2011-03-28

Aeolic θᾶς "until"

This is an RTFM question, and someone must have already worked out the answer to it; but that someone didn't work out the answer to the question in the 19th century, which would have let me look up the answer easily online. I'm actually halfway hoping that a reader will find the answer in their library, and let me know of the writeup.

The question is, what does θᾶς mean in Alcaeus, and why.

It's a tiny word of Aeolic. (At least, I think it's Aeolic.) The tinier the word, the more difficult it is to work out what it means. And θᾶς is not a word that turns up in the documents available in the 19th century: it isn't mentioned in the Ancient grammarians, or the fragments of Alcaeus known at the time. The word turns up in two fragments dug up at Oxyrhynchus:
  • κῆνος δὲ παώθεις Ἀτρεΐδα[.].[
    δαπτέτω πόλιν ὠς καὶ πεδὰ Μυρσί̣[λ]ω̣[
    θᾶς κ’ ἄμμε βόλλητ’ Ἄρευς ἐπιτ.ύχε..[
    τρόπην· ἐκ δὲ χόλω τῶδε λαθοίμεθ..[·
    But let him, kinsman by marriage to the Atreidai,
    keep on devouring the city just as he did with Myrsilos,
    until such time as Ares chooses to turn us
    to our weapons. This present anger may we put from our minds... (Page & Lobel fr. 70 lines 6–9; translation from A.M. Miller)
  • ...]ξηι δὲ θᾶς̣ κε Ζεῦς̣ [ "... until Zeus..." (Page & Lobel fr. 206 line 6)

Now, the translators know what θᾶς means: both the Loeb and the Miller render it as "until". Someone somewhere would have published how they worked out that θᾶς means "until". But without finding it anywhere obvious online, I don't have a citation for how they know what it means.

I can guess, which is why I have a blog.
  • θᾶς has a circumflex, which implies a contraction—i.e. that it goes back to something in proto-Greek like *tʰaos or *tʰaes
  • Attic Greek has a word for "until", which is ἕως /héɔːs/. That looks like it could be related.
  • Attic εω always makes you think of quantitative metathesis—that is, it should correspond to Ionic ηο, and proto-Greek, Doric and Aeolic *ᾱο.
  • Doric *ᾱο would have contracted to ᾱ, and would have taken a circumflex as a contract
  • And indeed, Attic ἕως /héɔːs/ corresponds to Epic ἧος, εἵως /hɛ̂ːos, héːos/, Doric ἇς /hâːs/, and Aeolic ἆς /âːs/, all meaning "until".
  • So an Aeolic θᾶς ends the same way as the Aeolic for "until".
  • But why is there an initial /tʰ/?
  • If proto-Greek had something like *ἇος /hâːos/, and we're trying to explain /tʰâːs/, the simplest explanation is /t + hâːos/. We already see /t/ prefixed to a lot of Greek pronouns and adverbs, as a demonstrative: ὅτε "when" > τότε "then", οἷος "of which sort" > τοῖος "of that sort", etc.
  • /t/ does get prefixed to ἕως, as a correlative counterpart to it: Attic τέως "in the meantime; for a while; (rarely) until".
  • The prefix also turns up in other dialects: Epic τείως (from εἵως), though the reading τῆος (from ἧος) has been metrically reconstructed in Homer.
  • Hesychius records Cretan τάως /táɔːs/ as meaning τέως. Cretan is an Archaic Doric dialect, and we would expect a proto-Doric /t + hâːos/ > */tâːos/; Kühner-Blass reports that Nauck thought the original Cretan form was indeed τᾶος, and somewhere along the line the word was respelled to match the ending of Attic τέως.

So we have an answer, right? θᾶς is derived from /t + hâːos/, like τέως is.

The problem is, none of the correlatives have /tʰ/ in them: the Doric is τάως, not *θάως, just as ὅτε goes to τότε, not *θότε. And even if correlatives did have /tʰ/, the last dialect you'd expect to find an initial breathing is Alcaeus' Aeolic, which systematically dropped its initial rough breathing (psilotic): remember that "until" in Aeolic is ἆς /âːs/, not ἇς /hâːs/.

So the derivation doesn't make sense for Aeolic, or indeed for proto-Greek; "for a while" should have been *τᾶς, not θᾶς. Because of the final two letters and the circumflex, I'm reasonably sure θᾶς is somewhow related to ἆς = ἕως, and I wouldn't be flabbergasted if the θ- turns out to have been a mistake. (The papyri in Oxyrhynchus weren't personally penned by Alcaeus: they reflect a standard later edition, which we guess introduced elements from the later Aeolic of Asia Minor, and could have distorted the language in other ways.)

If it does turn out to be something completely different, well, that will be a relief...

...Read more

2011-03-16

Dictionary Updates: Kriaras, Vol. XVII; Trapp, Fasc. VII

New volumes of Kriaras' and Trapp's dictionaries of Greek are out. Kriaras covers Vernacular Early Modern Greek, and Trapp covers (mostly learnèd) Late Mediaeval Greek, with some overlap. For background on these dictionaries—and on the coverages of the dictionaries of Greek in general—see my earlier post on Dictionary coverage of Greek.

Trapp's Dictionary, Fascicle 7 of 8, runs from right after προσπελαγίζω to the end of sigma. Currently it is available only in electronic form, from the Austrian Academy of Sciences Press; a print edition is expected in a month or so. As the linked blurb notes, Trapp has not ruled vernacular texts out of scope (and is more inclusive of non-literary texts than Kriaras); it is addressing the delay in the completion of Kriaras by using already published word lists of Early Modern Greek, to give indicative coverage. Trapp is also including words from later papyri; while its brief is ostensively late mediaeval, it does look backwards as well, given the gaps in lexicography.

2011-03-31
Kriaras' Dictionary, Vol. 17 of an expected (20?) covers πνεύσις through προβίβασις. The volume is already available in online bookstores—I've just ordered it from Patakis. The announcement linked from the Greek Language Gateway (Πύλη για την ελληνική γλώσσα) notes that the volume will be made available online by them as well, as part of Emmanuel Kriaras' Collected Works. Vol 17 isn't up, but the others are, as scans (in the kind of page-by-page interface that makes me relieved to have paper copies :-) ). The abridged dictionary, covering the first 14 volumes, is also online in a searchable interface, through the Electronic Node (Ηλεκτρονικός Κόμβος) site—both from the Centre for the Greek Language.

Sorting of breathings and accents in Unicode

Microsoft's implementation of Unicode, as a recent post by Michael Kaplan points out, sorts ἒ and ἕ as the same character. In fact, it sorts identically any vowel with acute and rough breathing, and the same vowel with grave and smooth breathing.

Why is it so? Allow me to get my geek on.

You may know that, a few years back (in fact, eight), I wrote a set of pages on Greek Unicode Issues; this purports to go through various issues that arise in representing Greek in Unicode, although it mostly ends up restating histories of the Greek script.

One of the pages tucked away at the very end is about how Unicode sorts Greek. It goes through the default algorithm for Unicode sorting Greek, which is laid out in Unicode Technical Standard #10 (the Unicode Collation Algorithm), in conjunction with the Default Unicode Collation Element Table (DUCET), the default table of how Unicode characters are to be ordered. (That's the raw data of DUCET; there is also a table rendering of what characters in Greek it brings together.)

Unicode broadcasts loud and clear that this is only a default algorithm; it is not customised to the preferences of particular languages, which are quite inconsistent between each other within the Latin script, and it does not mandate that implementations used the DUCET table; just that whatever table the implementation uses, that table should differentiate between characters with at least three different weightings. In Unicode's DUCET, Greek characters are differentiated by letter (Level 1), diacritic (Level 2), and case (Level 3).

Microsoft's implementation uses its own Collation Table, which is not DUCET. The Microsoft documentation of their sorting algorithm is in somewhat prolix pseudocode (start at §3.1.5.2 Comparing UTF-16 Strings by Using Sort Keys within the Windows Protocols Unicode Reference), but it is following the same algorithm as Unicode specifies, though without as many special cases. (On the other hand, if you read through the pseudocode, you'll see Microsoft are kept plenty busy with special cases for Hungarian and Korean.)

But the table of values Microsoft uses is different to DUCET, and that leads to the conflation of ἒ and ἕ.

Let's start with what DUCET gives you.

ἒ and ἕ are single characters, but Unicode underlyingly treats them as a combination of three characters—the letter, the breathing, and the accent; and when it comes to sorting them, it normalises them, breaking them down to those three characters—or else it sorts them as if it has already broken them down. That means that ἒ and ἕ are sorted as strings containing three characters: epsilon.smooth.grave, and epsilon.rough.acute. So any differentiation between the two will only come when it hits the second character, the breathing:

The DUCET entry for ἒ and ἕ are:
  • 1F12 ; [.18E1.0020.0002.03B5][.0000.0022.0002.0313][.0000.0035.0002.0300] # GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON WITH PSILI AND VARIA; QQCM
  • 1F15 ; [.18E1.0020.0002.03B5][.0000.002A.0002.0314][.0000.0032.0002.0301] # GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON WITH DASIA AND OXIA; QQCM

So ἒ is Unicode character 0x1F12 in hexadecimal. Its sort value is the sort value of "epsilon.smooth.grave". The sort value of epsilon is the first set of four numbers:
  • 18E1 for the letter
  • 0020 for the diacritics
  • 0002 for the case
  • 03B5 (the Unicode code for lower case epsilon) as a fallback value

By contrast, capital epsilon has [.18E1.0020.0008.0395]: it is the same letter as lowercase epsilon, with the same lack of diacritics, but has a different case. Because the case number is higher for capital than lowercase, DUCET will sort capital letters after lowercase.

If we want to distinguish ἒ and ἕ in sorting, the fact that they're both epsilons means we need to keep going. We then come to their breathings; for ἒ, the smooth breathing has the second set of four numbers:
  • 0000 means a smooth breathing is not a letter, so you're going to have to use the next value (the diacritic) to differentiate it from any other character: if you're just comparing letters, you ignore the breathing.
  • 0022 is the diacritic weight for smooth breathing. 002A is the diacritic weight for rough breathing, so smooth breathings will sort before rough.
  • 0002 is the case of the smooth breathing, which is taken as the default case, lowercase
  • 0313 (the Unicode code for smooth breathing) is once again there as a fallback value.

If we were dealing with ἔ and ἕ, with the same breathing, we would then go to the third set of four numbers, which differentiates the characters by accent. The diacritic weight for acute in DUCET is 32, and for grave is 35; so acute will sort before grave—but smooth grave will sort before rough acute, because breathing takes priority in the canonical ordering of diacritics.

That's DUCET. Microsoft have a rather simpler collation table, which is their right. Until Windows Server 2008, the precomposed Unicode characters, such as 0x1F12, did not have an entry in the collation table: if software wanted to do any sorting of polytonic, it had to break the characters apart into their component diacritics.

With Windows Server, it introduced entries for the precomposed Greek characters. But the Microsoft table does not break down the sorting weight for accented character into two or three different weights, like DUCET does. Microsoft chooses, for obvious reasons of efficiency, to assign a single diacritic weight to the whole character.

So long as you are only dealing with one diacritic on one character, that's an obvious thing to do. The DUCET for <é> is
  • 00E9 ; [.15FF.0020.0002.0065][.0000.0032.0002.0301] # LATIN SMALL LETTER E WITH ACUTE; QQCM

But the first group of four numbers (the <e>) has no real diacritic weight, and the second group of four numbers (the <´>) has no letter weight. If you just give the diacritic weighting of an acute, 0032, to the <e> letter, you'll get a single weighting, that makes perfect sense, and which gives the right sort results: [.15FF.0032.0002.00E9]. And you don't have to go through two comparisons every time you sort an accented character.

That's so long as you have one diacritic on a character, which almost all non-specialist scripts do.

I think you can see where this is going.

Polytonic Greek and Vietnamese are the only common scripts I can think of to use two and three diacritics on a letter routinely. That means that Microsoft are having to add two or three diacritic weightings, not just one, on their polytonic Greek characters.

Microsoft's diacritic weightings that Michael Kaplan mentions in his post are not DUCET's, and there's no expectation that they need to be DUCET's. They are:
  • Letter without diacritic: 2
  • Grave: 13
  • Acute: 12
  • Smooth breathing: 70
  • Rough breathing: 71

So epsilon with a smooth breathing has a diacritic weight of 2+70 = 72, and epsilon with an acute has a diacritic weight of 2+12=14.

ἒ has a diacritic weight of 2+13+70=85, and ἕ has a diacritic weight of 2+12+71=85.

Oops. And this is an accident waiting to happen, if you conflate diacritic weights in a script that puts more than one diacritic on a letter. This doesn't routinely happen outside Vietnamese and Polytonic Greek, but there it is. And because it's a fact about diacritic weights, it also applies to: ἂ ἅ, ἢ ἥ, ἲ ἵ, ὂ ὅ, ὒ ὕ, ὢ ὥ, ᾂ ᾅ, ᾒ ᾕ, ᾢ ᾥ,

So: does it matter? Microsoft has been lucky: it doesn't really.

It's not that the characters being conflated are pretty similar: they're not. The distinction between grave and acute is minimal: most of the time, the grave is a positional variant of the acute, and the grave was dropped in Late modern polytonic orthography. That's why Michael thought these characters come from different spelling traditions. But that makes ἒ a spelling variant of ἔ, not of ἕ: the distinction between smooth and rough breathings is still the main point of having polytonic accentuation at all, and there are many more minimal pairs differentiated by breathing than by acute vs circumflex.

