[B-Greek] The gargoyle's GAR guy

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Thu Apr 8 08:07:23 EDT 2010

Steve Runge has a blog post on the Logos Bible Software Blog today; 
it's entitled "Making Morphology Work for You." You can find it at:


He's talking about the particle GAR -- which reminds me of an apocryphal 
story of a Greek professor in the University of Illinois (it may have been 
William A. Oldfather) who had a graduate assistant researching the usage 
of GAR in the vast corpus of ancient Greek literature; so devoted was the 
young lady to her quest that she acquired a moniker of her own on the 
Champaign campus as "Oldfather's Gargoyle."

Enough of that. GAR is certainly a tough nut to crack, and any student of 
Greek can readily recall feeling cheated when first discovering that more 
often than not the simple English gloss "for" won't work to convey the
sense or help one understand the usage of GAR.

Which reminds me of a visit paid years ago to a family in St. Louis
where a precocious youngster had recently learned the word, "unfortunately"
and was trying to use it in all sorts of sentences where it didn't really fit --
"Unfortunately I woke up this morning feeling very frisky."

Steve's post discusses the problem of the range of usage of GAR, 
drawing on his Discourse Grammar and even showing, for
those who use the Logos software, how to sort out the usages of an
important connective word such as this.

One further note: drawing on yesterdays heads-up at Silva's 
introduction tot he revised Machen and the higher esteem for
fluency than for analytic skills in Biblical Greek, I would note
further -- in defense of what one can learn from Linguists --
that one can ultimately develop a sense of the range of usage
of GAR from reading immensely in Greek texts, but one can
probably learn it more quickly from what Steve has to say.

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

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