Textkit Logo

Diphthong οι

Here's where you can discuss all things Ancient Greek. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get translation help and more!

Diphthong οι

Postby pster » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:17 pm

Why don't we distinguish between genuine and spurious οι? We can get οι through contraction, so there seem to be spurious instances. Are they all spurious?!
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1068
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:05 pm

As far as I understand, ει and ου are called spurious in those cases where they represent a sound that diachronically never was a diphthong and not-spurious in those cases that they originally where a diphthong. In modern editions, Greek spelling more or less reflects Attic at a stage where the two original sounds had merged in both cases. In earlier Attic and Homer ει and ου are both actually two different sounds, only our editions don't show it. I think in Homer's time ἀκούουσιν for example was pronounced with the first ου a real diphthong and the second ου a long /u:/ or /o:/ sound.
Paul Derouda
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 695
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby Qimmik » Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:39 pm

Paul's understanding is the same as mine.

At some point the original diphthong ει merged with long ε (the result of contraction or compensatory lengthening), and the merged sound, a long closed ε, continued to be written as a digraph, ει, even though it was a monophthong.

Similarly, the original diphthong ου merged with long ο (the result of contraction or compensatory lengthening), and the merged sound, a long closed ο, continued to be written as a digraph, ου, even though it was a monophthong. Further sound changes occurred, and ου (/o:/) was raised to /u:/, while υ was raised to /y/.

Thus, ει and ου resulting from contraction or compensatory lengthening were never pronounced as diphthongs, in contrast to the original diphthongs ει and ου, which at one time were pronounced as diphthongs.

οι resulting both from an original diphthong and contraction remained a diphthong at least until after the classical period, sometime after which οι merged with ι. So the history of οι is different--there is no reason to distinguish between spurious and genuine οι.

In the classical period, eta represented a different sound from ει, specifically, a long open /e:/. Similarly, omega represented a long open /o:/.

Eventually eta, ει, οι and υ merged with ι, and vowel quantity was lost.
Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 919
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Oct 01, 2013 5:16 pm

Qimmik's understanding is the same as mine, though his answer is better than mine, since he actually answered the question... :)

I was wondering about the term "spurious". Don't they call more or less any digraph that represents a monophthong "spurious"? I mean: ει in εἶμι is originally a diphthong. So couldn't you say that in Homer's time it's a true diphthong, but in later Attic a spurious diphthong? (In that case what is "spurious" and what not would depend on the assumed pronunciation of the writer of the text, not on the origin of the sound.)

I think the whole term spurious is disturbing and misleading. If I remember correctly Allen thought so as well. "Digraph" is much better.
Paul Derouda
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 695
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby Markos » Tue Oct 01, 2013 5:38 pm

As I understand it, "spurious" is when you think the diphthong is a result of contraction and "genuine" is when you think it is not. None of this, I think, can be proven with certainty, without going into the slippery slope of reconstructed forms. I'm pretty sure that εἰμι is a contracted form of an earlier ἐσμι, but I don't know this for sure. On the other hand, I have no reason to suspect that the ου in ἀκούω is a contraction of something, but I don't know this for sure either. How could you ever prove that any diphthong is NOT the result of some putative contraction in some putative earlier form of the language?

Drawing the distinction between spurious and genuine diphthongs is just one example of how learners of Ancient Greek know more analytic information ABOUT the language than most fluent speakers ever knew or probably need to know.
Markos
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1174
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:07 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:04 pm

Looks like we agree spurious is a really bad term. It should mean that what looks like a diphthong actually isn't one - a "false diphthong". Digraph is better. The big problem is that during the time from which our Greek texts come the pronunciation of ει and ου changes - they are pronounced the same, I think from later classical times onwards, so why call some of them spurious/false and some not, if all are pronounced the same? However, if you're reading Homer, the distinction is very relevant, since we can be almost sure the εἶμι was pronounced /e:mi/ and ειμί /eimi/. We don't see this in our editions, because our editions reflect later Classical Attic pronunciation, but I very much suspect that the sounds are kept apart in early inscriptions (can someone who knows about epigraphy confirm this?); so as far as I know, this terminology is not just putative. But yes, I agree, it's a mess and the word "spurious" is... spurious.
Paul Derouda
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 695
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby Qimmik » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:43 pm

"None of this, I think, can be proven with certainty, without going into the slippery slope of reconstructed forms."

Understanding the principles underlying the contract forms of verbs, nouns and adjectives is helpful in learning the forms. The rules are relatively transparent. The alternative is to treat them as distinct conjugations and declensions and to learn those forms by rote.

The reconstruction of unattested forms is not a slippery slope as long as you recognize that it's always provisional. And there are a number of different sources for reconstructing earlier phases of individual words and the language as a whole--comparison with other Indo-European languages, epigraphic evidence from the Greek world, ancient texts, etc.

"Drawing the distinction between spurious and genuine diphthongs is just one example of how learners of Ancient Greek know more analytic information ABOUT the language than most fluent speakers ever knew or probably need to know."

