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  • Syntax of the Modern Greek Verbal System: The Use of the Forms, Particularly in Combination with θα and να
  • Panayiotis A. Pappas
Rolf Hesse , Syntax of the Modern Greek Verbal System: The Use of the Forms, Particularly in Combination with θα and να. Second revised edition. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. 2003. Pp. 141. $37.00.

This monograph is an in-depth description of the usage of the verbal forms of Modern Greek. It is an update of the 1980 edition in several important aspects, such as the corpus of texts, which now includes examples from more modern texts, and in its terminology which takes into account some of the more recent developments in the approach to Greek grammar.

The book is organized into ten chapters and also includes a foreword, which gives the reasons for publishing a revised edition, a selected bibliography and an eclectic index of Greek words and English grammatical terms. The brief introduction deals mostly with issues of terminology, while chapters 2 and 3 are terse accounts of the inflectional categories of Greek, and the usage of person and number respectively. The book hits its stride in chapter 4, which discusses the distinction between the active and the mediopassive voice and demonstrates how the two forms are used. Chapter 5 begins with a detailed explanation of aspect in Greek, which not only reviews the conceptual differences between perfective and imperfective but also presents the syntactic constraints that are associated with their use. The author proceeds by listing the different verb forms according to aspect, tense and mood (e.g., imperfective non-past, perfective non-past, imperative, etc.). For each form, he provides a brief description to how each form is used and follows it with several examples. The chapter also includes a relatively lengthy discussion of the meaning of the perfective non-past and an excursus on special constructions. Chapter 6 contains some general remarks on the markers θα, να and αvν, which are the topics of chapters 7 and 8, forming the main body of the book (65 of 141 pages). Chapter 7 begins with a description of the usage of θα constructions to express futurity versus their role in inferential expressions, and then continues by cataloguing the function of θα constructions that employ specific verb forms (θα + imperfective past, θα + perfect etc.). Chapter 8 is organized according to the grammatical elements that "govern" the να clause, while each subsection is structured around the use of να with specific verb forms or other lexical items. The author is very thorough in enumerating the possible combinatory possibilities with να and takes great care in combing through all the possible functions and meanings that να constructions can have in a sentence. The book concludes with two more brief chapters, one on indirect speech (chapter 9) and one on the use of negative words (chapter 10).

The book is intended for advanced students of the language and scholars. One needs to be fairly well-acquainted with the complexities of the Greek verb system in order to benefit from its detailed and well-exemplified discussion of usage norms. The author's laconic style of writing, which lets the examples carry the weight of the description, also makes this a book best suited for experienced learners of Greek. Those who delve into it, I am certain will find several points of interest, especially in the description of the various constructions that employ θα and να. In these chapters, the organization of the content according to the function of each construction, but also by the forms that are combined (e.g., θα [End Page 213] + imperfective past) makes for a handy reference tool. The use of a single verb () to showcase the distinctions between the active and mediopassive voice (22), the observation that only the perfective non-past form and not the imperfective has the meaning "it's gone, it's over" (35), and the discussion of lesser-known imperative constructions (54-55), are just some of the interesting observations that one finds in this book. The intended audience will certainly appreciate the detailed exploration in terms of function and meaning.

However, the book suffers from several flaws. The production is far from perfect. First, the back cover has να misspelled as υα, which is rather unfortunate because the...


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