οτι

How can I learn to express my ideas in clear and intelligible Greek?

οτι

Postby SusanJeffers » May 5th, 2012, 10:05 am

I've been studying Greek for quite some time, stubbornly refusing ever to write (let alone speak!) original Greek sentences that I made up myself. I've told myself and my students that "all the Greek sentences we're interested in have already been written -- and long ago."

As is so often the case, I'm now having to "eat my words" so to speak, as I try to write some simple Greek stories to give my students much more practice reading Greek prose, from the very beginning of the online intro Greek courses I teach.

Here's my problem: οτι

The textbook I use (Croy) introduces οτι in Lesson 2 (glossed as "that, because"), along with present active indicatives and infinitives , so one can write some pretty nice sentences using οτι, such as these from Croy's practice exercises:

1. γινωσκομεν οτι πιστευετε και θελετε διδασκειν.
2. ακουω και βλεπω οτι αδελφη γραφει.

I've long offered students a list of examples from John, illustrating some ways that the Lesson 2 vocabulary and grammar occur, e.g.
John 1:50, Jesus answered and said to him, οτι I said to you οτι I saw you under the fig tree, πιστευεις;
And then I point out that the 2 occurrences of οτι are functioning differently: BECAUSE I said to you THAT I saw you....

But now I'm trying to write some little stories. e.g.
Μαρκος πιστευει. Μαρκος ακουει, και βλεπει, και πιστευει.

But then if I say:
Μαρκος πιστευει οτι ____
I guess it can mean either "Markos believes THAT ____" or "Markos believes BECAUSE _______."

Is there any way (without a lot of narrative context that, in lesson 2, I have no good way to build) to nail down which is which?

This is exactly the reason I've resisted making up my own sentences all these years -- I'm afraid I'll mislead students as to the simple meaning of simple sentences. I don't mind "making mistakes" or "looking foolish" -- I do that all the time with typos and and whatnot, and the students cheerfully correct me and I cheerfully thank them -- what I'm realizing is that, without a larger narrative context, I really sometimes can't tell how οτι is making meaning in very simple sentences! The last thing I want to do is burden my students with a lot of metalanguage about οτι -- I want to just stick with "that, because" and then give lots of examples in simple narrative context, so the students can get an intuitive feel for how οτι works.

I just looked at Shirley Rollinson's Chapter 14 where she introduces οτι -- I notice she gives a lot of examples using verbs that don't have this kind of ambiguity...
http://www.drshirley.org/greek/textbook/contents.html
e.g.
αιτω αρτον οτι πεινω
I ask for bread because I am hungry

I guess one way around my dilemma would be switch around the clauses if I want οτι to mean "because" and where the main verb is one where "that" is also possible or likely... γραφω, βλεπω, γινωσκω, λεγω -- pretty much all the verbs in lesson 2!

e.g οτι Μαρκος ακουει και βλεπει, Μαρκος πιστευει.
Because Markos hears and sees, Markos believes.

Μαρκος ακουει και βλεπει οτι Αννα πιστευει.
Markos hears and sees that Anna believes.

οτι αδελφος διδασκει, ακουομεν.
because a brother teaches, we listen.

ακουομεν οτι αδελφος διδασκει.
we hear that a brother is teaching.

Note that I'll be wanting my students to just read the Greek without translating -- I'm only providing the translations here to point out the ambiguity I feel is present in some of this... and because it's the "Beginners Forum" -- I surely am a beginner with respect to writing my own Greek sentences!

Thanks in advance for any advice anyone can offer --- as you can probably tell, I'm pretty muddled -- and studying Wallace's section on οτι with the indicative just confirmed my sense of ambiguity...

Susan Jeffers
SusanJeffers
 
Posts: 69
Joined: June 3rd, 2011, 8:49 am

Re: οτι

Postby Stephen Carlson » May 5th, 2012, 10:59 am

This question once came up in my Greek class, and I admit I didn't have a good answer for it (except "context"). I'd really appreciate people's thoughts on this.

I know that Margaret Sim has a recent dissertation on ἵνα and ὅτι as well as some similar particles, but it's still on my reading list.