The reason it doesn't matter though is that the default scenario for sorting words is in a word list (such as a lexicon); and in a word list, graves will be normalised into acutes. The conflation of ἒ and ἕ won't normally matter, because if you're sorting a word list, there shouldn't be any ἒ there to begin with.

In addition, it's rare that two words with the same letters, one of which has acute and rough, the other grave and smooth, would in fact be different words. The words would need to be monosyllabic, since they can have both acute and grave on the same sequence of characters. This won't happen never: ἢ "or" vs ἥ "relative pronoun (fem.sg.nom)" is the cleanest I can think of, ἢν "she was" vs ἥν "relative pronoun (fem.sg.acc)" is also good, ἒ "eh!" vs ἕ "him (Homeric)" less so. But it's pretty marginal.

Can this still lead to trouble in a word list? In theory yes, because an erstwhile lexicographic tradition distinguishes between enclitic and accented words (such as τίς "who?" vs τις "someone"), not by leaving the enclitic word unaccented, but giving the enclitic word a grave. Strong's concordance of Biblical Greek words, for example, has τίς distinguished from τὶς (though the online renderings don't always preserve the grave). This uses the original meaning of the grave, to mark unaccented syllables, which were lower pitched—like an acute was on a final syllable without a following intonation break, as the grave came to indicate exclusively.

That's in theory; in practice, no such enclitics will begin with one of our vowels that I can think of. So word lists using pre-20th century lexicographic conventions for accent are also safe.

That's Microsoft. The OSX Finder explicitly uses DUCET (but for being case insensitive), so it does not have this issue with acute-rough vs grave-smooth:
he
On the other hand, Darwin, the UNIX within OSX, seems to sort accents before breathings, and graves before acutes; so it generates the sort order ἒ ἓ ἔ ἕ. That too is wrong, but meh. I couldn't find documentation of Darwin's sort order online, nor of BSD, from which Darwin is derived.

I'm guessing it's happened because of the ordering of the Unicode code charts—the epsilons I've just listed are codepoints 0x1F12 0x1F13 0x1F14 0x1F15, because graves are consisently before acutes in the numerical coding of Unicode; but the numerical coding is supposed to be ignored in sorting, in favour of an explicit (and preferably accurate) table...
...Read more

2011-03-12

The declension of -ευς: Ionic forward to Modern Greek

In the last (but one) post, we worked out a reconstruction of the -ευς declension, to the point that we could explain the Homeric inflections. Where we wanted to get to was not Homer, but Aristophanes' Attic. But once we have the proto-forms in place, we can use sound change rules and analogy to explain how forms have changed, so that we can make sense of why Attic looked the way it did. After all, being able to account for later forms is the point of reconstruction.

I'm going to start by putting up those Homeric endings again; we'll be treating Homer, rather than proto-Greek as a starting point—because the dialects we're working with will allow that. (Epic Greek is a mishmash of a lot of dialects, but its core is Ionic; and Attic is a deviant sibling of Ionic.)
SingularDualPlural
Nomεύς eúsῆε ɛ̂ːɛῆες ɛ̂ːes
Genῆος ɛ̂ːosήοιν ɛ́ːoinήων ɛ́ːɔːn
Datῆι ɛ̂ːiήοιν ɛ́ːoinεῦσι eûsi
Accῆα ɛ̂ːaῆε ɛ̂ːɛήᾱς ɛ́ːaːs
Vocεῦ eûῆε ɛ̂ːɛῆες ɛ̂ːes
No small number of you will be quite familiar with Attic (or with Koine, or with Modern Greek, whose lineage is more or less from Attic). Some of those endings wouldn't fit in Attic at all. Why?

  • For one thing, the Homeric table has a whole lot of vowels next to other vowels. That's hiatus: Greek is normally not comfortable with hiatus, and proto-Greek vowel pairs usually merge ("contract") to a new vowel or diphthong. In fact, hiatus in Classical Greek is usually a sign that there used to be a digamma there that has dropped off; while the /w/ was there, it prevented contraction. That's exactly what has happened with these endings: *-ɛːwos > -ɛːos. But Greek kept contracting vowels after Homer, and we will see some of that on the way to Attic.
  • The other thing that may strike you as odd is that it's an eta preceding another vowel. Some vowel pairs do make it into Attic: contraction is not universal. But pairs like ηε, ηο, ηα don't show up in words of Attic: they scream out Homer. That suggests that something has happened to eta in pairs in particular, since that eta has not survived into Attic.

I'm going to start with the second observation. There is a rule that long vowels are shortened before another vowel (if they survive contraction). This doesn't happen in all dialects, and it doesn't happen to all vowels; but it does happen in Attic and Ionic with η; for example, Homeric ἠώς /ɛːɔ́ːs/ corresponds to Attic ἔως /éɔːs/.

We can use that rule, on its own, to explain what has happened in Ionic. It's not the only possible explanation, but it will serve for this exposition:
SingularPlural
Nomeúsêːs
Genéoséɔːn
Datêːeûsi
Accéaéaːs
Vocêːs

We can explain this table almost entirely by shorting the Homeric /ɛː/ systematically, whenever it occurs in front of another vowel (which, for this declension, is always). There are a couple of peculiarities:
  • The table has a long e, /êːs/, where we would expect two short e's, /ees/. That's a new contraction, and I don't think anyone should be surprised at that contraction. The suffix has a circumflex on the final syllable, which is usually a giveaway that contraction has happened.
  • The table also has a long e in the dative singular, /êː/, where we would expect /éi/. That's also a contraction (as the circumflex tells you), and the contraction shouldn't be a surprise either. In fact, the shortened /e/ occasionally turns up in this declension in Homer already, which as a result does feature the expected /éi/ -έϊ.

The contraction of /ei/ to /eː/ was early: early enough, that <ei> is actually how you write /eː/ in Ancient Greek: ει. Because /ei/ turned into /eː/, you need historical linguistics, or pre-Classical texts, to tell whether an instance of ει reflects an earlier /ei/ ("genuine diphthong"), or started out as /eː/ ("spurious diphthong").

So we've been able to explain Ionic reasonably easily as well. There's some features that the textbooks are sweeping under the carpet to simplify things, and make the dialects look purer than they are. For instance, the grammars don't highlight the fact that you'll occasionally see short epsilon in Homer; they're describing internally consistent dialect tables, that are abstracted from the messier dialect mixes of texts. But this is a clean table.

The table for Attic is not as clean, which is why you have to go via the cleaner Homeric and Ionic tables to make sense of it:
SingularDualPlural
Nomeúsɛ̂ːɛ̂ːs
Genéɔːséoinéɔːn
Datêːéoineûsi
Accéaːɛ̂ːéaːs
Vocɛ̂ːɛ̂ːs

It looks like the Ionic table, but it's not quite the same. In fact, while the Ionic table is explained by a systematic shortening of /ɛː/, the Attic table shows that the shorting was not systematic.

Let's start with the genitive singular, which is /éɔːs/ -έως, where Epic had /ɛ̂ːos/ -ῆος and Ionic had /éos/ -έος. That -εως suffix turns up as a genitive elsewhere in Attic, with both penult and antepenult stress; so Attic λύσις, λύσεως, corresponding to Ionic λύσις, λύσιος. But there's something very wrong about the accent of λύσεως /lýseɔːs/. Greek is not supposed to allow stress on the antepenult if the ultima is long (the three-mora rule): ἄνθρωπος /án.tʰrɔː.pos/, ἀνθρώπου /an.tʰrɔ́.poː/. λύσεως ends in a long syllable; but it is accented on the antepenult.

So λύσεως is accented as if it ends in a short /o/, and it is a case which in proto-Greek (and other dialects) ends in a short /o/. The conclusion is that genitive /eɔːs/ comes from the Old Ionic /ɛːos/, and (in those other declensions where it is stressed on the antepenult) is still accented like the Old Ionic /ɛːos/.

We just saw that Ionic shortened /ɛːos/ to /eos/. Attic is also shortening /ɛː/ in the suffix—but it seems to be lengthening the following /o/, in compensation. This is called quantitative metathesis: the longness of the vowel ("quantity") is being swapped ("metathesis") from the first vowel to the second; and Attic does it routinely for /ɛː/ before /o/. In fact, it does so regularly enough, that it gave rise to a new flavour of the second declension:
  • Proto-Greek *λᾱός */laːós/, Doric λᾱός /laːós/, Epic λᾱός /laːós/, Ionic ληός /lɛːós/, Attic λεώς /leɔ́ːs/, Koine λᾱός /laːós/, Modern λαός /laˈos/
  • Proto-Greek *νᾱός */naːós/, Doric νᾱός /naːós/, Epic νηός /nɛːós/, Ionic νηός /nɛːós/, Attic νεώς /neɔ́ːs/, Koine νᾱός /naːós/, Modern ναός /naˈos/

So second-declension nouns, which in Greek end in a short /o/, could end in Attic in a long /ɔː/—provided there was compensatory lengthening quantitative metathesis from a preceding /ɛː/. This was an oddity specific to Attic; and although Koine normally went along with Attic, this was an oddity that Koine smoothed over.

Compensatory lengtheningQuantitative metathesis means that Attic didn't just shorten all /ɛː/, like Ionic did. It lengthened the following syllables as well, where it could. If we do quantitative lengthening metathesis to the Homeric table, we end up with the following:
SingularDualPlural
Nomeús*éɛː*éɛːs
Genéɔːs*éɔːinéɔːn
Dat*éiː*éɔːineûsi
Accéaː*éɛːéaːs
Voc*éɛː*éɛːs

That's close to the actual Attic table. If we do some contractions, it becomes even closer. Attic liked to contract; and even if there used to be a digamma there, Attic would contract two e's together if it caught them. Remember that the aorist *ἔϝεργον /éwerɡon/ became ἔεργον /éerɡon/ in Epic, but εἶργον /êːrɡon/ in Attic—which could not stand two /e/ in a row. Attic also contracted /eɛː/ to /ɛː/; for example, the subjunctives λύ-ῃς, λύ-ητε /lý-ɛːis, lý-ɛːte/ correspond to the subjunctives *ποιέ-ῃς, *ποιέ-ητε /poié-ɛːis, poié-ɛːte/, which in Attic contract to ποιῇς, ποιῆτε /poiɛ̂ːs, poiɛ̂ːte/. (And remember: a circumflex on the final syllable points to contraction.)

If we contract /eɛː/ to /ɛː/, our mapping to Attic is pretty much done:
SingularDualPlural
Nomeúsɛ̂ːɛ̂ːs
Genéɔːs*éɔːinéɔːn
Dat*éiː*éɔːineûsi
Accéaːɛ̂ːéaːs
Vocɛ̂ːɛ̂ːs

Chantraine in his historical morphology reports that inscriptions do contain -έης /éɛːs/ plurals at around 400 BC; but the default plural was contracted -ῆς /ɛ̂ːs/.

There are two exceptions to deal with in the table; Chantraine takes it upon himself to address both. The dative is not uncontracted */éiː/ (έῑ), but contracted /êː/ (εῖ), just as in Ionic; its protoform (as with Ionic) is */ei/ not */ɛːi/. Chantraine says that the short /e/ of */ei/ was an analogy from other cases (eús, éɔːs, éaː); maybe, but I can see /éiː/ contracting to /eː/ anyway, and there were plenty of /eː/ datives in other third declension nouns, to serve as an analogy.

The other exception is the dual genitive/dative, which is not *έῳν /éɔːin/, but έοιν /éoin/—again, as it would have been in Ionic, with no quantitative metathesis. The dual was already dying out in Attic, and was dead in Ionic; that's why I didn't give any Ionic duals above. So Attic can't have borrowed έοιν from Ionic. Chantraine's take on it is cheeky, with the kind of cheekiness that neogrammarians can display: if the manuscripts have a dual that doesn't match the predictions of historical linguistics, then the manuscripts must be wrong.

In particular, Chantraine latches on to a genitive plural βασιλέων in Aescyhlus (Suppliants 327), which refers to two kings: this might have been a correction of the original dual βασιλέῳν. And the 1972 Page edition does indeed present βασιλέωιν in this text: πῶς οὖν τελευτᾶι βασιλέωιν νείκη τάδε; "So how did this strife between kings end up?"

Again, maybe; but again, έοιν duals turn up elsewhere in Attic, and could have served as a pattern of analogy to get rid of the idiosyncratic (and rare) dual. The same ending shows up in the dual for "ships": proto-Greek *νᾱοῖν /naːoîn/, Homeric *νηοῖν /nɛːoîn/ should have generated Attic *νεῷν /neɔ̂ːin/, but instead Thucydides has νεοῖν /neoîn/—bringing it back in line with all the other duals ending in /oin/. And if speakers of Attic didn't do the analogy, then subsequent scribes would: "A dual in -έῳν? That doesn't look right."

(Analogy did not get rid of -εως, because it was just as idiosyncratic, but it was also really really common: speakers were just too used to it. In fact, even when Koine did back away from -εως where it could—λύσις λύσιος instead of λύσις λύσεως, ναός instead of νεώς; but it did not back away from βασιλέως. Soon enough, βασιλέως was pronounced identically to the more normal Ionic βασιλέος, anyway.)

So it looks like Ionic shortened the -η- consistently, while Attic shortened it with quantitative metathesis, lengthening the following vowel. This resulted in several strange endings, and some of them stuck (notably -έως), while for others, the lengthened final vowel went away, and went back to looking like Ionic (-εῖ, έοιν). In a few cases, the metathesis wouldn't make a difference: ῆες and έης both contract to ῆς.

Now, all that explains why Acharnians would be written Ἀχαρνῆς: *Ἀχαρνῆϝες > Ἀχαρνῆες > Ἀχαρνέης > Ἀχαρνῆς, *akʰarnɛ̂ːwes > akʰarnɛ̂ːes > *akʰarnéɛːs > akʰarnɛ̂ːs. But why would Sarantakos have used the Ionic Ἀχαρνεῖς /akʰarnêːs/ instead?

