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trouble with ἂν

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trouble with ἂν

Postby uberdwayne » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:01 pm

I'm having trouble trying to understand the concept behind the word "ἂν". In Mounce, it says that it makes something contigent on something. Would anyone be able help clarify this pesky little particle? If you could include a few sentances, it may help a little more.
μείζων ἐστὶν ὁ ἐν ὑμῖν ἢ ὁ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby NateD26 » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:49 pm

LSJ lists in detail the various uses of ἄν.

You can also read sections 1761-1834 in Smyth for much more details and examples. Start here.

I wish I could get to that point where all the uses are well-ingrained in my head but I think you can sum up the
common uses this way:
1. subj. + ἄν
a. in general present conditions: ἐὰν (εἰ ἂν) ταῦτα λέγῃς/εἴπῃς (pres./aor. subj.), εὖ λέγεις (pres. ind.).
b. "vivid future" conditions, the default future condition: ἐὰν ταῦτα ποιῇς/ποιήσῃς, εὖ ποιήσεις (fut. ind. or any other mood looking to the future,
such as imperative)
c. general temporal/causal clauses: ὅταν (ὅτε ἂν)/ἐπειδὰν (ἐπειδὴ ἂν)/ἐπεὶ ἂν ταῦτα μανθάνῃς/μάθῃς, εὖ ποιεῖς.
d. relative clause with such a force: ὁ ρήτωρ, ὃς ἂν μὴ ταῦτα λέγῃ/εἴπῃ, κακῶς ποιεῖ. [can be either a or c, depends on the context really]

2. opt. + ἄν
a. "less vivid future" conditions, where doubt is expressed as to its fulfillment: εἰ ταῦτα ποιοῖς/ποιήσαις (pres./aor. opt.), εὖ ἂν ποιοῖς/ποιήσαις (potential optative). But when the apodosis is not doubtful through the speaker's eyes, it can be fut. ind. or any other mood looking to the future.
b. potential optative: just the apodosis with no dependent condition.

3. ind.+ ἄν
a. contarary-to-fact conditions, where it is implied that it is/was not the case:
εἰ ταῦτα ἔλεγες/εἶπες (impf./aor. ind., also plup. but not often), εὖ ἂν ἐποίεις/ἐποίησας.
b. unfulfilled wish/possibility: just the apodosis with no dependent condition.
*c. repeated/customary past action: ἐποίει/ἐπίησεν ἄν.

*(I was not familiar with this usage as it was not written in my study book and wasn't taught in class.)
[replaced protasis with apodosis; i meant the latter but confused it with the former.]

It's also useful to remember that when a participle is in place of the complete clause, category 1 does not have ἄν,
and the only way to know for sure is the context (or if a negative word μή was used rather than οὐ with the indicative,
though there are excptions). Category 2 & 3 retain their ἄν.
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby Markos » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:52 pm

Last year Louis Sorensen wrote a song in Ancient Greek about Brett Favre sung to the tune of the Clash's "Should I stay or should I go, now?" Louis was joking about Favre's inability at times to decide whether he should keep the ball or throw it. Favre has thrown a lot of interceptions in big games. One line of the song is

ἢ ἂν μένω ἢ ἂν βάλλω;


"Should I stay or should I throw?"

Forgot all the grammatical analysis. Just memorize this line. Sing it often. The syllables and accents line up with the original. Then, when you encounter ἂν, the meaning will go right to your head without even thinking about. Stop thinking ABOUT Greek. Use it.
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby uberdwayne » Fri Oct 15, 2010 11:18 pm

Does this word have the same meaning in koine as it does in the other "dialects"?
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby GTM » Fri Oct 15, 2010 11:48 pm

Markos

"Should I stay or should I throw?"


Well from the looks of things he will probably get killed on the field this year. If I were him I would drop the ball and run :lol:

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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby NateD26 » Sat Oct 16, 2010 5:58 am

uberdwayne wrote:Does this word have the same meaning in koine as it does in the other "dialects"?

The particle itself doesn't have any equivalent English meaning. But I see now, after consulting Middle-Liddell,
that in the NT, ἐάν takes indicative, so my whole summary is more suitable for Classical Greek than Koine.
I have no knowledge of Koine grammar. Therefore, you should consult your study book for the uses of ἄν in NT,
or wait for others with much more experience under their belt to reply.

