μή Questions - Negative statements expecting agreement?

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Paul-Nitz
Posts: 425
Joined: June 1st, 2011, 4:19 am
Location: Lilongwe, Malawi

μή Questions - Negative statements expecting agreement?

Post by Paul-Nitz » January 9th, 2016, 11:02 am

Help me get a clear “”mental representation” of the μή questions.

I “get” the μή in other constructions (φοβοῦμαι μὴ νομίζετε μορός εἰμι.) But I don’t have a clear “mental representation” of this μή question construction. It really bugs me when I want to read such a question out loud. I don’t know how to intone it (with my English tones).

Recently, I tried out the idea that the construction is basically an negative declaration that expects a response, rather than a "question" the way it's traditionally understood. In other words, it's like an elision of the thought: “Don’t say this/think this/let this be true…” μὴ λέγῃς ὅτι ὄφιν ἐπιδώσει –πατήρ τις τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ!!! This view works in every example I’ve come across. But is my thinking wonky?

Here’s one example:

  • ἢ καὶ ἰχθὺν αἰτήσει, μὴ ὄφιν ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ;
    ...or let's say a son asks for a fish. Don't tell me he gives him a snake!

    Matthew 7:10[/size][/color]
Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi

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