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Inheritance and Inflectional Morphology

Old High German, Latin, Early New High German, and Koine Greek


MaryEllen A. LeBlanc

Inheritance, which has its origins in the field of artificial intelligence, is a framework focusing on shared properties. When applied to inflectional morphology, it enables useful generalizations within and across paradigms. The inheritance tree format serves as an alternative to traditional paradigms and provides a visual representation of the structure of the language’s morphology. This mapping also enables cross-linguistic morphological comparison.
In this book, the nominal inflectional morphology of Old High German, Latin, Early New High German, and Koine Greek are analyzed using inheritance trees. Morphological data is drawn from parallel texts in each language; the trees may be used as a translation aid to readers of the source texts as an accompaniment to or substitute for traditional paradigms. The trees shed light on the structural similarities and differences among the four languages.
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Chapter 5: Koine Greek


← 38 | 39 →Chapter 5

Koine Greek is the descendant of Attic Greek, incorporating influence of the Ionic dialect. While the Attic dialect preserved archaic features such as the dual number, Ionic lost many of these, resulting in simpler forms in the Koine. (Horrocks 1997:27–9) The Koine was the official language under Macedonian rule (from the fourth century BCE to 31 BCE) and came to be used throughout the Hellenistic world. (Horrocks 1997:33, 36–7) Later, under the Roman empire, it continued as a spoken language, while Attic was the preferred literary language. An exception to this is popular works such as the New Testament. (Horrocks 1997:70)

The Koine distinguishes five cases: nominative, vocative, genitive, dative, and accusative; and singular and plural number. There are three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter; as in the other languages discussed so far, the neuter is the most underspecified due to its consistent syncretism. (Moulton 1955:17) Koine Greek has a total of three declensions. The first two (α-stems and ο-stems, ← 39 | 40 →respectively) form a subgroup due to common inflections (group I below), while group II represents the third declension (all other stem classes).

Fig. 5.1

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