In Greek, verbs are classified as "consonant-stem" or "vowel-stem". Vowel-stem verbs, aptly, have a vowel at the end of their stem. And in the Attic dialect, if this vowel is a short alpha, epsilon, or omicron, it contracts into the endings and makes a very distinctive conjugation pattern.

If the vowel is long, I would assume no contraction happens. But what about verbs ending in short iota or hypsilon? It seems likely that such stems exist, because Latin has quite a lot of i-stem verbs (the third conjugation -iō with short i, and the fourth conjugation with long ī).

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There are certainly verbs whose stems end (or used to end) in -i- and -u-, but what would contraction with a following stem vowel mean? "Contraction" here should be expected to result in a rising diphthong: -ye/o- or -we/o-. but these would be transformed according to well-known phonological principles within Greek:

For /u/, consider on one hand the form κάω, from *καύω (root καυ‐), where a former /w/ simply disappears, and on the other, δεικνύω, where the complex consonant cluster prevents a transformation /knu/ to /knw/, and hence no "contraction".

Examples of stems ending in -i- are numerous in the present tense system, but the result of the contraction is disguised by subsequent transformations, e.g., *βαλιω ‐› *βαλjω ‐› βάλλω.

The only time I would expect true contraction is in a (hypothetical) sequence like ιι -> ι, but this is not found as a normal part of the conjugational pattern.

  • Excellent! Out of curiosity, what happens to rising diphthongs in general?
    – Draconis
    May 17, 2018 at 18:50
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    The pattern is generally the same; for sequences of /wV/ pattern, the /w/ disappears; note /kalwos/ *καλϝός ‐› καλός, with /w/ dropped completely in Attic, but with the previous α lengthened in compensation in the Epic dialect. For sequences of the /yV/ pattern, the /y/ generally makes some sort of union with the previous consonant, e.g., /alyos/ *ἀλιος/ἀλjος ‐› ἀλλός (cf. Latin alius).
    – varro
    May 17, 2018 at 21:35

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