Use of the interrogative pronoun

Jonathan Robie
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Use of the interrogative pronoun

Post by Jonathan Robie » August 7th, 2015, 6:45 pm

Can anyone recommend a really thorough description of how the interrogative pronoun was used in Hellenistic times? Or a more general work on how to ask good questions in Hellenistic Greek?

I just tabulated a table of questions using the interrogative pronouns in the New Testament (see attached summary of a more extensive query result), and it's striking that:

1. The meaning of questions using the neuter interrogative pronoun is generally quite different from questions using the masculine or feminine interrogative pronoun - but the meanings do overlap
2. The neuter interrogative pronoun is not used in the plural in the Greek New Testament

This may be just a matter of using too small a corpus - the number of questions in the GNT that use the interrogative pronoun is not huge. But it looks like there might be some interesting patterns here.
interrogative pronoun.pdf
(24.22 KiB) Downloaded 111 times
Here are the raw query results.
tis.pdf
(58.7 KiB) Downloaded 74 times
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Louis L Sorenson
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Re: Use of the interrogative pronoun

Post by Louis L Sorenson » August 8th, 2015, 2:50 am

Jonathan,

That list of questions from the NT is very helpful, can we get a textfile or database file of those citations?
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Use of the interrogative pronoun

Post by Jonathan Robie » August 8th, 2015, 7:46 am

Louis L Sorenson wrote:Jonathan,

That list of questions from the NT is very helpful, can we get a textfile or database file of those citations?
The second file is a complete list of the citations, you just want that as text? I generated it from an XML file, text would be easy. Or you could just keep it in XML if you're that kind of guy ... which would you prefer?
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Use of the interrogative pronoun

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 8th, 2015, 2:06 pm

This is off your specific topic, but I think you would be benefited by not inadvertently over-extending the use of your interrogative pronoun.

If you are considering a range of known or unknown options / alternatives, and want to choose one of them, then you might consider using "ποῖος;" It agrees as an adjective does.
Luke 24:17-19 (Conversation on the Road to Emmaus) wrote:Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς, Τίνες οἱ λόγοι οὗτοι οὓς ἀντιβάλλετε πρὸς ἀλλήλους περιπατοῦντες, καί ἐστε σκυθρωποί; 18 Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ εἷς , ᾧ ὄνομα Κλεοπᾶς, εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν, Σὺ μόνος παροικεῖς Ἱερουσαλήμ, καὶ οὐκ ἔγνως τὰ γενόμενα ἐν αὐτῇ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ταύταις; 19 Καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς , Ποῖα ; Οἱ δὲ εἶπον αὐτῷ, Τὰ περὶ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ Ναζωραίου, ὃς ἐγένετο ἀνὴρ προφήτης δυνατὸς ἐν ἔργῳ καὶ λόγῳ ἐναντίον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ παντὸς τοῦ λαοῦ·
Unspecified - ask for specification - specification
Matthew 22:35-36 wrote:Καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν νομικός, πειράζων αὐτόν, καὶ λέγων, 36 Διδάσκαλε, ποία ἐντολὴ μεγάλη ἐν τῷ νόμῳ;
A known body of law - ask for specification - the answer in the following verses (not quoted).
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Use of the interrogative pronoun

Post by Jonathan Robie » August 10th, 2015, 9:23 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:This is off your specific topic, but I think you would be benefited by not inadvertently over-extending the use of your interrogative pronoun.
If I'm misusing the interrogative pronoun, that's on topic, but this thread is mostly for how the interrogative pronoun is used.
Stephen Hughes wrote:If you are considering a range of known or unknown options / alternatives, and want to choose one of them, then you might consider using "ποῖος;" It agrees as an adjective does.
Luke 24:17-19 (Conversation on the Road to Emmaus) wrote:Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς, Τίνες οἱ λόγοι οὗτοι οὓς ἀντιβάλλετε πρὸς ἀλλήλους περιπατοῦντες, καί ἐστε σκυθρωποί; 18 Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ εἷς , ᾧ ὄνομα Κλεοπᾶς, εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν, Σὺ μόνος παροικεῖς Ἱερουσαλήμ, καὶ οὐκ ἔγνως τὰ γενόμενα ἐν αὐτῇ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ταύταις; 19 Καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς , Ποῖα ; Οἱ δὲ εἶπον αὐτῷ, Τὰ περὶ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ Ναζωραίου, ὃς ἐγένετο ἀνὴρ προφήτης δυνατὸς ἐν ἔργῳ καὶ λόγῳ ἐναντίον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ παντὸς τοῦ λαοῦ·
Unspecified - ask for specification - specification
Matthew 22:35-36 wrote:Καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν νομικός, πειράζων αὐτόν, καὶ λέγων, 36 Διδάσκαλε, ποία ἐντολὴ μεγάλη ἐν τῷ νόμῳ;
A known body of law - ask for specification - the answer in the following verses (not quoted).
BDAG indicates that this usage is equivalent to τίς (=τίς), citing both of these verses as examples.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Use of the interrogative pronoun

