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Root vowel in τρέπω

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Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby pster » Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:43 am

τρέπω, τρέψω, ἔτρεψα, τέτροφα, τέτραμμαι, ἐτράπην (ἐτρέφθην), τραπήσομαι

It seems unusual to have the root vowel change like this from epsilon to omicron to alpha. Does anybody know off the top of their head why this happens? τρέφω is similar.
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Re: Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby spiphany » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:03 am

The phenomenon is known as Ablaut or vowel gradation. It's not terribly unusual in Greek, and even more common in English and the Germanic languages (sing, sang, sung, song etc).
λέγω / λόγος
λείπω / ἔλιπον / λέλοιπα
φεύγω / ἔφυγον
πείθω / πέποιθα /πιθανός
τρέπω / τροπή / ἐτράπην
εἶδος / οἶδα / ἰδεῖν

As to why it happens...I think historically it had to do with vowels being pronounced differently in different phonetic environments, i.e., in English because the pronunciation of vowels is determined by stress, if the stress shifts so does the vowel quality.
I think I read something at one point about Greek tending to use different grades of the vowel for particular tenses/derived forms (zero grade for the aorist, o-grade for nouns and sometimes the perfect). I don't know how consistent this tendency is (and at the moment, even whether I've remembered it correctly), so don't quote me on the details.
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Re: Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby Markos » Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:42 pm

It seems unusual to have the root vowel change like this from epsilon to omicron to alpha. Does anybody know off the top of their head why this happens?


καλὸν μὲν οὖν ἐρώτημα ἐρώτησας. γιγνώσκειν δ’οὐ δυνάμεθα διὰ τί ἐγένετο ἡ τῶν φωνηέντων μετβολή. οὐ γὰρ οἴδαμεν εἲ ἡ γλῶσσα ἐγένετο κατὰ τύχην ἢ ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐποιήθη. (ἰδὲ Γένεσις 2:19 καὶ 11:7)


{ You raise an excellent question, but we don’t know, and we cannot know, why ablaut takes place, because we do not know whether Greek or any other language evolved accidently over thousands of years or was intelligently designed. (cf. Gen. 2:19 and 11:7) }
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby pster » Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:09 pm

Thanks. I was aware of the cases where there is a short vowel and long vowel. Often there are patterns that are followed: the aorist tends to be a lesser grade, consonants shift when there is metathesis, and reduplication brings a lengthening of the second vowel. But I had never stopped to notice this case where there are three short vowels sloshing around and I was wondering whether there was any principle at work. My curiosity was also piqued by the fact that otherwise, this verb follows a general pattern.
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Re: Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby pster » Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:18 pm

spiphany wrote:sing, sang, sung, song etc).
in English because the pronunciation of vowels is determined by stress, if the stress shifts so does the vowel quality.


Hmm. I don't see any difference in stress with respect to this verb. But maybe I don't understand stress in English. Heck, I didn't realize until fairly recently, that French doesn't really have accents, and I can speak the language! Are stress and accent the same? (Assuming we are not talking about pitch accents.) To be or not to be... Why do we put the stress on the even syllables? I'm confused.
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Re: Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby annis » Sun Feb 05, 2012 5:13 pm

pster wrote:But I had never stopped to notice this case where there are three short vowels sloshing around and I was wondering whether there was any principle at work. My curiosity was also piqued by the fact that otherwise, this verb follows a general pattern.


τρέπω is a special instance because it has an /r/ in it. The three primary grades (as they're called) of ablaut are zero-grade, e-grade and o-grade. As you have observed, you often get zero-grade in aorists (and o-grade in perfects). Sometimes this is less obvious. For example, λείπω becomes λιπ-. That hardly looks like a zero root, but what has happened is the stem really ends in a consonant cluster, /jp/ (where /j/ is the IPA for an English "y"). In the zero-grade, the consonant /j/ turns into the vowel /i/.

What's going on in τρέπω is that the zero-grade ends up as /tr̥p-/, with the /r/ acting like a vowel in proto-indo-european. In fact, all the resonants, /r/, /l/, /m/ and /n/, could act as vowels in PIE. But, Greek didn't care for this, and so resolved these differently. /r̥/ and /l̥/ usually became /ra/ /la/ or /ar/ /al/ in various circumstances, with different dialects taking different paths (Attic καρδία, Homeric κραδίη in certain formulas, Cypriot κορζία). And some dialects went with with /ro/ /lo/ or /ol/ /or/.

In any case, ablaut did lead to the initial change, but /a/ is not an ablauting vowel, but the result of special circumstances for syllabic resonants.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
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Re: Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby spiphany » Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:18 pm

pster wrote:Hmm. I don't see any difference in stress with respect to this verb. But maybe I don't understand stress in English. Heck, I didn't realize until fairly recently, that French doesn't really have accents, and I can speak the language! Are stress and accent the same? (Assuming we are not talking about pitch accents.) To be or not to be... Why do we put the stress on the even syllables? I'm confused.

