[B-Greek] compound forms

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Fri Oct 5 13:19:58 EDT 2007

On Oct 5, 2007, at 12:03 PM, Jerry Reimer wrote:

> Dear B-Greek,
> If it is true that Koine Greek has a preference for compound forms,  
> then is a rule of thumb that could be generally applied so as to  
> know when and when not to turn up the heat in translation by trying  
> to render the components of the compounds rather than to deal with  
> them as if they were simple forms? My real reason for asking this  
> is that maybe a given author was not really trying to say something  
> special in certain places by using a compound and that the compound  
> actually equals the simple form (PROSKARTEREW = KARTEREW?). I hope  
> I got the transliteration right.

One had better be careful. Of course, the important thing is not  
TRANSLATING the compound but UNDERSTANDING it properly.
> I am not talking here about personal, authorial preference (seems  
> Luke had a special taste for compounds which in the parallel  
> portions of the other synoptists are simple forms) but about Koine  
> in general. Is it even possible to talk in such a general way and  
> we are again left without a rule of thumb and context is again  
> king? Maybe the whole presuppostion (that Koine prefers compounds)  
> should be questioned. Your views, please.

I haven't done any particular study on this matter, but I think that  
a common feature of language development is the coining of new,  
supposedly "intensive" forms, especially, of adjectives and verbs and  
the gradual diminution of any enhanced sense to such words, while at  
the same time the simpler or uncompounded form of the word evanesces  
from common use, perhaps surviving in formal verse (or Biblical  
phraseology?). Does "very good" mean more than "good"? Does  
"great" (as in, "Have a great weekend!") really mean more than "good"?

I think that when one is in doubt and thinks that a nuance between a  
compounded verb and an uncompounded verb is important, one really  
ought to check carefully in BDAG and perhaps in L&N as well.  
Theoretically, L&N is good at distinguishing synonyms. I note that  
they have KARTEREW and PROSKARTEREW assigned to different domains and  
subdomains. Upon looking more closely at the 3 entries for  
PROSKARTEREW, it seems to me that they all really mean "stick with"  
-- although this is with reference to associations with persons in  
two instances and with reference to activity in another.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Ret)

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