Listing verbs in infinitive form

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.
Alan Bunning
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Listing verbs in infinitive form

Post by Alan Bunning » December 12th, 2016, 8:08 pm

I know that using the infinitive forms for verbs as lexical entries has been discussed before and I agree that it has merit in theory. But what I really want to know is how useful do you think it will be in practice? BDAG, Thayer, Strongs, etc. all show the 1st person singular form, and every curriculum I am familiar with seems to works off that basis as well. I am wondering if that system is so well entrenched that it’s not worth changing. Would it cause more confusion for students would to see verbs listed one way in the curriculum and yet another way in the lexicon? So for those of you actually teach Greek using some curriculum, do you think having the verbs listed in infinitive form would be an improvement that you would actually use?
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Listing verbs in infinitive form

Post by Stephen Hughes » December 13th, 2016, 12:37 am

Is "user preferences" tick-boxes part of your design plan?
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RandallButh
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Re: Listing verbs in infinitive form

Post by RandallButh » December 13th, 2016, 4:47 am

Alan Bunning wrote:I know that using the infinitive forms for verbs as lexical entries has been discussed before and I agree that it has merit in theory. But what I really want to know is how useful do you think it will be in practice? BDAG, Thayer, Strongs, etc. all show the 1st person singular form, and every curriculum I am familiar with seems to works off that basis as well. I am wondering if that system is so well entrenched that it’s not worth changing. Would it cause more confusion for students would to see verbs listed one way in the curriculum and yet another way in the lexicon? So for those of you actually teach Greek using some curriculum, do you think having the verbs listed in infinitive form would be an improvement that you would actually use?
I would always use real words for students. And personally, I prefer infinitives if they are being glossed as infinitives. If a lexicon uses the first person for the lemma, then gloss it correctly as ποιῶ I am doing.

(PS: the prevalence of first person lexical entries was probably augmented in history by the lack of the infinitive in Greek during the past millennium. Modern Greek does not have an infinitive verbal noun.
PSS: some reference works like Hatch Redpath Concordance did, in fact, chose the infinitive. And I would concur that it is a good choice, and I would argue for real infinitives like ποιεῖν rather than artificial uncontracted infinitives. In fact I like students to see both the continuative and the aorist infinitives at the head of a lexical entry ποιῆσαι ποιεῖν.)
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Alan Bunning
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Re: Listing verbs in infinitive form

Post by Alan Bunning » December 13th, 2016, 9:25 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:Is "user preferences" tick-boxes part of your design plan?
I don't have any plans like that yet, but regardless of what is made available online, I still plan on having a printed version and so considerations are made for that format as well.
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Alan Bunning
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Re: Listing verbs in infinitive form

Post by Alan Bunning » December 13th, 2016, 9:33 am

RandallButh wrote:
Alan Bunning wrote:I know that using the infinitive forms for verbs as lexical entries has been discussed before and I agree that it has merit in theory. But what I really want to know is how useful do you think it will be in practice? BDAG, Thayer, Strongs, etc. all show the 1st person singular form, and every curriculum I am familiar with seems to works off that basis as well. I am wondering if that system is so well entrenched that it’s not worth changing. Would it cause more confusion for students would to see verbs listed one way in the curriculum and yet another way in the lexicon? So for those of you actually teach Greek using some curriculum, do you think having the verbs listed in infinitive form would be an improvement that you would actually use?
I would always use real words for students. And personally, I prefer infinitives if they are being glossed as infinitives. If a lexicon uses the first person for the lemma, then gloss it correctly as ποιῶ I am doing.

(PS: the prevalence of first person lexical entries was probably augmented in history by the lack of the infinitive in Greek during the past millennium. Modern Greek does not have an infinitive verbal noun.
PSS: some reference works like Hatch Redpath Concordance did, in fact, chose the infinitive. And I would concur that it is a good choice, and I would argue for real infinitives like ποιεῖν rather than artificial uncontracted infinitives. In fact I like students to see both the continuative and the aorist infinitives at the head of a lexical entry ποιῆσαι ποιεῖν.)
If an infinitive form never actually appeared in the wild, do you have a problem with using what the infinitive would have looked like as a headword?
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Listing verbs in infinitive form

Post by Stephen Hughes » December 13th, 2016, 12:32 pm

Alan Bunning wrote:If an infinitive form never actually appeared in the wild, do you have a problem with using what the infinitive would have looked like as a headword?
This concern can be raised about any form of the verb that is chosen.

One feature of the Koine is the relative regularity of its morphology as compared to a language that was limited to its own native speaker base, such as Lesbian. Seeing declensions as (regular) patterns leads us to speak of irregularities in declensions, but actually they are anomalies in terms of our abstraction, rather than those forms themselves being anomolous in the language. Because there are forms that the 'regular' patterns of the language don't adequately describe, then there is a possibility that the analogous forms (never seen 'in the wild' and) created for the dictionary, are in fact falicious.

Words that only occur in the plural may be listed under a singular lemma, with tge caveat 'only occurs in the plural', but at times that is a legacy of when Koine usage was presented in terms of comparison between it and classical usage. In other words, a word may have been used in the singular in Classical Greek, and listed as such in a classical dictionary, but in compiling a Koine era dictionary, the lemma is retained as singular, and an explanation is added.

