Voice Terminology

cwconrad
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Voice Terminology

Post by cwconrad » August 5th, 2013, 4:14 pm

MAubrey wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote:Given this limited data set that you want to draw a parallel from, perhaps we could also consider that it is more likely to be used with a verb in the passive voice than it is in the active voice.
Greek doesn't have a passive voice.
I don't think it's very helpful to issue an apodictic pronouncement of this sort without any sort of explanation, while the pedagogy in place is still teaching the doctrine that middle-passive forms may carry either a middle or a passive meaning and θη forms ordinarily carry a passive meaning. It is really not easy to talk about the Greek verbal "voice" system without oversimplifying matters. Mike will have to speak for himself about what he means, but I would put it this way: Greek inherited an Indo-European middle voice that can express a passive meaning under the right conditions, and ancient Greek further developed a secondary middle-voice form in -θη- from the athematic aorists in -η- which often are associated with middle-voice present-tense forms. Like the μαι/σαι/ται/μην/σο/το forms, the -θη- forms also can and very often do express a passive meaning under the right conditions.

I might add that I would consider both μεθύσκεσθε and πληροῦσθε middle imperatives: they are exhortations to those addressed to engage in a mind-altering process and I think both imperatives assume that those addressed may consent and take action to bring about the mind-altering process.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
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MAubrey
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Re: Eph 5:18 and Acts 1:5

Post by MAubrey » August 5th, 2013, 7:45 pm

Well...I meant what I said.

But what I meant also just happens to also to align with what you said, Carl.
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Re: Eph 5:18 and Acts 1:5

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 5th, 2013, 11:03 pm

MAubrey wrote:Greek doesn't have a passive voice.
It seems likely that this statement means more to you than the statement itself is able to express at face value.
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Re: Eph 5:18 and Acts 1:5

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 5th, 2013, 11:10 pm

MAubrey wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote: Given this limited data set that you want to draw a parallel from, perhaps we could also consider that it is more likely to be used with a verb in the passive voice than it is in the active voice.
Greek doesn't have a passive voice.
Well - apart from the terminological issues between passive, mediopassive and middle - the point I made in answer to the posted question is that the use or non-use of ἐν + dative may be dependent on the syntactic construction.
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Re: Eph 5:18 and Acts 1:5

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 5th, 2013, 11:36 pm

cwconrad wrote:I would consider both μεθύσκεσθε and πληροῦσθε middle imperatives: they are exhortations to those addressed to engage in a mind-altering process and I think both imperatives assume that those addressed may consent and take action to bring about the mind-altering process.
μὴ μεθύσκεσθε as middle "don't get yourself drunk, by deciding not to raise the second bottle to your lips and then not doing it" is far more palatable, than accepting an exclusively middle sense of πληροῦσθε "set your mind to treating your neighbour with respect, sharing with the poor, going to services and prayer meetings, reading the Bible, singing hymns to yourself, etc. so that the Spirit might fill you", because the Spirit is also a willing animate active agent in the equation.
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Re: Eph 5:18 and Acts 1:5

Post by cwconrad » August 6th, 2013, 5:44 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
cwconrad wrote:I would consider both μεθύσκεσθε and πληροῦσθε middle imperatives: they are exhortations to those addressed to engage in a mind-altering process and I think both imperatives assume that those addressed may consent and take action to bring about the mind-altering process.
μὴ μεθύσκεσθε as middle "don't get yourself drunk, by deciding not to raise the second bottle to your lips and then not doing it" is far more palatable, than accepting an exclusively middle sense of πληροῦσθε "set your mind to treating your neighbour with respect, sharing with the poor, going to services and prayer meetings, reading the Bible, singing hymns to yourself, etc. so that the Spirit might fill you", because the Spirit is also a willing animate active agent in the equation.
I have for a long time had difficulty wrapping my head around the notion of a "passive imperative." I don't understand how you can urge someone or a group of people to be acted upon by an external agent or instrument without their consent and active participation in the action or process that they are to undergo. As for πληροῦσθε and the spirit, I've been reading a book by T. M. Luhrmann entitled When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God that goes into the mechanics of exhorting and teaching a congregation and its members how they should go about this very process. I have seen the "passive" imperative referred to sometimes as a "permissive passive,," implying the consent and participation of those exhorted to undergo a process. I can't imagine how an exhortation to engage in any process can ever make sense without an assumption of the involvement of those exhorted in the process. I'm reminded of the old adage: "Pray as if it all depends on God; work as if it all depends on you." That would apply no less to Rom 12:2
μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον.