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 10th, 2015, 11:13 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:BDAG indicates that this usage is equivalent to τίς (=τίς), citing both of these verses as examples.
I don't know much about grammar, but it seems that at a level where the "which?", "what?" of the one is the same "which?", "what?" of the other in translation, then you could easily hold that it is equivalent. As for any other grammatical equivalences, if you wanted to go to a deeper level of usage patterns in the Greek, then you need to go beyond very limited statements in dictionaries.

In the historical development of the colloquial language, τίς was "replaced" by ποῖος, but I don't think that what we see in these examples or in other places (listed in LSJ for example) are early examples of that later development. Modern Greek uses τί widely as an indeclinable question word, (but not τίς).

I think that to understand them as different, we might find ourselves looking at the discourse function(s) of the two, rather than the translational equivalents.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Use of the interrogative pronoun

Post by Jonathan Robie » August 11th, 2015, 11:08 am

Most constructions that ask the question "why" seem to do so using the interrogative pronoun. Here are the ways I see to ask "why" in the New Testament, sorted in order of frequency. Are there shades of meaning or discourse functions that distinguish these constructs? Are there other important ways of asking "why" that I missed, with or without the interrogative pronoun?

34 times τί οὖν, e.g.
Matthew 19:7 wrote:Τί οὖν Μωϋσῆς ἐνετείλατο δοῦναι βιβλίον ἀποστασίου καὶ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν;
25 times διὰ τί, e.g.
Matthew 9:11 wrote:Διὰ τί μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐσθίει ὁ διδάσκαλος ὑμῶν;
6 times ἱνατί, e.g.
Matthew 9:4 wrote:Ἱνατί ἐνθυμεῖσθε πονηρὰ ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν;
6 times εἰς τί, e.g.
Matthew 14:31 wrote:Ὀλιγόπιστε, εἰς τί ἐδίστασας;
3 times τί ὅτι, e.g.
Luke 2:49 wrote:Τί ὅτι ἐζητεῖτέ με; οὐκ ᾔδειτε ὅτι ἐν τοῖς τοῦ πατρός μου δεῖ εἶναί με;
(The above search also found several false positives, which I am not counting.)

1 time χάριν τίνος:
1 John 3:12 wrote:καὶ χάριν τίνος ἔσφαξεν αὐτόν; ὅτι τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ πονηρὰ ἦν, τὰ δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ δίκαια.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Stephen Hughes
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Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Use of the interrogative pronoun

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 11th, 2015, 12:24 pm

Should an English word have words to express its meaning in Greek? Outside of a diglossy that's a forced relationship.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Use of the interrogative pronoun

Post by Jonathan Robie » August 11th, 2015, 12:39 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:Should an English word have words to express its meaning in Greek? Outside of a diglossy that's a forced relationship.
Feel free to characterize these constructs without any English word, if you find that helpful. I'm trying to explore the meaning in actual texts, not to force fit them to an English gloss. If you feel they should not be bunched together, please help me understand the distinctions you make between the various constructs.

Incidentally, I just tried Googling for this set of search terms: "τί οὖν" "διὰ τί" ἱνατί "εἰς τί" "τί ὅτι" "χάριν τίνος", on Google Scholar and on the web as a whole, and found nothing useful. Sigh.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Stephen Hughes
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Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Use of the interrogative pronoun

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 11th, 2015, 12:46 pm

The shades of "why?" is a vexing issue.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

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