Ah, sorry...I wasn't claiming that stress was necessarily the reason for ablaut happening in Greek, only that that's one of the causes for it -- English is a good example because unstressed vowels get reduced (compare the vowels in "nation" vs. "national" for example). The history of irregular verbs and plurals in English is a bit more complicated, but at least for the plurals the change in the vowel sound sometimes happened because there was an i-sound in the following syllable (the plural often being formed by adding an -e to the word).
Sorry if this is a bit terse and vague -- I don't really have the expertise to explain this as well as the topic deserves.

Annis: good to see you back!
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Re: Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby spiphany » Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:23 pm

Markos wrote:You raise an excellent question, but we don’t know, and we cannot know, why ablaut takes place, because we do not know whether Greek or any other language evolved accidently over thousands of years or was intelligently designed. (cf. Gen. 2:19 and 11:7)

Eh, I wouldn't be quite so quick to dismiss the work of generations of historical linguists. In many cases they have been able to demonstrate how particular sets of changes follow consistent phonetic rules. It's not a completely random phenomenon.
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Re: Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby Markos » Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:03 pm

ἔγραψεν ἡ Σπιφανη Eh, I wouldn't be quite so quick to dismiss the work of generations of historical linguists.

Χαῖρε φιλτάτη,

οἱ τῆς γλώσσης μὲν οὖν μαθηταὶ πιστεύουσιν ἐν τῇ ἐξελίξῃ. τῆς δ’ ἐξελίξης ψευδέος οὔσης, πλανῶνταί γε οὗτοι. ἄλλος δὲ τόπος τοῦτ’ ἐστιν. :D


{
sphiphany wrote: Eh, I wouldn't be quite so quick to dismiss the work of generations of historical linguists.


Hi,

“Historical” linguists begin with macro-evolution as an assumption. If that assumption be false, much of what they say will be suspect. But this is another topic for another forum. :D }
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:16 pm

I can understand taking the origins of language to be rooted in intelligent design, but Greek, even English and Italian? Surely literary history is proof of the evolution and divergence of language, showing the change from Latin to Italian, Chaucer to yourself, Homer to modern Greek. I won't argue for Greek itself, although I feel that it is manifest enough that it shares a common ancestor with Latin, but surely you will acknowledge that languages do change over time?
mihi iussa capessere fas est
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Re: Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby Markos » Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:28 pm

surely you will acknowledge that languages do change over time?


Χαῖρε

Τῇ μὲν μικρᾷ τῶν γλωσσῶν ἐξελίξῃ πιστεύω, τῇ δὲ μακρᾷ τῇ ἐκ τῶν ζωῶν οὐκ. ἐν δὲ τᾦ PIE οὐκ πιστεύω. Βιβλία γὰρ ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ γλώσσῃ οὐκ ἔχομεν. ἡ ἀληθινὴ ἡ ἐπιστήμη ἐστι περὶ τῶν βλεπομένων. ἡ οὖν μαθήσις τῶν μὴ βλεπομενουσῶν γλωσσῶν ψευδεπιστήμη ἐστιν.


{
surely you will acknowledge that languages do change over time?


Hi,


I believe in the micro-evolution of historical languages, but not in any macro-evolution of human speech from animal grunts. I do not believe that “Proto-Indo-European” ever existed because I’ve never seen anything written in this language. True science deals with observable data. Any linguistic analysis that speculates about what happened with a language before written records is a pseudo-science. }
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby annis » Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:34 pm

Is this standard practice at Textkit now? Straightforward questions on Greek morphology hijacked to become yet another dreary battlefront in the endless American culture wars?
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Re: Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby pster » Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:44 am

annis wrote:Is this standard practice at Textkit now? Straightforward questions on Greek morphology hijacked to become yet another dreary battlefront in the endless American culture wars?


No. At least not in the Learning Greek forum. Typically I ask some flatfooted question and spiphany or Nate answers it. :D
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Re: Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby GroundLuminous » Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:03 am

I made an account to second this. Let's try to avoid stupidity and anti-intellectualism here, people. There are myriad other arenas online for that. I enjoy coming here and following along with people as I teach myself attic, and I don't want that to change.






annis wrote:Is this standard practice at Textkit now? Straightforward questions on Greek morphology hijacked to become yet another dreary battlefront in the endless American culture wars?
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Re: Root vowel in τρέπω

Postby annis » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:28 pm

pster wrote:Typically I ask some flatfooted question and spiphany or Nate answers it. :D


οὕτω δὴ πάντες ἀρχόμεθα. :)
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
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