The Swallow Song, morphemic breakdown
|From:||Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, July 21, 2001, 8:37|
I thought it might be helpful to have a little morphemic
breakdown so as to provide some background of how it
works in Greek rather than making a translation from the
English translation. [.] represents fusionalization of the
morphology; [:] represents a clearer, more agglutinative
É:lthe, é:lthe khélido:n
AUG.come:3rd.Sg.IMPF (same) swallow.Nom.Sg
kalàs ó:ras ágousa
beautiful:F.Acc.Pl hour:F.Acc.Pl lead:F.Nom.Sg.Part
epì gastéra leuká
on belly:Acc.Sg white:N.Pl 
epì nôta mélaina.
on back.F.Acc.Sg black:N.Pl
Paláthan su prokúklei
fruit-cake:F.Acc.Sg 2nd.Sg.Nom.Pronoun bring-round/forth:2nd.Sg.Subj[?]
ek píonos oíkou
from fatted/rich:Gen.Sg house:Gen.Sg
oínou te dépastron,
wine:Gen.Sg and cup:N.Acc.Sg
turoû te kánustron
cheese:Gen.Sg. and basket:N.Acc.Sg
kai púrna khelidò:n
and wheat-bread:N.Acc.Sg swallow.Nom.Sg
and pulse-bread:F.Acc.Sg 
ouk apo:theítai. poter' apío:mes
not avoid.Aor:3rd.Sg.Middle.Ind whether go-away:1st.Pl.Subj.Act
ei men ti doseis...
if (while) what give:Fut:2nd.Sg.Ind.Act  
ei de me:, ouk eásomes
if but not, not let-be:Fut:2nd.Pl.Ind.Act 
e: tàn thúran phéromes
or the.F.Acc.Sg door:F.Acc.Sg bear.Pres:1st.Pl.Ind.Act 
or the-lintel:N.Acc.Sg 
e: tàn gunaîka
or the:F.Acc.Sg woman.Acc.Sg 
tàn éso: kathe:ménan
the:F.Acc.Sg to-the-interior sit:Middle.Part:F.Acc.Sg 
mikrà mén esti,
small:F.Nom.Sg while be.3rd.Sg.Ind
rha:idío:s min oísomes.
easy:Adv her.Acc.Sg.Pronoun bear.Aor:Fut:2nd.Pl.Ind.Act
all' ei phére:s ti,
but if bear:2nd.Sg.Subj.Pres what
méga dé: ti phérois.
great indeed what bear.Pres:2nd.Sg.Opt
tàn thúran khelidóni
the.F.Acc.Sg door:F.Acc.Sg swallow:Dat.Sg
ou gar gérontés esmen, alla paidía.
not since old-man:Nom.Pl be:1st.Pl.Ind but childlike:N.Nom.Pl
Notes: since really giving a word-by-word morphological
analysis of this passage would actually require teaching a significant
amount of Greek, I must beg your pardon if I do not go to this extent.
But these few things I can say:
 _leuka_ here and _melaina_ here are, I believe, neuter plurals
which are frequently used in some dialects of Greek instead of
tacking on the adverbial _-o:s_.
 In the original translation, I used "pulse-porridge", but I think I
made a clerical error in using the dictionary entry for _lekithitos_
instead of _lekithita_ (or -e:, however it ended). I now think that
pulse-bread makes more sense in context. Justin or Ray will have
to advise further on these and like matters.
 _men_ "while" in Greek is technically a conjunction that operates in
coordination with _de_ "but", but in Greek it is used SO frequently that
it really does not have the contrastive effect that a literal rendering of
these words in English might imply. Neither _men_ nor _de_ may be
used in sentence initial position.
 "ti" here is not a relative pronoun, although its protoform ("*kwid")
has obvious IE cognates in other languages.
 _me:_ here is a special adverbial "not" which is used only in irrealis
constructions. _ou_ (or its phonological variants _ouk_ and oukh_)
are used in realis, as is seen in the next phrase.
 The _e:_ beginning this phrase is coordinated with the following
two instances of _e:_ with the force of "either... or...or".
 _touperthuron_ here is an instance of crasis: phonological joining
of two short vowels to form a long in order to avoid hiatus. The unjoined
variant here would be _to uperthuron_.
 In Greek, the normal word for "wife" is identical to the word for
"woman". This does not imply, of course, that Greeks observed no
difference in those two social roles.
 The _tan_ here is not a relative pronoun (even though it is identical
in form to that pronoun in this context), but the definite article used to
supply information almost as an afterthought, as if to say "wife, the
one sitting inside"
"Aor" here means the aorist "tense" that implies instantaneity of action
(as opposed to e.g. ongoing action). In nonindicative constructions,
the aorist was purely aspectual.
"IMPF" means the imperfect "tense". It was used as a past tense
with ongoing aspect.
"Opt" means the optative mode, which was used primarily for wishes
and desires. "May you X" is the usual English literal translation.
"Middle" is a voice in Greek that sometimes functions in between
active and passive. A verb like "to judge", for example, may be
active for the presiding magistrate officiating a court, middle for the
prosecution, and passive for the defense.
Thomas Wier | AIM: trwier
"Aspidi men Saiôn tis agalletai, hên para thamnôi
entos amômêton kallipon ouk ethelôn;
autos d' exephugon thanatou telos: aspis ekeinê
erretô; exautês ktêsomai ou kakiô" - Arkhilokhos