[B-Greek] "Crossing the Rubicon" (learning Greek NOT in English)

frjsilver at optonline.net frjsilver at optonline.net
Wed Jun 20 08:13:38 EDT 2007


It was a delightful moment, a rare treat, to read the original article, and I thank Carl Conrad for sharing it here.

In poetry, ancient as well as modern, Greek or otherwise, we often find little syllables added or subtracted for the sake of meter, when meter is a consideration.

Rather than get snagged on some of these -- most of which actually DO mean something if we get fussy about it -- I recommend that we think of them more as gestures or facial expressions, 'body language' so to speak.

Thinking of this, I laughed out loud at the reference to MEN...DE as 'on one hand...but on the other' as I could feel myself raising my hands and pointing -- I'd be mute if my hands were tied!

No matter the genre, reading the classics is NOT a chore, it's a joy which -- for me, at least, carries over well into patristic literature and especially the liturgical hymns whose elevated art I often fail to capture in the translations I must do.  Ah, sweet rhetoric!

Sometimes, I think it would be easier -- and maybe somehow better -- just to teach everybody to read and sing in Greek rather than weaken the impact of the original text and dilute poetry's fragrance, which simply evaporates, dissipated in the unfamiliar atmosphere, its art vanished all but its bleached bones, helplessly embarrassed by their bareness in the glare of our rude gaze. 

Father James Silver

----- Original Message -----
From: "Carl W. Conrad" 
Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2007 7:40 am
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] "Crossing the Rubicon" (learning Greek NOT in English)
To: Iver Larsen 
Cc: B-Greek B-Greek 

> This has gotten rather far afield, it seems to me, from what was 
> 
> originally being highlighted-- the question whether one can 
> learn to 
> read Greek without attempting
> to convert the Greek into one's native language -- and whether 
> one 
> can think in ancient Greek. Inasmuch as ancient Greeks seem to 
> have 
> done it, I would think that there's a positive answer to be 
> given to 
> that question. I think that over the past several centuries 
> there 
> have been many who were trained in the schools even as C.S. 
> Lewis 
> describes, who have read oodles of ancient Greek texts and have 
> long 
> since ceased to think about how those texts might be Englished. 
> Dictionaries are by no means useless because confrontation with 
> words 
> never before seen must necessarily occur repeatedly -- but I 
> think 
> that the usage of the particles is something that one picks up 
> in the 
> course of voluminous reading, not through the latest disclosures 
> of 
> discourse analysis. Those disclosures may help, but after-the-
> fact 
> analysis of a text by a trained linguist, I'm inclined to think, 
> is 
> not quite like a biologist's account of how an acorn turns into 
> an 
> oak tree. And the oak tree does it so effortlessly (or so it 
> seems to 
> us, if we're around long enough to watch it grow).
> 
> Carl W. Conrad
> 
> On Jun 20, 2007, at 4:33 AM, Iver Larsen wrote:
> 
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Jonathan Robie" 
> >
> > 
> >>
> >> Yes, I think that's easier with MEN ... DE than with DE 
> alone. 
> >> Naus and
> >> ship refer to the same thing, but what does DE refer to? 
> Nothing 
> >> that an
> >> English speaker has any experience with ....
> >>
> >
> > Yes, there is no equivalent word in English for DE. But it is 
> more 
> > helpful to think of descriptive
> > meanings than trying to find equivalents in a another 
> language. 
> > Many modern dictionaries give
> > descriptive meanings rather than (or in addition to) glosses.
> > For instance, NAUS is described by L&N as "a larger ocean-
> going 
> > vessel." It has a fairly small area
> > or meaning. Compare that to PLOION which is described as "any 
> kind 
> > of boat, from small fishing boats
> > as on Lake Galilee to large seagoing vessels". It has a large 
> area 
> > of meaning, and it includes
> > within its area of meaning the smaller area that NAUS 
> occupies, at 
> > least in Hellenistic Greek. Both
> > NAUS and PLOION can refer to what we call a ship, and that is 
> why 
> > descriptions are more helpful than
> > "equivalent glosses".
> >
> > Concerning DE, the meaning is probably best described as 
> > "indicating a change or new aspect". (I am
> > indebted to Randall Buth for this piece of wisdom.) This could 
> be a 
> > change of theme, a change of
> > speaker, a change of situation, a change from foreground to 
> > background or vice versa, a new aspect
> > about what is being talked about or a contrast to what has 
> just 
> > been said. The particulars depend on
> > context, but the change idea is basic to the meaning and use 
> of DE.
> >
> > KAI indicates "continuation or addition" which again needs to 
> be 
> > fleshed out in the various
> > contexts.
> > So, what I am suggesting is not to think in terms of 
> equivalent 
> > words like "but" or "and", but in
> > terms of broader function and meaning.
> >
> > GAR introduces "further explanation, support for or background 
> 
> > information related to the
> > foregoing". These particles can only be properly handled by a 
> > modern discourse analysis, and
> > therefore L&N and all older lexicons are not particularly helpful.
> >
> > OUN indicates "consequence/inference or continuation after a 
> > break". Moulton and Geden(1978)
> > suggested 8 functions for OUN:
> >
> > 1. Inference (logical consequence)
> > 2. Consequent command or exhortation
> > 3. Consequent effect or response
> > 4. Inferential question
> > 5. Summary (a final inference, a conclusive statement)
> > 6. Adversative
> > 7. Continuation or resumption of narrative
> > 8. Continuation of discussion
> >
> > However, their number 6 is a mistake and should be deleted. In 
> all 
> > the examples they cite for number
> > 6, it is something else in the context that carries the contrast.
> > So, we are down to seven different kinds of "consequense or 
> > continuation."
> > We also need to take into account idiosyncracies and preferred 
> 
> > usage by different authors. For
> > instance, the last two as they occur in the GNT are frequent 
> in 
> > John, but never occur in Matthew or
> > Mark. John is using OUN in a rather special way which needs a 
> > separate analysis.
> >
> > Iver Larsen
> ---
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