Markos wrote:Forgot all the grammatical analysis. Just memorize this line. Sing it often. The syllables and accents line up with the original. Then, when you encounter ἂν, the meaning will go right to your head without even thinking about. Stop thinking ABOUT Greek. Use it.

That is quite not the right approach, though I guess I am not as experienced as others here to even make such a statement.
If I were to forget my English grammar (and bear in mind I am not a native English speaker, so it's not something that comes naturally to me)
I have studied in my life since 4th grade (these days they start on the 2nd), you wouldn't understand my reply, nor its gist. Immersion
without pre-knowledge of the grammar won't make anyone magically understand the meaning of a sentence and its constituent parts.
If that were indeed the case, I should have been an accomplished English writer and fluent speaker by now.
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby modus.irrealis » Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:56 pm

I'd say that for the NT alone, most of the categories aren't necessary -- in my experience it's almost always either 1 or 3a and this is also the impression I get from skimming through some grammars. For 1a,c,d, it's somewhat equivalent to "ever" in English, e.g. ὃς ἂν τοῦτο ποιήσῃ = whoever does this (and in this use the NT also uses ἐάν instead of ἄν).

--

Markos wrote:One line of the song is

ἢ ἂν μένω ἢ ἂν βάλλω;

"Should I stay or should I throw?"


Can ἄν really have this meaning of "should"? That is, be equivalent to δεῖ με... But even if it is possible, they should be optatives. Or subjunctives without ἄν, which would have the right meaning. I agree that memorizing little snippets of Greek (or not so little snippets as well) is good, but they have to be good Greek, and I'm not sure that this sentence as stands is correct.
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby uberdwayne » Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:14 pm

Awesome, thanks everyone, this is a defenite help :D
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby LSorenson » Sat Oct 16, 2010 5:59 pm

Markos wrote:

One line of the song is
ἢ ἂν μένω ἢ ἂν βάλλω;
"Should I stay or should I throw?"


Modus.Irrealis is having trouble giving the word ἄν a direct gloss.

Can ἄν really have this meaning of "should"? That is, be equivalent to δεῖ με... But even if it is possible, they should be optatives. Or subjunctives without ἄν, which would have the right meaning. I agree that memorizing little snippets of Greek (or not so little snippets as well) is good, but they have to be good Greek, and I'm not sure that this sentence as stands is correct.


I understand that problem -- but the song is meant to be sung in Greek, not translated back from Greek into English. Bret Fabre's line is a deliberative subjunctive....he is debating to himself....just like he is doing this week...a good thing that there is no time involved in the subjunctive mood. Modus.irrealis is correct in that ἄν is unneeded, especially in the main clause (But should I stay or should I go needed a couple of more beats). In fact there is no such use in the NT! Does that mean ἄν μένω is bad greek? Let's ask A.T Robertson (p. 935 A Grammar of the New Testament in Historical Research)


We have no eχamples in the N. T. of ἄν with the subj. in independent sentences
(but see κέ and the subj. in Homer). In subordinate clauses ἄν
is very common, though not necessary, as will be seen.3 (Cf.
discussion of εἰ, ὅστις.) But Jannaris gives instances of ἄν with
the subj. in principal clauses (futuristic) in Polybius, Philo, Plu-
tarch, Galen, etc. With the disappearance of the fut. ind., the
opt. and the imper., the subj. has the field as the "prospective
mood." It is found in the modern Greek as in τί νὰ γίνῃ (Thumb,
Handb., p. 126).


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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby modus.irrealis » Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:54 pm

LSorenson wrote:Modus.Irrealis is having trouble giving the word ἄν a direct gloss.

No and I don't see where you got that impression from.

I understand that problem -- but the song is meant to be sung in Greek, not translated back from Greek into English.

Don't worry, my problem is with the Greek as Greek.

Your quote from Robertson isn't relevant, and even explicitly states that αν + subjunctive had a futuristic meaning but you yourself say that the line is meant to have a deliberative meaning. Do you have an example from Greek where αν + subjunctive is used as you wish to use it?

Let me add that aorist subjunctives would seem more natural to me here, but that's largely on the basis of Modern Greek. The present subjunctive, especially for μένω, seems to give a slightly odd meaning.
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby Markos » Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:25 pm

Modus wrote:

and I'm not sure that this sentence as stands is correct.


I like the way you put it here. I'm never sure whether a sentence is "correct," because I don't know what "correct" means. One definition of a correct sentence is something that is said by person A and understood by person B. I understood perfectly what Louis meant by this line. Both of these sentences, I think, are "correct:"

#1 "A doggie is nothing if 'e don't 'ave a bone." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=He82NBjJqf8

#2 "The absence of a bone imperils the very ontological status of a dog."

