Legitimate word forms?

Alan Bunning
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Legitimate word forms?

Post by Alan Bunning » September 1st, 2018, 12:27 am

In working through the early NT manuscripts, there are a number of word forms that are repeated, often by more than one different scribe, but are not found in any lexicon. My question is, how many times does a word need to appear before it gets to be considered a legitimate word form? For example,

εκχθρουσ (02, 05, 032) for εχθρουσ
μετοξυ (P66, 01, 02) for μεταξυ
εσιν (01, 02, 03) for εισιν (and it occurs at least 6 times)

There are several more cases like that, and then there are cases where one scribe continually reuses a word such as 05 which uses αποκρεισ three different times instead of αποκριθεισ (thus it was not just a single slip of the pen). Should that merit consideration as a new word form?

And then there is σαρκαν which appears in P66 twice and 05 once as an accusative form, which would imply the alternative declension σαρκα, η, -ας instead of σαρξ, η, -κος.

In school, my English teacher said that a new word needs to appear in print at least twice before it gets the privilege of being considered a newly coined word. So with that in mind, should I consider the examples above as being valid word forms?

And then where should I draw the line between considering a word to be a scribal error vs. a legitimate form? I noticed that there are a zillion times (well, maybe about 30) where a word could be explained by an alternative undocumented declension like with σαρκαν, but unlike σαρκαν it only appears once. Should I list the word with the alternative declension pattern, or should I consider it a scribal error where the scribe clearly neglected to consult his copies of BDAG and LSJ? :-)
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RandallButh
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Re: Legitimate word forms?

Post by RandallButh » September 1st, 2018, 4:01 am

Perspective of the wider language and the history of the language is needed to make good judgement calls.

ΕΣΙΝ? I don't think so. It is easy to leave off an [ι] but then again, there may have been a sub-dialect with ΕΣΙΝ. Still ΕΣΙΝ also sounds close to ΕΣΤΙΝ.
ΕΚΧΘΡΟΥΣ? I don't think so. Just scribal.

ΜΕΤΟΞΥ? Probably not, and looks like a scribe has joined μετα/μετ- with οξυς in his inner ear.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Legitimate word forms?

Post by Jonathan Robie » September 1st, 2018, 7:27 am

RandallButh wrote:
September 1st, 2018, 4:01 am
Perspective of the wider language and the history of the language is needed to make good judgement calls.
I think that's why he is posting here. I like your responses.

It's an interesting question, isn't it?
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Alan Bunning
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Re: Legitimate word forms?

Post by Alan Bunning » September 1st, 2018, 8:06 am

RandallButh wrote:
September 1st, 2018, 4:01 am
Perspective of the wider language and the history of the language is needed to make good judgement calls.

ΕΣΙΝ? I don't think so. It is easy to leave off an [ι] but then again, there may have been a sub-dialect with ΕΣΙΝ. Still ΕΣΙΝ also sounds close to ΕΣΤΙΝ.
ΕΚΧΘΡΟΥΣ? I don't think so. Just scribal.

ΜΕΤΟΞΥ? Probably not, and looks like a scribe has joined μετα/μετ- with οξυς in his inner ear.
Obviously, I already thought of all of that and have wrestled with it, which is why I am asking the question. I doubt your doubts, because multiple scribes wrote them and did not correct their “mistakes”, and in most cases, neither did any of the many subsequent hands which also did not bother to “correct” them. I only gave these 3 examples, but there are many more examples. In some cases, I have googled the word and found other ancient authors using them as well, even though BDAG and LSJ have no such entries. That is why I am asking the generic question.
Last edited by Alan Bunning on September 1st, 2018, 8:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RandallButh
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Re: Legitimate word forms?

Post by RandallButh » September 1st, 2018, 10:54 am

If you want more info consider
Εκχθρους

It may be from a scribe in an area where the historical process of fricativkzation was not complete and both were still heard
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Alan Bunning
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Re: Legitimate word forms?

