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The Relationship of Voice and Transitiveness

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The Relationship of Voice and Transitiveness

Postby swiftnicholas » Sun Feb 20, 2005 2:40 pm

I've looked at a few grammars, but I'm still confused about how voice--especially the middle voice--relates to transitiveness. In Dana and Mantey's book, I read that transitiveness belongs to the verbal idea, and that voice sometimes affects the verbal idea (Section.151). From Smyth (Section.1717) I gathered that the Direct Reflexive Middle would indicate transitiveness, because the self is the direct object. But Smyth also says (Section.1706) that the object of a transitive verb is always put in the accusative.

Could anybody comment on this, perhaps noting the passive voice as well? Or maybe suggest something else I could read?

Thanks :D
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Re: The Relationship of Voice and Transitiveness

Postby annis » Sun Feb 20, 2005 3:01 pm

swiftnicholas wrote:Could anybody comment on this, perhaps noting the passive voice as well? Or maybe suggest something else I could read?


You will want to read Carl Conrad's papers: Active, Middle, and Passive: Understanding Ancient Greek Voice. That document has URLs for other PDFs talking about various verb matters, most related to voice.

I agree that transitivity and its relationship to voice is not usually well covered in the standard grammars and especially primers. I myself can't offer much in the way of formal insight into Greek transitivity, but I can mention a few things I've found useful.

First, when a verb has both first and second aorists (or passives), the second one will usually be intransitive, the first transitive, regardless of the conjugation.

Second, love your dictionary. :) In particular, the Middle Liddell and the Great Scott. The citations and examples will nearly always make clear the transitivity of the verb, and how the transitivity might change from voice to voice.

Finally, I think your idea that the middle voice might indicate a transitivity switch is basically sound, at least for verbs which also have active forms.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby swiftnicholas » Sun Feb 20, 2005 3:44 pm

Thanks! Those files are just what I wanted, and Conrad's site looks handy too. I bet your Internet Favorites List would be worth a lot of money. :D

I agree that transitivity and its relationship to voice is not usually well covered in the standard grammars and especially primers.


I was feeling stupid. DandM only increased the confusion. Smyth was a bit more helpful.

First, when a verb has both first and second aorists (or passives), the second one will usually be intransitive, the first transitive, regardless of the conjugation.

Second, love your dictionary. In particular, the Middle Liddell and the Great Scott. The citations and examples will nearly always make clear the transitivity of the verb, and how the transitivity might change from voice to voice.


Thanks for the tips. I'll start paying more attention to my dictionary entries for this. Are the examples in Cunliffe as useful as the Middle Liddell?

Thanks again.
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Postby annis » Sun Feb 20, 2005 5:39 pm

swiftnicholas wrote: Are the examples in Cunliffe as useful as the Middle Liddell?


Yes, since C. has a passion for citing examples. Some will be included in the word article, but he may have a dozen citations to lines of the Iliad and Odyssey for a single sub-definition.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
annis
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