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Third Person Imperative

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Third Person Imperative

Postby calvinist » Mon May 23, 2005 6:30 pm

I have a question about the force of the 3rd person imperative. Now "May the Force be with you" or "Let God's will be done" are two ways commonly used to render the 3p Imp in English. However, these do not seem to carry much "imperative" force, at least to me. They seem to convey more of a wish or desire... much weaker than (speaking to the Force) "Be with him". Is the phrase "May the Force be with you" even considered imperative in English? So does the Greek have this same nuance? I guess the main problem is that you are not adressing the one being commanded, but Greek seems to not differentiate since it uses the same construction for both 2nd and 3rd person commands (unlike 1st person). Another interesting thing is that the 1st person in English does carry a strong imperative force, "Let's go", but again is that merely because the group is being adressed directly? I guess my main question is whether the weakness of the 3rd person imperative in English is due to the fact that the person being commanded is not present, or is it simply a nuance of English grammar, and how does it all tie in to Greek? If I'm just going insane, let me know also. :shock:
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Re: Third Person Imperative

Postby Bert » Mon May 23, 2005 7:12 pm

calvinist wrote:I have a question about the force of the 3rd person imperative. Now "May the Force be with you" or "Let God's will be done" are two ways commonly used to render the 3p Imp in English. However, these do not seem to carry much "imperative" force, at least to me. They seem to convey more of a wish or desire... much weaker than (speaking to the Force) "Be with him". Is the phrase "May the Force be with you" even considered imperative in English? So does the Greek have this same nuance? I guess the main problem is that you are not adressing the one being commanded, but Greek seems to not differentiate since it uses the same construction for both 2nd and 3rd person commands (unlike 1st person).

Even in Greek the force of a 2nd person is probably stronger than a 3rd person imperative because you are addressing the person.
English does not have a 3rd person imperative so we have to interpret rather than give a direct translation.
I don't think that "may the force be with you" is a good way to translate an imperative. (Maybe a subjuctive or optative.) "The force must be with you." would be an imperative.
calvinist wrote:Another interesting thing is that the 1st person in English does carry a strong imperative force, "Let's go", but again is that merely because the group is being adressed directly?

If you say; "LET'S GO" it sure sounds like an imperative.
If you just say: "Let us go". It sounds like a suggestion.
In Greek you would use a subjunctive. A hortatory subjunctive. Ie: A subjunctive used as an exhortation.
calvinist wrote:I guess my main question is whether the weakness of the 3rd person imperative in English is due to the fact that the person being commanded is not present, or is it simply a nuance of English grammar, and how does it all tie in to Greek?
The Lord's Prayer has several 3rd person imperatives. They sure are not commands. The forcefulness of a 2nd and 3rd in Greek could not be identical just like they are not in English.
calvinist wrote: If I'm just going insane, let me know also. :shock:
I'd love to help you here but I just don't know. :wink:
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Postby chad » Tue May 24, 2005 7:31 am

Hi, about the force of the 3 sg imperative, a good way to look into it further would be to look at occurrences of e)/stw, e.g.

http://test.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/se ... &expand=no

Some of these first hits show that the 3 sg imperative could have a clear imperative force.

From my own limited reading, the 3 sg imperative either has an imperative force, e.g.

mh\ taratte/tw de\ h(ma=j...
let it not disturb us (that)...
[aristotle categories 3a]

or can have a force like "let, assume that...", like in school maths "let x = 5", e.g.

a)podedo/sqw ga\r o( dou=loj a)nqrw/pou..., kai\ perih|rh/sqw tou= a)nqrw/pou to\ despo/thn au)to\n ei)=nai...
let slave be defined as [slave of] a man, and let being master be stripped from man...
[aristotle categories 7b]
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Re: Third Person Imperative

Postby edonnelly » Tue May 24, 2005 3:23 pm

calvinist wrote:Is the phrase "May the Force be with you" even considered imperative in English?

I think it's closer to the English subjunctive. Phrases like "God save the queen" in English are not imperative (expressing a command) but rather subjunctive (expressing a wish or desire), though the two moods are using the same English verb form in my example. I hesitate a little on your exact phrase, because I'm not sure if the explicit use of the word "may" changes the phrase to an indicative with an auxillary word to indicate it is a desire. Certainly, I believe, "the force be with you" would be subjunctive in English. I'd be interested in others' opinions, though, because I'm not a 100% sure on the subtleties here.
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Postby Paul » Wed May 25, 2005 3:08 am

The Greek 3rd singular imperative is characterized by the ending [face=SPIonic]-tw[/face].

