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genitive case question

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genitive case question

Postby EmptyMan » Wed Nov 10, 2004 9:46 pm

In my Greek new testament book it has a practice sentance that says;

[face=SPIonic]h glwssa pollwn estin aitia kakwn[/face] Meaning, "the tongue is the cause of many evils" but the translation I did was, "the tongue of many is the cause of evils."(which does not make sense anyway.)

But my question is what rules, if any, are available to let me know that [face=SPIonic]pollwn[/face] goes with [face=SPIonic]kakwn[/face]? Would I know that they form the phrase "many evils" because the phrase, "the toungue of many" does not make sense, or becuase of some grammatical rule? I hope this question makes sense. :roll:
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Re: genitive case question

Postby annis » Thu Nov 11, 2004 2:50 am

(Warning label: Normally I deal with Epic and Classical Greek. What I'm about to say seems to apply to Koine, too, but there may be some subtlties of the Koine I'm missing.)

EmptyMan wrote:[face=SPIonic]h glwssa pollwn estin aitia kakwn[/face] Meaning, "the tongue is the cause of many evils" but the translation I did was, "the tongue of many is the cause of evils."(which does not make sense anyway.)

But my question is what rules, if any, are available to let me know that [face=SPIonic]pollwn[/face] goes with [face=SPIonic]kakwn[/face]? Would I know that they form the phrase "many evils" because the phrase, "the toungue of many" does not make sense, or becuase of some grammatical rule?


Well, sense partly. There's no fixed grammatical rule that clarifies this, but this particular word ordering is a tendency of Greek, an idiomatic way of phrasing. Here are two other examples, from a composition book:

[face=spionic]h(dei=an e)/xei th\n fwnh/n[/face] he has a pleasant voice
[face=spionic]a(/pantej qnhto\n e)/xomen to\ sw=ma[/face] we all have a mortal body

Again here we have an adjective separated from the noun it goes with by a verb phrase: pleasant he-has the voice; (we)all mortal we-have the body.

Your practice sentence is a little bit different, but of similar construction.

I hope these examples help a bit. I find I'm having a hard time explaining this better.
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Postby Geoff » Thu Nov 11, 2004 4:41 am

William; I'm constantly perplexed as I read verses from the New Testament with varied syntax. I'm just a beginner so I don't study many intermediate grammars.

I notice that verses such as these are not infrequent, but oddly absent from the sterile enviroment of learning grammars. Do you think that while the meaning is the same that the change in structure indicates an emphasis the writer wanted to convey? I especially ask you since you have a wider range of texts under your belt than most NT Greek students.

I always look forward to the insight of classical students on NT Greek.

In our example: the writer wanted to focus the attention on the volume of evils which are produced by the tongue, and not be mistaken as commenting on how evil the tongue was. The fact that the tongue can cause evil is rather obvious and mundane, but talking about how much trouble can be caused peaks the interest.
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Postby annis » Thu Nov 11, 2004 1:52 pm

Geoff wrote:Do you think that while the meaning is the same that the change in structure indicates an emphasis the writer wanted to convey?


I'm a little uncomfortable with the words "emphatic" and "emphasis" these days, but given the word order here, I'd say that this word order does, in Classical Greek at least, focus attention on the adjective.

In our example: the writer wanted to focus the attention on the volume of evils which are produced by the tongue, and not be mistaken as commenting on how evil the tongue was.


I believe this is correct.
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Postby Geoff » Thu Nov 11, 2004 3:30 pm

Thank you William,

Good clarification. "Emphatic" is both overused and abused. Not that the writer suddenly began shaking convulsively with the joy he felt as he expressed the thought, but simply that this part of the sentence was in some way important in relation to the other parts. Focus is a good word: I started think in those terms after reading another post by you were you noted regular syntax as

Focus, Verb, object, other

Its just strange to think of the focus as a modifyer of something and something other than the subject at that.
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Postby annis » Thu Nov 11, 2004 10:42 pm

Geoff wrote:Focus, Verb, object, other


Actually the order is (keep in mind each slot can be omitted):

1. Topic (what we're talking about)
2. Focus (salient new information)
3. Verb
4. everything else (not to be confused with "unimportant" - the meaning will often require the words here)

EmptyMan's sentence is a perfect example, actually.

1. Topic: [face=spionic]h( glw=ssa[/face]
2. Focus: [face=spionic]pollw=n[/face]
3. Verb: [face=spionic]e)stin[/face]
4. Everything else: [face=spionic]ai)ti/a kakw=n[/face]

Its just strange to think of the focus as a modifyer of something and something other than the subject at that.


Well, at the risk of sounding trite, information is information. It's just a language history accident that the focus idea here happens to be a modifier.
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Postby Bert » Fri Nov 12, 2004 12:45 am

This is vey interesting.
I wouldn't mind having some more clarification on one of emptyman's questions. He wrote: "But my question is what rules, if any, are available to let me know that pollwn goes with kakwn? Would I know that they form the phrase "many evils" because the phrase, "the toungue of many" does not make sense, or becuase of some grammatical rule?"

