Koine and Biblical and Medieval Greek • Re: Why is τούς an oxytone but τοῦ is a perispomenon?

If you're wondering why the accents are different in this case, my understanding is that it's because of how the endings were derived. τοῦ and τούς are like second declension nouns and adjectives which are accented on the last syllable, e.g. ἀγρός.

In an earlier stage of Greek, the genitive singular ending -σο was added to the stem ἀγρο, giving ἀγρόσο (the accent remaining on the same syllable as in the nominative - so I guess we'd have seen τόσο for the article, which at that time was a demonstrative I believe). Then the σ, as it was between two vowels, disappeared, and the vowels contracted: ο+ο = ου. As usual with contraction, the accent remained on the first part of the new vowel sound, so there's a circumflex - ἀγροῦ and τοῦ.

In the case of τούς, it's like ἀγρούς - here, the older ending was νς, so the forms were ἀγρόνς and τόνς. This time the ν disappeared, and compensatory lengthening took place - the ο lengthened into ου. Because this was lengthening rather than contraction, the accent stayed as an acute.

Statistics: Posted by MattK — Wed Oct 11, 2023 9:36 am

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