Acts 21:21 Counterintuitive complexity - διδάσκειν + 2 acc.

Stephen Hughes
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Acts 21:21 Counterintuitive complexity - διδάσκειν + 2 acc.

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 6th, 2016, 12:40 am

I find it counterintuitive that the most complex ("complex" in the sense of "dense and difficult / demanding to understand", rather than "elaborate involving subordinate structures") syntax with διδάσκειν presents itself in piece of spoken Greek rather than "literary" (composed) Greek. Here there are two nominal (as opposed to pronominal accusatives) together - both person(s) taught and what was taught, rather than devolving the difficulty of understanding the compactness of this syntactical structure into a longer and more clearly marked (Ὅτι or infinitive) subordinate structure by verbalising the ἀποστασίαν, in which the components would be more easily recognisable.

The two things that I notice about the construction is (1) the frontage of the ἀποστασίαν - the accusative of what is taught (presumably to separate it as much as possible from the other accusative), and (2) that the subordinating structures commonly used with verbs of speaking - ὅτι and infinitive - are used elsewhere in the immediate context.

Does anybody have any thoughts or explanation for this syntax? Is the complexity possible in speech because of the control of the voice that is possible with the viva voce that is not possible with writing? Was this complexity the last resort? Is it a mark of high register or the best style?
Acts 21:21 wrote:κατηχήθησαν δὲ περὶ σοῦ, ὅτι ἀποστασίαν διδάσκεις ἀπὸ Μωϋσέως τοὺς κατὰ τὰ ἔθνη πάντας Ἰουδαίους, λέγων μὴ περιτέμνειν αὐτοὺς τὰ τέκνα, μηδὲ τοῖς ἔθεσιν περιπατεῖν.
More simply, and more how I would expect διδάσκειν to be used with two accusatives at a conversational level, John does use two accusatives together, but one of them is one of the weakest (least taxing to understand, i.e. either the 1st or 2nd person) pronouns for the object of the person(s) (not a great long and involved τοὺς κατὰ τὰ ἔθνη πάντας Ἰουδαίους) together with a very general (non specific - not requiring a lot of thought) object of the content of what is taught (not a very specific ἀποστασίαν ... ἀπὸ Μωϋσέως).
John 14:26 wrote:Ὁ δὲ παράκλητος, τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, ὃ πέμψει ὁ πατὴρ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου, ἐκεῖνος ὑμᾶς διδάξει πάντα, καὶ ὑπομνήσει ὑμᾶς πάντα ἃ εἶπον ὑμῖν.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Acts 21:21 Counterintuitive complexity - διδάσκειν + 2 a

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 9th, 2016, 12:21 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:Does anybody have any thoughts or explanation for this syntax? Is the complexity possible in speech because of the control of the voice that is possible with the viva voce that is not possible with writing? Was this complexity the last resort? Is it a mark of high register or the best style?
No, it's the opposite. The use of full nominal phrases in all argument positions is expected to be seen much more in writing rather than in speech. Wallace Chafe has a lot to say about this.

I'm sure, however, that as this text is read aloud, a good lector will intone the text to make it as comprehensible as possible to audiences, but this is not to be seen as a hallmark of orality. Rather, oral communication takes advantage of distributing such complexity over different intonation units and using pronouns and other functional devices to link them together.

Also, there's nothing special about two accusatives with διδάσκειν: that's just one of its usual argument frames.
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Acts 21:21 Counterintuitive complexity - διδάσκειν + 2 a

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 10th, 2016, 12:01 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:[T]here's nothing special about two accusatives with διδάσκειν: that's just one of its usual argument frames.
Is there an index of "argument frames"? Has somebody made a list of verbs taking two accusatives (other than as the subject of an infinitive)?
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Re: Acts 21:21 Counterintuitive complexity - διδάσκειν + 2 a

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 10th, 2016, 9:22 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:[T]here's nothing special about two accusatives with διδάσκειν: that's just one of its usual argument frames.
Is there an index of "argument frames"? Has somebody made a list of verbs taking two accusatives (other than as the subject of an infinitive)?
I'm sure Paul Dannove has done something on this. That's his schtick.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Acts 21:21 Counterintuitive complexity - διδάσκειν + 2 a

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 10th, 2016, 9:42 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:[T]here's nothing special about two accusatives with διδάσκειν: that's just one of its usual argument frames.
Is there an index of "argument frames"? Has somebody made a list of verbs taking two accusatives (other than as the subject of an infinitive)?
I'm sure Paul Dannove has done something on this. That's his schtick.
My comment was going to be "I'm sure somebody has..." However, most of us learn the construction early on, and learn to recognize it from context when we see it. The double accusative or internal accusative or predicate accusative is a thing in Greek, and usually gets covered in beginning grammars at some point. And yes, I've seen all that terminology. But now I can add "argument frames..." to my buzz word list... :D
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Re: Acts 21:21 Counterintuitive complexity - διδάσκειν + 2 a

