A morphosyntactic and semantic analysis of the use and absence of the augment in the oldest Greek texts (literature and inscriptions)

01 October 2017 → 31 December 2020
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
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the augment
Project description

In Germanic languages like Dutch and English, the past tense is mostly (with exception of the

strong verbs) formed by adding a suffix to the verb: "I play" versus "I played". In some older Indo-

European languages, the difference between present and past tense was not only marked by

different endings, but also by a prefix that was added to the verbal form. This prefix is called

"augment" and is used in in Greek, Armenian, Phrygian, Indic and Iranian. In the oldest texts of

Greek, Indic and Iranian (all of them dating back to the 2nd Millennium BC), this particle was often

absent and only became obligatory later on. I intend to investigate the Greek material to find out

what the original meaning and uses of this particle were. I will do this by analysing the oldest

Greek literary texts and inscriptions. My hypothesis is that the augment was originally used when

the speaker described an past action in his vicinity or in the recent past and that from those

specific contexts, the use of the augment was extended to other contexts and eventually became