Which is better is a matter a taste.

Whenever anyone uses Ancient Greek as a living language, I always give them the benefit the doubt. I've seen too many cases of someone claiming that this or that sentence is not "real" or "correct" Greek, only to find later that a similar usage does appear elsewhere in the extent sources. Greek is so varied, from Homer to LXX translationese to the creative grammar in the papyri to Demotic that there is almost no Greek that one could come up with that is not paralleled SOMEWHERE. The usage of αν is more of an art than a science. Homer uses αν with the subjunctive where we might expect αν with the optative. He uses the subjunctive where we might expect the future. We tend to use a different standard when evaluating our own Modern Ancient Greek than we do with attested Ancient Greek, which itself routinely breaks the rules. I think Louis' sentence, even if we have to give him some poetic license as a creative user of Greek (which is a good thing!) captures the essence of αν very well.

My original point, is that the best way to really understand Ancient Greek is to produce it and use it in your own real life. Louis' song has been very helpful to me because it is part of my life, Brett Fabre and indecision and punk rock. Analyzing Greek grammar is also fun and a little of it is necessary, but I don't think that is what Uberdwayne needs most right now to master Greek. He needs to make Greek part of his life. He needs to sing.

The full text of Louis' song can be found here.

http://www.letsreadgreek.com/songs/odet ... tfarve.txt
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby modus.irrealis » Sun Oct 17, 2010 5:09 pm

Markos wrote:I like the way you put it here. I'm never sure whether a sentence is "correct," because I don't know what "correct" means.

I should have said "grammatical" as I meant in the descriptive sense, not the normative sense.

Whenever anyone uses Ancient Greek as a living language, I always give them the benefit the doubt. I've seen too many cases of someone claiming that this or that sentence is not "real" or "correct" Greek, only to find later that a similar usage does appear elsewhere in the extent sources. Greek is so varied, from Homer to LXX translationese to the creative grammar in the papyri to Demotic that there is almost no Greek that one could come up with that is not paralleled SOMEWHERE.

Then it's even more important to have a strong grasp of Greek grammar and Greeks semantics, so that you can understand what the author was trying to say. Because otherwise what will happen, and what does happen, especially with contentious texts like the NT, is people will decide what they want the text to mean and then justify it by mining their grammar for vaguely similar usages of a millennium earlier, or worse by finding a genitive of this and an accusative of that without understanding that just because an accusative can have a certain meaning in one construction doesn't mean it can have that meaning anywhere.

I think Louis' sentence, even if we have to give him some poetic license as a creative user of Greek (which is a good thing!) captures the essence of αν very well.

That's exactly what it does not do. Even if it were possible Greek, it would represent an exceedingly rare use of ἄν and completely miss the meaning of the virtually all usages of the word that anybody will come across. The essence of ἄν is not some vague modal overtone that can mean "should" here and "would"' there and mean whatever we want it to mean.

Analyzing Greek grammar is also fun and a little of it is necessary, but I don't think that is what Uberdwayne needs most right now to master Greek. He needs to make Greek part of his life. He needs to sing.

Then let him sing genuine Greek that represents the actual Greek usage he will come across in the texts he wants to read. If you have suboptimal input, your understanding of Greek will be suboptimal, and the full text of the song you linked to it is full of (at best) misleading usages and even full-out errors, with accentuation and even basic agreement (πολλα τραυμα?). If people find these modern songs helpful in learning Greek, that's great, but I think learners should be warned that there are serious issues with them and cannot be taken as examples of the kind of Greek they are trying to learn.
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby jswilkmd » Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:52 pm

It is an often-untranslatable conditional particle. However, the gloss, "ever," often conveys its meaning.
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby jaihare » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:20 am

NateD26 wrote:
Markos wrote:Forgot all the grammatical analysis. Just memorize this line. Sing it often. The syllables and accents line up with the original. Then, when you encounter ἂν, the meaning will go right to your head without even thinking about. Stop thinking ABOUT Greek. Use it.

That is quite not the right approach, though I guess I am not as experienced as others here to even make such a statement.
If I were to forget my English grammar (and bear in mind I am not a native English speaker, so it's not something that comes naturally to me)
I have studied in my life since 4th grade (these days they start on the 2nd), you wouldn't understand my reply, nor its gist. Immersion
without pre-knowledge of the grammar won't make anyone magically understand the meaning of a sentence and its constituent parts.
If that were indeed the case, I should have been an accomplished English writer and fluent speaker by now.


