Grammatical Terms in Greek

Biblical Greek morphology and syntax, aspect, linguistics, discourse analysis, and related topics

Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby Louis L Sorenson » March 9th, 2013, 10:57 am

What terms did Greeks use to discuss their language? Today, we use English grammar metalanguage (which has a strong affinity to Latin grammar, which sometimes is not helpful). Using Greek terms makes sense (1) when the Latin term has no matching term or terms are mismatched - e.g. deponent, (2) to understand the meaning of the cases e.g. αἰτιατική = accusative, δωτική = dative > δίδωμι, (3) a person is learning the language through aural immersion and wants to stay in the target language, (4) you want to read what a Greek grammarian said about the Greek language, (5) κτλ.

Randall Buth in his books Living Koine lists some of these terms in his appendix on pages 175-178. William Annis has collected a number of those terms primarily from Eleanor Dickey’s Ancient Greek scholarship: a Guide to Finding, Reading, and Understanding Scholia, Commentaries, Lexica and Grammatical Treatises, from Their Beginnings to the Byzantine Period, Oxford University Press, 2007. You can find his collection of terms at http://scholiastae.org/docs/el/greek_grammar_in_greek.pdf

[Note: This subject may have been addresses elsewhere on this list. But I wanted to have a separate thread.] Here are some other places it has been discussed:
Metalanguage, Schmetalanguage http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=1409&p=7273,
Metalanguage: pedagogical nuisance or necessity? http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1089,
τεχνὴ γραμματική http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1088&p=5175,
The Epistemology of Linguistics http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=817&p=3476,
Fad or Necessity--Developing Oral Competency in Greekhttp://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=729&p=2938
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 18th, 2013, 7:54 am

A slight complication is where the modern (even including the traditional) grammatical theory differs from the theories of the ancients. Do we coin new terms in Greek (as I've seen for "deponent"), or what?
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby cwconrad » March 18th, 2013, 8:30 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:A slight complication is where the modern (even including the traditional) grammatical theory differs from the theories of the ancients. Do we coin new terms in Greek (as I've seen for "deponent"), or what?


I think we're "damned if we do/damned if we don't." A.T. Robertson objected to the term "deponent", for instance, but didn't try to "lay it aside" as we might all wish he had done. In part it's a "chicken or egg first" problem.I don't see how a new term or a new framework can be adopted where there isn't a fairly broad consensus on the key elements of the framework.

In the matter of verbal aspect, there's still not really sufficient consensus over terminology, partly because the consensus hasn't been reached regarding some of the details of aspectual functions. In my own thinking about "voice" I've been acutely aware of the problem of misleading terminology and the difficulty of proposing alternatives that are clearly more pertinent and not ambiguous.

Just within the area of verbal "voice", the term "voice" is not descriptive of anything. The Greek term διάθεσις is really much better. I would prefer, as things now stand, to use the term "middle verbs" for those verbs which have been called either "deponent" or "media tantum" and "passiva tantum." But even the word "middle" is misleading insofar as it suggests something between "active" and "passive." If I could have my druthers, I think that for "voice" I would prefer to use the older term διάθεσις and to distinguish two διαθέσεις, a 'default' (perhaps κοινὴ διάθεσις?) διάθεσις and a 'subjective' διάθεσις, which would include all forms that 'grammaticalize' subject-affectedness. I might even propose coining a new adjective that would, I think, be pertinent and unambiguous: ἑαυτικὴ διάθεσις.

I do agree that it would be very helpful to have grammatical terms in Greek
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby MAubrey » March 18th, 2013, 8:46 pm

Robertson uses Greek for in many of his headings for specific grammatical concepts, many of those might be feasible, too.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby RandallButh » March 19th, 2013, 5:14 am

cwconrad wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:A slight complication is where the modern (even including the traditional) grammatical theory differs from the theories of the ancients. Do we coin new terms in Greek (as I've seen for "deponent"), or what?


I think we're "damned if we do/damned if we don't." A.T. Robertson objected to the term "deponent", for instance, but didn't try to "lay it aside" as we might all wish he had done. In part it's a "chicken or egg first" problem.I don't see how a new term or a new framework can be adopted where there isn't a fairly broad consensus on the key elements of the framework.


