In Attic-Ionic Greek, nouns with dental stems show two types of accusative singular endings, depending on the position of the accent:

  • If the accent is on the final syllable of the stem, the accusative ending is -α, e.g. ἀσπίς, acc. sg. ἀσπίδα.

  • Otherwise (i.e. in recessively accented nouns), the accusative ending is -ν, replacing the dental of the stem, e.g. χάρις, acc. sg. χάριν.

Does this distinction appear in other dialects too?

I'm mostly wondering about Aeolic, which has general recessive accentuation, so there's no possible accent distinction. How does Aeolic form the accusative singular of dental stems?

But I'd also like to know how this shows up in other dialects (West Greek, Arcado-Cypriot). Is it an Attic-Ionic innovation, or is it Proto-Greek, or something in between?

Buck and Smyth seem to say nothing on this question, which on the face of it may mean that other dialects behave like Attic-Ionic and/or that we have no evidence, but I haven't checked any of the specific dialect handbooks.

ETA: some more info from Chantraine (Morphologie historique 66-7): it seems there are some attested forms in -α from recessive-accent nouns; he lists ἔριδα, ὄρνιθα/ὄρνιχα (the latter from Pindar), χάριτα, ὄπιδα. He then adds "en revanche, l'on ne trouve jamais que πατρίδα", but I don't know if he's talking about that specific noun or the final-accent class as a whole (which seems more likely). This is interesting, but still doesn't give a clear picture of the dialectology and history of these forms (nor does it answer the Aeolic question).

2 Answers 2


I am not sure that this has to do with the place of the accent. χάρις, acc. sg. χάριν is an i-stem; ἀσπίς, acc. sg. ἀσπίδα is a d-stem.

  • Cf. Rix 1992 “im Att. ist sekundär -in auf Barytona : χάριν ὄρνῑν, -ida etc. auf Oxytona festgelegt : ἐλπίδα (anders noch z.B. hom. ἔριδα) (p. 152).
    – Alex B.
    Oct 4, 2018 at 13:16
  • But ultimately acc.sg. Gr. -α < PIE *-m̩ (i.e. syllabic m; not sure if it's displayed accurately) whereas Gr. -ν < PIE *m (only i- and u-stems) (Rix 1992: 151).
    – Alex B.
    Oct 4, 2018 at 13:27
  • @AlexB. Can you possibly give the quote from Rix in context? As it stands. I do not understand what he is saying.
    – fdb
    Oct 4, 2018 at 14:34
  • 1
    This is part of my question, in a sense. Outside of the acc. sg. all these words are dental stems: χάρις, χάριτος; ἀσπίς, ἀσπίδος. In the acc. sg. some act like i-stems, and in Attic-Ionic the difference lines up with accentuation. I want to know what this looks like in the other dialects.
    – TKR
    Oct 4, 2018 at 21:37
  • There you go. "Die Stämme auf -ī̌d- -ī̌t- -ī̌tʰ, meist umgebildete -ī̌-Stämme (§157), kennen neben -ida etc. auch den alten Ausgang -ī̌n; im Att. ist sekundär -ī̌n auf Barytona : χάριν ὄρνῑν, -ida etc. auf Oxytona festgelegt : ἐλπίδα (anders noch z.B. hom. ἔριδα)."
    – Alex B.
    Oct 5, 2018 at 2:14

(answer in progress - notes so far)


“Die Verteilung von -ιν und -ιδα scheint der üblichen zu entsprechen, d.h. sie richtet sich nach dem im Lesb. nicht wirksamen Akzentunterschied” (Hamm 1957, Grammatik zu Sappho und Alkaios, §239c)

πάις (cf. παῖς), Hamm 1957 says “Akk. immer παῖδα* (§111c).

“Der Akk. πάϊν = παῖδα begegnet erst in römischer Zeit (IG 2446 und sonst). […] Ebenso πάτριν (IG 242 und sonst, röm.) = πατρίδα" (Thumb and Scherer 1959: 98).

ὄλπις (cf. ὄλπη), acc. ὄλπιν

ἔλπις* (cf. ἐλπίς), acc. ?

ἀγροίωτις (cf. ἀγροιῶτις), acc. ἀγροίωτιν

Meister 1882: 153

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