A dictionary or word list that uses unattested forms has in somewise crossed over and become a grammar - having just the first line of the grammar table, so to speak.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Listing verbs in infinitive form

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 13th, 2016, 12:37 pm

Alan Bunning wrote:If an infinitive form never actually appeared in the wild, do you have a problem with using what the infinitive would have looked like as a headword?
Is there a form that occurs in the wild for every single verb? If we restrict ourselves to the New Testament and LXX, I think the answer is no. So we have to pick some form that does not occur in the wild for some verbs.

All design is optimization, so let's think about what we're trying to optimize. Ideally, a lexicon should make it easy for me to find words that occur "in the wild", at various levels of skill in Greek. It should also provide me enough information to allow me to actually use that verb actively in writing and speech, and recognize the verb as it appears in other forms. I need more than just a definition.

If I get to the lexicon via a hyperlink, locating the word is simple. If I am using a paper lexicon, and I encounter the word ποιῶ, I go looking for it in the lexicon and there's no entry where I expect to find it, because it is listed as ποιέω, a form that never occurs in our literature. If the lexicon used present infinitives, it would be listed as ποιεῖν, which is a real word that has more regular morphology, but it also occurs in an unexpected place. So if I don't know enough about the verb to realize it is a contract verb, I'm hosed. And if it is a contract verb, I have to know the contract vowel before I know where to look for it. I think that means that a paper lexicon should probably provide cross references to help beginners who are looking for words in the wrong place.

Once I've found the verb, I want to know enough information to use that verb in class. That means I would like at least the list of principal parts and any irregular forms that I need to be aware of for that verb. The goal should be not only to locate a definition of the verb that I ran into, but to make me an educated user of the verb.
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RandallButh
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Re: Listing verbs in infinitive form

Post by RandallButh » December 14th, 2016, 4:17 am

Alan Bunning wrote:
RandallButh wrote: ...

I would always use real words for students. And personally, I prefer infinitives if they are being glossed as infinitives. If a lexicon uses the first person for the lemma, then gloss it correctly as ποιῶ I am doing.

(PS: the prevalence of first person lexical entries was probably augmented in history by the lack of the infinitive in Greek during the past millennium. Modern Greek does not have an infinitive verbal noun.
PSS: some reference works like Hatch Redpath Concordance did, in fact, chose the infinitive. And I would concur that it is a good choice, and I would argue for real infinitives like ποιεῖν rather than artificial uncontracted infinitives. In fact I like students to see both the continuative and the aorist infinitives at the head of a lexical entry ποιῆσαι ποιεῖν.)
If an infinitive form never actually appeared in the wild, do you have a problem with using what the infinitive would have looked like as a headword?
I have no problem with extrapolating real forms of real words, even if they are not attested in a particular corpus, as long as we have reasonably stabile knowledge about what the form would have been. We want to represent the language of the users in the Koine period and they certainly were not limited to a particular corpus when talking to each other.

In the rare event that we do not know what the form would have been, then I would recommend a "?" mark with our best guess, or perhaps leave a blank. For example, what forms would one recommend as most basic for the past and present tenses of "to fly"? In A Greek Morphology, Verbs and Nouns for Koine Greek, on page 100 we list "πτῆναι/(small print) πτάσθαι? to fly, πέτεσθαι to be flying", and in the section on that page for the aorist: ἔπτην, ἔπτης, ἔπτη, ἔπτημεν, ἔπτητε, ἔπτησαν but in the same column in smaller print έπτάμην, ἐπτῶ?, ἔπτατο, ἐπτάμεθα, ἔπτασθε, ἔπταντο. But in the English-Greek index on page 3 where English verbs are glossed with two Greek infiinitives, we list " fly πτῆναι πέτεσθαι".
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Paul-Nitz
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Re: Listing verbs in infinitive form

Post by Paul-Nitz » December 15th, 2016, 10:08 am

Alan,
Seems to me you have to choose what's best for print or what's best for digital, not both.
If the lexicon is digital, is there any big obstacle to a user being able to enter ANY form and reach the entry?
If that is possible, then I would certainly be in favor of the Infinitive being the headword for an entry. We had a discussion on B-Greek about whether to use the Present (παρατατική!) infinitive versus the Aorist. I think the consensus came down on the Aorist Infinitive. That is what Buth uses in his morphology book (link below) and it works for me.
https://www.biblicallanguagecenter.com/ ... orphology/
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Alan Bunning
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Re: Listing verbs in infinitive form

Post by Alan Bunning » December 15th, 2016, 11:29 am

Paul-Nitz wrote:Seems to me you have to choose what's best for print or what's best for digital, not both.
If the lexicon is digital, is there any big obstacle to a user being able to enter ANY form and reach the entry?
Well, digital is easy because there can be links from anything to anything, so really the consideration here is what to do with the print version. Obviously there will be "see entries", but some form still needs to be listed as the main headword.
Paul-Nitz wrote:We had a discussion on B-Greek about whether to use the Present (παρατατική!) infinitive versus the Aorist. I think the consensus came down on the Aorist Infinitive. That is what Buth uses in his morphology book (link below) and it works for me.
https://www.biblicallanguagecenter.com/ ... orphology/
I was leaning towards using the present infinitives as headwords because students may have trouble finding the entry when the aorist is irregular. Then again, the aorist infinitive seems to be more representative of the base form for the principal parts. In either case, there could still be those those "see entries".
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