There are a couple of causes to go through. The immediate cause is that Athenians also started using the Ionic Ἀχαρνεῖς, but not at the time of Aristophanes. The Acharnians were written in 425 BC. With the 404 BC spelling reform, Attic acquired the letter Η from Ionic, and started differentiating /eː, e, ɛː/, as the Ionic alphabet did. At that time, the plural was written as -ης. But between 350 BC and 325 BC, the plural changed to being written as -εις, /êːs/ instead. Which happens to be the Ionic plural, derived from */ées/, not /ɛːes/ > /eɛːs/. Later on, this -εις nominative was copied to the accusative as well—by analogy with other third declension nouns (nom. sg. πόλις, ἡδύς, nom. pl. and acc. pl. πόλεις, ἡδεῖς).

Why would the switch have happened? Sihler thinks that the first -e- in */ées/ came in by analogy with the -e- in the other plural cases, /éɔːn, éaːs/. But that means Sihler thinks /ɛ̂ːes/ changed to */ées/; and we don't think it did: we think it had already changed to /éɛːs/ by quantitative metathesis. So that explanation doesn't make sense.

Chantraine takes a broader view of what would have happened: inscriptions around 400 BC had -εης /eɛːs/, Attic poets used -έες /ées/—"possibly an Ionicism"; and then /ées/ contracted into /êːs/. So while Chantraine isn't outright claiming it, he is allowing that /êːs/ is indeed a borrowing from Ionic.

This means that Aristophanes would have written Acharnians as Ἀχαρνῆς, but Athenians a century later were pronouncing and writing it as Ἀχαρνεῖς. I have no idea what the earliest manuscripts of Aristophanes have it as; I can easily see people, a century on, respelling the Acharnians they way they would now pronounce it, because they did not know yet that every vowel of Aristophanes was sacred. Even if the entire manuscript tradition of Aristophanes had the Ἀχαρνεῖς spelling, modern editors are doing their job in trying to work out how Aristophanes would originally have spelled it, and would see it as in their rights to restore the spelling as Ἀχαρνῆς.

At any rate, the Hellenistic grammarians certainly knew about -ῆς as a spelling specific to the Athenians; so people two or three centuries on were certainly aware what would have been the original spelling. Herodian in ii AD spells out our reconstruction implicitly:
Nouns ending in -εις are recessively accented, if their singular is recessively accented: Δημοσθένης, Δημοσθένεις. But if the singular has an acute or circumflex on the ultima, they take the circumflex: εὐγενής εὐγενεῖς, Ἡρακλῆς Ἡρακλεῖς. But Athenians contract these with an η, and they similarly put a circumflex on that: ἱππῆς from ἱππέες, βασιλέες becomes βασιλῆς. (De prosodia catholica p. 424 Lentz)

In ix AD, George Choeroboscus spells it out explicitly, if mistakenly:
Rarely, in the dual, εε are contracted into the diphthong ει, as in ταρίχεε ταρίχει, πόλεε πόλει [...] and in the plural they are contracted into η, as in ἱππέες ἱππῆς and βασιλέες βασιλῆς. These are Attic, and the Attic-speakers do this only with ευς nouns, I mean contracting εε into η in the nominative plural. (Prolegomena et scholia in Theodosii Alexandrini canones isagogicos de flexione nominum, p. 182)

That is, Choeroboscus doesn't know about *έης, and thinks the Attic ending -ῆς is an exception to the normal contraction of /ee/ to ει /eː/. (He repeats elsewhere that outside of Attic, the plural is of ἱππεύς βασιλεύς is ἱππεῖς βασιλεῖς.) He goes on to offer two theories why this exception has happened; another's, that it's because of the following /s/; and his own, that first and second declension nominative plurals also end in ι (φίλοι, κοχλίαι).

So that's why there could be a question about whether to write Acharnians as Ἀχαρνῆς or Ἀχαρνεῖς. The -ῆς ending was identified as peculiarly Old Attic, and it did not make it into Koine: the plural there is the Ionic and New Attic -εῖς.

Classicists have no compunction spelling it the Old Attic way. Puristic was supposed to revive the glories of Ancient Greek (which predate New Attic); you'd have thought they would have tried to get all Greekdom speaking of βασιλῆς. Yet you'll never see βασιλῆς written in Puristic, only βασιλεῖς. In fact, Modern Greeks will only be familiar with the βασιλῆς spelling if they paid attention in Ancient Greek class (and sometimes, not even then: I have been asked whether one instance was a spelling mistake).

The reason for that is, the mission of Puristic was not defined positively, as restoring Attic, but negatively, as cleansing Modern Greek of foreign elements and corruption. The cleansing of foreign elements in vocabulary was pretty successful; but the cleansing of corruption could mean anything, depending on how far back you consider corruption to have set in. The result was that Puristic morphology became pretty eclectic and inconsistent, because different writers decided on different levels of corruption to deign to put up with; but outside a few decades of insanity in the end of the 19th century, Puristic gave up on trying to revive Ancient Greek outright. What it did seek to do consistently was use anything but what the contemporary vernacular was using.

So sometimes Puristic went back to Early Modern Greek (futures in θέλω + Infinitive); but often, Puristic would go back to Koine, as opposed to going all the way back to Attic. Puristic displaced the Arabic targumān > δραγουμάνος "interpreter", and replaced it with the Byzantine διερμηνεύς (instead of the Koine διερμηνευτής). And it never used the Attic plural *διερμηνῆς: Puristic used the same plural as the Byzantines would have used, the Koine διερμηνεῖς.

Modern Greek also uses διερμηνεῖς, because of Puristic; but that is not the vernacular development of -ευς nouns (which διερμηνεῖς is not). The vernacular switched all its third declension nouns to first declension in the singular, so βασιλεύς /basileús/ became βασιλέας /vasiˈleas/. Initially, the vernacular left the nominative plural of the third declension alone, so the plural would have remained βασιλεῖς /vasiˈlis/.

But avoidance of hiatus made βασιλέας into βασιλιάς /vasiˈljas/, a first declension noun accented on the final syllable. And the vernacular gave such oxytone first declension nouns a plural in -άδες: βασιλιάς βασιλιάδες /vasiˈljas vasiˈljaðes/, μαθητής μαθητάδες /maθiˈtis maθiˈtaðes/. Modern Greek has rolled that plural back for -ης nouns, under indirect Puristic influence, but βασιλιάδες is still the Modern plural.
Why is -άδες a plural? Well, in Koine, -ᾶς became a widespread agent suffix: ζυτᾶς κασσιτερᾶς κλειδᾶς "brewer, tinker, locksmith". The suffix still exists in Modern Greek: ψωμάς, κομπιουτεράς, Ζητάς "breadmaker, computer geek, Zeta Force guy (police motorcyclist)". This meant that there were suddenly a lot of first declension /-as/ nouns accented in Greek on the ultima; in Attic they had been few and obscure, and even fewer had a plural.

But Greek had a lot of third declension nouns ending in accented /-as/, since that was a widespread feminine suffix: Κρονιάς, κυκλάς, λαμπάς, ναϊάς "Saturnalia, encircling, torch, naiad". And its plural, -άδες, was much less odd-looking than the correct, contracted first declension plural -αῖ would have been. So the plural of torches, λαμπάδες, was carried across to these new agent nouns, κλειδᾶδες, and eventually to the normal first declension nouns, ending in -ής, μαθητάδες.


As linguists have pointed out before me, the clash of Puristic and Vernacular Greek has meant that Modern Greek now has two ways of saying "kings": the kind of mess that was the natural legacy of diglossia. Colloquial Greek has βασιλιάς βασιλιάδες. Puristic had βασιλεύς βασιλεῖς; high register Modern Greek cleans up the singular to be first declension rather than third declension, but it goes back to Middle Greek to do so, with βασιλέας βασιλεῖς.

So if you want to show royalty more deference than is usual in contemporary Greece, you will use the pseudo-Puristic βασιλέας βασιλεῖς, instead of the colloquial βασιλιάς βασιλιάδες.

Markos Vamvakaris managed to show deference to the king with the colloquial βασιλιάς (Καλώς μας ήρθες Βασιληά, "Welcome back, King!"; but 1935 was a very different time.

I'm curious how many Greeks' heads are exploding right now, to hear Vamvakaris wrote a royalist paean in rebetiko (right after recording Κάν' τονε Σταύρο Κάντονε, "Get that bong ready, Stavros" no less, his catchy ditty about group drug intoxication.)

I could go back and report what the historical grammars say about other Ancient dialects' declensions, but I've established what I needed to establish, and there are posts on Modern Greek compound accentuation to write.
...Read more

2011-03-10

Tsakonian documentary

Thanks to my friend George Baloglou, I'm passing on this news item from in.gr, on a new documentary on Tsakonian. Translations mine.

See also the documentary website.

Documentary description from the 13th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival site:

Α γρούσσα νάμου / Massimo Pizzocaro, Elisavet Laloudaki



In the Eastern Peloponnese, in a remote region under the shadow of Mt Parnon, live the Tsakonians, a special tribe of "stubborn" Greeks. For the past three thousand years they have been speaking an ancient dialect, now the unique instance of a Doric language. They did not abandon it even after Koine had prevailed—the first superregional dialect that Modern Greek originates from. But what has withstood centuries has withered in the last four or five decades. The roads have opened up, tourism has arrived, the locals have left as immigrants or mariners, compulsory schooling has forced its students to forget their ancient language. And then the hour of truth arrives: when you lose your language, you lose an entire world. The case of the Tsakonians is not unique. According to UN statistics, almost half the languages of the planet are facing the same threat of extinction and oblivion. This is a movie on loss of identity—on what it means to know that your language will not be spoken a hundred years from now...

Directed by: Massimo Pizzocaro, Elisavet Laloudaki
Script: Elisavet Laloudaki
Cinematography: Massimo Pizzocaro
Editing: Massimo Pizzocaro
Sound: Massimo Pizzocaro
Produced by: Elisavet Laloudaki
Production: HappyAnt TV
Format: HD Colour
Country of Production: Greece
Duration: 52′
Year of Production: 2011
Worldwide Distribution: HappyAnt TV, Elisavet Laloudaki, eli@happyant.tv

Programme:
Introduced by Stavros Tornes Stavros Tornes Theatre: Sat 12 March 2011, 13:00
Introduced by Tonia Marketaki Tonia Marketaki Theatre: Tue 15 March 2011, 15:00
[EDITED]

And the news release on in.gr:

(9 Mar 2011, 16:29)
In the 13th Documentary Festival:

The Tsakonian dialect is at the center of a documentary to be shown in Thessalonica.



Eleni and Evdokia, two generations of women who speak the Tsakonian dialect. In the region of Cynuria, the locals use Tsakonian for their everyday communication. Photo: Athens News Agency.

THESSALONICA.—The visitors of Leonidio in Arcadia are welcomed by a sign saying Καούρ εκάματε, which in the Tsakonian dialect means "Welcome". The directors Elisavet Laloudaki and Massimo Pizzocaro have attempted to record the Tsakonian dialect in the villages of Cynuria, in their documentary titled Α Γρούσσα Νάμου "Our Language", to be shown in the 13th Documentary Festival of Thessalonica.

In the region of Cynuria, under the shadow of Mt Parnon and facing the Myrtoan Sea, the locals use in their daily communication Tsakonian, the only surviving descendant of the Doric dialect.

The Tsakonian dialect is used in the villages of Melana, Tyros, Sapounakeika, Vaskina, Prastos, Sitena, Kastanitsa, and the capital of the South Cynuria Municipality, Leonidio.

There are three different variants of the dialect: the idiom of south Cynuria (Tyros, Melana, etc.), the idiom of Kastanitsa and Sitena, and the idiom of the Propontis. The latter is no longer spoken by anybody.

Today the speakers of the dialect are estimated to be 2000 to 4000.

The directors of the documentary use their camera to follow the inhabitants of Cynuria, old and young, using the Tsakonian dialect in their daily activities.

"We went into homes and cafés and heard moving stories. We realised that the language is dying, but unfortunately it is not dying on its own. Together with the language, an entire way of life is vanishing," director Elisavet Laloudaki told the Athens News Agency.

"Our aim was to try to convey the relaxed atmosphere prevalent in the region; to make a movie on a language that is disappearing, but which would be light and alive, like a cool breeze."

Through their individual stories, the locals recount their relationship with Tsakonian, their memories of the former, more widespread use of the dialect, and their efforts to transmit their knowledge to their children.

As the documentary directors observe in their description, "Tsakonians belong to the old world. Their contacts with strangers, their opening up to tourism, immigration, modern life has only minimally altered the structures and rules of their closed society. In fact, it's not that they are seeking to be isolated; they are just displaying an obstinate refusal to accept these developments."

"Their persisting with the Ancient Doric language when the whole world around them, even non-Greeks, were adopting Koine is only one aspect—perhaps the most extreme—of their reluctance to change. In this sternly delimited environment, boundaries are very important, almost sacred. In Tsakonia, a stranger does not easily go into a home—and that's final."

Though the environment is as they describe, the directors themselves managed to gain entry more readily, since Elisavet Laloudaki is originally from there.

"So at least in our case, the camera was not an intruder. Homes were open, talk was free, space was unconfined. Our demands were minimal: we asked them not to talk about the language, but to talk in the language—that is, to allow us to show their world," the two directors add.

