Inflected words generally consist of two distinct parts: a stem and an inflectional ending ( cross191):
|δῶρο-ν||gift,||stem δωρο-,||inflectional ending ν;|
|λύ_ο-μεν||we loose,||stem λι_ο-,||inflectional ending μεν.|
a. The inflectional endings of nouns and verbs, and the formation of verbal stems, have been treated under Inflection. The formation of words, as discussed here, deals primarily with the formation of noun-stems, of verbal stems derived from nouns, and of compound words. Uninflected words (adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and particles) are mostly of pronominal origin and obscure; such adverbs as show case forms are mentioned in 341 ff.823
Some stems are identical with roots (
|βοῦ-ς ||μῦ-ς ||ὗ-ς |
|εἷς ||ναῦ-ς ||φλόξ |
|θήρ ||ὄψ ||χείρ |
|κλώψ ||πούς ||χθών |
Most stems are derived from roots by the addition of one or more formative suffixes.
|δῶ-ρο-ν||gift,||stem δωρο-,||root δω (δί-δω-μι ||suffix ρο-.|
|γραμ-ματ-εύ-ς||scribe,||stem γραμματευ-,||root γραφ,||suffixes ματ and ευ.|
a. Most words are therefore built up from root, suffix, and inflectional ending by a process of composition analogous to that seen in compounds ( cross869 ff.), in which the union of the various elements yields an idea different from that seen in each of the parts.825
A stem is primary if only one suffix is added to the root (δῶ-ρο-ν); secondary, when more than one suffix is added to the root (γραμ-ματ-εύ-ς).826
There are two kinds of stems: noun-stems (substantive and adjective) and verb-stems.827
Words containing a single stem are called
According to the character of the suffix words are called:
Root γραφ: γράφ-ω
Verb-stem γεν-ε in γενέ-σθαι
b. Denominative (or Secondary): formed from a noun-stem (substantive or adjective) or adverb.
Suffixes forming primitive words are called
a. The distinction between primary and secondary suffixes is not original and is often neglected. Thus, in δεινός
b. It is often difficult to determine whether a suffix is added to a verb-stem or to a noun-stem: ἰσχυ_-ρός
c. A primitive word may be formed from a verb-stem which is itself denominative: τοξευ-τής
d. A denominative often has no corresponding primitive; sometimes the latter has been lost, sometimes it was presumed for the purpose of word-formation by the imitative process always at work in the making of language. Thus, δέμ-ν-ιο-ν
To determine the root all suffixes must be removed from the stem until only that part remains which contains the fundamental idea.
a. Most roots are noun-roots or verb-roots; but originally a root was neither noun or verb ( cross193). Some roots are pronominal, and express direction or position. Greek has many words whose roots cannot be discovered. The form of a root in Greek is not necessarily that which Comparative Grammar shows was common to the cognate languages.
b. Since the origin of many words, even with the help of the cognate languages, is uncertain, we are often at a loss where to make the dividing line between root and suffix. Suffixes are often preceded by a vowel which may be regarded as a part of the suffix or as an expansion of the root (by some scholars regarded as a part of the root itself).831
Changes of the root-vowel.—a. The root-vowel is sometimes strong,
sometimes weak: ει, οι (weak ι); ευ, ου (weak υ); η or ω (weak α or ε). λεῖμ-μα
b. ε often varies with ο, sometimes with α; η sometimes varies with ω. γόν-ο-ς
Root-determinatives.—A consonant standing between root and suffix (or ending), and not modifying the meaning of the root, is called a root-determinative.
a. The origin of root-determinatives is obscure. In part they may be relics of roots, in part due to the analogy of words containing the consonants in question.833
Suffixes.—A suffix is a formative element added to a root (or to a stem) and standing between the root and the ending. Suffixes limit or particularize the general meaning of the root; but only in a few cases is the distinct meaning of the suffix known to us.
a. The origin of the Greek suffixes is often obscure; of those inherited from the parent language only some were employed to make new words; others were formed by Greek itself (productive suffixes). From the analogy of the modern languages we infer that some suffixes were once independent words, which, on becoming a part of a compound, lost their signification. Thus -hood, -head in childhood, godhead are derived from Old Eng. ‘hād,’ Gothic ‘haidus’ character, nature; -ship in ownership, courtship, comes from a lost word meaning ‘shape’; -ly in friendly from Old Eng. ‘līc’ body. So -ώδης meaning
Conversely, many suffixes, themselves insignificant, acquired a definite meaning by reason of the root with which they were associated.—Irrespective of its meaning, one word may serve as a model for the creation of another word; as
b. Many dissyllabic suffixes, due to a combination of the final letter or letters of the stem and an original monosyllabic suffix, adapt themselves to independent use. Cp.
c. Simple suffixes are often added to case forms or adverbs, thus producing,
by contamination, dissyllabic suffixes; as ἀρχαῖ-ο-ς
d. Many compound suffixes are formed by the union of two suffixes, new stems being created by the addition of a suffix to a stem, as: τηρ-ιο 851. 2, ισκ-ιο 852. 6, ισκ-ιδιο 854. See cross854.
e. Suffixes often show gradations: τηρ, τωρ, τερ, τρ ( cross36 N. 1) as in δο-τήρ, δώ-τωρ, δότειρα (out of δοτερ-ῖα)
Changes in stems.—Various changes occur when a suffix is added to a stem.
a. The final vowel of a stem is contracted with the initial vowel of a suffix: ὀφί_διον
b. A long final vowel of a stem may be shortened before the initial vowel of a suffix: δίκα-ιο-ς
c. A final vowel or diphthong may be dropped before the initial vowel of a suffix: σοφ-ία_
d. The final letter or letters of a consonant stem may be dropped: σωφρο-σύνη
e. The final consonant of a stem undergoes regular euphonic change before the initial consonant of a suffix: βλέμ-μα
f. Stems in ο have an alternative in ε (cp. ἵππο-ς, voc. ἵππε; 229 b). This ε often appears in denominatives: οἰκέ-ω
g. Derivatives of α_ stems may apparently show ω in place of α_; as στρατιώ-της
h. Vowel stems, especially those derived from verbs, often lengthen a final short vowel before a suffix beginning with a consonant: ποίη-μα
i. Vowel stems sometimes insert a vowel before a suffix beginning with a consonant: πολι-ή-τη-ς, Ionic for πολί_-τη-ς
j. Consonant stems, and vowel stems not ending in ο, often show ο before a suffix in denominatives; a stem in -ον is thus replaced by one in -ο: σωφροσύνη
Several substantives are formed by reduplication: ἀγ-ωγ-ή
Insertion of sigma.—Between root (or stem) and suffix ς is often found, and in some cases it has become attached to the suffix. This parasitic letter spread from the perfect middle, where it is properly in place only in stems in τ, δ, θ, or ς; as in σχι-ς-μό-ς
Insertion of tau.—In a few words τ is inserted before the suffixes μο, μα, μη, μην. Thus, ἐφ-ε-τ-μή
Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].