One person's experience is as valid as another. You're fine. Don't worry! :)

In our English school, we insist from the very beginning that students use as much English as they can - whether that's just enough to tell you their name or if they can tell you everything in the present tense. First they have to get comfortable with English vocab and the structures will come as they study further into the grammar. This means, our classes are built around getting them to use very basic structures in the beginning ("My name is _." "I'm a doctor/photographer/painter/etc."). From there, we move into getting them to use the present simple to relate their routines and daily engagements. From there, the future and present continuous to speak about plans and expectations. Only then, do we engage them with the past tense... and so on.

There's a pre-requisite to knowledge and use of grammar. What I see in the use of ancient Greek is this:

(1) Students of Greek (myself included) often do not use it actively enough for it to become engaging in the subconscious, something that we could easily spit out. This is because we do not speak and use what we know from the very beginning. In this regard, Louis and Mark are extremely inspiring, having the fortitude and drive to use what they know at every level in any expressive way that they can.

(2) We are not forced to use what we are practicing as "graded speakers," since we try to translate everything from English into Greek and succeed much less frequently than we hope. We need to stick to one tense at a time until we master it. Move progressively from one point to the next. Grammar isn't the goal, but you don't learn anything by repeatedly making the same mistakes. Someone needs to offer feedback and points of correction. This is what is lacking in this endeavor. If we don't have feedback and criticism, drilling to say things correctly, in the end, we may speak with all the confidence in the world (as some of the people who come to me speaking broken English with confidence) and be perfectly intelligible, but the Greek will be nothing more than a bunch of words in poor structures and perhaps unsupported usage.

How can we get the feedback that we need to know when we're doing things properly and what we need to improve?

(BTW, our school uses Stephen Krashen's early views of language acquisition.)
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby jaihare » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:30 am

Speaking of Stephen Krashen, check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiTsduRreug

Interesting - "Talking is not practicing. What does this mean? It means that if you want to improve your Spanish, it will not help you to speak Spanish out loud in the car as you drive to work in the morning. It will not help you to go to the bathroom, close the door and speak Spanish to the mirror. I used to think those things helped, now I think they don't."

More passive input will increase the chances of the material reaching the LAD in the brain!
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby Markos » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:44 pm

Hi, Jason,

Stephen Krashen said

"Talking is not practicing. What does this mean? It means that if you want to improve your Spanish, it will not help you to speak Spanish out loud in the car as you drive to work in the morning. It will not help you to go to the bathroom, close the door and speak Spanish to the mirror. I used to think those things helped, now I think they don't."


I think Krashen was right when he used to think that these things helped.
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby calvinist » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:09 am

Markos wrote:I think Krashen was right when he used to think that these things helped.

I agree. Any and all exposure is helpful, as long as it is meaningful. The mindless repetition of phrases may not be helpful, but you don't have to study linguistics for twenty years to understand that.

Actually, I've recently learned that all of my views about language learning are wrong. I heard a radio ad for Rosetta Stone which said that people have difficulty learning a foreign language because they try. According to the commercial the key is to just absorb the language. I guess with Rosetta Stone you can simply turn it on, fall asleep, and after 8 or so weeks you'll be speaking in French! Or at least you'll be able to order at a restaurant in French... and we know how accomplished of a feat that is. :D
Speech is my hammer, bang the world into shape, now let it fall! -Mos Def
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby 7Diane » Fri May 18, 2012 2:34 pm

Hi,

I've struggled long with av too. My most recent way to handle it is to try to capture the 'ever-ness' or the 'what-everness of it by thinking, 'in-anything' whenever I see it. For instance, if it is after OS, rather than changing 'who' to 'whoever', I think, 'who, in anything'. I do this because in scripture the term seems as if it adds the specifity of non-specifity.

For instance, in Mark 9:37, used with a subjunctive, "who ((if) in anything, meaning whoever in whatever circumstance), might-receieve/take one of-these children upon/on the basis of the name of-Me receives/takes Me, and who (whoever in whatever circumstance) might-receive/take Me not receives/takes Me, but He after-sending Me."
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Re: trouble with ἂν

Postby uberdwayne » Tue May 22, 2012 3:07 am

it adds the specifity of non-specifity


Thanks a million, this little phrase seems to help a lot :)
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