Fortunately, the SBL sessions on "deponent" have been showing something of a consensus of deponing deponency. (For those who did not follow Carl's remark or this pun, that means that Greek teachers are now discussing a Greek classroom where "deponency" is not given as an "explanatoin" for Greek students.) Additionally, as soon as one starts teaching from within a Greek framework, there is no "deponency" to teach. Students are inundated with basic verbs like ερχεσθαι, πορευεσθαι, απτεσθαι, προσευχεσθαι, δυνασθαι, πειρασθαι, βουλεσθαι, κεισθαι, καθησθαι, ανιστασθαι (αναστηθι/καταβηθι). The whole question can often be put off until needing to explain something fully passive. However, the rosy anecdote from the SBL meetings may simply reflect that those with an interest in the subject are reaching a consensus. Even then, the "explanation" can be along the lines of using the MESH forms for passive, like French and Spanish. However, a lot of Greek classes are still taught by those interested in something else, or by deputized grad students, who simply follow whatever a book says. Since a lot of books still have "deponent" verbs in their lesson plans, this may be a case where we chase away the darkness by lighting a candle.

cwconrad wrote: In the matter of verbal aspect, there's still not really sufficient consensus over terminology, partly because the consensus hasn't been reached regarding some of the details of aspectual functions. In my own thinking about "voice" I've been acutely aware of the problem of misleading terminology and the difficulty of proposing alternatives that are clearly more pertinent and not ambiguous.

Just within the area of verbal "voice", the term "voice" is not descriptive of anything. The Greek term διάθεσις is really much better. I would prefer, as things now stand, to use the term "middle verbs" for those verbs which have been called either "deponent" or "media tantum" and "passiva tantum."


I think I hear you saying that we should call verbs in -εσθαι and -θηναι 'middle'. and drop the name "middle-passive". If so, I highly agree on -εσθαι. They are middle verbs. And while I treat the -θηναι and - ηναι verbs similarly (e.g. πορευθηναι, χαρηναι, στηναι, καταβηναι) as middle verbs, I use the ancient Greek name παθητικος. but explain that these verbs are μέση just like the -εσθαι verbs.

cwconrad wrote:But even the word "middle" is misleading insofar as it suggests something between "active" and "passive." If I could have my druthers, I think that for "voice" I would prefer to use the older term διάθεσις and to distinguish two διαθέσεις, a 'default' (perhaps κοινὴ διάθεσις?) διάθεσις and a 'subjective' διάθεσις, which would include all forms that 'grammaticalize' subject-affectedness. I might even propose coining a new adjective that would, I think, be pertinent and unambiguous: ἑαυτικὴ διάθεσις.

I do agree that it would be very helpful to have grammatical terms in Greek


ἑαυτικὴ διάθεσις
Very nice.
That is a great way of explaining μέση.
However, because the ἑαυτικὴ forms are chosen when trying to signal a passive construction, the μέση still has some explanatory help since the -εσθαι verbs can be said to bridge between the -ειν verbs and the special use of "-εσθαι on -ειν verbs".

By the end of a first semester, one can ameliorate the traditional name of the ενεργητικη by grouping twenty -ειν verbs and twnety -εσθαι verbs and letting students see how the Greek were inclined to make two groups out of them. Why was one group chosen over another? In some cases simply because verbs came to be more idiomatically used in one groups rather than the other, and the choice became a fixed idiom. The choice was done in antiquity, and Greek kids throughout the ages have to get in line with recognising the two resulting groups with somewhat unpredictable membership. But they are two groups none the less, and part of the language system to be used. Words still used in both, like αιτειν/αιτεισθαι can help illustrate the difference and how the groups developed. αιτεισθαι is ἑαυτικὴ διάθεσις.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 19th, 2013, 6:16 am

The grammatical terms used in my immigrant Swedish class are a mixture of Latin (e.g., preteritum, supinum) and native (e.g., obestämd) terms. Terminological purity is probably not available.

