Particle Consistency

Alan Bunning
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Particle Consistency

Post by Alan Bunning » May 19th, 2016, 9:05 am

In the last episode, I was working on the word division issue and decided to use the lazy man approach where I only focus on the words that were divided differently in the modern texts. So now I am trying to see if there is any rhyme or reason as to how particles are treated.

With γε, for example, NA28 (along with most modern texts) has αρα γε, ει γε, μη γε, and μητι γε as two words, but then καιτοιγε and μενουνγε as one word. Bauer, however, says it could alternatively be καιτοι γε and μενουν γε. So then perhaps γε could consistently be detached in all cases. But then particles like περ and τοι always seems to be attached no matter what. Can you explain why?

Likewise, μεν often stands alone as one word, but is sometimes combined with other words. For example, μεν ουν is always two words, but if γε is added, then it becomes μενουν γε (or maybe μενουνγε). Is there some rule for this (maybe having something to do with accent)?

Also, μη πωσ is always two words (but Bauer says it could be one), while μηποτε is always one word (but Bauer has a reference to it being separated that I don’t have). I was wondering if μη might also be detachable. It seems like μηδε could be separated without a change in meaning, but yet it is always one word. Again, is there a rule for this?
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Alan Bunning
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Re: Particle Consistency

Post by Alan Bunning » May 23rd, 2016, 9:19 am

It doesn’t look like anybody is going to be able to answer the questions I posed. This forum and my Greek teacher are the closest things to experts that I have. I have read Funk, Blass, Robertson, and Bauer on this issue which didn’t really answer my questions either. Those guys are all dead, but I got to wondering who today is in the same class as a Funk, Blass, Robertson, or Bauer?
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Particle Consistency

Post by Stephen Hughes » May 23rd, 2016, 10:11 am

I think you're looking for a signal in the white noise.

I imagine two possiblities. First, there were secret rules known only to experts, that were not written down, and are now lost. The second is that the ability to use digital technology has found in inconsistency in what was never thought of as bring able to or needing to be consistent or logical.

I hold to the second of those two imagined scenarios.

If, as I think, decisions were made rather than rules followed, we can wonder why a particular decision or other was made to get to the text we have, rather than look for what rule was followed by those editors at that (modern) time.

I think it is right to ask the opinion of scholars of calibre in situations like this, where rules haven't reached what is happening.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

cwconrad
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Re: Particle Consistency

Post by cwconrad » May 23rd, 2016, 10:23 am

Alan Bunning wrote:It doesn’t look like anybody is going to be able to answer the questions I posed. This forum and my Greek teacher are the closest things to experts that I have. I have read Funk, Blass, Robertson, and Bauer on this issue which didn’t really answer my questions either. Those guys are all dead, but I got to wondering who today is in the same class as a Funk, Blass, Robertson, or Bauer?
Twenty years ago while Bob Funk still lived, he gathered together a committee of several scholars in the Greek of the era to compile a new grammar of Hellenistic Greek; the project got under way but the project died, primarily, I believe, for lack of solid funding. Funk died; Daryl Schmidt, who chaired the project, also died. While there are several respected scholars in the field of Hellenistic Greek, I don't think there's any real consensus on the issues on which you would like definitive answers. It is not as if there were not a lot of careful study and creative thought being given to the issues, but for the time being, it would appear, we are going to have to continue to rely upon outdated "authorities."
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Particle Consistency

Post by Stephen Hughes » May 23rd, 2016, 11:47 am

Do you need consistency for your project to go ahead? If yes, make a rule, state it is an unfounded assumption, or an executive decision because a decision needed to be taken, and let others correct you or the project as knowledge comes to hand.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Particle Consistency

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 23rd, 2016, 12:45 pm

cwconrad wrote:
Alan Bunning wrote:It doesn’t look like anybody is going to be able to answer the questions I posed. This forum and my Greek teacher are the closest things to experts that I have. I have read Funk, Blass, Robertson, and Bauer on this issue which didn’t really answer my questions either. Those guys are all dead, but I got to wondering who today is in the same class as a Funk, Blass, Robertson, or Bauer?
Twenty years ago while Bob Funk still lived, he gathered together a committee of several scholars in the Greek of the era to compile a new grammar of Hellenistic Greek; the project got under way but the project died, primarily, I believe, for lack of solid funding. Funk died; Daryl Schmidt, who chaired the project, also died. While there are several respected scholars in the field of Hellenistic Greek, I don't think there's any real consensus on the issues on which you would like definitive answers. It is not as if there were not a lot of careful study and creative thought being given to the issues, but for the time being, it would appear, we are going to have to continue to rely upon outdated "authorities."
I also think you are asking for a clear definition of what a word is, and the criteria for deciding how to divide words, when there is more than one reasonable answer. You could rely on a given authority, or decide on a set of criteria for your own decision, or decide in a variety of ways, but I doubt that there is only one answer.
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Alan Bunning
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Re: Particle Consistency

