Trivia: Which Idiomatic expression is most difficult?

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Trivia: Which Idiomatic expression is most difficult?

Post by Jonathan Robie » April 17th, 2016, 3:22 pm

cwconrad wrote:I'm going to have to chime in with SH on this one. The whole phase here -- τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι; -- has always seemed to me like one of those Sophoclean gems of diction that sparkle differently every time you cast an eye on them. Moreover, I tend to be suspicious of anything in John's gospel that looks too simple. I've seen many a discussion on the intonation and implication of "γύναι" and several discussions also of "τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί;" It's sort of like the ἄνωθεν of Jn 3:3,7. Shall we cry out, "Play it again, Sam"? and hope that we'll understand it better this time?
This just came up again in Sunday school today, and the commentaries I looked at were all over the map. This time, I found myself wondering: How formal is the vocative γύναι? How unusual is it to use the informal σοί with the moral formal γύναι in the same address? How similar is Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί to the modern English "what's it to you?"

How similar is γύναι to ma'am in modern English? Where I grew up, if I had said ma'am to my mother, that would have been smart mouthing. Where I now live, many children are taught to address their parents this way as a sign of respect. Did children commonly address their mothers as γύναι?

Mary does not respond directly to Jesus, but turns to the servants: λέγει ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ τοῖς διακόνοις· Ὅ τι ἂν λέγῃ ὑμῖν ποιήσατε. Does this imply that she was offended and taken aback, had no idea what to say, and was painting him into a corner?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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cwconrad
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Re: Trivia: Which Idiomatic expression is most difficult?

Post by cwconrad » April 17th, 2016, 4:07 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
cwconrad wrote:I'm going to have to chime in with SH on this one. The whole phase here -- τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι; -- has always seemed to me like one of those Sophoclean gems of diction that sparkle differently every time you cast an eye on them. Moreover, I tend to be suspicious of anything in John's gospel that looks too simple. I've seen many a discussion on the intonation and implication of "γύναι" and several discussions also of "τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί;" It's sort of like the ἄνωθεν of Jn 3:3,7. Shall we cry out, "Play it again, Sam"? and hope that we'll understand it better this time?
This just came up again in Sunday school today, and the commentaries I looked at were all over the map. This time, I found myself wondering: How formal is the vocative γύναι? How unusual is it to use the informal σοί with the moral formal γύναι in the same address? How similar is Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί to the modern English "what's it to you?"

How similar is γύναι to ma'am in modern English? Where I grew up, if I had said ma'am to my mother, that would have been smart mouthing. Where I now live, many children are taught to address their parents this way as a sign of respect. Did children commonly address their mothers as γύναι?

Mary does not respond directly to Jesus, but turns to the servants: λέγει ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ τοῖς διακόνοις· Ὅ τι ἂν λέγῃ ὑμῖν ποιήσατε. Does this imply that she was offended and taken aback, had no idea what to say, and was painting him into a corner?
I'm not going to hold my breath in expectation of a convincing answer to this question in the near future. ;)
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Trivia: Which Idiomatic expression is most difficult?

Post by Jonathan Robie » April 17th, 2016, 5:40 pm

cwconrad wrote:I'm not going to hold my breath in expectation of a convincing answer to this question in the near future. ;)
Is there a convincing answer to any part of this question?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Trivia: Which Idiomatic expression is most difficult?

Post by Stephen Carlson » April 17th, 2016, 6:37 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
cwconrad wrote:I'm not going to hold my breath in expectation of a convincing answer to this question in the near future. ;)
Is there a convincing answer to any part of this question?
It's the kind of question that's very hard to answer due to the preservation biases in what gets written down in the first place and then survives from antiquity. Maybe someone's done a study, but most of us have not read much if any truly informal Koine Greek.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Trivia: Which Idiomatic expression is most difficult?

Post by Stephen Hughes » April 17th, 2016, 11:22 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:It's the kind of question that's very hard to answer due to the preservation biases in what gets written down in the first place and then survives from antiquity. Maybe someone's done a study, but most of us have not read much if any truly informal Koine Greek.
While not 100% relevent, this is very readable; Emotions in private papyrus letters.

Furthermore, look at lines 5 and 9 of P.Mich. 8 491 to see how a Roman soldier from Egypt garisoned in Rome addresses his mother in a private letter, and look at the first line to see something like "ma'am".
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Trivia: Which Idiomatic expression is most difficult?

Post by Stephen Hughes » April 18th, 2016, 12:50 am

Since this thread has been revived, let me add another difficult (laconic) idiomatic expression:

Ἵλεώς σοι! "[May God grant] you mercy [for even suggesting such a thing]!" or "[May God be] merciful [and grant that that never happens] to you!"
Matthew 16:22 wrote:Καὶ προσλαβόμενος αὐτὸν ὁ Πέτρος ἤρξατο ἐπιτιμᾷν αὐτῷ λέγων, Ἵλεώς σοι, κύριε· οὐ μὴ ἔσται σοι τοῦτο.
Cf. Xenophon, Memorabilia, 2.1.29, ἀλλ᾿ εἴτε τοὺς θεοὺς ἵλεως εἶναί σοι βούλει.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Trivia: Which Idiomatic expression is most difficult?

Post by Jonathan Robie » April 19th, 2016, 6:21 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:The word that comes to mind that requires the most number of English words to accurately give its meaning is ἀρχισυνάγωγος "leader of a (jewish) synagogue" with five English words rendering one Greek one.
ἀρχιτρίκλινος is another interesting word ...
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

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