Chapter 22: Greek Verbs and their Derivatives

§134. The Greek Verb in English Vocabulary

As a general principle, we have observed that Greek words tend to show up in English with less systematic predictability than do Latin forms. In Part I of the course, we could learn half a dozen Latin adjectival suffixes (for example) and then predict the exact spelling that many complicated Latin words were likely to assume in English. We could study the Latin present participle and produce immediately a page or more of English words that perfectly reflect that form. Etymological history hasn’t been that neat on the Greek side. In our work with Greek vocabulary, therefore, we are emphasizing basic roots and stems, more to recognize the meaning of English derivatives than to explain their form.

For this and other reasons, there is little point in making a systematic assault upon Greek verb morphology. The present infinitive will be mentioned out of academic interest, but you won’t have to study the perfect and present participles—though both those grammatical forms do exist. We are going to concentrate almost entirely on gaining familiarity with the Greek VERB ROOTS that have had the greatest influence on English. For the first time in the course, you will be asked to study word roots in isolation, without worrying about their historical use within whole words. You will be shown how some of these roots act as bases in the formation of other parts of speech, and you will be given guidance in understanding their English derivatives; but no attempt will be made to familiarize you with the actual Greek verb system.

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§134. The Greek Verb in English Vocabulary by Peter Smith (Estate) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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