Some of us are interested in the history and structure of the language, which has been worked out in considerable detail, particularly over the last two centuries. This information is especially useful in engaging with Homer and materials written in dialects other than Attic. And most people who learn ancient Greek are to some degree interested in how it was pronounced--and to the best of our knowledge, the pronounciation changed over the period from which the texts available today date. But in any case, the main reason to learn ancient Greek for most of us is not speak it but to engage with literary texts written in 2000+ years ago in a culture and society that are very alien to us and that are, to a greater or lesser degree, imperfectly preserved. A certain amount of philological knowedge is helpful in disentangling some of the difficulties.
Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 919
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby pster » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:03 pm

You guys are too good. Thanks all. I got tripped up by using Smyth's general treatment rather than Mastronarde's exclusively Attic treatment.

While we are in this vicinity, does anybody have a general answer for why contraction of identical vowels yields different results sometimes depending on the context? Compare the two subjuctives διδῷ and δηλοῖ.
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1068
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby Qimmik » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:19 pm

δηλοῖ is from δηλό+ηι

Maybe διδῷ is from διδώ+ηι, but Smyth 749 says that this form is from the weak stem, διδό+ηι. I will have to check this in another source when I get a chance.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0007%3Asmythp%3D749
Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 919
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby pster » Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:32 pm

Mastronarde agrees with Smyth. See the chapter on the subjunctive.
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1068
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby Qimmik » Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:31 am

"διδῷ and δηλοῖ".

I don't have an answer. I guess separate forms developed independently. Paul, what do you think?
Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 919
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Oct 02, 2013 6:16 pm

I don't think anything. δηλό+ηι -> δηλοῖ I guess is right. I don't know about διδῷ. I tried to look at another book by good old Chantraine, Morphologie historique du grec, but couldn't find the answer.
Paul Derouda
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 695
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby Qimmik » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:05 pm

I looked at Chantraine, too, as well as LeJeune, Rix and Sihler, but none of them gives an answer.
Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 919
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby NateD26 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:18 am

In Matronarde's Appendix 1, Table of Contractions, he noted that in the pres. and aor. subj.
of δίδωμι, the verb behaves as if it's from the stronger form and thus ω+ῃ > ῳ.
He didn't give a reason or explanation for this behavior but mentioned the aor. subj.
of γιγνώσκω & ἁλίσκομαι where the stronger form is shown (γνῷ & ἁλῷ respectively).
Nate.
NateD26
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 787
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:14 am

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby pster » Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:37 am

Yes, thanks Nate. I didn't read that very closely this time around because I knew that there were more than just one counterexample. So, in his table, epsilon+alpha=eta, but if you look at the ending of the nom. pl. kana (basket) there we have epsilon+alpha=long alpha. (See the first page of his contract vowel discussion, Ch. 42 of prior editions.) And I think that there are at least one or two more. I sat down to memorize all the contractions once and came across the counterexamples. And of course augment has no relation to contractions (even with just epsilon). It's kind of like how there are accent rules that distinguish nouns and verbs, except when they don't. Lies, damned lies, statistics, and rules for Attic.
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1068
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby Qimmik » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:42 am

It appears that Mastronarde is thinking along the same lines as I was when I wrote "Maybe διδῷ is from διδώ+ηι, but Smyth 749 says that this form is from the weak stem, διδό+ηι." But to me, it seems like δηλοῖ is the anomalous form that calls for explanation, not διδῷ:

* The alpha and epsilon contract verbs have long diphthongs (graphically represented by long vowels with iota subscripts) in the corresponding forms of the subjunctive.

* The other athematic (-μι) verbs also have long diphthongs in the present subjunctive.

* Contractions where the second element is a long diphthong otherwise result in a long diphthong. See Smyth 59. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0007%3Asmythp%3D59

* The contraction of ο+η yields ω, as in the 2nd person plural of the subjunctive of δηλόω: δηλῶτε.

But that's about as far as I'm willing to carry this exercise. This is one unresolved question that will follow me to my grave.

It has been useful, though, in forcing me to review the subjunctive forms of -όω verbs and alerting me to the fact that forms which I would "process" as 2nd and 3rd person indicative could in fact be subjunctive, when I encounter them.
Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 919
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby Qimmik » Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:14 pm

"if you look at the ending of the nom. pl. kana (basket) there we have epsilon+alpha=long alpha"

This is curious. If you search κανᾶ in Perseus, all of the instances that pop up (except the 1st century CE author Josephus) seem to refer to baskets used to carry grain in sacrificial rituals. Perhaps that has something to do with the anomaly: a fossilized form with religious significance imported from a non-Attic dialect? But again, that's pure speculation.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/searchresults?target=greek&collections=Perseus%3Acollection%3AGreco-Roman&all_words=kana%3D&phrase=&any_words=&exclude_words=&search=Search
Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 919
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: Diphthong οι

Postby Qimmik » Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:31 pm

"As I understand it, 'spurious' is when you think the diphthong is a result of contraction and 'genuine' is when you think it is not. None of this, I think, can be proven with certainty, without going into the slippery slope of reconstructed forms."

In fact, Homer and other sources attest many uncontracted forms, so reconstruction isn't at all necessary in many cases. Where it is, it's pretty clear how the contractions arose, unless you completely reject historical linguistics, which provides powerful and convincing explanations for many otherwise inexplicable phenomena. Maybe you're not interested in it--there's nothing wrong with that; there are many ways to enjoy the study of ancient Greek. But some of us are interested in the history of the language, and profit from the insights that "reconstructed forms" offer.
Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 919
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm


Return to Learning Greek

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], MSNbot Media, Yahoo [Bot] and 62 guests