The 13th Festival begins on March 11 and continues until the 20th. The in.gr site is a media sponsor for the event.
—Newsroom of the Lamprakis Press Group, Athens News Agency/Macedonian News Agency
...Read more

2011-03-09

The declension of -ευς: Homeric back to Proto-Greek

I've been neglecting Ancient Greek, and I don't know that my posts on Ancient Greek are particularly quality offerings anyway. But, once again, perusing the comments of the Magnificent Nikos Sarantakos' Blog has given me an idea for a posting—on Ancient rather than Modern Greek for a change. The post is no surprise to anyone who has read an Ancient Greek grammar; it's half a page's worth of a Historical Grammar of Greek.

I'll walk through the page in slow motion, because I'm loath to pass up an opportunity to be didactic. It'll be slow enough, it'll drag through two posts.

It's not much of a premiss. Sarantakos spelled Acharnians in a post as Αχαρνείς, and the first comment off the cab rank asked, simply: Εν τέλει είναι “Αχαρνείς” ή “Αχαρνής”;

To the classicists whose teeth have been set on edge by the monotonic, I'll render that as: "Should it be spelled Ἀχαρνῆς or Ἀχαρνεῖς?" I'm going to spend most of this post and the next working through the historical morphology of -ευς nouns. In this post, from Homeric backwards, and in the next post, post-Homeric (including why Attic had the plural Ἀχαρνῆς and then Ἀχαρνεῖς.) In the second post, I'll add a codicil on why a Modern Greek speaker would hesitate over the spelling. Yes, once again, Puristic is to blame—this time, because it wasn't as pure as it claimed it was.

Ancient Greek had lots of dialects, and dialects had different ways of declining the same nouns. In historical linguistics, we reconstruct proto-forms, not because we particularly care to know what some tribe's language was five thousand years ago, but because we can use those proto-forms to explain the diversity of later forms. There's several dialects to explain; we want to explain the Attic of Aristophanes ultimately, but we're going to start with the variant of Greek that everyone starts with, Homeric Greek.

Now, there are three declensions of Ancient Greek nouns, and -ευς nouns are third declension nouns. That means that, underlyingly, it shares the following inflections with all other third declension nouns:
SingularDualPlural
Nomsees
Genosoinɔːn
Datioinsi
Accaeas
Vocees

That in itself is a reconstruction. In some nouns, the pattern is clear: φύλαξ, φύλακος, φύλακι, pʰýlak-s, pʰýlak-os, pʰýlak-i... For other nouns, the pattern is harder to see: λύσις, λύσεως, λύσει, lýsi-s, lýse-ɔːs, lýse-i. With historical linguistics, comparison with other dialects, and some imagination, we can work out that they all belong to the same underlying pattern.

But what's obvious to us was not obvious at the time. The Roman-era Greek grammarians were pretty good at reconstructing forms to explain their grammar, but the three underlying declensions eluded them: they were happy to have fifty-odd declensions on the books. When in the Renaissance Greek grammarians discovered that Latin grammar had managed to get Latin declensions down to five, they realised they needed to take another look at their own grammar. In the first attempt, they managed to get it down to ten.

Homeric Greek is a few centuries older than Attic, which means there are a few centuries less phonetic change in Homeric Greek to need to disentangle. In Homeric Greek, -ευς nouns *almost* follow the third declension pattern. Here's the Greek characters:
SingularDualPlural
Nomεύςῆεῆες
Genῆοςήοινήων
Datῆιήοινεῦσι
Accῆαῆεῆας
Vocεῦῆεῆες

And here's the IPA:
SingularDualPlural
Nomeú-sɛ̂ː-eɛ̂ː-es
Genɛ̂ː-osɛ́ː-oinɛ́ː-ɔːn
Datɛ̂ː-iɛ́ː-oineú-si
Accɛ̂ː-aɛ̂ː-eɛ̂ː-as
Vocɛû-ɛ̂ː-eɛ̂ː-es

This almost follows the pattern of pʰýlak-s, pʰýlak-os, pʰýlak-i...; but there is a problem. The thematic vowel—the ending of the stem, which goes before the inflection—alternates between /ɛː/, in front of a vowel, and /eu/, in front of a consonant.

That alternation between /ɛː/ and /eu/ isn't right: surely underlyingly there should be just one vowel or diphthong that the stem ends in, throughout. We're going to work out what that vowel or diphthong is, by internal reconstruction: we'll use just the forms in Homeric Greek, and what we know of language change elsewhere in Greek—to arrive at a pre-Homeric Greek form.

Note the distinction: pre-Greek works backwards from just one dialect; proto-Greek takes all the data into account, from other dialects of Greek as well as related languages. The two will look different, but not that different.

To explain the alternation between /ɛː/ and /eu/, we need two sound changes:
  1. Either the stem adds a /u/ (or a /w/) in front of a consonant, or else the stem drops a /u/ (or a /w/) in front of a vowel.
  2. Either the stem lengthens its /e/ to /ɛː/, when it drops its /w/, or else it shortens its /ɛː/ to /e/, when it adds its /w/.

Second change first: we know that when languages drop consonants, they lengthen the preceding vowel. This is called compensatory lengthening, and it makes phonetic sense: if you drop one phoneme, and lengthen the preceding phoneme, the result vaguely takes the same length of time to pronounce as before. Here's some examples from other languages—because phonetic change happens along the same lines across languages: it involves facts of articulation, which are universal to humans:
  • The spelling cart in English preserves the original pronunciation /kaɹt/, which has survived in American /kɑɹt/. When Commonwealth English dropped its r's, it lengthened the previous vowel: Australian English /kaːt/.
  • Modern Greek preserves the old pronunciation of Turkish <ğ> as /ɣ/ in loanwords. In Modern Turkish, /ɣ/ was dropped before consonants, and the previous vowel is lengthened: Greek τσογλάνι /tsoɣlani/ "knave", Turkish iç oğlanı /itʃ oːlanɯ/ "inside boy = palace servant".
  • Ancient Greek digamma, ϝ /w/, disappeared from most dialects of Greek. The first instances of /w/ to go were /w/ after another consonant. When it did, Ionic lengthened the preceding vowel—though Attic did not. So we explain pairs like Ionic ξεῖνος Attic ξένος, Ionic κούρη Attic κόρη, Ionic οὖρος Attic ὄρος, by positing an original /w/ (which does in fact turn up in very early inscriptions): Proto-Greek /ksenwos, korwaː, worwos/, Ionic /kseːnos, koːrɛː, oːros/, Attic /ksenos, korɛː, oros/.

So we have good precedent for /w/ being dropped, and /e/ lengthening when it does. We could then reconstruct the stem as ending in /ew/: *-ews, *-ewos, *-ewi > -ews, -ɛːos, -ɛːi.

Neat, but I'm afraid, wrong. The compensatory lengthening happens when /w/ follows a consonant; but our deleted /w/ in *-ewos would be following a vowel. And when Homeric /w/ is deleted, the preceding vowel keeps its length.

We have evidence of that from augment. Normally, the aorist in Greek is formed by adding an /e/ at the start of a verb, if the verb starts with a consonant; but if the verb starts with a vowel, the vowel is lengthened instead. So δράμω, ἔδραμον drámɔː, é-dramon, but ἐγείρω, ἤγειρα egéːrɔ, ɛ́ːɡeːra. (You may have noticed that sometimes ε /e/ is lengthened to η /ɛː/, sometimes to ει /eː/. /ɛː/ is the old lengthening, which is in Homer; /eː/ is the new lengthening, which is post-Homeric.)

But some verbs in Homer do not lengthen the initial vowel: they add an /e/, as if the verb started with a consonant: ἔργω, ἔεργον /érɡɔː, éerɡon/. We would rather not concede an arbitrary exception: it is simpler to claim that there used to be a consonant there, which was dropped after the augment was added: ϝέργω, ἔϝεργον /wérɡɔː, éwerɡon/. We can see the /w/ in old dialect inscriptions. We can also see the /w/ in English: ϝέργω has the same stem as work.

But notice that /éwerɡon/ went to /éerɡon/ in Homeric Greek, without any compensatory lengthening. Attic Greek does have a long vowel there, as εἶργον /êːrɡon/; but the /eː/ is merely how Attic concatenates two /ee/.

So a pre-Greek -ews, -ewos, -ewi would end up in Homeric Greek as -ews, -eos, -ei. That's not what Homeric has. We know that the /w/ must have dropped out between vowels, because it did so all the time: the alternative, that /w/ popped up between /e/ and /s/ in -eus, doesn't make sense. So we're on the right track; but the original vowel must have been a long /ɛː/: if the Homeric genitive was /ɛːos/, the pre-Greek must have been /ɛːwos/. And that means the pre-Greek must have been */-ɛːws, -ɛːwos, -ɛːwi/. What we're now looking for is a rule to explain why */ɛːws/ and */ɛːwsi/ turned into short /ews/ and /ewsi/.

That rule exists, and is called Osthoff's Law. It does more than explain /ɛːws/ going to /ews/: it says that in general, if a long vowel if followed by a resonant and then another consonant (VːRC, where R is one of /m n l r j w/), the vowel is shortened. We know that there used to be long vowels there, because Osthoff's Law did not apply to Indo-Iranian.
So the sky god, the textbooks say was dyā́us (/djáːws/) in Vedic Sanskrit; but /djáːws/ fits the VːRC pattern. The equivalent word in Greek, then, has a short vowel through Osthoff's Law. Can you guess the Greek equivalent?

/dj/ corresponds to Greek /zd/: yes, the Greek for /djáːws/ is /zdéws/, Ζεύς, and we reconstruct the Proto–Indo-European (PIE) Sky God as *dyēws /djeːws/. (Sanskrit defaulted its vowels to /a/; Greek is considered to have preserved PIE vowels better than Sanskrit, because it has a lot more /e/ and /o/.)

With Osthoff and digamma-dropping, we have explained almost all of the Homeric declension of -ευς:
  • Pre-Greek: -ɛːws, -ɛːwos, -ɛːwi, -ɛːwa, -ɛːw-, -ɛːwe, -ɛːwojn, -ɛːwes, -ɛːwɔːn, -ɛːwsi, -ɛːwas, -ɛːwes
  • Osthoff: -ɛws, -ɛːwos, -ɛːwi, -ɛːwa, -ɛːw-, -ɛːwe, -ɛːwojn, -ɛːwes, -ɛːwɔːn, -ɛwsi, -ɛːwas, -ɛːwes
  • Drop digamma between vowels: -ɛws, -ɛːos, -ɛːi, -ɛːa, -ɛːw-, -ɛːe, -ɛːojn, -ɛːes, -ɛːɔːn, -ɛwsi, -ɛːas, -ɛːes

There is one form that this does not explain: Osthoff's Law does not apply to the vocative singular, /-ɛːw-/, but this has ended up as short /-eû/ regardless.

When in doubt, we appeal to analogy: in third declension nouns based on stems ending in /i/ and /u/, the vocative singular is the same as the nominative, except for dropping the /s/: ὀφρύς, ὀφρύ /opʰrýs, opʰrý/; πόλις, πόλι /pólis, póli/. Following that pattern, the vocative *-ɛːw was also made to look like the nominative, except for dropping the /s/: βασιλεύς, βασιλεῦ /basileús, basileû/. If any of the cases was going to fall under another's sway, it would be the vocative, which is a minor case—and which is conflated with the nominative in everything but the masculine singular.

So for a good Homeric word like βασιλεύς "king", then, we have just reconstructed the pre-Greek nominative as *βασιληύς, /basilɛ́ːws/.

The proto-Greek, as opposed to the pre-Greek, is based on more evidence than just Homeric: it seeks to explain *all* forms that have appeared in Greek, not just one dialect's. And the proto-Greek for βασιλεύς is not /basilɛ́ːws/. It's /ɡʷatilews/, with a genitive of /ɡʷatileːwos/.

That's nuts, I know. But:
  1. /b/ in Greek corresponds to Indic /g/, Latin /b, w/, and Germanic /k/ (English cow, Sanskrit gau, Greek βοῦς). This means we're looking for a single Proto–Indo-European consonant to explain all of these, which has something in common with both the labial /b/ and the velar /g/. The convention in Indo-European is to call that something a labio-velar, /ɡʷ/. In fact, there has been no need to assume PIE had a /b/ at all.
  2. PIE /ti/ ended up in Greek as /si/, through assibilation: affricating a palatalised consonant. It's the same process through which Latin natio ended up pronounced in French as /nasjɔ̃/; and (applied to /k/ rather than /t/) it's what Modern Greek linguists call tsitacism.

The proto-form has PIE /ɡʷ/, not /b/, and PIE /ti/, not /si/. On the other hand, it has Osthoff's Law already operating, unlike PIE (ɡʷatilews, not ɡʷatileːws). The reason for all that is, there are forms of Greek with /ti/ instead of /si/ (Doric); and the point of a proto-Greek form is to explain the forms in all variants of Greek.

Likewise, the proto-form already has Osthoff's Law, because Osthoff's Law applies to all variants of Greek, so it doesn't need to account for any forms in which Osthoff's Law is absent. The proto-Greek form explains the Greek variants of the word, not how the Greek variants differ from the non-Osthoff Sanskrit.

The proto-form also has /ɡʷ/, not /b/, which means we're claiming there is a form of Greek which still had the PIE labiovelars. There's no Greek letter for /ɡʷ/, so no form written in the letters introduced by the Phoenecians recorded such a /ɡʷ/.

