To be or not to be?

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Asterisk1234
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To be or not to be?

Post by Asterisk1234 » Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:14 pm

Is there any guideline that can help me decide whether to include the verb ειμι in sentences. It is often omitted and often included, I can't figure out which to do when I am doing English to Greek exercises. I have no problem with that when reading, of course: I don't have to decide, but the other way it baffles me.

For instance, Mastronarde Unit 18, Exercise IV, 1 and 2.

1 -οι Ελλενης τουσ Αθεναιους ηγημονας αιρησονται. The "to be" of the English text is omitted. I included it in my attempt at translation (...τουσ Αθεναιους ειναι ηγημονας,,,) I was wrong.
2 -τουτο ο λεξειν μελλω δεινον εστιν... The "is" of the English text is included. I left it out in my attempt at translation. I was wrong.

Thanks to all.

Asterisk1234

Hylander
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Re: To be or not to be?

Post by Hylander » Fri Sep 06, 2019 11:30 pm

There are no guidelines. I suspect it’s omitted more often than not unless there’s a specific reason to emphasize it. I think you’ll get to be more comfortable with its omission the more you read. It’s a weak and in most contexts unimportant verb in the present indicative.

But when you’re doing exercises, you probably shouldn’t omit it.

Other than in the third person singular and plural, of course, it shouldn’t be left out.

Callisper
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Re: To be or not to be?

Post by Callisper » Mon Sep 09, 2019 12:44 am

Ellipsis is an advanced field. Some work has been done on it (including for εἶναι). But there certainly aren't simple "guidelines"; rather you develop an understanding through specifics.

For example, here:
αιρησονται - the middle here does not take εἶναι for this particular meaning. (Or rather, it could do so only with a shift in the force of the verb.) This is something that will come with experience but IMO you can suss it out just by thinking about the sentence in English.
τουτο ο λεξειν μελλω δεινον εστιν - what was your attempt? The word-order/clause-order could certainly be different, and this would impact how natural it is to leave out εστιν. If you accept Mastronarde's word-order it's hard to see how it could seem more natural to you to leave out εστιν than to include it.

Asterisk1234
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Re: To be or not to be?

Post by Asterisk1234 » Mon Sep 09, 2019 1:59 am

Re: the first sentence to translate was: "The Greeks will choose the Athenians to be leaders" So my attempt included the "to be" Which means I was probably speaking Greeklish.

The other sentence started with " This thing that I am about to say is wondrous," etc. My attempt simply left out "εστιν". At the time, it didn't seem more natural to me either way (nothing in Greek seems natural to me... :) ). But now that I think about it, as per your comment about word order, with the verb at the end of the clause, I must agree that leaving it out feels more "unnatural" than leaving it in.

Thanks,

Asterisk1234

cb
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Re: To be or not to be?

Post by cb » Sat Sep 14, 2019 1:01 am

Hi, this actually depends on the author / period. For Homeric Greek for instance, there is a useful discussion of this in Chantraine 1963 secs 1 and following.

For your Attic exercises however, I'd recommend that you follow the guidelines set out in sec. 26.13 of the new Cambridge grammar, which notes that the omission of present indicative of εἶναι occurs especially (noting that these are just guidelines, rather than hard and fast rules, as previous posters above have correctly said):

1. with evaluative words such as χαλεπόν (difficult), ἀνάγκη (necessary), εἰκός (likely, proper) etc.,
2. with verbal adjectives in -τέος, -τέα, -τέον (especially in the impersonal use of the neuter),
3. in so-called gnomic utterances (proverbs, maxims, etc.), general statements and exclamations,
4. in formulaic questions and answers, and
5. sometimes more freely, e.g. with καλόν (acknowledging that this item 5 is not super helpful for composition purposes...)

For examples, check out the Cambridge grammar.

Don't worry too much if your answers don't line up with the key on omission of this verb: the important point is to notice patterns where it is included and where it is omitted. Your exercises are only a means to that end.

Cheers, Chad

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