Stephen
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
Stephen Carlson
 
Posts: 1978
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: οτι

Postby Louis L Sorenson » May 5th, 2012, 12:12 pm

Sim talks about causal ὅτι on page 219. I think what you really need is to identify the structure flags by analyzing about 100 examples. Language usually has redundancy built in, when something is ambiguous, there are usually pointers or context to help one determine the meaning of any given word. I'm reading a book on 2nd Language reading acquisition by Grabe. He talks a little about this. You can read some of his book on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Reading-Language-Cambridge-Linguistics-ebook/dp/B004123DRU/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS?ie=UTF8&coliid=I3DX9OR9FQCEGI&colid=38XDQ29AT2ZWZ#reader_B004123DRU
Louis L Sorenson
 
Posts: 589
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 9:21 pm
Location: Burnsville, MN, USA

Re: οτι

Postby David Lim » May 5th, 2012, 11:07 pm

SusanJeffers wrote:[...]

But then if I say:
Μαρκος πιστευει οτι ____
I guess it can mean either "Markos believes THAT ____" or "Markos believes BECAUSE _______."

Is there any way (without a lot of narrative context that, in lesson 2, I have no good way to build) to nail down which is which?


I believe that "οτι" itself is quite "undecided" but when it follows certain words like "πιστευειν" the reader naturally assumes (possibly wrongly) that it is "that", until something later proves it wrong. In other words I think that as the reader adopts the "default" meaning as he reads unless the context forces him to switch to another meaning that less commonly occurs after whatever he has already read up to that point. So you should complete your sentence and then see if the context naturally disambiguates the two.

SusanJeffers wrote:[...]

I guess one way around my dilemma would be switch around the clauses if I want οτι to mean "because" and where the main verb is one where "that" is also possible or likely... γραφω, βλεπω, γινωσκω, λεγω -- pretty much all the verbs in lesson 2!

e.g οτι Μαρκος ακουει και βλεπει, Μαρκος πιστευει.
Because Markos hears and sees, Markos believes.

Μαρκος ακουει και βλεπει οτι Αννα πιστευει.
Markos hears and sees that Anna believes.

οτι αδελφος διδασκει, ακουομεν.
because a brother teaches, we listen.

ακουομεν οτι αδελφος διδασκει.
we hear that a brother is teaching.

[...]


I am not sure it is wise to simply switch the word order to attempt to disambiguate possible meanings of individual words, because the resulting sentences seem a little unnatural to me, not that it is wrong but that it is uncommon and therefore unsuitable generally. If I am not wrong, "οτι" usually comes between the two clauses that it connects, and not before. The exceptions are due to deliberate emphasis on the reason. But when "οτι" follows "ακουειν" it is by default "that", so if you intend to say "we hear because a brother teaches" you probably need a little rearrangement if there is no context to clearly disambiguate:
αδελφος εστιν ο διδασκων ακουομεν ουν αυτον
δια τουτο ακουομεν οτι αδελφος διδασκει ημας (see John 8:47)
Forgive me if my Greek is not right either.. I am just suggesting what seems to be more natural to me.
δαυιδ λιμ
David Lim
 
Posts: 888
Joined: June 6th, 2011, 6:55 am

Re: οτι

Postby Barry Hofstetter » May 6th, 2012, 7:47 am

Susan, a practical way to approach this: how do you know when you are reading Greek composed by an ancient author, that ὅτι means "that" or "because?" I hate to say it, but it's context, right? Sometimes the context is really simple, as when someone might write:

πιστεύομεν ὅτι πίπτει

vs.

πάσχει ὅτι πίπτει

In the first example, we know that :roll: πιστεύω normally takes indirect statement. "We believe that he is falling" makes good sense. "We believe because he is falling" is technically possible but unlikely unless something in the extended context makes it the preferred reading. I usually point out that writers like to avoid ambiguity (except as the occasional literary device), and will usually find a way to express themselves so that it's not ambiguous, i.e. τοῦ πέσοντος πιστεύομεν...

The second example would make little sense as "that." πάσχω does not take an indirect statement. "He suffers that he is falling" doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but "he suffers because he is falling" does.

So a little common sense and your sentences should be fine.