There is, however, a Greek *syllable* for /ɡʷa/. βασιλεύς turns up in Linear B, as qa-si-re-u: 𐀣𐀯𐀩𐀄. We also have a genitive of -εύς turn up in Linear B, complete with its digamma: ἱερῆϝος /hierɛ̂ːwos/ "of the priest" (Attic ἱερέως) turns up in Linear B as i-je-re-wo, 𐀂𐀋𐀩𐀺.
  1. The astute reader may have noticed that proto-Greek has a /ti/ in ɡʷatilews, but Linear B has a /si/ in qa-si-re-u. /si/ is supposed to be a later development than /ti/. But that just proves that Linear B is not proto-Greek: it is the earliest form of just one dialect branch of Greek—which did not retain /ti/ like Doric did. So in some features, Mycenaean is more innovative than Doric was a millenium later. (But only some.)
  2. We know now that 𐀣 qa corresponds to PIE /kʷa, ɡʷa/. (Linear B also conflates /k/ and /g/.) But the labio-velar interpretation wasn't immediately obvious to Ventris: in the first edition of the decipherment, the sign was transcribed as pa2.
  3. No, there wasn't really an overwhelming reason for me to cite Linear B in the original. Actually, I'm curious to know: how many of you can see Linear B in the paragraph above?


So far, we've explained Homeric Greek. The plural of Acharnians in Homeric Greek would be Ἀχαρνῆες—which is neither Ἀχαρνῆς not Ἀχαρνεῖς. That involves a few more changes within the dialects of Greek, and it will need to wait for the next post.
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2011-03-08

αμέτι μουχαμέτι: Semantics

We have just looked at the development of the syntax of αμέτι μουχαμέτι, from an Ottoman Turkish noun phrase ümmet-i Muhammed "nation of Muhammad", to the Modern Greek adverb "come hell or high water"—which arguably has ended up, in a limited sense, as a noun comparable in function to σκοπός "purpose" or όρκος "oath". And we tried to account for the shift from noun, through exclamation, to adverb—and back to noun—by appealing to reanalysis and extension.

Reanalysis and extension also apply to semantic change, and in this post, I pick up from my second last post on Vasilis Orfanos' analysis of the semantic transition, over at the Magnificent Nikos Sarantakos' Blog. The debate that broke out between commenters on when the changeover happened is of particular interest, since it highlights the mechanism of how gradual the semantic change is.

To start with, what actually happened to "nation of Muhammad" to end up meaning "come hell or high water" is pretty clear, and I will quote Orfanos' analysis:
In Turkish there is an expression ümmet-i Muhammed, "nation of Muhammad", with which Muslims refer to the sum of their coreligionists. During Ottoman rule, it was also used as a warcry, which was interpreted by Greeks as an oath/commitment to attain victory. So it passed into Greek with the sense "at any sacrifice", as αμέτι μουχαμέτι—possibly through the influence of a folk etymology from the name Ahmed or the oath Μα το Μουχαμέτη "By Muhammad!"

Let's walk through the examples again, from a semantic rather than syntactic point this time. Unsurprisingly, the semantic and the syntactic development aligned closely.

To begin with, the expression refers literally to the Muslim nation (1, 5):
  • Τον κύριο παρακάλεσαν να κάμη μερχαμέτι, Και να τους κάμη ολουνούς του Μουχαμέτ’ ουμμέτι "They begged the Lord to show compassion, and to make them all Muhammad's nation".

When the word acts as a war cry (as a vocative and then an exclamation), it expresses encouragement to action (4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13)—as well as its polar opposite, despair (3, 14, 15, 16):
  • ιμέτι, Μωχαμέτη, ’Σ τον ντιν ντουσμάνη σήμερα να κάμωμεν γαϊρέτι, "Nation of Muhammad! Today against the infidel enemy we shall show endurance."
  • Ορίστε, λεγ’ Αλήπασας, ιμέτι Μουχαμέτη, Χαΐρι δεν εχούμε ’μεις εφέτ’ απ’ το ντουβλέτι, "'See,' Ali Pasha says, 'By the Nation of Muhammad! We're not seeing any joy from the government this year!'"

Analysed at that level, the distinction between vocative and exclamation is not that relevant. The reanalysis is clearly when the expression is still a vocative—going from referring to Muslim troops being addressed, to an exclamation. The extension is, again, when the expression of encouragement is used without anyone explicitly being addressed; admittedly, that is clear in the expression of despair rather than the warcry.

The critical switch syntactically was when the expression was used in indirect speech: that allowed it to be reanalysed from an exclamation to an adverb (2, 10). The accompanying semantic shift is earlier: it is already inherent in a warcry, used in direct speech, that the exclamation indicates a commitment to do something, particularly in that it was followed by a command to do it:
  • (6) Αμέτη, Μωαμέτη! Πιάστε τον τόπον δυνατά, "Nation of Muhammad! Fortify the place boldly."

The conflation with the oath μα το Μουχαμέτη "By Muhammad!" would have reinforced that notion of commitment. The use of the expression in indirect speech is an extension, rather than a reanalysis of that meaning of commitment: it is now separated from any notion of directly addressing people. Orfanos accordingly identified the song on Messolonghi (10) as critical to the development of αμέτι μουχαμέτι—"as an oath committing the besiegers to achieve their goals":
  • Όλοι τους ωρκισθήκανε αμέτι Μουχαμέτη, στο Μεσολόγγι να εμβούν, να κάμουν κιαμέτι "They all swore, 'Nation of Muhammad!', to enter Messolonghi and cause havoc."

But αμέτι Μουχαμέτη does not actually mean anything intrinsically different in (6) and (10): the change is syntactic, not semantic. The essential meaning is still the same: "the subject is committing themselves to doing X".

From "They swear they will do X", it is an easy step to "they will definitely do X", "they will bloodymindedly do X". That is the shift in (12), where the modern use of the expression is obvious:
  • αλλά ο Γαρδικιότης είναι Αμέτ Μουαμέτ κατά του στραβού, "but Gardikiotis is bloodymindedly against the blind man."

Again, the change here is syntactic: it has broadened the contexts in which the expression shows up. There is a slight change in meaning in (12), which is metonymic. X committing to doing Y contains the necessary implication that X feels strongly about Y. The semantic shift moves in (12) from commitment to an action, to indication of the associated emotion: Gardikiotis is not committing to doing anything as bloodymindedly as an Ottoman warrior: he just shows the same singlemindedness as an Ottoman warrior.

But this generalisation in meaning hasn't been followed since: αμέτι μουχαμέτι is still associated with intended action, rather than emotional state. What has been picked up by the expression, rather, is connotation, which leads to the meaning being strengthened.

The context is key to how the connotations took root; context, after all, is where connotations come from. Greeks who did not understand Turkish heard the cry in battle, preceding an undertaking to wreak havoc: "Ümmet-i Muhammed! We will burn them down!" The cry sounds something like "By Muhammad!", which cements the notion that it expresses a religiously fervent, bloodyminded commitment to do ill, made by hostile warriors. When the cry is reanalysed as a more generic adverb indicating commitment, those connotations come along with it: it has picked up the negative connotations of "being on the warpath", of unreasonableness, of disproportionate singlemindedness.

That, I hope, is revealing. The real change in αμέτι μουχαμέτι is syntactic, not semantic; the essential semantic reanalysis, from vocative to expression of commitment, is earlier (indeed, it happened in Turkish and not Greek), and it is not particularly drastic. Connotation, rather than semantic shift, has given the expression the force it now has; and connotation is a more subtle change than the syntactic reanalyses undergone by αμέτι μουχαμέτι.

Because the semantic change is not particularly pronounced, my godfather Tasos Kaplanis thought there was still a missing link between the 1820s songs with warcries (10) and the 1859 Modern Greek adverbial use (12):
What is impressive is that in most cases from the 19th century recorded in the post, the phrase has or could have the initial meaning it has in Turkish—until we reach Xenos (12) and Papdiamantis (17, 18), who record the phrase with more or less its modern meaning. […] I find this somewhat peculiar, and I still can't see the link between the popular records of the phrase (not just in folk song and older texts, but also Kolokotronis and Koutsonikas), and the literary or learnèd usage by Xenos and Papadiamantis.

In other words, in (10) the expression is still a Muslim warcry; in (12) it is a Greek adverb; and the transition between the two is not obvious.

I think the ensuing exchange is illuminating:
  • Nikos Sarantakos thinks the songs of Messolonghi (10) and Xopateras (11) do provide the missing link: "they swore, amet moukhamet, they would conquer Messolonghi / they would seize the priest."
  • Tasos thinks that (11) merely quotes the interjection. In fact, that's also how I'd interpreted it last post. As to the critical example (10), Tasos says:
    In the siege of Messolonghi, Legrand's misunderstanding ("By Muhammad!") could be a missing link—though I still don't see how we got from "By Muhammad!" to "stubbornly, wilfully, at any sacrifice", etc. And if you add a comma to edition, αμέτι μουχαμέτι turns back into ümmet-i Muhammed: "They all swore, Nation of Muhammed, they would enter Messolonghi."

  • Maria retorts she too can see the transition clearly.
  • Tasos answers: "OK, Maria, maybe I can't see it because I understand what the Turkish means."


Tasos wasn't saying that because he took offence, but because understanding Turkish really does get in the way of seeing how the meaning change happened: that's why I'm highlighting the exchange. Greek speakers clearly were starting not to understand what ümmet-i Muhammed means: that's what allowed them to distort ümmet as αμέτι. Greek speakers were starting to guess what αμέτι μουχαμέτι meant from context. That meant that the meaning shift was possible as a reanalysis, even if superficially the phrases looked the same: the meaning shift happened in Greek-speakers' heads, and had not yet undergone extension to new contexts. So if you actually do know Turkish, you will not initially notice a change at all.

It's not surprising that Sarantakos, like Orfanos, highlights (10) as a pivot: it displays a clear syntactic reanalysis, rather than the more subtle semantic shift, through indirect speech. Tasos retorts that the difference between "at any cost" and "Nation of Muhammad!" in (10) is merely a comma. But of course, that's precisely why (10) matters: syntactic reanalysis is exactly a matter of a missing comma—that is, a reinterpretation of the syntactic structure, which can be represented through intonation, and in print through commas.

Sarantakos also highlights (11) as a comparable instance. I said that in the last post I interpreted (11) like Tasos, with a disjoint exclamation: "'Glory to Allah', they cried, and 'Ameti Moukhameti': they would go seize the priest, to calm Crete down." The expression does look like (10), and could be construed in the same way, as indirect speech containing an exclamation: "and (Nation of Muhammad!) they would go seize the priest" > "and at any cost, they would go seize the priest".

I don't think that's what the composer of the song intended—because "Nation of Muhammed!" was conjoined with "Glory to Allah!" But that construal was clearly starting to be possible—and in a couple of decades, led to the unambiguous extension in (12). And I hope I've explained above how to get from "By Muhammad" to "at any sacrifice", through hostile connotation.
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2011-03-07

αμέτι μουχαμέτι: Syntax

We saw in the last post the evidence for the development of αμέτι μουχαμέτι in the 19th century, from the Ottoman Turkish ümmet-i Muhammed "nation of Muhammed", to the Modern Greek "come hell or high water". We can already get a fair idea of how the meaning shifted, from the examples Vasilis Orfanos produced—and which I will keep citing, following the numbering in the last post. I did not yet finalise my take on how the change in meaning happened—and, more interestingly, when.

I won't do that this post either, because instead I want to look at how not just the semantics, but the syntax of the expression changed. Like the semantics, I will claim that the syntax of this expression, like that of so many others, changed through an iteration of reanalysis and extension: hearers reinterpret an expression in an ambiguous context, assigning it a new structure—and then they extend that new structure to novel contexts, where the old interpretation could not be used. The reanalysis brings the new structure into being, but only the extension makes the structure visible, as an unambiguous addition to the language.

So it was with the semantics of the expression—through sentences where the Ottoman warcry was reinterpreted as an expression of bloodymindedness, as I will try to walk through. So it is was, at least for the most part, with the syntax. There is a change at the end where the extension may not have been out of an ambiguous context, but a more abstract jump—which is perfectly possible, but not what I prefer. But let's get there slowly.

A good deal of the change in the syntax of αμέτι μουχαμέτι had already happened in Ottoman Turkish. Originally, of course, ümmet-i Muhammed was just a noun phrase, and we see that meaning literally in (1, 5):
  • Τον κύριο παρακάλεσαν να κάμη μερχαμέτι, Και να τους κάμη ολουνούς του Μουχαμέτ’ ουμμέτι "They begged the Lord to show compassion, and to make them all Muhammad's nation".

Ottomans addressed groups of Muslims as ümmet-i Muhammed, which makes the expression a vocative. The salient example of this, of course, is the warcry to Muslim troops. I claimed (2) was the first example of this, but the syntax is darker than that. But the warcry is clearly there in (4, 6, 8, 9, 13)
  • ιμέτι, Μωχαμέτη, ’Σ τον ντιν ντουσμάνη σήμερα να κάμωμεν γαϊρέτι, "Nation of Muhammad! Today against the infidel enemy we shall show endurance."

Extension can't be usefully shown here, because this is still a noun phrase. The next function is too close to disentangle as well: as an exclamation. When troops are being addressed, as in (4), it is ambiguous whether ümmet-i Muhammed is an exclamation or a vocative. The extension happens when there are no troops being addressed, so the expression no longer makes sense as a term of address.

That extension is clearly what Ali Pasha used, when ümmet-i Muhammed is an exclamation of surprise or dismay, not an address to troops (3):
    Ορίστε, λεγ’ Αλήπασας, ιμέτι Μουχαμέτη, Χαΐρι δεν εχούμε ’μεις εφέτ’ απ’ το ντουβλέτι, "'See,' Ali Pasha says, 'By the Nation of Muhammad! We're not seeing any joy from the government this year!'"

