New Home for this Blog

Welcome to the new home of the Greek Language and Linguistics Blog. On Saturday, September 25, 2010 I began migrating the blog to its new home at Until now it had been hosted at I will keep it active there until I can assure that the traffic currently going there has made its way to the new location.

If you have linked to the blog at WordPress, please update your links to

I hope you enjoy the new look, and I look forward to integrating the blog more fully with the other resources available here at

Dr. Rod Decker's NT Resources Blog

I have added Dr. Rod Decker’s NT Resources Blog to the Blogs page at In keeping with the focus of on Linguistics and Ancient Greek, I include on the blogs page only blogs that deal directly with Linguists or that fairly regularly discuss in detail Greek texts from the Hellenistic period. Dr. Decker’s blog fits the second category well.

Pay him a visit at NT Resources if you enjoy discussions of the Greek text of the New Testament.

Since many of the users of do not know about this blog, I have posted a link to it on the main page there.

There is already a “blogs” page at that provides links to Mike Aubrey’s blog ΕΝ ΕΦΕΣΩ and Steve Runge’s NT Discourse blog. I will be updating that page in the near future as well.

Renaming the Greek "Middle" Voice?

I agree with Carl Conrad that the term “Middle Voice” creates the false impression that the real contrast in Greek is between active and passive and that the “middle” voice is something of a misfit in an otherwise clear system. I have been thinking about what term could be used to replace “middle” that would avoid this implication and better fit the actual usage of what we have all been calling the “middle” voice.

Here’s my problem: The Greek middle voice is clearly NOT equivalent to the English reflexive construction, but it IS very much like the reflexive of some other IndoEuropean languages. I happen to be a fluent speaker of Spanish, so examples from that language are very easy for me to produce, but the same is true for French and Italian according to what I have read on those languages.

Here are a few Spanish reflexive constructions with English equivalents. Notice that there is a good deal of difference between the two languages in their use of reflexives. All of the Spanish sentences have reflexive constructions. Many of the English equivalents do not.

Me corté.
I cut myself.
Me corté el dedo.
I cut my finger.
Me voy.
I’m leaving.
Me compré un nuevo reloj.
I bought myself a new watch.
¿Te diste cuenta que Alfredo ya llegó?
Did you realize that Alfredo has arrived?
Se despertó el bebe.
The baby woke up.

Of course I could write hundreds of these examples easily, but I think this is enough to make the point. Reflexive constructions vary widely between languages. The Greek “middle” voice is very much like the reflexive of Romance languages, but quite unlike the English reflexive. If I were writing a Greek grammar in Spanish, there’s no question of what I would call the “middle” voice: la voz reflexiva. But calling it the “Reflexive Voice” in English could cause serious confusion since many “middle” voice Greek verbs require active voice English translations, not reflexive ones.

So, what should we call the “middle” voice to avoid the confusion caused by the term “middle” and also avoid the confusion that could be created by calling this voice “reflexive” in English?

Carl Conrad's "Understanding Ancient Greek Voice"

Several links in the discussion below have ceased to work, so I have disabled them. You can now find the papers referenced in this post at Professor Conrad’s Ancient Greek Voice page at Washington State University.

If you are interested in the topic of Voice and the problematic issue of deponency, you should read Carl Conrad’s “Active, Middle, and Passive: Understanding Ancient Greek Voice.” It’s available as a PDF download from

For further discussion of the same issues, see his “New Observations on Voice in the Ancient Greek Verb.” This 21 page discussion provides wonderful detail and clear reasoning. He raises compelling questions about the semantic import of the morphological distinction between what have traditionally been called the aorist middle and passive forms.

You can find the paper at

It’s wonderful to have both his and Pennington’s views on the topic available online for free!

Topical Index

The topical index is now up to 82 topics linked to 272 specific sections within the grammar. This should be enough to enable you to quickly find where I have discussed your pet issue, or perhaps to determine that I haven’t discussed it yet! Give it a try. I would love to hear your reaction to the way I have presented any issue of interest to you.

The topics include everything from traditional grammatical categories to terms from Linguistics that I have found useful in writing the grammar.

Have fun.

Topical Index