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Modern medio-Passive voice

Discussion in 'Ελληνικά (Greek)' started by jlang14, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. jlang14 New Member

    I noticed that most verb conjugators don't give the show the passive forms of a verb. Is this because it tends not to be used? Basically, is the medio-passive voice common in Modern Greek? If yes, do you know of any online conjugators which show the passive forms of the verb?

  2. Αγγελος Senior Member

    I don't know about conjugators, but the medio-passive voice is very common in Modern Greek, including in some very common cases where the passive form would NOT necessarily be used in English, such as
    -- spontaneous processes:
    το αλάτι διαλύεται στο νερό = salt dissolves in water, καίγομαι = I'm on fire!
    -- expressions of possibility: το σπίτι φαίνεται από δω = the house is visible (=can be seen) from here, το βιβλίο διαβάζεται εύκολα = the book reads (=can be read) easily,
    -- reflexive verbs: πλένομαι = I wash myself, ξυρίζομαι = I shave myself
    -- deponent verbs (έρχομαι, εύχομαι, φοβάμαι...)

    Note also some inconsistencies, such as ζεσταίνομαι = I'm hot (passive of ζεσταίνω = heat up) vs. κρυώνω, which means both 'I cool' and 'I am cold' (there is no *κρυώνομαι).
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2013
  3. jlang14 New Member

    Thanks, I really appreciate that info! Does anybody else know of any conjugators?
  4. panettonea Senior Member

    I'm a bit confused--what is the medio-passive voice? My latest book certainly doesn't use that term--it would consider all the verbs listed above to be passive, but it does use the terms deponent, reflexive, etc.
  5. Perseas Senior Member

    Yes, with respect to their forms, the verbs of Modern Greek belong to two groups, called voices (φωνές): ενεργητική φωνή (active voice) & παθητική φωνή (passive voice). The active voice includes the verbs that end in -ω in the 1st person singular of present (θέλω, ζω, etc.). The passive voice includes the verbs that end in -μαι in the 1st person singular of present (γελιέμαι, μιμούμαι, etc.). Therefore, the distinction active/passive voices is sheer morphological. Here is a link from the grammar book taught in schools with the chapter, which concerns the verbs (It is in Greek).

    With respect to the sense a verb is used (activity, passivity, state), verbs belong to 4 groups, called dispositions (διαθέσεις). There are 4 kinds: active, passive, middle and neutral.

    F.ex. Ο γεωργός οργώνει το χωράφι (οργώνει: active voice & active disposition) <<The farmer ploughs the field>>
    Ο Γιάννης ντύνεται (ντύνεται: passive voice & middle disposition) <<Yannis is dressed>>
    Χρειάζομαι χρόνο (Χρειάζομαι: passive voice & active disposition) <<I need time>>
    Το παιδί κοιμάται (κοιμάται: passive voice & neutral disposition) <<The child sleeps>
  6. panettonea Senior Member

    Sheerly morphological, my dear Watson. ;)


    And when used by non-native speakers, any Greek verb, with respect to sense, may also belong to a recently discovered 5th group: nonsense. :D

    Thanks for the explanations. I guess that many books, in teaching Greek to non-native speakers, don't use this same approach. I believe the Farmakides book might have used the term middle voice, but the Comprehensive book doesn't use either middle or neutral (or anything similar). And I don't think either book used the term disposition. The middle disposition sounds like the reflexive sense.
  7. Αγγελος Senior Member

    In ancient Greek, διάθεσις (literally meaning 'disposition') also had a morphological correlate: the aorist of e.g. λύομαι was ελυσάμην if it meant "I untied myself" and ελύθην if it meant "I was untied (by somebody else)". Forms like ελυσάμην were termed μέσοι (=middle); forms like ελύθην were termed παθητικοί (=passive). Thus one could (and did) speak of a "middle" (or medial) voice and of a "passive" voice, sometimes interchangeably. In modern Greek, the middle forms have disappeared without a trace, but grammars still sometimes use the term "μέση" or even "μεσοπαθητική φωνή", as I did earlier, needlessly confusing the issue.

    The reflexive meaning (do something to or for oneself) was only one of the many uses of the ancient Greek 'middle' forms, but you don't want to go into that :)

    "Deponent" verbs (αποθετικά ρήματα in Greek) are verbs which are only conjugated in the passive voice, such as δέχομαι, σκέφτομαι or ονειρεύομαι.
  8. Live2Learn Junior Member

    English - USA
    I think the wording here is a bit ambiguous and may cause confusion. In other words, ετοιμάζομαι is a verb that is also "only conjugated in the passive voice", simply because it ends in -ομαι and so has the form of a passive. It has an active form, ετοιμάζω, though, and that is why it is NOT a deponent verb. Τhere is no verb δέχω οr σκέφτω or oνειρεύω. Deponent verbs are active in meaning, but passive in form. Δέχομαι has the form of a passive verb and is conjugated as a passive verb, but has an active meaning in that it can take an object, e.g. Δέχομαι την τιμωρία, σε σκέφτομαι, σε ονειρεύομαι συχνά. And I think that explains their name, αποθετικά ρήματα or deponent verbs: The passive meaning is 'put aside' and they are left with an active meaning.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2013
  9. panettonea Senior Member

    Well, actually, I heard they found one in the bushes a few blocks down from the Parthenon a couple weeks ago. Of course, someone probably already has it up for sale on eBay by now. ;)

    So I guess many modern texts for teaching the Greek language purposely avoid that term.

    Νομίζω έχετε δίκιο. :)
  10. panettonea Senior Member

    I remember first hearing about deponent verbs way back in high school when I took Latin. I don't think our teacher ever explained the etymology behind the term, though. Of course, it's possible I just don't remember. :) Very helpful to know this.

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