Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].

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Parts of Speech 189

Parts of Speech.—Greek has the following parts of speech: substantives, adjectives, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and particles. In this Grammar noun is used to include both the substantive and the adjective.


Inflection is the change in the form of nouns, pronouns, and verbs which indicates their relation to other words in the sentence. Declension is the inflection of substantives, adjectives (including participles), and pronouns; conjugation is the inflection of verbs.


Stems.—Inflection is shown by the addition of endings to the stem, which is that part of a word which sets forth the idea; the endings fit the word to stand in various relations to other words in the sentence. The endings originally had distinct meanings, which are now seldom apparent. In verbs they represent the force of the personal pronouns in English; in nouns they often correspond to the ideas expressed by of, to, for, etc. Thus, the stem λογο- becomes λόγο-ς word, the stem λεγο- becomes λέγο-μεν we say. Whether a stem is used as a noun or a verb depends solely on its signification; many stems are used both for nouns and for verbs, as τι_μα_- in τι_μή honour, τι_μα- in τι_μά-ω I honour; ἐλπιδ- in ἐλπί (δ) hope, ἐλπίζω I hope (ἐλπιδ-ιω). The pure stem, that is, the stem without any ending, may serve as a word; as χώρα_ land, λέγε speak! λόγε oh word!


The stem often changes in form, but not in meaning, in nouns and verbs. Thus, the stem of λόγο-ς word is λογο- or λογε-, of πατήρ father is πατερ- (strong stem) or πατρ- (weak stem); of λείπο-μεν we leave is λειπο-, of ἐ-λίπομεν we left is λιπο-. The verbal stem is also modified to indicate change in time: τι_μή-σο-μεν we shall honour.


Roots.—The fundamental part of a word, which remains after the word has been analyzed into all its component parts, is called a root. When a stem agrees in form with a root (as in ποδ-ός, gen. of πούς foot) it is called a root-stem. A root contains the mere idea of a word in the vaguest and most abstract form possible. Thus, the root λεγ, and in another form λογ, contains the idea of saying simply. By the addition of a formative element ο we arrive at the stems λεγο- and λογο- in λέγο-μεν we say, λόγο-ς word (i.e. what is said).

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Words are built by adding to the root certain formative suffixes by which the stem and then the word, ready for use, is constructed. Thus, from the root λυ are formed λύ-σι-ς loosing, λύ-τρο-ν ransom, λυ-τι-κό-ς able to loose, λυ-θῆ-ναι to have loosed. The formation of the stem by the addition of suffixes to the root is treated in Part III. The root itself may assume various forms without change of meaning, as λεγ in λέγ-ο-μεν we say, λογ in λόγ-ο-ς word.

N.—Since Greek is connected with the other Indo-European languages, the roots which we establish in Greek by analysis of a word into its simplest form often reappear in the connected languages (p. 1, A). Thus, the root φερ of φέρω I bear is seen in Sanskrit bhárāmi, Lat. fero, Germ. ge-bären. The assumption of roots is merely a grammatical convenience in the analysis of word-forms, and their determination is part of comparative grammar. Roots and suffixes as such never existed as independent words in Greek, or indeed in any known period of the parent language from which Greek and the other Indo-European tongues are derived. The theory that all roots are monosyllables is ill supported. As far back as we can follow the history of the Indo-European languages we find only complete words; hence their analysis into component morphological elements is merely a scientific device for purposes of arrangement and classification.

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Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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