Is it just a matter of context?
-The tongue of many is the cause of evil- may not sound like it makes sense, but if I read that, I may take it to mean; The tongue is for many people the cause of evil.
This could then refer to loose-lipped people.
Are both translations possible?
A sentence may be ambiguous outside of a context.
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Postby EmptyMan » Fri Nov 12, 2004 1:38 am

In our example: the writer wanted to focus the attention on the volume of evils which are produced by the tongue, and not be mistaken as commenting on how evil the tongue was.


I believe this is correct.


My book said the reason for it's word order was that it was poetry. Maybe it was a Hebrew or Aramaic phrase translated literally into greek.
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Postby annis » Fri Nov 12, 2004 10:10 pm

Bert wrote:Are both translations possible?


This is where my Koine inexperience is a problem. I would say "yes," but I'd think another wording is much more likely. Namely, I'd think the [face=spionic]pollw=n[/face] would normally be in attributive position for the "the tongue of many" meaning. But I spend most of my Greek time in verse, and in a dialect without the article. Someone with more Koine or even Attic experience should comment on this.

A sentence may be ambiguous outside of a context.


How do you say "absolutely!" in Dutch?
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Postby annis » Fri Nov 12, 2004 10:13 pm

EmptyMan wrote:My book said the reason for it's word order was that it was poetry. Maybe it was a Hebrew or Aramaic phrase translated literally into greek.


Does the book give any hint about the source for the line?

I probably have even less business talking about Hebrew and Aramaic than I do Koine. But my memories of those languages lead me to doubt either would hold up very well under the word order of the Greek example.
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Postby Bert » Sat Nov 13, 2004 12:38 am

annis wrote:
Bert wrote:A sentence may be ambiguous outside of a context.



How do you say "absolutely!" in Dutch?


Absoluut. :wink:

Thanks for your comments.
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Postby Paul » Sat Nov 13, 2004 3:13 am

Hi,

[face=SPIonic]h( glw=ssa pollw=n e)stin ai)ti/a kakw=n[/face]

The simplest analysis of this sentence is that [face=SPIonic]pollw=n[/face] is not attributive. It does not, unlike most possessive genitives, fit any of the three attributive constructs. Hence it can't say "the speech of many".

Cordially,

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Postby EmptyMan » Mon Nov 15, 2004 3:14 am

Paul wrote:Hi,

[face=SPIonic]h( glw=ssa pollw=n e)stin ai)ti/a kakw=n[/face]

The simplest analysis of this sentence is that [face=SPIonic]pollw=n[/face] is not attributive. It does not, unlike most possessive genitives, fit any of the three attributive constructs. Hence it can't say "the speech of many".

Cordially,

Paul


A few questions, what constitutes an attributive and what are the three attributive constructs?
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Postby Paul » Mon Nov 15, 2004 4:22 am

EmptyMan wrote:A few questions, what constitutes an attributive and what are the three attributive constructs?

Hi,

Adjectives are used either as attributes or as predicates. English examples:

Attributive: "the blue sky"
Predicative: "the sky is blue"

In Greek, the position of an adjective in relation to its noun and article determines how it is being used. There are 3 attributive positions as illustrated by the word [face=SPIonic]a)gaqo/j[/face] in these examples:

1. [face=SPIonic]o( a)gaqo\j a)/nqrwpoj[/face]
2. [face=SPIonic]o( a)/nqrwpoj o( a)gaqo\j[/face]
3. [face=SPIonic]a)/nqrwpoj o( a)gaqo\j[/face]

The first attributive position is the simplest and commonest. The second is more formal and also emphasizes the substantive. Some authors maintain that the third form, which is least common, "produces an effect of familiar ease".

But the main point here is that in all 3 positions the adjective is preceded by the definite article. In this way the adjective remains under the influence, so to speak, of the noun and its article. It is this use of the article with the adjective that marks it as an attributive adjective.

An adjective used predicatively does not so employ the article:

[face=SPIonic]o( a)/nqrwpoj a)gaqo\j[/face] = "the man is good" as does [face=SPIonic]a)gaqo\j o( a)/nqrwpoj[/face]

If an adjective is not in one of the attributive positions, it is considered predicative.

Cordially,

Paul
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Postby Turpissimus » Mon Nov 15, 2004 4:42 pm

Surely if "of many" went with "tongue" then tongue would be in the plural. The tongues of many is meaningful, the tongue of many less so.

Can adjectives in Greek be used as nouns? In latin you could say linguae multorum. Could you not do this in greek? I could have misunderstood Paul, but his exposition of adjective usage seems to rule this out.
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Postby Geoff » Mon Nov 15, 2004 8:01 pm

Turpissimus wrote:Surely if "of many" went with "tongue" then tongue would be in the plural. The tongues of many is meaningful, the tongue of many less so.


