[B-Greek] Third-person commands
iver at larsen.dk
Sun Nov 13 05:16:27 EST 2005
Since you make several questionable assumptions and use anecdotal argumentation, I'll only make brief comments on your
> Perhaps you are thinking too much of a Greek 3p imperative as a Latin 3p jussive subjunctive. The Greek is a
> different animal.
No, I am not thinking of Latin, since I don't know much Latin. I am coming from the background of general linguistics
and what happens in other languages apart from Latin. I'll let Carl take care of the Latin, but it might be worthwhile
to study how the Vulgate normally translated the Greek 3p imperatives.
> Aha. The addressee seems to be the main point of confusion. When I used "addressed," I was speaking of the actor from
> your perspective. By the very nature of the situation, the third person is not being addressed directly, but the
> fallacy of turning the 3p command into a rhetorical 2p is to imagine that because the third person is not the direct
> audience, the 2p listeners become the actor in the third person's absence, instead of the messenger. The sense of the
> 3p command is more like telling someone, "Johnny is to wash the dishes; you dry them."
Yes, I don't think it is correct to change the 3p imperative (which is not a command) to a 2p.
I am not sure I understand your English sentence, but it looks like you suggest to translate the 3p imperative by "is
to". I think that is an excellent translation in English.
>> There are an abundance of 3rd person imperatives in Greek, 15 in 1 Cor 7 alone, and 43 in 1 Cor as a whole. (Most of
>> them are singular). Looking at the usage and meaning, the prototypical sense of the 3rd person imperative seems to
>> obligation and is often best translated in English by "should" or "ought to".
> Note "seems to be." This is an interpretation of the Greek via what appears to be a reasonable (but actually
> non-equivalent) English term.
No, it is not. It was an empirical study of the meaning of the Greek 3p imperative based on its usage in the Greek text
of 1 Cor 7. I was quoting English translations partly for ease of reference, partly to show how professional translators
have understood the semantic impact of the 3p imperative. I suggest you make a study of how the 3p imperative is
actually used in Greek and come up with better and more equivalent translations. If you want to use "is to", I'll
support you. This may be better than "should" in many contexts, but as I said, I am not the one to judge that, being a
non-native English speaker. As Carl has said, we are unlikely to find a single word or expression that can be used
consistently to translate the varied (pragmatic) functions of the 3p imperative. Danish has no equivalent to "is to".
Maybe that is
why I didn't think of it. Thanks for the suggestion.
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