The late exclamations of dismay attributed to Ottomans (14, 15) also fall under this class. We would also see the warcry as an exclamation instead of a vocative, if it were used in addressing someone other than troops, or in a way otherwise incompatible with vocatives.
  • In an example like "Ümmet-i Muhammed! Today you will die, infidels!", ümmet-i Muhammed would not be used to address Muslims.
  • Kolokotronis, by nominalising the cry, is treating it as something said, which is more consistent with an exclamation than an address (7): και με το αμέτ μουχαμέτ ώρμησαν κατά των ιδικών μας, "with an Amet Moukhamet they rushed onto our men".
  • The song on Xopateras (11) treats Ümmet-i Muhammed! as the same kind of phrase as SubhanAllah "Glory to Allah!", and it is not followed by a command.
  • The song on Tryfitsos (16) joins Ameti mou Khameti to the next sentence with "and"—which is inconsistent with a vocative: αμέτι μου χαμέτι και ο Τρυφίτσος είν κιοσές που μας-ε παίζει μπέτι, "Ameti mou khameti, and Tryfitsos is the one who is firing at our chests." That cannot be interpreted as "Oh Nation of Muhammad!—And Tryfitsos is firing at us."


The Greek expression, with its notion of obstinacy, clearly came from the warcry and not the cry of despair. What's critical for the next reanalysis is that the expression is an exclamation—which allows it to turn up in a broad range of contexts. In several instances of the warcry, the exclamation introduces a commitment to do something:
  • (4) Nation of Muhammad! Today against the infidel enemy we shall show endurance.
  • (6) Nation of Muhammad! Fortify the place boldly.
  • (13) Nation of Muhammad! We will burn them down.

If Greeks no longer understood ümmet-i Muhammad, and distorted it to αμέτι μουχαμέτι, the exclamation could be reinterpreted as an adverbial phrase: "definitely, at any cost, come hell or high water"; so "at any cost, we will burn them down!" It would help such an interpretation along, that one of the phrases likely to have been conflated with ümmet-i Muhammad was μα το Μουχαμέτη "by Muhammad"—which also can be used to expressed commitment.

The adverbial interpretation helps when the expression turns up in indirect speech, where the vocative cannot, and even the exclamation is problematic. That indirect speech use seems to me to motivate (2) and (10)—(10) more clearly than (2):
  • (2) τους Τούρκους όλους λάλει· όλοι τους –­ ουμέτι Μουαμέτη –­ ας δράμουν στην μητρόπολι "Tell all the Muslims: all of them—Nation of Muhammad—should run to the cathedral":
    • Interpreted as apposition: "all of them, namely the Nation of Muhammad, should run": noun phrase
    • Interpreted as indirect speech, quoting exclamation: "Tell all the Muslims: 'Nation of Muhammad! All of you should run to the Cathedral'" A vocative could not be so quoted: "Troops! All of you should run to the Cathedral!" cannot be rendered as "Tell the soldiers, all of them—??Troops!—should run to the Cathedral." So ümmet-i Muhammad no longer has vocative force.

  • (10) Όλοι τους ωρκισθήκανε αμέτι Μουχαμέτη, στο Μεσολόγγι να εμβούν, να κάμουν κιαμέτι "They all swore, 'Nation of Muhammad!', to enter Messolonghi and cause havoc." It is impossible for 'Nation of Muhammad' here to be a vocative: this is quoting the Muslims' oath, "Nation of Muhammad! We will enter Messolonghi and cause havoc!", with 'Nation of Muhammad' treated as an exclamation.


But while (10) makes sense as quoting Muslims crying "Nation of Muhammad!", embedding an exclamation in indirect speech is a very odd thing to do. Any exclamations in indirect speech should be coming from the speaker, not those quoted. An exclamation like "onwards!", though, can be reanalysed as an adverbial phrase, "crying 'onwards'"—or "as if crying 'onwards'"—or, for that matter, "at any cost".

That interpretation is more comfortable with (10): "They all swore, 'Nation of Muhammad!', to enter Messolonghi and cause havoc" > "They all swore, crying 'Nation of Muhammad!'", or "They all swore, in a 'Nation of Muhammad!' way", or "They all swore, at any cost to enter Messolonghi."

We have now arrived at the Modern Greek expression, which is adverbial. We have also arrived at the meaning of the Modern Greek expression, which derides obstinacy: αμέτι μουχαμέτι means, ultimately, "in such a bloodyminded way, you'd think he was urging Muslims into battle". But for that intepretation to be possible, people had to be using "Nation of Muhammad!" in Greek in indirect speech, and no longer as a vocative.

By (12, 17, 19) we clearly have extension to a context where both the vocative and the exclamation are impossible, and indeed to a context where there can be no reference to Muslim troops at all. This can be straightforwardly read as adverbial use, in the modern sense:
  • (12) αλλά ο Γαρδικιότης είναι Αμέτ Μουαμέτ κατά του στραβού, "but Gardikiotis is bloodymindedly against the blind man."
  • (17) ο Αλικιάδης είχεν απόφασιν, “Αμέτ Μουαμέτ”, να βάλη τη δουλειά εμπρός, "Alikiadis had decided, bloodymindedly, to go ahead with the venture."
  • (19) ήρθε αμέτι μουhαμέτι να μαλώση, "he came bloodymindedly intending to fight."

The expression did not stop as an adverb, however. Recall that αμέτι μουχαμέτι is used in the following ways in Modern Greek:
  • as an adverb generally: τα 1.280.000 ευρώ πρέπει να γίνουν, αμέτι μουχαμέτι, ποδηλατόδρομος, "The 1.28 million euros must be spent come hell or high water for a bicycle path" (αμέτι: 11700 hits on Google)
  • θέλει αμέτι μουχαμέτι accusative NOUN OR να VERB, "he wants, ameti moukhameti, NOUN/ to VERB" (θέλει/ήθελε αμέτι: 122 hits on Google)
  • βάλθηκε αμέτι μουχαμέτι να... "he has set himself ameti moukhameti to..." (βάλθηκε αμέτι: 4 hits on Google)
  • το έχει αμέτι μουχαμέτι να... "he has it ameti moukhameti to..." (έχει/είχε αμέτι: 11 hits on Google)
  • το έχει βάλει αμέτι μουχαμέτι να... "he has set it ameti moukhameti to..." (έβαλε/'βαλε/έχει βάλει/είχε βάλει αμέτι: 3021 hits on Google)

Using αμέτι μουχαμέτι with θέλω "to want" can be explained with an adverbial meaning: "he wants, bloodymindedly, a raise"; Η Ντόρα ήθελε αμέτι μουχαμέτι να πάει για τις υπογραφές, "Dora wanted, bloodymindedly, to go get the signatures". And that use of θέλω can be traced back to quotations of the warcry: αμέτι Μουχαμέτι, θα μπούμε στο Μεσολόγγι "Nation of Muhammad! We shall enter Messolonghi" > ήθελαν «αμέτι Μουχαμέτι» να μπούνε στο Μεσολόγγι "they wanted 'Nation of Muhammad!' to enter Messolonghi" > "they wanted, bloodymindedly, to enter Messolonghi."

The same holds for βάλθηκε, "he set himself/herself": Υπουργός τότε ο πολλά βαρύς και όχι Βασίλης Κοντογιαννόπουλος […], ο οποίος βάλθηκε αμέτι μου χαμέτι μου να μεταρρυθμίσει την Παιδεία, "The minister at the time was the dour-as-black-coffee Vasilis Kontogiannopoulos […] who set himself, bloodymindedly, to reform Education" (blacksad)

But the main use with a verb is with and το έχει βάλει "he has set it"—with το έχει "he has it" (18) trailing far behind:
  • (18) το είχεν αμέτ Μωαμέτ, να γίνη δήμαρχος, "he had it amet Moamet to become mayor."
  • Ο Υπουργός Δημοσίων Έργων […] το έβαλε αμέτι μουχαμέτι να τον εκτρέψει, "The minister of Public Works has set it ameti moukhameti to derail him."

These instances are not adverbs: ??"he had it bloodymindedly to become mayor", ??"he set it bloodymindedly to derail him".

What these expressions do sound like though, is (το) είχε σκοπό να..., το 'βαλε σκοπό να... (έχει/είχε σκοπό: 1,021,000 hits on Google; έβαλε/'βαλε/έχει βάλει/είχε βάλει σκοπό: 135,600 hits on Google), "has/sets purpose to = intends to". In other words, αμέτι μουχαμέτι is behaving, in its usage after βάζω and έχω, like the noun σκοπός, "purpose"—which means that αμέτι μουχαμέτι has been reanalysed as a noun.

Other nouns have already fitted into this template: έχει/είχε καημό να "sorrow = yearning to" (4340 hits), έχει/είχε βάλει καημό να (2 hits); έχει/είχε άχτι να "spite to" (534 hits), έχει/είχε βάλει άχτι να (4 hits). There would be a simple reason of analogy for αμέτι μουχαμέτι to fit this noun template: it looks like a neuter noun. In fact, αμέτι μουχαμέτι > ümmet-i Muhammed looks like the neuter noun άχτι "spite" < ahd "oath, promise". And άχτι is primarily used with the verb έχω "have" and βγάζω "take out".

Unlike σκοπός, καημός, and άχτι, the expression αμέτι μουχαμέτι is mostly associated, so Google has it, with βάζω "set"—particularly with the perfect το έχει βάλει (1940 of the 3020 hits). One explanation for that is another analogy—with βάζω όρκο "to set an oath = to swear" (and not *έχω όρκο): ümmet-i Muhammed was understood to be an oath, explicitly so in (10). But that does not explain by itself why βάζω "set" was associated with an adverb "bloodymindedly": "he set it bloodymindedly" doesn't quite make sense.

(17) provides one ambiguous context which explains this reanalysis: ο Αλικιάδης είχεν απόφασιν, “Αμέτ Μουαμέτ”, να βάλη τη δουλειά εμπρός, "Alikiadis had a decision, bloodymindedly, to go ahead with the venture" (adverb) > "Alikiadis had a decision, an 'Amet Mouamet', to go ahead with the venture" (noun). In other words, αμέτι μουχαμέτι was reanalysed as a noun in apposition with "decision"—another word for "decision". The punctuation, if it is Papadiamantis', supports that—αμέτι μουχαμέτι was still more like an interjection than an adverb, and its separate intonation makes it look like apposition.

Maybe, but the reanalysis looks unconvincing to me: appositions are a bit too learnèd to be plausible here. The best I can come up with is the construction έβαλε να... "he set out to": έβαλε να φτιάξει καφέ, "he set out to make coffee". Combined with αμέτι μουχαμέτι, the construction becomes έβαλε, αμέτι μουχαμέτι, να φτιάξει καφέ, "he set out bloodymindedly to make coffee", which can be reanalysed as "he set a purpose to make coffee". Once that reanalysis happened, the clitic object could be added in, by analogy:
  • έβαλε σκοπό να φτιάξει καφέ, "he set a purpose to make coffee" = "he intended to make coffee"
  • το 'βαλε σκοπό να φτιάξει καφέ, "he set it a purpose to make coffee" = "he intended to make coffee"
  • το 'βαλε όρκο να φτιάξει καφέ, "he set it an oath to make coffee" = "he swore he'd make cofee"
  • έβαλε, αμέτι μουχαμέτι, να φτιάξει καφέ, "he set out, bloodymindedly, to make coffee" > έβαλε αμέτι μουχαμέτι να φτιάξει καφέ, "he set a bloodyminded intent to make coffee"
  • το 'βαλε αμέτι μουχαμέτι να φτιάξει καφέ, "he set it a bloodyminded intent to make coffee"—by analogy with το 'βαλε σκοπό and το 'βαλε όρκο

We may not need to find an ambiguous sentence to explain το 'βαλε αμέτι μουχαμέτι. It may merely be an analogy straight from το 'βαλε όρκο "he set it an oath" and το 'βαλε σκοπό, with αμέτι μουχαμέτι sounding like a noun to replace όρκο and σκοπό, but as a conceptual leap rather than a shift latent in context.

At any rate, αμέτι μουχαμέτι is acting like the noun σκοπό "purpose" in the βάζω/έχω … να construction—but the noun analysis has not undergone further extension. αμέτι μουχαμέτι is not used in the contexts that σκοπός is:
  • Ο σκοπός είναι να δούμε νέες ιδέες, "the intention is for us to see new ideas"; *το αμέτι μουχαμέτι είναι να δούμε νέες ιδέες
  • Έχει καλό σκοπό, "he has good intentions"; *έχει καλό αμέτι μουχαμέτι
  • Η θεωρία του σκοπού της ζωής, "the theory of the purpose of life"; *η θεωρία του αμετιού μουχαμετιού της ζωής
  • Έρανος με σκοπό να αγοραστεί δορυφόρος, "a fundraiser with the intention of buying a satellite"; *έρανος με αμέτι μουχαμέτι να αγοραστεί δορυφόρος

Using αμέτι μουχαμέτι as the noun "purpose" in general sounds absurd for now. But in Turkish, "he set it Nation of Muhammad to make coffee" sounds absurd. (Try it out: Kahve yapmak için, ümmet-i Muhammed o yerleştirilir. It would be less absurd, if I actually knew any Turkish...) Syntactic change is possible, if people see a point in it; and we can't rule out future extension of the construction, along the path it has started.
...Read more

2011-03-03

αμέτι μουχαμέτι, "Come Hell or High Water"

As I alluded to in the previous post, this post is about how the Ottoman phrase ümmet-i Muhammed, "Nation of Muhammad", turned into the Modern Greek expression αμέτι μουχαμέτι, "come hell or high water".

