Are second Aorist tenses in Ancient Greek more frequent that first Aorist?

By: | Post date: 2017-02-23 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, Linguistics

More frequent? No. But certainly very noticeable!

The second and first aorists are equivalents of the strong and weak verbs of Germanic. Strong verbs and second aorists form their past tense by ablaut, vowel change. Weak verb and first aorists form their past tense by suffix. The older pattern is the ablaut; the newer and more frequent pattern is the suffixation. There’s more second aorists in Homer than in Attic.

As the new pattern generalises, the verbs that hold out in the old pattern the longest are very frequent verbs, which are quite entrenched in people’s memories, and people don’t feel as compelled to simplify. So εἶδον “I saw”, ἔβαλον “I put”, ἦλθον “I came”. Have a look at this list of frequent second aorists in the New Testament: Second Aorist

And the second aorist was stone dead by Early Modern Greek, but it did in fact enjoy a resurgence in the Koine, particularly with passives in the Septuagint. βασταγῆναι for example instead of βασταχθῆναι. Cf. Modern US English dove for dived: Dove vs. dived – Grammarist

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