αγαπά-νε) if you split them up like that. Still sounded funny because it didn't match what we had learned. (We just learned those as special short-form cases of a handful of first-declension verbs.).

Oh, and FWIW I conjugate second declension verbs like this: αγαπάω, αγαπάς, αγαπάει, αγαπάμε, αγαπάτε, αγαπάνε. I beliebe it's a bit more "classy" to go αγαπώ, αγαπάς, αγαπά, αγαπούμε, αγαπάτε, αγαπάν(?), but the first is what we learned. Also, I'd split up the verbs like αγαπ-άω αγαπ-άς αγα-άει etc., rather than as αγαπά-ω αγαπά-ς αγαπά-ει.

Tags: random memory
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