Many authorities hold that this ending is an ablative form of the PIE demonstrative pronoun *to. Its literal meaning is something like 'after that', 'from then on', 'henceforth'.

More forceful translations of this form might include, 'then he must do X', 'henceforth do X', etc.

Cordially,

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Re: Third Person Imperative

Postby yadfothgildloc » Thu May 26, 2005 3:11 am

Bert wrote:The Lord's Prayer has several 3rd person imperatives. They sure are not commands. The forcefulness of a 2nd and 3rd in Greek could not be identical just like they are not in English.


With all due respect, the Greeks had no problem with directing imperatives to divine beings, nor did the Israelites (though Hebrew lacks and has always, as far as I am aware, lacked a third person imperative). Saying that the third and second person imperatives MUST have had different forces strikes me as putting the linguistic limitations of English onto Greek, which, as we see when people try to describe English using Latin Grammar, just doesn't work.
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Re: Third Person Imperative

Postby Bert » Fri May 27, 2005 12:24 am

yadfothgildloc wrote:
Bert wrote:The Lord's Prayer has several 3rd person imperatives. They sure are not commands. The forcefulness of a 2nd and 3rd in Greek could not be identical just like they are not in English.


With all due respect, the Greeks had no problem with directing imperatives to divine beings, nor did the Israelites (though Hebrew lacks and has always, as far as I am aware, lacked a third person imperative). Saying that the third and second person imperatives MUST have had different forces strikes me as putting the linguistic limitations of English onto Greek, which, as we see when people try to describe English using Latin Grammar, just doesn't work.

I see what you mean but that does not mean that I agree. :wink:
I guess there is the danger of using English grammar to try and understand the Greek but when I said that the forcefulness of a 2nd and 3rd in Greek could not be identical, I was trying to be logical. You can command the one you are speaking to but a third person imperative is one step removed from that.
You said that the Israelites had no problem directing imperatives to divine beings, but that is not realy the issue.
I don't think that the Israelites were directing comands at God when they directed imperatives at him.
By the way, these are 3rd person imperatives so they are not directed at God but at 1. his name, 2. his kingdom, and 3. his will.
I found that kind of interesting.
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Postby calvinist » Fri May 27, 2005 8:20 pm

So would "God's will must be done" be a more accurate rendering than "Let God's will be done", even though it sounds somewhat akward? I have never translated the 3rd person imperatives that way but it seems to make it sound more urgent, or "imperative" if you will.
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Postby Bert » Fri May 27, 2005 10:16 pm

calvinist wrote:So would "God's will must be done" be a more accurate rendering than "Let God's will be done", even though it sounds somewhat akward? I have never translated the 3rd person imperatives that way but it seems to make it sound more urgent, or "imperative" if you will.

In certain contexts I think that would be a good translation but in the context of the Lord's Prayer I don't think so.
"God's will must be done" is not a request while "Let your will be done" is. (Imperative of entreaty.)
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Re: Third Person Imperative

Postby Democritus » Sat May 28, 2005 5:26 am

calvinist wrote: However, these do not seem to carry much "imperative" force, at least to me. They seem to convey more of a wish or desire...


The force of the second person imperative varies a lot, even in English. We call this mood "imperative" but it doesn't always carry the sense of a fiery command. Compare these two imperatives:

1) Sit down. Have some wine.
2) Turn around and get out of my house.

The force of these is not determined only by the grammar, but also by the sense. (2) is much more abrupt but it is exactly the same grammatical mood as (1).

I don't know, but I suspect something similar is true of Greek, too. The force will depend a great deal on exactly what is being commanded.... or suggested, as the case may be.
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Re: Third Person Imperative

Postby yadfothgildloc » Sat Jun 04, 2005 2:42 am

Bert wrote:I see what you mean but that does not mean that I agree. :wink:
I guess there is the danger of using English grammar to try and understand the Greek but when I said that the forcefulness of a 2nd and 3rd in Greek could not be identical, I was trying to be logical. You can command the one you are speaking to but a third person imperative is one step removed from that.
You said that the Israelites had no problem directing imperatives to divine beings, but that is not realy the issue.
I don't think that the Israelites were directing comands at God when they directed imperatives at him.
By the way, these are 3rd person imperatives so they are not directed at God but at 1. his name, 2. his kingdom, and 3. his will.
I found that kind of interesting.


Short of the obvious distinction in sense pointed out above ("have some wine" vs. "get out of my house"), I don't think we can know for sure.

In the Lord's Prayer, they are third person. I'm gonna flip through my tan"kh and see what imperatives directed at the Big Guy I can find.
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