I can't believe this means simply, "Sit still and wait for God to act." I think these imperatives are middle just as surely as is the verb κατεργάζεσθε in Phil 2:12:
μετὰ φόβου καὶ τρόμου τὴν ἑαυτῶν σωτηρίαν κατεργάζεσθε
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Eph 5:18 and Acts 1:5

Post by Barry Hofstetter » August 6th, 2013, 8:26 am

Greek doesn't have a passive voice.
Well, Greek has a creature that looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, waddles and flies like a duck, so let's call it a duck, even if a genetic analysis reveals it belongs to another species.
Not necessarily. ἐν + dative maybe used to refer to an animate participant if that participant is conceived of as an instrument rather than a agent. Once instance where this would be the case is where the speaker views the referenced participant as an intermediary between the affected participant and the actual (unreferenced) agent. This is the case in Galatians 3:8 and Revelation 15:1.
Now I think this is a suggestion worth exploring.
Well, you're not wrong. But you're not right either. The prototypical function of ἐν + dative is going to be an impersonal agent, but we need to distinguish between:

(1) Prototypical meaning and fundamental meaning.
The latter is a stronger claim, too strong in this case. "Fundamental" implies a hard and fast distinction. "Prototype" inherently assumes that there are divergences...and there are.

(2) The linguistic world and the external world.
When a speaker makes a choice to present a participant with a particular linguistic expression, in this case ἐν + dative, that speaker chooses a particular linguistic conceptualization. Whether that particular conceptualization has anything remotely like a direct correspondence to what exists in the external ("real") world is dependent upon the communicative needs of that speaker in that particular discourse context.
I have no idea what this means or how it relates to the discussion at hand. I mean, yeah, I understand the concepts (I think), but it's like saying "First we have to determine water is wet before we wash our hands or sail a boat on it."
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Re: Eph 5:18 and Acts 1:5

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 6th, 2013, 3:11 pm

MAubrey wrote: Greek doesn't have a passive voice.
cwconrad wrote:Greek inherited an Indo-European middle voice that can express a passive meaning under the right conditions, and ancient Greek further developed a secondary middle-voice form in -θη- from the athematic aorists in -η- which often are associated with middle-voice present-tense forms. Like the μαι/σαι/ται/μην/σο/το forms, the -θη- forms also can and very often do express a passive meaning under the right conditions.
In the first case, assuming that there is a passive meaning under the right conditions, let me put that into terms that I can understand; first, perhaps there is a greyscale where black is definitely middle and then white where it is definitely passive. At some point - determined subjectively by the person reading - there is a delimitation between middle and passive sense. In the middle sense, the person subjected to the action of the verb is either the person doing the action or else is complicent, willing or open to the action. And in the strictly passive sense, the person or object has no willingness to be a part of things. It is like as if when moral complicency aproaches zero the medio-passive form become more passive and as moral complicency approaches one (in the sense of monad), then the medio-passive form becomes more clearly middle in sense.

In the second case, assuming that there can never be a passive. In this case, the middle can approach "white", or the person subjected to the actions of the verb can have less and less complicency, willingness or openness to an action but can never be wholely without responsibility for actions done to them. That is not a good line of reasoning to go far on. Blaming the victim is (rightly) out of vogue in the West - in other countries, a victim is expected to share blame, or accept blame for violent or unsavoury actions that are commited against them.

