[B-Greek] Do English speakers overinterpret case?

George F Somsel gfsomsel at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 21 13:33:08 EST 2006

Carl has written on several occasions regarding the multiplication of categories with regard to the cases.  I suppose we do "overinterpret"; however, when the Greek uses a case and we are reading / translating that, we must attempt to make some sense of that IN ENGLISH (or in another language if that is our mother tongue or a target language).  We can understand some ambiguities in the Greek such as the fact that there was no distinction between a subjective genitive and an objective genitive though that might come as we learn more about the language.  In short, it's probably a necessary evil until we are able to read, write and converse in Greek on a fluent level.  I make no claim to having reached that point yet -- hopefully next week :-) .

----- Original Message ----
From: Elliot Poe <elliot.poe at gmail.com>
To: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
Sent: Tuesday, November 21, 2006 1:21:26 PM
Subject: [B-Greek] Do English speakers overinterpret case?

Greetings fellow Grecophils.

The archives are full of discussions on case; in fact, they are so full
(around 1, 490 messages) that I was too intimidated to look through them for
people's perspectives on this question.  So forgive the redundancy if indeed
this question is redundant.

Do English speakers overinterpert the Greek cases?  For example, English
speakers are precise with their prepositions.  We use the words for, to, in,
at, etc. to translate the Greek dative case.  But the Greek speaker didn't
have this precision; they just heard EMOI or the like.  In order to
translate the Greek into English, we do our best to extirpate the ambiguity
inherent in the Greek.  It seems that as long as we focus on, for example,
what kind of dative a certain word is, our focus is on the English
language.  But to truly read Greek, wouldn't we need to let the cases be
what they are and leave behind the precision English demands?  Or perhaps we
would keep the precision but realize the Greek cases leave much to the
imagination of the reader/hearer.  In English, we write as precisely as
possible, but in Greek one form can mean several different things, so that
the reader must decide for herself/himself.

Perhaps that is what separates the person who can truly read Greek from the
person who can merely translate it.  I'd love to hear your perspectives.

Elliot Poe
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