The material for this post is taken from the Magnificent Nikos Sarantakos' Blog—as much of the material on this blog is. The expression was brought up in an earlier, inconclusive post by Sarantakos, with help by the Ottomanist Diver of Sinks. But the expression has recently been given a magisterial treatment by Vasilis Orfanos. To trace the development of the expression, Orfanos made use of several sources, including writings by Muslim speakers of Greek—who were how the expression got into Greek to begin with.

The expression appears to have undergone a shift in analysis, helped along by Greek-speakers who no longer understood Turkish. The difficulty is in working out when exactly the shift happened: the texts don't tell us unambiguously—precisely because the shift relied on ambiguity to take place, as a metonymic change. That's a question I'll try to explore in a followup post.

But let's start with how the modern expression is used, before we go back to the early 1800s.

The Modern Greek usage of αμέτι μουχαμέτι is as an adverbial phrase, meaning "perforce, at any cost, done with stubborn insistence." It conveys a negative attitude towards the person insisting, although Orfanos has noticed that it has started being used positively. (His example is from a deputy minister's interview on the radio.) It is usually used with a light verb, whose subject is the person insisting:
  • θέλει αμέτι μουχαμέτι accusative NOUN OR να VERB, "he wants, ameti moukhameti, NOUN/ to VERB"
  • το έχει αμέτι μουχαμέτι να... "he has it ameti moukhameti to..."
  • το έχει βάλει αμέτι μουχαμέτι να... "he has set it ameti moukhameti to..."
  • βάλθηκε αμέτι μουχαμέτι να... "he has set himself ameti moukhameti to..."

The phrase is colloquial, but in wide use; Orfanos has gathered the following examples from the recent press (only the last is a web-only publication):
  • Το 'βαλαν αμέτι-μουχαμέτι, αργά ή γρήγορα θα συνέβαινε, δεν συνέβη τη μία, δεν συνέβη την επομένη, συνέβη τη μεθεπομένη. "They set it ameti moukhameti: it would happen sooner or later. It didn't happen the first time or the second; it did happen the third."
  • Η Ντόρα ήθελε αμέτι μουχαμέτι να πάει για τις υπογραφές. "[Politician] Dora [Bakoyannis] wanted ameti moukhameti to go and get the signatures.
  • Ο Υπουργός Δημοσίων Έργων […] το έβαλε αμέτι μουχαμέτι να τον εκτρέψει. "The minister of Public Works set out ameti moukhameti to derail him."
  • Τα 1.280.000 ευρώ πρέπει να γίνουν, αμέτι μουχαμέτι, ποδηλατόδρομος, αλλιώς θα τα χάναμε. "The 1.28 million euros must be spent ameti moukhameti for a bicycle path; otherwise we'll lose them."

The phrase is almost always now αμέτι μουχαμέτι, although Orfanos has noted a couple of instances of αμέτη μουαμέτη and αμέτ μουαμέτ (which are earlier attested variants.) The phrase αμέτι μουχαμέτι is quite opaque to Greek speakers now; Sarantakos notes that speakers often reanalyse it as αμέτι μου χαμέτι "my ameti khameti", or even αμέτι μου χαμέτι μου "my ameti, my khameti"—with khameti just as as opaque as ameti. Orfanos has noted it go even further online, dropping the seeming possessives and ending up as αμέτι χαμέτι, or garbling μουχαμέτι as αμέτι μω χαμέτι or αμέτι μουμ χαμέτι.

It was always clear what moukhameti meant: Μουχαμέτης was the colloquial rendering of Muhammad in Greek—although now that few Greek speakers know any Muslims, Muhammad for them has retreated to the Puristic safety of Μωάμεθ. An indirect confirmation is given by commenter LandS: the Constantinopolitans he has heard pronounce the expression as αμέτιμουhαμέτι, with the [h] of Turkish Muhammed. Orfanos finds the same [h] in the Greek–French dictionary by Ipitis (see end of this post).

So it was clear that the phrase is Muslim—and presumably Ottoman Turkish in origin; but it wasn't clear what it meant. Ameti Muhammed, we can be reasonably sure, is not how the expression started off in Turkish. The Persian loan amed "he came" was used to mean"arrival; income; import", as Tasos Kaplanis found; so Amed Muhammed could mean "Muhammad is coming"—if we assume that Turkish-speakers had completely forgotten how the syntax of their own language worked. But, as Diver of Sinks concludes, that is hardly a plausible explanation.

Unfortunately, Greek dictionaries don't check their Turkish particularly carefully when giving etymologies; so a phantom Turkish word amet has ended up in the Triantaphyllides Institute Dictionary's etymology. Several etymologies were proposed in the discussion of the first post:
  • amet muhabbet, "(ghost word) friendly chat" (?!) (Triantaphyllides Institute)
  • adet-i Muhammed, "custom of Muhammad" (Diver of Sinks, cited in Sarantakos' first post, though he admits never seeing such an expression)
  • adet-i mukaddem "longstanding custom", "legal precedent" (Diver of Sinks: a commonplace expression, which may have been conflated with the actual etymology)
  • med Muhammed "extension, Muhammad" (Sarantakos, trying to explain an earlier form of the expression, μετ Μουχαμέτ; Nikiplos, reinterpreting it as "lineage of Muhammad")
  • meded-i Muhammed "aid of Muhammad" (Diver of Sinks correcting Sarantakos, and unconvinced by Nikiplos' proposal; med is a rare and learnèd word)
  • Albanian me Muhammedi "with Muhammad" (Ilefoufoutos, not confidently either)

But we will go with ümmet-i Muhammed "Nation of Muslims", given in the 2nd edition of the Babiniotis dictionary, and before it in Pamboukis' Turkish lexicon of Modern Greek (Παμπούκης Ι.Τ. 1988. Τουρκικό λεξιλόγιο της νέας ελληνικής, Vol. 1, ed. Κ. Γ. Κασίνης, Athens: Παπαζήσης, p. 152.) Sarantakos' first post was inconclusive, which is why commentors were still suggesting other explanations, although "Nation of Muslims" was accepted as the likeliest. It was Orfanos' post, with its extensive examples, that swayed readers to accept it as the etymology.

ümmet is how the expression shows up at its earliest, as Orfanos found, as ουμέτι and ιμέτι (since Modern Greek, unlike Attic, Albanian, and Turkish, does not have an [y] sound). But ümmet sounds nothing like αμέτι, so some word must have intervened to lead Greek speakers astray. The earliest users of the expression that Orfanos found were either Muslims, or Ottoman subjects well acquainted with Turkish (Pontians); but αμέτι was already being used in song in 1825. The possible interference on ümmet to produce ameti include:
  • adet-i mukaddem "longstanding custom", "legal precedent" (Diver of Sinks; a possibility, since Ottoman legal precedent would have seem as unreasonable insistence to Christian Ottoman subjects—but that implies that the Greek speakers who mangled the expression understood legal Ottoman Turkish just fine, which seems odd to me.)
  • meded-i Muhammed "aid of Muhammad" (Diver of Sinks; would explain the attested old variant μετ Μουχαμέτ, but not ameti; at any case, Muslims call on Allah's aid, not Muhammad's.)
  • αμέτε "go on!" (Commenter Άναυδος ["Speechless"], very tentatively—so tentatively, he may not have realised he was proposing it; but I find the notion compelling. Tasos Kaplanis liked it too.)
  • The proper name Ahmed (Commenter Strabo of Amasea—and independently Fauriel, who rendered the expression in French as Ahmet! Mahomet!, in 1825. Diver of Sinks had rejected the possibility, since he has never seen the two names of Ahmad and Muhammad together.)
  • Rhyme with (Μουχ)αμέτη "Muhammad" (Orfanos, and the temptation to make the alien warcry into a singsong rhyme is the most plausible explanation.)
  • Μα το Μουχαμέτη "By Muhammad!" (Orfanos, to explain not the sound of αμέτι μουχαμέτι, but the semantics it has picked up, as a commitment to do something.)


Orfanos in his treatise goes through sources available through Google (including the Anemi digital library of Modern Greek Studies and the Open Archives federated search of Greek digital libraries); he supplemented these with visits to the library of the City of Herakleion and of the University of Crete at Rethymnon. What is notable about his survey is that it includes examples from clearly Muslim Greek, in which the expression had its original meaning.

I'm using Orfanos' examples for the same purpose as he did, to illustrate how the change happened. There's 19 of them, and I'm going to just list them here, with commentary. But I'm going to delay tracing what happened overall till a later post.
(1) Poem on the birth of the prophet Muhammad, translation from the Turkish by a Cretan Muslim (18th century):
Τον κύριο παρακάλεσαν να κάμη μερχαμέτι
Και να τους κάμη ολουνούς του Μουχαμέτ’ ουμμέτι
They begged the Lord to show compassion,
and to make them all Moukhamet's oumeti.

This is the literal meaning of ümmet-i Muhammad as "members of the Muslim community", and the expression is fully assimilated into the Greek of the poem: ουμμέτι has been borrowed as a noun, and Μουχαμέτ' is preceded by a genitive article, so that του Μουχαμέτ’ ουμμέτι is syntactically Greek (although the word order is still copied across from Turkish).

(2) Folk song on the destruction of the cathedral of Trebizond. (So described by Papadopoulos-Kerameus, but this is clearly a written poem, with Puristic in it.) (Cathedral destroyed 1665; manuscript written 1811):
το βρωμερόν του [στόμα] άνοιξεν [ο μουφτής] και τον υιόν του κράζει·
«Γλήγορα δράμε στο τσαρσί, τους Τούρκους όλους λάλει·
μικροί μεγάλοι, όλοι τους –­ ουμέτι Μουαμέτη –­
ας δράμουν στην μητρόπολι να κάμωμεν το φέτι».
ευθύς αυτοί, σαν τἄκουσαν, μετά χαράς πηδούσι·
ωσάν θηρία άγρια τρέχουν και πιλαλούσι.
καβαλλικεύει και αυτός έτζι δαιμονισμένος,
φωνάζοντας «Να δράμετε, του Μωαμέτη γένος».
[The mufti] open his filthy [mouth] and called his son:
"Quickly run to the market, tell all the 'Turks' [Muslims]:
young and old, all of them—oumeti Mouameti
should run to the cathedral so we can subjugate it."
Immediately on hearing this they gladly leap,
they run and rush like savage beasts.
He too rode his horse, possessed,
shouting: "Run, nation of Muhammad."

The poem renders ümmet-i Muhammed in both Turkish and Greek, so its author knew what the expression meant in Turkish. This is the first instance of ümmet-i Muhammed as a war cry.

(3) Alipashiad, a poem written in praise of Ali Pasha by the Muslim Hatzi Sekhretis (Haxhi Shehreti) (before 1817):
Αλήπασας σαν τ’ άνοιξε και βλέπει το φερμάνι,
Λίγο γκιδέρι ’ς την καρδιά αρχίνησε και βάνει.
«Ορίστε, λεγ’ Αλήπασας, ιμέτι Μουχαμέτη,
Χαΐρι δεν εχούμε ’μεις εφέτ’ απ’ το ντουβλέτι.»
When Ali Pasha opened and saw the firman,
he had a little sorrow in his heart:
"See," Ali Pasha says, "imeti Moukhameti,
we're not seeing any joy from the government this year!"

Clearly this has nothing to do with stubborness; Ali Pasha is figuratively addressing the Nation of Muhammad (ümmet-i Muhammed), his fellow Muslims, and Leake, in paraphrasing the poem, says that "Alý exclaims on receiving this answer, 'We have no satisfaction this year from the government'."
To make sense of the use of ümmet-i Muhammed, Orfanos refers to Kieffer & Bianchi's 1850 French–Turkish dictionary: «امّت محمّد يوقم ummeti mouhhamed ioqmi. N’y a-t-il plus de religion mahométane? (Cri de détresse ou de révolte.)» (That is: ümmet-i Muhammed yokmı? "Is there no nation of Muhammad?" (Cry of distress or revolt). Or, as Orfanos puts it, "There goes our faith! There are no proper Muslims left!": as the Alipashiad goes on to say,
να ξέρετε μας μάγεψαν της Φράντζας οι διαβόλοι
και γνώσι δεν απόμεινε του βασιλιά στην Μπόλι.
"You should know that the devils of France have put a spell on us,
and there is no wisdom left with the king in the City [= the Sultan in Istanbul]."
There is evidence for a similar expression addressed by Muslims to Christians in folksong: "What are you doing, Christians! Are you not baptised?" (i.e. you are acting like pagans, you are acting indecently); Αν είστε βαφτισμένοι! "if you are baptised!" is still used as an exclamation of incredulity in Crete. Cf. the use of losing my religion in the Southern U.S., which I commented on with relation to slang.gr's Είδε το Χριστό φαντάρο "He saw Christ as a conscript": in a religious world, losing religion truly was considered equivalent to going insane.

(4) Alipashiad:
Τ’ ασκέρι του Βελήπασα πήρε να γονατίση,
’Σ τον ντιν ντουσμάνη πολεμά τον [sic] πλάτη να γυρίση.
Κι ο Σιλικτάρης φώναξε· “ιμέτι, Μωχαμέτη,
’Σ τον ντιν ντουσμάνη σήμερα να κάμωμεν γαϊρέτι.
Να βγούμε μ’ άσπρο πρόσωπον σ’ ετούτο το σεφέρι,
Απάνω τους να πέσωμεν με το σπαθί ’σ το χέρι.
Veli Pasha's army was starting to capitulate,
it was trying to turn its back to the infidel enemy.
And the adjutant cried: "imeti, Mokhameti,
today against the infidel enemy we shall show endurance.
We shall acquit ourselves bravely in this expedition,
and fall on them with swords in our hands."