While such a statement as "Greek has no passive" might sould good at face value when looked at theoretically. I, however, have difficulty in not allowing for actions that are really and truly passive in nature. Take βιαζεται in the particular sense of a certain mistreatment of woman (or a man) by a man. Is there a passive in Greek? or is this form always middle? Is there no means of expression that the person is not responsible for what happens to them. Is the victim to blame? Well, of course we have the option of using the active construction as in Galations 3:1 τίς ὑμᾶς ἐβάσκανεν would give the sense of no contributing responsibility that I at least generally associate with the passive voice.

Now, Coptic is a language that really doesn't have a passive. But the language still has a way to express that human communicative need - using a pseudo-subject usually in the plural.
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Re: Eph 5:18 and Acts 1:5

Post by Stephen Carlson » August 6th, 2013, 4:35 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:While such a statement as "Greek has no passive" might souνd good at face value when looked at theoretically. I, however, have difficulty in not allowing for actions that are really and truly passive in nature.
I can't really speak for Mike (and I have a bad track record reading is his mind), but I would suggest that one way to make sense of it is to consider how grammatical voice is analyzed outside of the NT Greek profession. According to M. Klaiman, grammatical voice in the world's languages can be viewed as belong to one of three kinds of voice systems, two of which are found in Europe. One is a "derived voice system," which features an active-passive contrast. English is a good example. Another is a "basic voice system," which features an active-middle contrast. Greek is a good example. These two systems do different things and categorize diathesis somewhat different. Although some of the functions of the English passive correspond to some of the function of the Greek middle, there are also many differences.

As a result, it is better to try to understand how the Greek basic voice system works rather than try to force fit into a derived voice system. To use an analogy, asking whether a Greek middle is really a passive is like asking whether the word "house" in the phrase "in the house" is really a dative or an accusative. As meaningful as the distinction between a dative and an accusative might be to someone used to these categories, that question is not really looking at how prepositional phrases work in English.

To be sure, there is a long tradition of Greek pedagogy that uses the term "passive." Sometimes it refers to a morphological category (the -θη- forms); sometimes to a semantic category. People aren't always clear about what they mean. And it does not help matters that the English passive system is more complex and interesting than how it is usually presented in schoolbooks. For example, English has a category of "get-passives" (in competition with be-passives) that tends to be overlooked, even when the get-passive performs several functions similar to that of the Greek middle. But these tend to get ignored all too often in treatments of the Greek middle.
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Re: Eph 5:18 and Acts 1:5

Post by MAubrey » August 7th, 2013, 1:38 am

It's a little disconcerting that something that I had thought has such a strong consensus among B-Greek regulars is getting so much attention. I'm not interested in rehashing voice in a thread that isn't on voice. You don't need to be able to read my mind in order to find multiple discussions, excurses, and the like here on B-Greek and on my blog to know. my views on Greek voice, which are perfectly in line with what both Carl & Stephen have stated here--despite Stephen Carlson's inability to read my mind (incidentally, I can't read his either--generally with reference to the same areas of grammar where he's frustrated with his inability to read mine). Suffice to say my views are those of the current standard linguistic literature on the subject: Kemmer, Allan, Klaiman, Shibatani, Manney, etc.

But voice isn't the actual focus of this thread, is it? I thought we were talking about ἐν+dative.

Barry seems to be...
Barry Hofstetter wrote:I have no idea what this means or how it relates to the discussion at hand. I mean, yeah, I understand the concepts (I think), but it's like saying "First we have to determine water is wet before we wash our hands or sail a boat on it."
I'm trying to figure out how I should react to this...I think I'll go with amused for now. Sometimes we all need a good reminder that water is wet.

Stephen (Hughes) was trying to make a linguistic point on the basis of external world--distinctions between linguistic agency (linguistic world) and personhood (external world). And its a distinction that does not hold because of the lack of direct correspondence between linguistic world (what's in your head) and the external world (what's not in your head). To continue your metaphor, I was quite concerned that Stephen was about to go sailing without a boat and I simply wanted to warn him ahead of time: "Nope, that's not going to work. Water's wet."
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