Another trick: good primers try to imitate real Greek as soon as possible, even at the very beginning stages. Look for examples in the literature after which you can model your sentences, and that should feel a bit safer to you...
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Barry Hofstetter
 
Posts: 640
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: οτι

Postby SusanJeffers » May 7th, 2012, 9:23 am

Thanks to all of you for your very helpful replies. I'm not too far into the Sim dissertation, but she does confirm my sense of disorientation about how to construe οτι e.g. in her section 7.3.3.1.2 example (18) from Epictetus, which "shows a clause which explicates a verb implying utterance, επιτιμαω, indicating the content of the rebuke, but which also, by inference, contains the reason for the utterance." And I've ordered the Grabe book on 2nd language acquisition. Great! Thanks!!!

What got me started on this particular issue was my eagerness to write simple Greek stories for each lesson and to include "reading comprehension" questions in Greek -- for the earlier lessons I don't yet have words for "why" or "who" or what" so the questions are of necessity in English, but the multiple-choice answers can be in Greek.

I wanted to ask "Why _____?" e.g. "Why does Markos believe?" and then have my answers in the form Μαρκος πιστευει οτι ______ but immediately saw that such a sentence would mean "Markos believes that ____" rather than "Markos believe because____."

In later lessons I'll have other ways of saying "Markos believes because..." but in lesson 2 I have no participles, no prepositions (δια τουτο) etc. So I don't see a way to follow David's suggestion of saying the causality in a different way. Besides which I'm trying to illustrate and give students practice with the 2 glossed senses of οτι (that, because). Lesson 2 offers as vocabulary only λυω and verbs that default to giving the content of what the subject hears, sees etc rather than the cause of the hearing, seeing etc: ακουω, βλεπω, γινωσκω, διδασκω, θελω, λεγω, πιστευω. So my practice stories for Lesson 2 have lots and lots of examples of, e.g.
λεγομεν οτι = we say that ______
γινωσκετε οτι = you (pl) know that _______
Αννα θελει πιστευειν οτι = Anna wants to believe that _____
etc
But I'm feeling hard-up for examples of causative οτι.

Actually one idea that's come from this discussion, is that maybe I can illustrate the causative sense of οτι using λυω rather than πιστευω:

Τιμοθεος ου πιστευει. Μαριαμ διδασκει, Τιμοθεος ου θελει ακουειν και ου πιστευει. Τιμοθεος λυει οτι ουκ πιστευει και ου θελει πιστευειν.

Why does Timothy destroy?
a) οτι Τιμοθεος ουκ πιστευει
b) οτι Μαριαμ διδασκει
c) οτι Τιμοθεος ακουει
d) οτι Μαριαμ και Τιμοθεος πιστευουσιν

I did look at quite a number of NT examples, and it does seem that rearranging the clauses is one way to eliminate the ambiguity. And Croy introduces the idea of different order of sentence elements early on. So following Barry's advice about modeling my sentences... What do think of this, using the John 1:50 sentence I quoted earlier as a model?

Λουκας διδασκει. Στεφανος ουκ ακουει και ου βλεπει οτι Λουκας διδασκει. και Δορκας ουκ ακουει και ου βλεπει οτι Λουκας διδασκει. οτι ουκ ακουουσιν και ου βλεπουσιν, ου πιστευουσιν οτι Λουκας διδασκει.

Why doesn't Stephαnos believe that Lukas is teaching?
a) οτι Δορκας ου βλεπει
b) οτι Λυκας ου διδασκει
c) οτι Στεφανος ουκ ακουει και ου βλεπει.

What do you think, anyone?

Thanks again for your very helpful responses!

Susan Jeffers
SusanJeffers
 
Posts: 69
Joined: June 3rd, 2011, 8:49 am

Re: οτι

Postby David Lim » May 7th, 2012, 12:07 pm

SusanJeffers wrote:[...]

So following Barry's advice about modeling my sentences... What do think of this, using the John 1:50 sentence I quoted earlier as a model?

Λουκας διδασκει. Στεφανος ουκ ακουει και ου βλεπει οτι Λουκας διδασκει. και Δορκας ουκ ακουει και ου βλεπει οτι Λουκας διδασκει. οτι ουκ ακουουσιν και ου βλεπουσιν, ου πιστευουσιν οτι Λουκας διδασκει.

