[B-Greek] doubleplusunprettyful (was FOBOS in Eph 5-6

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Mon Apr 5 05:44:28 EDT 2010

On Apr 4, 2010, at 9:25 PM, Mark Lightman wrote:
> Elizabeth wrote:
> <I am assuming at least some of you have taken
>  a look at R.A. Hoyle's paper.>
> Hi, Elizabeth,
> Indeed I have.  For those who have not, here is an excerpt,
> more or less chosen at random.  From page 536:
> "I posit that unmarked relationships between elements
>  in a text are understood
> in the light of the prototoypical relationships of those
>  elements within the open scenario.
> It is clear that contraexpectation relationships
>  are not prototypical, hence the fact that
> contraexpectation is frequently marked in Participle clusters,
>  whereas almost all other
> semantic relationships are grammatically and lexically unmarked.:
> And here is an except from page 44 of George Orwell's 1984:
> "times 3.12.83 reporting bb dayorder doubleplusungood refs
> unpersons rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling."
> Now, let me ask you a question.  Which of these prose
> specimens is easier to understand?  Which is better written?
> Which corresponds more closely to something in the real world?

Well, I think it's pretty much on a par with traditional grammar's 
talk of "deponent" verbs, that have "laid aside their active forms."
or like speaking of "passive imperatives" or "direct object of a
passive verb." The expressions are intelligible (???) if you 
already know how the terms are defined.

>  Carl wrote
> <I do indeed believe that "grammaticalize" is a barbarism.>
> Interesting choice of a word, but I can think of none
> better.  And Carl said this in the context of DEFENDING
> Linguistics.  These are not isolated examples.  "Count
> word?"  Count is a verb or maybe a noun.  To use it
> as an adjective is first to destroy language in order
> to make it more clear. 

You might undertake the exercise at some point to
examine a few pages of a lexicon or unabridged
dictionary, and take note of the history of some of 
the words we use everyday. What's noteworthy is 
how words acquire added meanings, more often than not
by using them metaphorically. It really does NOT take
very long to get to understand what is meant by a
"count word" as opposed to a "mass word": do we
use this word to refer to something that we quantify
by asking "how many" or do we use it to refer to
something that we quantify by asking "how much"?
There's a difference between gibberish and language
that can expand our capacity to recognize and say
meaningful things about how language works.

> What you are asking us to do,
> you and Steve R and maybe Carl, is this:  In order to 
> understand one language (Greek) which is beautiful and
> by definition non-barbaric, we are asked to learn another
> one (Linguisticspeak) which is barbaric and doubleplusunprettyful.

No, it's not a matter of Greek versus Linguistics.
It's a matter of reading and understanding Greek, on the one hand,
and talking about how Greek works as a vehicle of communication, 
on the other.

What we're after is, and I don't hesitate to use the word,
a METALANGUAGE: a corpus of terminological nouns and
adjectives that point to features of langauge and describe those features
and of verbs identify the processes and actions performed by those
nouns and on those nouns, etc., etc., etc.

Traditional grammar is not less artificial than linguistic terminology,
but in the process of trying to learn Greek we've probably learned
more traditional grammar than we have Greek -- and the result
has often been that we know the traditional grammar and still don't
read Greek very well.

>  That's too harsh.  We all want the same thing here.
> If it will help me understand Greek any better, I will
> do ANYTHING.  I'll stand on my head.  There has to be
> something to do this stuff.  Entire Departments of Linguistics
> cannot be wrong.  Bear with me, Elizabeth and Steve, and Yancy
> and Iver. I'm trying to bellyfeel this stuff the best I can.

Yes, it's too harsh. And unfair, to the extent that, as Iver
has implied, you cite a passage from page 536 of a long work
and might want us to suppose that you really have read the
previous 535 pages and only now have realized that you
don't have a clue what these words mean. I don't find the
passage you've cited intelligible either, but I haven't read
the previous 535 pages. The question I'd raise is: does Hoyle
clarify his terminology in the opening chapters of his work?
Have you read the opening chapters of his work -- or did
you skipt to a point near the end and pick out a passage?

A couple days ago I said to you in an off-list message:

"I think the fact is that we need enlightenment about how ancient Greek works.
We need what Steve Runge has called for: a serious dialogue between "dead
grammarians" and "gibberish-speaking linguists." I think it's really possible that
we can learn from each other.."

It's the linguists who speak of "dead grammarians." I'm
the one who coined the phrase "gibberish-speaking linguists."
There can be no dialogue if there is only disdain. And I think
there's a lot of disdain on both sides of the divide, some of
that disdain having been well-earned.

For my part I have learned from the linguists on this list
when they have made the effort to clarify what they are saying
in terms that I can understand.  I have read some works by
linguists that have set forth their terms carefully at the outset.
I still think that "grammaticalize" is a barbarism; I am much
more comfortable with "encode." I understand what a "count"
word is, however. My problem is that, although I think I
can understand Greek fairly well, I would still very much
like to understand HOW GREEK WORKS. I'm suspicious
of the linguists but at the same time I know that the dead
grammarians are not really very reliable explicators of
how Greek works.

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

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