In some of my linguistic reading, there is a tendency I noticed of using (mainly Latin-based) English terms for the conceptual terms and the native terms for the particular language's morphological expression of them. So there's a cross-linguistic imperfect (+past, +imperfective), but a French imparfait, an Italian imperfetto, Spanish imperfecto, etc. Similarly, one could refer to the παρατατικόν in Greek.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby SusanJeffers » March 20th, 2013, 4:09 am

" the rosy anecdote from the SBL meetings may simply reflect that those with an interest in the subject are reaching a consensus."

that's certainly my sense. I'm guessing that 99% of Biblical Greek I students in North American colleges and seminaries are still learning the word "deponent" and that, e.g. ερχομαι is middle form with active meaning which by definition makes it deponent. The textbooks are the big drivers... anybody talk to, e.g. Mounce, Croy, Wallace, other authors of currently-in-use textbooks about banishing "deponent" from their next editions? or, say, Zondervan? "look, scholarly concensus at SBL says deponent is out. what're you guys doing still publishing books that teach it to impressionable young seminarians?"

:-)

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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby RandallButh » March 20th, 2013, 4:54 am

SusanJeffers wrote:" the rosy anecdote from the SBL meetings may simply reflect that those with an interest in the subject are reaching a consensus."

that's certainly my sense. I'm guessing that 99% of Biblical Greek I students in North American colleges and seminaries are still learning the word "deponent" and that, e.g. ερχομαι is middle form with active meaning which by definition makes it deponent. The textbooks are the big drivers... anybody talk to, e.g. Mounce, Croy, Wallace, other authors of currently-in-use textbooks about banishing "deponent" from their next editions? or, say, Zondervan? "look, scholarly concensus at SBL says deponent is out. what're you guys doing still publishing books that teach it to impressionable young seminarians?"



As mentioned
this may be a case where we chase away the darkness by lighting a candle.
:idea:

If you teach Greek from within Greek and fill the classroom 90% in Greek, there isn't a "need" for deponency. The students will internalize two systems and eventually learn that they are called ἐνεργητική (active) and μέση (middle). Verbs used in both have a 'subject-orientation' in the middle: ὁ ποιῶν τὸ ῥῆμα φρονεῖ περὶ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ κολλᾶται. Naturally, the MESH is chosen for fully passive situations (non-subject agent clearly implied or explicit), and specifically the "theta"-system where available (aorist). (The future sometimes mixes middles). διηγέρθην σήμερον is naturally a middle.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 20th, 2013, 7:49 am

SusanJeffers wrote:that's certainly my sense. I'm guessing that 99% of Biblical Greek I students in North American colleges and seminaries are still learning the word "deponent" and that, e.g. ερχομαι is middle form with active meaning which by definition makes it deponent. The textbooks are the big drivers... anybody talk to, e.g. Mounce, Croy, Wallace, other authors of currently-in-use textbooks about banishing "deponent" from their next editions? or, say, Zondervan? "look, scholarly concensus at SBL says deponent is out. what're you guys doing still publishing books that teach it to impressionable young seminarians?"


If I recall correctly, the third edition of Mounce has a little text box talking about the deponent issue. I used it as a springboard for the fuller discussion. Since nearly everyone in my class had studied a Romance language before coming to Duke, I told them that Greek middles were a lot like Spanish/French reflexive verbs. (I don't know if Wallace has a textbook; both of them are Zondervan, so Mounce is the introductory level, while Wallace is the intermediate level in that publisher's offerings.)

I don't know if Croy has any plans to update his textbook for this or for any other reason.

Rod Decker is coming out with a new textbook, which (I believe) will be up-to-date on the middle voice.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby Louis L Sorenson » April 7th, 2013, 2:30 pm

Here is a fairly complete list of Greek grammatical terms, put forward by Paul Emile Anders at Ancient Studies Institute http://www.ancientstudiesinstitute.org/Minerva/ORIGINAL_LIST_files/GREEK-TERMS.pdf.

Another list, with the date the English term was first used, is made by Brian Lanter at the University of New Mexico: http://www.unm.edu/~blanter/Grammar_Term_Origins.pdf
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