Why doesn't Stephαnos believe that Lukas is teaching?
a) οτι Δορκας ου βλεπει
b) οτι Λυκας ου διδασκει
c) οτι Στεφανος ουκ ακουει και ου βλεπει.

What do you think, anyone?


"ακουει και ου βλεπει οτι Λουκας διδασκει" is very odd to me. It seems to mean "Stephen does not hear that Luke teaches and also does not see that Luke teaches." The first part of the statement is presumably not what you meant to say?
δαυιδ λιμ
David Lim
 
Posts: 888
Joined: June 6th, 2011, 6:55 am

Re: οτι

Postby SusanJeffers » May 7th, 2012, 12:54 pm

Here's what I'm meaning to say. Bear in mind that all I have to work with is proper names in the nominative, the 9 verbs I mentioned in the present active indicative and present active infinitive, plus και, οτι and ου/ουκ/ουχ

Λουκας διδασκει. Στεφανος ουκ ακουει και ου βλεπει οτι Λουκας διδασκει. και Δορκας ουκ ακουει και ου βλεπει οτι Λουκας διδασκει. οτι ουκ ακουουσιν και ου βλεπουσιν, ου πιστευουσιν οτι Λουκας διδασκει.

Lukas is teaching. Stephanos does not hear and does not see that Lukas is teaching. And Dorcas does not hear and does not see that Lukas is teaching. Because they do not hear and do not see, they do not believe that Lukas is teaching.

----

What I'm trying to do is build some context ("because they do not hear and do not see") as to WHY someone might "not believe."

All as a means to the end of illustrating causative οτι early on.

I don't doubt that it sounds odd -- how could it not, with so little vocabulary & grammar available? But is it intelligible? If not, can someone suggest a fix using only my admittedly self-imposed constraints?

Thanks!
SusanJeffers
 
Posts: 69
Joined: June 3rd, 2011, 8:49 am

Re: οτι

Postby Stephen Carlson » May 7th, 2012, 1:16 pm

Too early for γάρ?
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
Stephen Carlson
 
Posts: 1978
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: οτι

Postby cwconrad » May 7th, 2012, 1:19 pm

I hesitate to stick my head and neck into this discussion, partly because my own efforts in writing have focused more on Attic than on Koine. But it may be helpful to note here some of my thinking upon Greek ὅτι and ὅ τι (conjunction and pronoun) and comparable English that, German daß/das, and Latin quod. Some time ago (a few decades, in fact), it occurred to me that Latin quod was used as a conjunction introducing subordinate clauses that bore the same kinds of meanings as do Latin ablative absolute or Greek genitive absolute consructions -- i.e. such clauses may be causal or circumstantial, in which cases the ὄτι or the quod is comparable to an English "the fact that ... " or "the situation being that ... " "given that ... " or "the assertion, namely ... ". It seemed to me better to grasp this function assumed in these languages by the pronoun now functioning as a conjunction introducing a subordinate clause of several alternative types. I think that actually comes close to what Margaret Sim is arguing about the usage of ὅτι in Biblical Greek. It won't do for an English-speaker to attempt to analyze the various ways that he/she uses "that" as a conjunction introducing subordiate clauses.

In my own composition I generally have avoided using the conjunction ὅτι. Rather than write ἁκούω ὅτι διδάσκει ὁ Πέτρος or βλέπω ὅτι διδάσκει ὁ Πέτρος, I prefer to write ἀκούω διδάσκοντα τὸν Πέτρον or βλέπω διδάσκοντα τὸν Πέτρον.With verbs of perception the acc. + ptc. construction indicates perception of a fact, not merely perception of a thing acting in such and such a way.

I would also be hesitant in composition about using ὅτι in the causal sense. It's easy enough to indicate causality in other ways: διὰ τί γινώσκω διδάσκειν τὸν Πέτρον; διότι βλέπω τε καὶ ἀκούω διδάσκοντα τὸν Πέτρον.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω
cwconrad
 
Posts: 1393
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm
Location: Burnsville, NC 28714

Next

Return to Writing Greek

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest