CRITICAL POST: The active middle voice template, akeomai = I repair or I make amends for… in the five major tenses in Mycenaean Linear B & ancient Greek

CRITICAL POST: The active middle voice template, akeomai = I repair or I make amends for...  in the five major tenses in Mycenaean Linear B & ancient Greek:

In all of the ancient East Greek dialects, right on down from Mycenaean Linear B to Arcado-Cypriot, its closest cousin (ca. 1100-400 BCE), through to Homeric Greek (ca. 800 BCE, a hodgepodge amalgam of various early ancient Greek dialects), to Ionic and Attic Greek (ca. 500-400 BCE), right on through to Hellenistic Greek (ca. 300-100 BCE) to New Testament Koine Greek (ca. 100 AD) and even to modern Greek, the active middle voice was extremely common, playing an indispensable role in the expression of verbal actions. In fact, it was probably even more common than the standard active voice, which we have already covered under the verb kauo = to burn.

In Mycenaean Linear B and in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects, the template for active middle voice is here represented by the verb, akeomai = I repair -or- I make amends (for myself). The 5 major indicative active tenses represented are, once again:

the present active middle voice
the future active middle voice
the imperfect active middle voice
the aorist (or simple past) active middle voice
the perfect active middle voice

all conjugated in full in this table:


What is the function of the active middle voice in Mycenaean Linear B & ancient (as well as modern) Greek?

It is a very good thing to ask — in fact, it is crucial to the proper understanding of the critical difference between the standard active voice and the middle voice of verbs in Greek. The two voices are simply not the same. The standard active voice, as in the verb, kauo (present), kauso (future), ekauon (imperfect), ekausa (aorist or simple past) & kekausa (perfect) simply indicates something that someone does, will do, was doing, did or has done, with no further qualifications.

The active middle voice is quite another kettle of fish. It is much more active (quite literally!) and much more dynamic. The active middle voice denotes any of the following activities:

1. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject takes a powerful personal interest in whatever action he or she is undertaking;
2. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject acts strictly on his or her own behalf, without any direct influence of or consideration of whatever anyone else may think or adjudge about said action;
3. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject acts independently, of his or her own volition, regardless;
4. Any action undertaken by the subject, which is of a reflexive nature, ie. by means of which the subject does something for or to oneself.

It goes without saying that an active present voice as so utterly complex as the active middle voice exists in no modern language, except for the fourth (4th.) application. The middle voice was of primal importance to the ancient Greeks because they were highly individualistic and egocentric (as opposed to being egoistic, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the active middle voice, except in rare instances). Reflexive verbs (4) are common in practically all modern languages. Thus, we have:

in English: I wash myself, you wash yourself, we wash ourselves etc.
et en français : je me lave, tu te laves, nous nous lavons – et ainsi de suite,
to cite just two examples.

On the other hand, the strict emphasis on personal responsibility for one’ s actions which is the preeminent characteristic of the active middle voice in Mycenaean Linear B and in ancient and modern Greek is nowhere to be found in modern Centum (Occidental) Indo-European languages such as English, French, Italian, Spanish, German etc. etc. In order to express the emphasis on direct personal responsibility innate to the active middle voice in ancient and modern Greek, modern languages have to resort to (sometimes cumbrous) circumlocutions. For instance, to express the first (1.) function of the active middle voice in ancient Greek, English has to resort to this circumlocution:

I am taking a powerful personal interest in repairing... etc.

And for the second (2.) function, this is what English has to resort to:

I am acting strictly on my own behalf in repairing (regardless of what anyone else thinks of it)

And for the third (3.) function:

I am acting entirely on my own (or independently) to repair etc.

Quite the circumlocutions in comparison with the active middle voice in ancient Greek, which is always so compactly and eloquently expressed by a single word, regardless of tense!

Consequently, it is virtually impossible to grasp the several meanings (at least 4) inherent to the active middle voice in ancient Greek, unless one has a firm grasp on the 4 principal functions I have outlined here. I repeat, the distinction between the simple active voice and the active middle voice in both ancient and modern Greek is fundamental to a proper understanding of the divergent functioning of these two active tenses, the simple active and the active middle.

Progressive Mycenaean Linear B derived (D) grammar, Phase 2: the future infinitive

Progressive Mycenaean Linear B derived (D) grammar, Phase 2: the future infinitive

In the table below you will find the future infinitive form of thematic (so-called regular) verbs in ancient Greek along with their counterparts in derived (D) Mycenaean Greek. The Mycenaean Greek is said to be derived (D), since there are no attested (A) forms of future infinitives on any extant Linear B tablets. However, the future infinitive is so easily formed from the present that it is certain that the Mycenaean forms I have provided below are correct:


Here, the future infinitive is provided only for verbs of which the stem of the present infinitive terminates with a vowel. Thus, damauein => damausein, eisoraiein => eisoraisein etc., and the shift from the Mycenaean Linear B present infinitive to the future is identical, thus:

damaue => damause, eisoraie => eisoraise etc.

It is imperative that you read the three notes at the end of the table above; otherwise, you will not understand why ancient Greek resorted to future infinitives when it was strictly called for. Since ancient Greek is the mother of all modern Centum (Occidental) languages, it contains every possible variant in conjugations and declensions to be found in the latter, except that modern Occidental languages never contain all of the elements of ancient Greek grammar. The lack of a future infinitive in modern Centum languages (at least as far as I know) bears testimony to the fact that ancient Greek contains more grammatical elements than any modern language. Each modern language borrows some, but never all, grammatical elements from ancient Greek. The upshot is that ancient Greek grammar is significantly more complex than ancient Latin and all modern Occidental languages. This will become painfully obvious as we progress through each grammatical element, one after another in ancient Greek, including Mycenaean. For instance, the next grammatical form we shall be addressing is the aorist or simple past infinitive, another one which does not appear in any modern Western language.

NEW link added: ANCIENTSCRIPTS.COM at the bottom of the page

NEW link added: ANCIENTSCRIPTS.COM at the bottom of the page:

You can click on it here:

Ancient Scripts

but once this post is passed, you will have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to:

Friends & Links (Bottom left)

and then click on the site’s name:

ancient scripts link LBK&M

This is an extremely comprehensive site on ancient languages, Occidental and Oriental.

NEWS RELEASE! Just a few of the KEY Twitter Accounts following us

NEWS RELEASE! Just a few of the KEY Twitter Accounts following us: Click our banner to view our Twitter account:

Twitter KONOSO Knossos

Note that the number of Twitter accounts following us has grown from about 500 at the beginning of 2014 to just short of 800 now, growing at a rate of 10-20 new followers per month.  

As of December 2014, we have the honour and privilege of being followed by some of the more significant, indeed some of the most important Twitter accounts. Of these, perhaps the most impressive is none other than The British Museum, with 428,000 followers: Click on its banner to visit their Twitter (also Click on all of the other Twitter accounts below to do the same): Click here:

Twitter The British Museum
You will perhaps have noticed that The British Museum follows fewer than 10 % of the Twitter accounts who follow them; so it is particularly telling that they decided to follow us.

Here are some more Twitter accounts of direct relevance to ours, starting with linguistics:

Twitter Babel
Once again, Babel follows just over 10 % of those who follow them. They stood up and noticed us.

And here we have just of few of the scores of Twitter accounts relevant to ours following us:

Twitter language crawler

Twitter logos ancient Greek

Twitter Erik Welo University of Oslo
Twitter Orestes Agamemnon

who by the way lives in Mycenae.

Twitter Greek+Latin Grammar

Twitter Archaeology & Arts

Twitter Philosophical Gree
And here are just two of the most popular MEDIA and Promotional accounts on Twitter now following us (some of them with 100s of thousands of followers):

Twitter Terri Bauman

Twitter Kigray memoe! 2014 R2l


The Homophone HA, used less often than AI, but equally significant… if not more so!

The Homophone HA, used less often than AI, but equally significant: Click to ENLARGE:

HA homophone series Linear B 

This makes for entertaining reading, though possibly somewhat perplexing to some.
Let no-one be under any illusion that the Linear B homophone HA is any less significant than AI, regardless of the fact that it appears less often in Linear B texts on extant tablets. The homophone HA is not a diphthong! This homophone (HA) takes an enormous leap forward, specifically and exclusively in the Linear B syllabary, by explicitly expressing initial or even internal aspirated A’s. This incredible achievement eclipsed even the ancient Greek alphabet, which, need I remind you, was always written in CAPS (uppercase) alone, and hence, was utterly incapable of expressing any aspirated, let alone, unaspîrated vowels.

"What” I hear you indignantly explain, "Of course, they had aspirated and unaspirated vowels.” Yes, they did. But they never expressed them. Search any ancient alphabetical text in any dialect whatsoever for aspirated or unaspirated vowels, and you search in vain. Search Linear B, and voilà, staring us squarely in the face, is the aspirated A. Astonishing? Perhaps... perhaps not. But what this tells us unequivocally is that the ancient Greeks, even after the appearance of the alphabet, must have pronounced aspirated and unaspirated vowels, because in Mycenaean Greek, the aspirated A is squarely in the syllabary.
"But”, I hear you exclaim again, "If those Mycenaeans were so smart, why didn’t they also have a homophone for the aspirated E, which pops up all over the place in Medieval manuscripts in Classical Greek?”  The answer is that Mycenaean Greek almost certainly had no use for the aspirated E, since all classical Greek words beginning with an aspirated E invariably begin with an aspirated A in Mycenaean Greek, as for instance, Mycenaean "hateros” versus classical Greek "heteros” (well, in most dialects, if not all). In other words, Mycenaean Greek grammar has no homophone for aspirated E, simply because they never used it, nor were they even aware of its existence. 

Still, the fact remains that, at least where the aspirated A is concerned, Linear B was one step ahead of ancient alphabetical Greek. Both aspirated and unaspirated initial consonants were a feature introduced into written classical Greek alphabet only in the Middle Ages, when monks & other scribes began making extensive use of lower case letters. And, sure enough, along with the aspiration and non-aspiration of initial vowels (most often A, E & U), they also introduced all those other crazy accents we all must now memorize: the acute, grave, circumflex and susbscripted iota, just to make reading ancient Greek wretchedly more complicated. Don’t you wish they had left well enough alone? I often do. But this was not to be, since from the Middle Ages, and especially from the Renaissance on, almost all Occidental languages (Greek & French being two of the worst offenders) used accents liberally. Apparently only the Romans never bothered with accents ... but even here we cannot be sure, as they too wrote only in CAPS (uppercase).  Even English, which is the Western language most adverse to accents, always uses them in borrowed words from French, Italian, Spanish etc.  So you just can’t win.
Once again, amongst the ancient languages, at least as far as I know, Linear B alone was able to explicitly express the initial aspirated A, just as Linear B had the common sense to separate every word on the tablets from the next with a vertical line (|). After that, "something got lost in translation” (so to speak), and for at least 2 millennia, when all of a sudden everyone in the whole world went bonkers for accents.

Such are the vagaries of linguistics.