Why doesn’t the verb take a third person singular form in past tense?

Brian is of course right, but I think he’s explained it a bit too quickly.

Armed only with Old English grammar and Middle English from Wikipedia, behold the past tenses of verbs in action.

I’m only going to pay attention to weak verbs, because that’s the pattern that has prevailed.

Old English:

  • Present
    • ic hǣl-e “I heal”
    • þū hǣl-st “thou healst”
    • hē/hit/hēo hǣl-þ “he healeth”
    • wē/gē/hīe hǣl- “we/you/they heal”
  • Past
    • ic hǣld-e “I healed”
    • þū hǣld-est “thou healdest”
    • hē/hit/hēo hǣld-e “he healed”
    • wē/gē/hīe hǣld-on “we/you/they healed”

What do we see?

  • The present tense has third person singular marking. It also has second person singular marking, and plural marking.
  • The past tense has all of the above. But the first and third person singular mark is just an -e. And English is notorious for no longer pronouncing its final e’s.

Middle English:

  • Present
    • ich baþ-e
    • þu baþ-est
    • he/sche/hit baþ-
    • we/ȝe/þei baþ-en
  • Past
    • ich baþed-e
    • þu baþed-est
    • he/sche/hit baþed-e
    • we/ȝe/þei baþed-en
  • The endings are pretty much the same, except that the plural ending has now been mooshed into the same –en for both present and past.

Now, to get to Modern English, we do the following:

1. Get rid of pronouncing the final –e, in late Middle English (though we’ll keep it in the spelling of this verb’s present tense):

  • Present
    • ich bathe
    • thu bath-est
    • he/sche/hit bath-eth
    • we/ye/thei bath-en
  • Past
    • ich bathed
    • þu bathed-st
    • he/sche/hit bathed
    • we/ye/thei bathed-en

2. Get rid of the plural agreement ending (Brian’s step 2):

  • Present
    • ich bathe
    • thou bath-est
    • he/sche/hit bath-eth
    • we/ye/thei bathe
  • Past
    • ich bathed
    • thou bathed-st
    • he/sche/hit bathed
    • we/ye/thei bathed

3. Get rid of the thou forms completely:

  • Present
    • I bathe
    • he/she/it bath-eth
    • we/ye/they bathe
  • Past
    • ich bathed
    • he/she/it bathed
    • we/ye/they bathed

4. Switch the -(e)th ending to -s (Brian’s step 1):

  • Present
    • I bathe
    • he/she/it bathe-s
    • we/ye/they bathe
  • Past
    • ich bathed
    • he/she/it bathed
    • we/ye/they bathed

Shazam, Modern English.

And that’s why there’s no third person ending on the past tense. Because the original third person ending was just an -e.

In fact, in Old English and Middle strong verbs, there wasn’t even the final -e: they had no third person ending from the very beginning:

  • Old English
    • ic stel-e “I steal”
    • ic stæl “I stole”
    • he stæl “he stole”
    • we stǣl-on “we stole”
  • Middle English
    • ich sing-e “I sing”
    • ich sang “I sang”
    • he sang “he sang”
    • we song-en “we sang”

What is the Modern Greek equivalent of the English phrase “I know, right?”

Good question. The English phrase expresses acknowledgement of the interlocutor’s surprise at something the speaker has just said.

The Greek idiomatic equivalent, I’d say, is Είδες; “See?”

How is “o po po” written in Greek?

Ω πω πω. You will also see ωπωπω, and πω πω πω and πωπωπω are more frequent. They’re interjections, so their spacing has not been normalised.

The initial ω is so spelled by analogy with ancient Greek ὦ “O!”, though it’s not strictly speaking the same thing. No idea why πω has an omega, maybe the vague notion that it’s a long drawn out exclamation (so it needs what was in antiquity a long vowel). The unrelated (?) babytalk word ποπός “bum, bottom” is spelled with an omicron.

Babiniotis’ dictionary, god bless it, has a lot of idiosyncratically antiquarian orthography, and it chooses to spell πωπω as ποπό, with reference to the ancient exclamation πόποι! Inasmuch as exclamations can reasonably have etymologies, that is not an insane analogy to do. But Babiniotis is a hundred years too late in trying to revise Greek spelling. And if you spell it ο ποπο, people will rightly assume you’re talking about bottoms.

EDIT: to my astonishment, the more orthographically prudent Triantafyllidis dictionary also has ποπό: Λεξικό της κοινής νεοελληνικής.

I know why Triantafyllidis, as opposed to Babiniotis, did this: orthographic simplification. If you can’t find an omega in Ancient Greek, don’t use one in Modern Greek.

Google ποποπο and πωπωπω, and you’ll see that the people aren’t buying the orthographic simplification: people still write πωπωπω. Here’s a forum post on why the simplification sucks: πω πω! πωπώ! ποπό! (μπλιαχ) πο-πό! (ακόμα πιο μπλιαχ)

How does the Modern Greek pronoun το modify verbs?

As a pronoun, το is the clitic accusative neuter third person pronoun, and it corresponds to “that” or “it”. So, ξέρω “I know”; το ξέρω “I know that”.

Which means that, in the first instance, το is not modifying the meaning of a verb; it is completing it by providing an explicit object.

You could argue that in this context, το is pretty vague, and it is. Moreover, “know” is a transitive verb—you always know something.

The distinction here is subtle. “I know that” is explicitly referring back to something just said. By not giving an object, “I know” implies a more generic statement (and therefore is somewhat more defensive): “I know stuff (including that)”, “I am clueful in general”.

On the other hand, if you’re answering a question, such as “what time is it?”, you would answer δεν ξέρω “I don’t know”, just as in English, and not δεν το ξέρω “I don’t know that”. The pronoun does not refer readily to indirect questions. You would answer δεν το ξέρω referring to a specific entity; e.g. ξέρεις το τραγούδι που λέει ο Αστερίξ; “Do you know the song Asterix sings?”

Has Pauline Hanson ever been abroad?

In addition to Jason Li’s answer, I find from the archives of Woman’s Day that she has been at least twice to New Zealand: 2004 and 2010. And her time in prison caused her immigration hassles the second time.

Pauline Hanson’s travel nightmare

Can someone translate from Greek the phrase “apeasa vrohe ston dromo, ke agao then stathika, san poli stin agallia sou, irtha ke zastathika”?

I commend your taste in music, Anon, though not your transcription skills.

stixoi.info: Το σακάκι μου κι αν στάζει, 1970. Lyrics: Akos Daskalopoulos. Music: Stavros Kouyoumtzis.

Μ’ έπιασε βροχή στο δρόμο μα εγώ δε στάθηκα
σαν πουλί στην αγκαλιά σου ήρθα και ζεστάθηκα

Κι αν με χτύπησε τ’ αγιάζι το σακάκι μου κι αν στάζει
σου το λέω δε με νοιάζει μια και είμαστε μαζί

I got caught by the rain on my way, but I did not stand still.
Like a bird I came into your embrace and warmed myself.

Even though I got hit by the frost, even though my coat is dripping,
I tell you I don’t care, because we’re together.