Post by Alan Bunning » September 1st, 2018, 10:58 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:
September 1st, 2018, 7:27 am
It's an interesting question, isn't it?
Based on Buth’s response, another way to look at it would be, how often does a common scribal error have to be repeated before it is considered an acceptable form. For example, “ain’t” was never considered to be correct English, but because its usage persisted, it was eventually given its own entry in modern dictionaries. And now more and more people are “axing” questions (I suppose that’s how it would be spelled) instead of “asking” questions. So should that be acknowledged as a valid word form because it is colloquial? If we saw it in someone’s writings, we would understand its meaning, even though it is incorrect. We would consider it to be a grammatical error, but not a scribal typo.
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RandallButh
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Re: Legitimate word forms?

Post by RandallButh » September 2nd, 2018, 12:15 am

In order to deal with the question a person must think PHONOLOGICALLY. What is the underlying sound system and how do sound systems change? Then, any change can be tracked in a trajectory, when and where did it arise and where did it lead?

For example, mishanaic Hebrww appears to have had a lowering of short vowels, where [ i ] merged with [ε] and [ u ] with [o]. Such a phenomenon could have occurred in an Egyptian dialect of Greek. One would expect it AFTER length was leveled in the system and one would look for broader systemic effects. What other words show the sound change? Then when the sound change is documented it must be fit in with parallel currents where the sound change did not occur and the historical outcome(s) must be explained. For example, we know that a sound change took place early, 3rdC BCE of ει [e] to [ i ]. We also know the broad historical outcome has [ i ]. So for εισιν [isin] to [εsin] one looks for systemic parallel in other words and in other parts of the phonological system. It is a lot of work and mostly below the radar of "meaning" in the language. Bubenik did something like that un a study of the east Aegean. The simplest overview of scholarship in this area is Horrocks' Greek, History of the Language and its People.
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Ken M. Penner
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Re: Legitimate word forms?

Post by Ken M. Penner » September 4th, 2018, 4:52 pm

RandallButh wrote:
September 2nd, 2018, 12:15 am
a person must think PHONOLOGICALLY
This is a point that bears repeating. It's most helpful to think of language as sound. It is only secondarily represented visually with letters. I'm a little embarrassed to say it took me so long to really realize this, after wrestling with orthography in Qumran Hebrew and scribe B in Codex Sinaiticus. It wasn't until I went back to reading basic linguistics that it came together. Some scribes were simply more familiar with spelling conventions than others.
Legitimacy isn't possible without an accepted authority, and the ancient world didn't have that for spelling. They didn't have dictionaries to consult. They weren't as interested in writing correct/proper/legitimate Greek as in making themselves understood.
It's helpful to think of the letters as a way of recording sounds. If someone spoke the sound μετοξυ, the hearer would have no trouble recognizing the word as the one usually written μεταξυ. And there's no question what σαρκαν means.
So I agree that these aren't new "words" or declensions. I'd guess that the English teacher who required words to appear in print in order to be legitimate was not linguistically trained.
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Ken M. Penner
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MAubrey
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Re: Legitimate word forms?

Post by MAubrey » September 4th, 2018, 7:30 pm

Ken M. Penner wrote:
September 4th, 2018, 4:52 pm
RandallButh wrote:
September 2nd, 2018, 12:15 am
a person must think PHONOLOGICALLY
This is a point that bears repeating.
Over and over and over again.
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Mike Aubrey, Linguist
Koine-Greek.com

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Legitimate word forms?

Post by Stephen Carlson » September 4th, 2018, 8:43 pm

MAubrey wrote:
September 4th, 2018, 7:30 pm
Ken M. Penner wrote:
September 4th, 2018, 4:52 pm
RandallButh wrote:
September 2nd, 2018, 12:15 am
a person must think PHONOLOGICALLY
This is a point that bears repeating.
Over and over and over again.
I'd like to echo that.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

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