Post by Alan Bunning » May 23rd, 2016, 3:11 pm

Here I stand at a threshold and I see 3 paths going forward:

1. Leave it the way I have it, close my eyes to what looks horribly arbitrary, and move on.

2. Try to tweak what I have a little bit. This is what I keep thinking I am doing, but every time I pull on one little thread, the whole thing unravels. For example, I thought I would just separate γε, but then I would be left with μενουν instead of μεν ουν in just a few places so I should probably separate them. But then μεν has been attached to a few things so I should check to see if it should be separated from them as well. And then what about περ and τοι? Anyway, with this approach I just keep thrashing and thrashing without making any progress. I thought I might find some consistency after I studied all the words that come before δε, γαρ, and ουν, but that only complicated matters greatly. I can’t remember where I read it (maybe Blass or Robertson), but someone said that WH just decided to run them all the particles together which may have set a precedent.

3. Separate all of the particles as long as there is no loss of meaning. I have not looked at all 100 or so words, but most of the ones I have looked at apparently could be separated without a problem. Studying this issue in its entirety would take a great deal of time, and might be all I could get done this summer. And then actually separating the words is no trivial matter since they are already in a database and tied to a lexical entry. (But then again, if I decided to separate them later it will be even hard still after the morphological parsing is completed.) It will already take too long to separate them manually, so I would have to write yet another program. And then the results would look different than all other Greek texts which might be too revolutionary for some. It would not affect the lexicon itself, however, since all of those words already have separate lexical entries. The idealist in me clearly thinks that this the right thing to do. If it is an arbitrary mess, I don’t want to perpetuate an arbitrary mess. Yet, I really don’t want to do all that work and then be out in left field.

I am obviously torn. I keep telling myself to go with option 1, but then keep thinking I can get away with option 2, and then it all unravels and I am faced with option 3 which I really don’t want to do. And around and around it goes. I was hoping that if some authority could give me a rational set of rules, I would do that, but that did not get me anywhere either. I like to follow the experts, but in this case I didn’t want to have to be the expert. The only advice I have really gotten so far is to do whatever I want and I don’t like that either. Surely there is a rational way to precede, but it has eluded me so far.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Particle Consistency

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 23rd, 2016, 3:31 pm

You describe it well. I don't know how to help.
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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: Particle Consistency

Post by Stephen Hughes » May 23rd, 2016, 8:06 pm

If you are going to work through the examples, if we've estanlished there are no simple formulae to apply, you may like to consider negative and positive senses. They way I, personally, deal with μενουν(γε) is by making interpretive choices about whether the sense is positive or negative. If μενουν is negative, then μενουν γε is negative too and μενουνγε is positive, but if conversely μενουν is positive, then μενουνγε is negative. The syntax in which they are used is grammatically either positive or negative to boot. If there is a place where the sense is contrary to the presence or absence of negative particles, the negation might come from the μενουν to which γε is added for emphasis, or for the μενουνγε. There seems no way to establish which is which. So lump them and leave it to interpretation.

Then there is a question of time period of the language. Was γε used freely at this period of the language? No. So, it is in seperable from these units of speech, so the former negative / positive distinction doesn't have any relevance.

Is τοι used at this period of the language as a free constituent in the syntax of sentences? No, not in the way it was in former times. So then, don't separate it.

Μεν and ουν are able to stand freely in this period, so perhaps they can be written separately, but γε is not, so μενουνγε can not be separated.

There are no simple answers in any of these cases.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Particle Consistency

Post by Stephen Carlson » May 23rd, 2016, 10:07 pm

Alan Bunning wrote:It doesn’t look like anybody is going to be able to answer the questions I posed. This forum and my Greek teacher are the closest things to experts that I have. I have read Funk, Blass, Robertson, and Bauer on this issue which didn’t really answer my questions either. Those guys are all dead, but I got to wondering who today is in the same class as a Funk, Blass, Robertson, or Bauer?
Sometimes when you do a project that is out of the box, it's like turning over a rock no one has thought to move before and seeing disturbing things no one has really considered.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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