Post by cwconrad » July 10th, 2016, 10:53 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:[T]here's nothing special about two accusatives with διδάσκειν: that's just one of its usual argument frames.
Is there an index of "argument frames"? Has somebody made a list of verbs taking two accusatives (other than as the subject of an infinitive)?
I'm sure Paul Dannove has done something on this. That's his schtick.
Barry Hofstetter wrote:My comment was going to be "I'm sure somebody has..." However, most of us learn the construction early on, and learn to recognize it from context when we see it. The double accusative or internal accusative or predicate accusative is a thing in Greek, and usually gets covered in beginning grammars at some point. And yes, I've seen all that terminology. But now I can add "argument frames..." to my buzz word list... :D
a.k.a. "lingui-shticks" :oops:
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Acts 21:21 Counterintuitive complexity - διδάσκειν + 2 a

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 11th, 2016, 2:32 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:[M]ost of us learn the construction early on, and learn to recognize it from context when we see it. The double accusative or internal accusative or predicate accusative is a thing in Greek, and usually gets covered in beginning grammars at some point.
My reading speed slows right down to logical analysis when I hit come across verbs with double accusatives. To me that suggests that I am relying on the other indicators (prepostions and subordinated clauses) in the text, other than the accusative case, to mark multiple objects. Isolating a large group of examples and practicing on them might help that.

As a general question; Has anyone approached writing a introductory grammar based on the syntactic structures of language, rather than the accidence?
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Re: Acts 21:21 Counterintuitive complexity - διδάσκειν + 2 a

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 12th, 2016, 6:41 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
Barry Hofstetter wrote:[M]ost of us learn the construction early on, and learn to recognize it from context when we see it. The double accusative or internal accusative or predicate accusative is a thing in Greek, and usually gets covered in beginning grammars at some point.
My reading speed slows right down to logical analysis when I hit come across verbs with double accusatives. To me that suggests that I am relying on the other indicators (prepostions and subordinated clauses) in the text, other than the accusative case, to mark multiple objects. Isolating a large group of examples and practicing on them might help that.

As a general question; Has anyone approached writing a introductory grammar based on the syntactic structures of language, rather than the accidence?
One should not ignore morphology, since morphology in ancient Greek is a big part of the syntax. With an inflected language, you have to be ready to bend a little... :lol:
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Re: Acts 21:21 Counterintuitive complexity - διδάσκειν + 2 a

Post by cwconrad » July 12th, 2016, 8:00 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:One should not ignore morphology, since morphology in ancient Greek is a big part of the syntax. With an inflected language, you have to be ready to bend a little... :lol:
To underscore the point (I'm not sure what the emoji is for that, but I suspect it likes like an Egyptian hieroglyph), this is what I call "rightly dividing the word of truth." I realize that's not original, but sometimes (not always) I think they wrote better English in the 17th century.
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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: Acts 21:21 Counterintuitive complexity - διδάσκειν + 2 a

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 13th, 2016, 1:32 am

cwconrad wrote:
Barry Hofstetter wrote:One should not ignore morphology, since morphology in ancient Greek is a big part of the syntax. With an inflected language, you have to be ready to bend a little... :lol:
To underscore the point (I'm not sure what the emoji is for that, but I suspect it likes like an Egyptian hieroglyph), this is what I call "rightly dividing the word of truth." I realize that's not original, but sometimes (not always) I think they wrote better English in the 17th century.
While what I'm about to say my not be applicable to what all beginners experienced, the points could be taken as indicative (perhaps I need to use the word indicatory in this just "such a jocund company") - bending language through the choice of various associations and which emotions is it seems a desirable skill when discussing things on this forum, and something that in some ways enlivens the discussion through the individual displays of learnedness; tandem strutting within this antiphonal system of quotes and counter-quotes.

The praise of heroes said, let's raise an ἐλελελεῦ, and get down to the business at hand. My point is not about an absurd "ignore morphology", but a questioning of the order of acquisition inherent in aiming for a good command of morphology for all forms of the verb, all cases of the nominals before explaining syntactic structures. Aparently, there is a more "systematic" use of prompts in Koine Greek than there is in Classical Greek. It is not so much in the word order that makes "she", "He gived she the book." fully understandable, but in the other prompts that are given.

An obvious example is the subjunctive with ἵνα. It is formally subjunctive. There is no variation possible. Another type of formality is the use of constructions with verbs, which was the original topic of this thread. Reliance on the recognition of case is secondary in complex structures, while the διδάσκειν + 2 acc. which does rely more on case is very rare. The cross-dressing of the cases (if that word can be used with cases and not only genders) with the verb ἀκούειν might suggest that common sense had some part to play, and not just a mechanical application of case. At a higher level, in discourse, following the conversation (who is speaking to whom) is so much more clearly set out in the Gospels with these elaborate Καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς,-like structures, compared to Plato or Xenophon, (and at places) Matthew and Luke's use of ἔφη. By more clearly marking with structures, the burden of the cases is lightened.

Of course Greek is Greek and has case endings, and errors in small details can be quite noticable, but the path to mastery in a language is usually broad then narrow - general then detailed.
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