[B-Greek] Does DUNAMI plus Infinitive equal permission was "How to ask 'Can I...?'"
cwconrad2 at mac.com
Fri Oct 31 05:57:24 EDT 2008
On Oct 31, 2008, at 2:43 AM, Bryant J. Williams III wrote:
> Dear List,
> Randall's (IWANNOU) reply was interesting. It seems that one's
> ability to
> compose in Greek is no doubt the best indicator of one's fluency in
> Greek. But
> it does bring up another question of whether DUNAMI connotes
> permission or
> ability in Koine that should be considered. It would be interesting
> to examine
> all the combinations of DUNAMI + Inf. in questions in Koine
> literature to see if
> it is ever used for permission.
> So ladies and gentlemen of B-Greek, "Does it?"
No. DUNAMAI [δύναμαι] (there is no DUNAMI [δύναμι]) means
"be able, have the capability (to do something). In English we may use
"can" in the sense of "be allowed" or "have permission (to do
something)" (Louw & Nida domain §74) -- but Greek (ancient Greek, at
any rate) most commonly uses EXESTI [ἔξεστι] + dative +
infinitive to express that notion. 'Permission" falls within L&N doman
§13D ('happen'). If the intended sense of the question, "Can I do
this" is "May I do this?" then I think the speaker (of Koine) would
say something like EXESTI MOI TOUTO PRATTEIN? ἔχεστί μοι
τοῦτο πράττειν;] or EPITREPEIS MOI TOUTO PRATTEIN?
[ἐπιτρέπεις με τοῦτο πράττειν;] (other verbs
equivalent to permit: EAW [ἐάω], AFIHMI [άφίημι], SUGCWREW
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
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