[B-Greek] The gargoyle's GAR guy

Mark Lightman lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 8 10:40:06 EDT 2010


Hi, Carl,
 
<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.">
 
First things first.  Very well done.  I've had my morning chuckle,
so I can now endure the continuance of this conversation..  Let me
briefly return the favor.
 
People who discuss this topic do tend to be GARrulous.  :) 
 
Carl wrote;
 
< 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.>
 
Maybe, maybe not.  But couldn’t you also just look up GAR
in BDAG or Thayer or Smyth or Robertson or Denniston or any
other number of traditional books that are available either for free
on line or very cheap in used copies?  If you went back a little further,
you could read Basil Gildersleeve who will tell you all you need to know
about GAR and will do so in a prose style which is concise, comprehensible
and elegant.  Of course, with a name like "Basil Gildersleeve", he better
be a good writer.  Iver and Elizabeth in recent posts noted that at the end of the
day, all NT Greek Linguistics has to offer is nothing earth shattering or
profound, but merely common sense.  Even Steve R. himself says that
all NT Greek Linguistics will teach you is stuff you already know.  If this is
the case, is it really worth it to learn a bunch a new English vocab and to
endure the turgid prose?  Not to mention the $150.00.
 
But there is a fourth option.  If you want to understand what GAR
means (or as you would say, how GAR works) you have four choices.
You can (1) read a bunch of Greek (2) Make use of the Traditional 
Greek Grammatical Resources (3) Make use of the Latest Version
of NT Greek Linguistics or (4) get Christophe Rico's new book
Polis. ($80.00)  Rico tells you what GAR means in a few well written sentences
(they are in French, but trust me, even if you don't know French they
are still easier to understand than Linguisticspeak) but then instead of
going on and on about how GAR works, he has you USE the word.
He gives you a bunch of sentences in Greek and you have to fill
in either GAR or OUN.  He has an answer key.  At this point all
you have is a rough idea of what GAR means, but since Rico
has also taught you how to hear, write, and think in Greek, you can
now join us on Dialogos or Schole and you can write your own
Greek Discourse where you will use GAR and OUN and KAI and
even TE if you want.  When you do this, you find that that these
conjunctions (wait, I mean "Discourse Markers") are fairly easy to
understand.  Sometimes they are just forms of punctuation that vary
for stylistic reasons.  Then  when you go back to reading real Greek,
you just sort of FEEL what they mean.  You could talk about them in English if you
want to,  You could invent your own terms and describe them
more fully, if you want to.  On Dialogos or Schole,I could do Greek 
"Discourse Analysis" on my friends, but if I tried to tell them how
GAR really works in the context of the deep structure of your
discourse, they would tell me to go home and sleep it off.
You can do this stuff to NT Greek authors because they
are not around to defend themselves.
 
Carl wrote:
 
<...and the higher esteem for
fluency than for analytic skills in Biblical Greek,>
 
This is probably the heart of the matter.  Rico
and BDAG are probably meant for those of us,
like myself and  Paul Narkinsky, who are
interested in Greek fluency.  Steve is probably
for guys who want to sharpen their analytical 
skills.  Different resources for different folks.
That is a good thing.

Mark L


FWSFOROS MARKOS

--- On Thu, 4/8/10, Carl Conrad <cwconrad2 at mac.com> wrote:


From: Carl Conrad <cwconrad2 at mac.com>
Subject: [B-Greek] The gargoyle's GAR guy
To: "B-Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Thursday, April 8, 2010, 6:07 AM


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:

http://blog.logos.com/archives/2010/04/making_morphology_work_for_you.html

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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