William! You have Curtius's Grammar! ::) I have a photocopied version of the Spanish translation of Curtius that I obtained long ago in the Argentine. Yes, an ancient thing. But still it is really nice. <br /><br />Before I write any examples about this double negative stuff. I want to ask what all the funny parentheses are doing in e.g. a)lla ou)demia naus e)rxetai and other posts. Do you guys see these somehow in Greek text? or is it that somehow you understand the symbologicalismigalisation that these represent???<br /><br />There is one simple thing to keep in mind about these double negatives which simplifies things immensely when trying to grasp this feature of the Greek language that the textbooks are trying to teach you, and that is: <br /><br /> ANY "compound" negative when coming AFTER any other type of negative STRENGTHENS the 'negation'.<br /><br />but, IF the "compound" negative comes BEFORE the simple negative then the negatives cancel and the statement is 'positive'.<br /><br />I have devised no mnemonic, but if you can hold onto half the formula: <br /><br /> COMPOUND ---- AFTER ---- STRENGTHENS<br /><br />then you will have pinned down that Protean Greek negative which for the present so eludes you.
<br /><br />Now I mentioned that this was the way the textbooks seek to explain this characteristic of Greek to speakers of English. However, in the mind of the Greek this is not a means of strengthening the negative in the sentence, but in fact the only way to say it. How else could he say, "no one will go away." other than like this:<br /><br /> ouk apeisiv oudeis. ??? What other word could he use for "no one"?<br /><br />If a Greek had wanted to emphasise this, he might have thrown in a particle to do the job. <br /><br />Well, Paul, the quick answer to your question is YES! you had it right, but I also hope that the following exercise serves not only in understanding the construction better, but also sheds some light on the nature of the two languages. <br /><br />In the Greek mind there is absolutely nothing unnatural, special, or emphatic about that sentence above "no one will go away". In fact, in the mind of the Greek the emphatic construction is the one where both negatives combine in such a way as to cancel and create a positive statement. For instance, just as in English, the expression, though it sound awkward<br /><br /> "No one | will not | go away." is emphatic, <br /><br />so also the Greek: "oudeis | ouk | apeisiv." is emphatic, <br /><br />and means: "ALL | WILL | go away." just as you <br /><br />would expect if you <br />did the algebra.<br /><br />I have lined the examples up in parallel fashion to emphasise the similarity in the thought pattern. The more common way a Greek would say "All will go away." (without any special emphasis, that is) would be: "pantes apeisin".<br /><br />Now for the obverse of the coin, Greek forms the negative statement "No one will go away" in a manner which English cannot do, but which would be logical if English word order were as unrestricted, for take the statement in parts and consider what occurs in the mind of the listener as it is spoken: <br /><br /> "ouk apeisiv.......<br /><br /> will not go away <br /><br />The English sounds odd, because English demands a subject, which naturally comes before the verb. Greek does not; so the Greek above is natural and the Greek thinker at this point is without the slightest bit of surprise or confusion, in spite of the fact that he may not know who the subject is, because he is accustomed to wait for it. <br /><br />In fact, the only difference between them at this point will be the slight bit of confusion on the part of the Englishman. Both have exactly the same information, and unless the Greek already knew about whom the speaker was talking, both the Greek and the Englishman here will ask the same question. Namely, "tis;" for the one, and "who?" for the other. And what answer would he receive in either case? [think before you look!]<br /><br /> In Greek his answer will be "oudeis". He already understands "ouk apeisin", and so for the Englishman "no one" is the answer as well. He already had in his mind the notion that someone or something was not going to depart.<br /><br /><br /> -------- ouk apeisiv | oudeis.<br /><br /> no one | will depart. ----------<br /><br /><br />I know this has been long
but I'd like to hear from those of you who made it this far whether you found this a useful exercise.<br /><br />yours sincerely,<br /><br />J. Sebastian Pagani<br />