This is the usual war cry appealing to the faithful, rather than Ali Pasha's rhetorical agnosticism.
(Among the Turcisms of Haxhi Shehreti, I'd like to point out σεφέρι "war, expedition". English has the same word for expedition, from Arabic. Via Swahili. As safari.)
In both Haxhi Shehreti's examples, ümmet is rendered as imeti instead of the expected umeti. Commenter Mikhalios explains this by appealing to Haxhi Shehreti's Albanian background: Albanian /y/ is rendered in the Greek of Epirus as /i/. Hence gryka "dale", which appears as the local place name Γκρίκα/Γκρύκα /ɡrika/, and Ömer Vrioni, who Haxhi Shehreti refers to as Ιμέρ Πασάς "Imer Pasha", via Albanian Ymer. Haxhi Shehreti used /imeti muxameti/ in Greek, because he said O ymmeti Muhammed in Albanian.
…And let's make sure you get what happened with Ömer/Omer/Ymer Vrioni:

  • Turkish has /œ y u i/. Albanian has /y/ but not /œ/. Greek has neither /y/ nor /œ/.
  • The Arabic name 'Umar, Omar ends up in Turkish as Ömer /œmer/, because of vowel harmony.
  • Greek has no rounded front vowels; a medial Turkish /œ/ is rendered as /jo/: Karagöz > Καραγκιόζης /karagjozis/. I can't find a good example of a Turkish word starting with /œ/ ending up in Modern Greek, but rendering it as /o/ was clearly an option. So Ομέρ /omer/.
  • Albanian does not have /œ/, but it had the option of rendering the mid front rounded vowel as a mid front vowel, /o/, or a rounded front vowel, /y/. It picked the rounded vowel: Ymer /ymer/.
  • But the Greek of Epirus borrows Albanian /y/ as /i/, and not as /u, ju/ as in the rest of Greek. So Ομέρ in the Alipashiad is Ιμέρ /imer/.

(5) Ioannes Nathanail, Ευβοϊκά (1858, incident occuured in 1821):
μετά δε την σύσκεψιν αναστάντες ο Ομέρ Βρυών Πασάς και ο Ομέρμπεης ίππευσαν και περιήρχοντο [στη Χαλκίδα] από οικίας εις οικίαν μετά θυροκρούστου· και ο μεν έκρουεν την θύρα, οι δε έσωθεν απεκρίνοντο “κιμ ντιρ”· ο δε έξωθεν ”αμέτ Μωαμέτ, αύριον να ήσθε έτοιμοι, θα πάμε εις τα Βρυσάκια κατά των κλεφτών”.
After their meeting Ömer Vrioni Pasha and Ömer Bey rode their horses, and wandered from house to house with a door knocker. The door knocker knocked on the door, and those inside would answer: Kimdir? [Who is it?] Those outside said: "amet Moamet, be ready tomorrow, we will go to Vrysakia against the brigands."

Ömer is literally answering the question "who is there" with the answer "[we are of the] Nation of Muhammad", namely, "we are Muslims". This is not necessarily a warcry; but note that forty years on, Nathanail has already garbled ümmet-i Muhammed into amet Moamet—so he has turned the expression into ameti muxameti, even if the "hell or high water" meaning isn't there yet.

(6) Folk song on Georgakis and Farmakis, published by Claude Fauriel (1825):
Ένας πασάς αγνάντευεν πέρα από του Σέκου.
Ψηλήν φωνήν εσήκωσεν· «Αμέτη, Μωαμέτη!
Πιάστε τον τόπον δυνατά, ζώστε το μοναστήρι.»
A pasha was keeping watch beyond Sekos.
He cried out with a shrill voice: "Ameti Moameti!
Fortify the place boldly: surround the monastery."

Rendered by Fauriel as Ahmet! Mahomet!: Mais un pacha était en observation de l’autre côté de Sékos – «Ahmet! Mahomet!» se met-il à crier d’ une voix haute; – emparez-vous bravement des postes; entourez le monastère. This is the first evidence that someone did not understand the expression, and it may not just have been the visiting Frenchman.

(7) Letter by Field Marshal Theodoros Kolokotronis to the government (1827):
η έφοδος αύτη των εχθρών […] οίτινες τυφοίς όμμασι, και με το αμέτ μουχαμέτ ώρμησαν κατά των ιδικών μας, μη δειλιάσαντες ολοτελώς τον θάνατον όπου ελάμβανον.
This attack by the enemies […] who with blind eyes and an "Amet Moukhamet" rushed onto our men, not at all fearing the death they were being dealt.

Clearly a reference to the warcry, now nominalised.

(8) Lambros Koutsonikas, General History of the Greek Revolution (1863, events of 1821–1827)
[…] αλαλάζοντες δε εφώναζαν οι βάρβαροι μετ Μουχαμέτ εμπρός (δια της ισχύος του Μωάμεθ) και έτρεχαν ως οι τετυφλωμένοι χοίροι, χωρίς να βλέπουν έμπροσθέν των.
and the barbarians screamed, shouting "met Moukhamet onwards" (through the power of Muhammad), and ran like blinded swine, without looking in front of them.

Here and in the following, the expression is a war cry, but in the variant form met muxamet. The variant led commenters to speculate on alternate derivations for the expression, but they have not come up again since, and may well be a mishearing by Koutsonikas.

(9) Koutsonikas (1863, events of 1821–1827)
[Οι Τούρκοι] ώρμησαν ως σμίνος επί του μεγάλου πύργου και εφώναξαν «ορέ ποιος είναι εδώ μέσα» οι δε απεκρίθησαν, «Σουλιώται είναι ορέ τούρκοι με τον Κουτσονίκα, και αν αγαπάτε κοπιάστε». Ακούσαντες δε οι βάρβαροι εφώναξαν «Μετ Μουχαμέτ, επάνω τους» και αμέσως ώρμησαν κατά του πύργου.
[The Turks] swarmed at the great tower, and shouted: "Hey! Who's in here?" And they replied: "Hey, Turks! It's Souliotes under Koutsonikas here; and if you feel up to it, come over." When the barbarians heard this, they shouted: "Met Moukhamet, attack them," and they rushed at the tower immediately.

Again, explicitly a war cry.

(10) Folk song Siege of Messolonghi (published 1874, events of 1825)
Όλοι τους ωρκισθήκανε αμέτι Μουχαμέτη,
στο Μεσολόγγι να εμβούν, να κάμουν κιαμέτι .
Ημέρα των Χριστουγεννών προ τού να ξημερώση·
Αλλάχ, Αλλάχ! εφώναξαν, κη έκαμαν το γιουρούσι·
They all swore Ameti Moukhameti
to enter Messolonghi and cause havoc.
Before the dawn of Christmas Day,
they shouted "Allah! Allah!" and launched the raid.

Legrand's translation: Tous ont juré par Mahomet d’entrer dans Missolongi pour y faire de déluge. Le jour de Noel, avant l’aurore, il ont crié Allah! Allah! Et ont donné l’assaut.
This example has been published late, so it does not necessarily mean the reanalysis to "at any cost" had happened in 1825. But it does allow both interpretations: they swore, (saying) "Nation of Muhammad!"—that they would enter Messolonghi; or they swore that at any cost they would enter Messolonghi. Orfanos highlights this and the next instances as the first time when the war cry conveys an explicit undertaking to do something—which is necessary for the subsequent interpretation of unreasonable insistence. Legrand's translation, "they all swore by Muhammad", is clearly guesswork.

(11) Cretan folksong on the death of the rebel Xopateras (1828):
κι εφτά αγαδάκια ήσφαξε, τσι κεφαλές τως παίρνει.
Στο Γιόφυρο τσι τσίτωσε κι έκαμε μπαϊράκι
κι οι Τούρκοι τσι θωρούσανε κι επίνανε φαρμάκι.
«Σούμπα Αλλάχ» φωνιάζανε κι «Αμέτη Μουχαμέτη»
να πα’ να πχιάσου ν-το μ-παπά, να ησυχάσει η Κρήτη.
He killed seven lords, he took of their heads.
He impaled them in Giofyros [near Herakleion] and raised his banner.
The Turks saw them and were envenomed.
"Glory to Allah" they cried and "Ameti Moukhameti":
they would go seize the priest, to calm Crete down.

Literally, these are just war cries in response to the Christian massacre; but Orfanos notes that this too sounds in context like the modern meaning: "at any cost, they would go seize the priest".

(12) Stefanos Xenos, Η Κιβδηλεία, Vol. 1, London, p. 11 (1859)
αλλά ο Γαρδικιότης είναι Αμέτ Μουαμέτ κατά του στραβού, και κατά βεβαιώτητα μας δίδει δεν θα τον αφύση προς ικανοποίησιν αυτού εις Σμύρνην τον στραβόν
But Gardikiotis is Amet Mouamet opposed to the blind man, and he assures us that he will not give the blind man the satisfaction of remaining in Smyrna

Orfanos believes this is an intermediate sense between the war cry and the notion of unreasonable insistence: where the modern use is adverbial, this is adjectival, and it means "to be a sworn enemy of, to have spite towards". Tasos Kaplanis however thinks this is the modern usage, unmodified: "he is, come hell or high water, against the blind man."

(13) Report in the newspaper Aeon on the destruction of Arkadi monastery (1867)
Ο Μουσταφάς, περικυκλωμένος υπό των λοιπών πασάδων, ομιλεί, αφρίζει και με το αλβανικόν του πείσμα κραυγάζει. “Αμέτ-Μουαμέτ θα τους κάψουμε!”
Mustafa, surrounded by the other pashas, speaks, foams at the mouth, and shouts with his Albanian obstinacy: "Amet-Mouamet we will burn them down!"

A war cry, but straightforwardly interpreted as a commitment, "at any cost". Stubbornness is the ethnic stereotype in Modern Greece of Arvanites; I have no reason to doubt the same stereotype was extended to their Muslim fellow–Albanian-speakers.

(14) Cretan folksong on the death of the rebel Pavlos Dedidakis (1867):
οι Τούρκοι απού το φόβο τους, αλάχ! αλάχ! φωνιάζου,
το Μουχαμέτη για να ρθη να τσοι βουηθήση κράζου·
Ρεσίτ Πασάς εφώνιαξεν αμέτη μουχαμέτη!
Όπου κι αν επολέμησα δεν είδ’ ετσά σικλέτη.
The Turks were so scared, they cried "Allah! Allah!"
They shouted for Muhammad to come help them;
Reshid Pasha shouted: "Ameti Moukhameti!
Wherever I have fought, I have never seen such sorrow!"

Orfanos notes that as the power balance between Muslims and Christians shifted in Crete, ümmet-i Muhammed in Christian folksong went from a show of strength to a cry of despair from the now weakened Muslims. I don't see such pleading in the 1828 Xopateras song, but it is clear in this song—along with the misconstrual of Muhammad's role as an intercessor: the Christians were on the rise, notwithstanding their defeat in the 1866 rebellion, and no longer had to care about details of Islamic theology. This pleading, of course, cannot have given rises to αμέτι μουχαμέτι indicating obstinacy: that sense predates this.

(15) Song about Marigo Lambrakis in Archanes, Crete (1897):
Και τότε φόβος τσοι ’πιασε μέσα εις την καρδία.
Ο Σουβαρής εφώναξε Αμέτη Μουχαμέτη
των Αρχανών ο πόλεμος δεν έχει μερχαμέτι
Then fear seized them in their hearts.
The messenger shouted "Ameti Moukhameti,
the war of Archanes has no mercy."

As with the 1867 song, this is now a cry of despair rather than a rallying cry.

(16) Cretan song about the death of Tryfitsos (1897):
και οι μπουρμάδες λέγανε αμέτι μου χαμέτι
και ο Τρυφίτσος είν κιοσές που μας-ε παίζει μπέτι
And the converts [= Muslim Cretans] said: "Ameti mou khameti
and Tryfitsos is the one who is firing at our chests."

Same story as the previous two songs. Whoever transcribed the song (Sarantakos doesn't give a citation) did not work out the connection with Muhammad, and split the word up—as many contemporary Greeks do.

(17) Alexandros Papadiamantis, Οι χαλασοχώρηδες (1892)
Αλλά την φοράν ταύτην ο Αλικιάδης είχεν απόφασιν, “Αμέτ Μουαμέτ”, να βάλη τη δουλειά εμπρός. Α! δεν τον εγελούσαν αυτόν με το σήμερα και με το αύριο οι εργολάβοι.
But this time Alikiadis had decided, Amet Mouamet, to go ahead with the venture. Oh, the contractors were not going to get the better of him with their "todays" and "tomorrows".

This is the modern meaning of αμέτι μουχαμέτι, though its pronunciation is still closer to ümmet-i Muhammed.

(18) Alexandros Papadiamantis, Τα δύο τέρατα (1909)
Ο γερο-Μακρής ο Βαβδινός, σεβάσμιος τοκογλύφος, είχε κατέλθει εις τον εκλογικόν αγώνα και το είχεν αμέτ Μωαμέτ, να γίνη δήμαρχος.
Old Makris Vavdinos, a reverend usurer, had entered into the electoral fray and had it amet Moamet to become mayor.

The expression now finally is associated with a verb, το είχε "he had it...", as it is in contempotorary Greek.

(19) Antonios Ipitis, Λεξικόν ελληνο-γαλλικόν και γαλλο-ελληνικόν (Greek–French Dictionary) (1908)
«αμέτι-μουhαμέτι [δημ.] εκ προμελέτης, avec préméditation, ήρθε αμέτι μουhαμέτι να μαλώση = ήλθεν εκ προμελέτης ίνα ερίση»
ameti-mouhameti (vernac.) "with premeditation": he came ameti-mouhameti to fight = "he came with premeditation to conflict"

Explicit confirmation of the generalisation of the expression. Note the Turkish use of [h] rather than [x].


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