[B-Greek] Mark 6:41

Webb webb at selftest.net
Sun Jun 11 10:21:00 EDT 2006

Dear Iver,

You said,

You can say "he was giving them", but that is not what is normally called translation. It is an attempt to represent the Greek grammar in Greekish English.

I reply:

I think this is flatly mistaken. If anyone wishes to read the whole pericope aloud in English, I think they'll find that in context the sentence  reads with exceptional accuracy and complete naturalness. See www.selftest.net/docs/Mark.pdf. 

It's not a problem that the English imperfective form (preterite tense of to be  + gerund) happens to convey the Greek imperfect here--it's a happy coincidence.  I maintain that its use conveys very much the same nuance as the Greek does.

"The oldest-looking boy went and bought some cigarettes, and was giving them to his friends."

"Bob realized that some folks hadn't gotten paper napkins. He grabbed some and was giving them to folks."

I could go on all day making up formulations like this--there's nothing remarkable about them at all. In fact, they are better evocative of the distributive character of the action than the simple preterite would have been in the same context.

"Greekish" -- humph. You've tweaked my pride as a translator.

Best Regards,

Webb Mealy

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