Both "Tongue" and "Cause" are singular and feminine. The article before tongue marks it as the subject. This demands that "cause" is the predicate nominative since they must agree. That leaves us with two modifiers.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but these shouldn't be thought of as substantive except in the abscence of appropriate nouns.

There are no conjunctions so you're not looking at multiple clauses. (i.e. the tongue is of "the" many and is a cause of evils).

Then as Paul already noted .
It does not, unlike most possessive genitives, fit any of the three attributive constructs. Hence it can't say "the speech of many"


A noun with a modifier where both have no article is common, acceptable and can be either attributive or substantive, but context must tell which it is, att. or sub.

Since this is acceptable "evils" goes with "cause" and the concord with "many" links it together with the "evils".

The thing that makes this sentence tricky is the non-agreement in number with the feminine nouns (You could expect this behaviour from Neuters).

The thing I want to know is whether this is an actual quote from a text or if it is made up.

Finally, someone with real greek knowledge please comment on my post and let me know if there are any mistakes or overgeneralizations or anything, I don't take offense. I'm just trying to learn.

Thank you.
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Postby Paul » Tue Nov 16, 2004 8:31 pm

Turpissimus wrote:Can adjectives in Greek be used as nouns? In latin you could say linguae multorum. Could you not do this in greek? I could have misunderstood Paul, but his exposition of adjective usage seems to rule this out.

Hi,

Adjectives can indeed function as nouns. It's quite common in Greek, e.g.,

[face=SPIonic]o( a)gaqo/j[/face] = the good (man)
[face=SPIonic]oi( tufloi/[/face] = the blind

What I said about attributive position concerns an adjective in its relation to a noun and its article.

Cordially,

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Postby Paul » Tue Nov 16, 2004 10:21 pm

Geoff wrote:Both "Tongue" and "Cause" are singular and feminine. The article before tongue marks it as the subject. This demands that "cause" is the predicate nominative since they must agree. That leaves us with two modifiers.


Agreed. Further supported by lack of article before the predicate nominative.

Geoff wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but these shouldn't be thought of as substantive except in the abscence of appropriate nouns.


Agreed. If they were substantive adjectives, you would also expect them to have an article.

Geoff wrote:There are no conjunctions so you're not looking at multiple clauses. (i.e. the tongue is of "the" many and is a cause of evils).


Agreed.

Geoff wrote:A noun with a modifier where both have no article is common, acceptable and can be either attributive or substantive, but context must tell which it is, att. or sub.



Not quite sure of your meaning. An anarthrous noun+adjective typically functions as a substantive in the predicate - our case. Did you mean "predicative or substantive" rather than "attributive or substantive"?

Geoff wrote:Since this is acceptable "evils" goes with "cause" and the concord with "many" links it together with the "evils".


Agreed.

Geoff wrote:The thing that makes this sentence tricky is the non-agreement in number with the feminine nouns (You could expect this behaviour from Neuters).


Not sure what you mean. There is no disagreement between the two feminine nouns. Do you mean between the singular nouns and the plural genitives?

Geoff wrote:The thing I want to know is whether this is an actual quote from a text or if it is made up.


I too would like to know this.

Geoff wrote:Finally, someone with real greek knowledge please comment on my post and let me know if there are any mistakes or overgeneralizations or anything, I don't take offense. I'm just trying to learn.


I do not have 'real greek knowledge'. I'm just making it up as I go along. :) That said, your analysis seems solid to me.

Cordially,

Paul
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Postby Geoff » Tue Nov 16, 2004 10:43 pm

Thanks Paul, you're very helpful. I see where I've been ambigous; Typing with too few Zzzzz's.

Geoff wrote:

A noun with a modifier where both have no article is common, acceptable and can be either attributive or substantive, but context must tell which it is, att. or sub.

Not quite sure of your meaning. An anarthrous noun+adjective typically functions as a substantive in the predicate - our case. Did you mean "predicative or substantive" rather than "attributive or substantive"?


The main thing I was talking about was that it isn't uncommon to find a noun+adjective and neither have the article (anarthrous). e.g [face=SPIonic]a)/nqrwpoj a)gaqo\j[/face] could either mean "a good man" or "a man is good". In our text, it wouldn't make much sense if you took it as "a cause is of evils". So having eliminated any other possible functions of our adjectives they must modify the predicate nominative. I think you caught my problem where I said "attributive or substantive" where I meant attributive or predicate use of the adjective.

Not sure what you mean. There is no disagreement between the two feminine nouns. Do you mean between the singular nouns and the plural genitives?


Indeed, I was talking about the fact that the plural genitives don't agree with the feminine singular nouns. Is this akward or normal. I've seen this sort of thing with neuters, but not with feminines so much.

We get pretty sophisticated when we make it up as we go. Thanks again Paul. If you think I've got my terms mixed up then feel free to "school" me.
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