ὁ Ἰησοῦς· The article with proper names

Re: ὁ Ἰησοῦς· The article with proper names

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » January 16th, 2012, 5:56 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:If you don't know the theory, you are not in a position to argue against those explanations which use it (unless you have a better theory which actually explains the data).


This wasn't written for David, "you" is general here. I don't know if the statement sounds harsh.

Also, it may sound like I'm contradicting my previous post. I don't think I am. The point is we have to use all available means to explain - as long as the explanation is both scientifically plausible and compatible with well-educated common sense - and only if there's reason to think that there probably won't be any explanation put the "style" card on the table. "Choice implies meaning" is a poor universal law but a necessary hypotheses for scientific study of language. If people just give up when they see no explanation, there won't be any explanations for anything. Scientific and hard-to-understand nature of an explanation isn't a reason to abandon it. It's a good reason to hate the way it's put into words, but not a reason to say it's wrong or implausible.
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Re: ὁ Ἰησοῦς· The article with proper names

Postby Tony Pope » January 16th, 2012, 6:36 pm

David Lim wrote:Well, the article I found said this:
Steve Janssen wrote:
Another idiom is the use of names with the preposition μετα. Names never have the article with μετα, though titles may. This can be seen in Matt 2:11; 4:21; 8:11; 26:69, 71; Mark 1:29; Acts 7:45; Galatians 2:1; Philippians 4:3; and Hebrews 11:9.

This pattern is what I was referring to when I compared "μετα" and "προς" with proper names. Of course, I only had the time to briefly scan the article so I did not verify any claim.


Even if true for the NT, it doesn't appear to be a universal rule in Greek that names never have the article with μετά. In Chariton's Callirhoe I found μετά with a name 11x without the article (1.1.3, 3.3.6, 3.6.2, 4.7.2, 5.1.1, 5.2.4, 6.6.4, 6.7.12, 7.3.11abc) and 1x with the article (5.3.9).

A phrase with the preposition μετά is often used for introducing someone to the narrative or reintroducing them after they have faded from the reader's attention, so it doesn't seem surprising that the tendency with μετά is not to use the article. In the articular example from Callirhoe, Callirhoe is already introduced into the narrative but the focus at that point is on her rival Rhodogune.

Ἐξέλαμψε δὲ τὸ Καλλιρρόης πρόσωπον ... Συνῆκε δὲ καὶ ἡ Ῥοδογύνη τῆς ἥττης, καὶ μήτε ἀπελθεῖν δυναμένη μήτε βλέπεσθαι θέλουσα ὑπέδυ τὴν σκηνὴν μετὰ τῆς Καλλιρρόης,
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Re: ὁ Ἰησοῦς· The article with proper names

Postby David Lim » January 17th, 2012, 12:25 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
David Lim wrote:It supports my claim that there are many instances of proper names that are part of some idiomatic expression and therefore no rules can explain the presence or absence of the article except for the idiomatic expression itself, which I would simply say is what the speaker has learnt "sounds nice".


With an IANAL (I am not a linguist) warning...

I think there is some confusion about terms here. Any fixed expression (idiom) really is a rule in itself. So are more general grammatical rules. So are discourse rules and pragmatic rules. Everything is based on what "sounds nice" from user's point of view. But science can't be content with "it just sounds nice" any more than it can be with "it just happens to be so". It tries to find rules behind "nice". It is true that single idioms are the least explainable of linguistic phenomena - quite many of them just happen to be so (even though many can be explained historically and many aren't actually so idiomatic when compared to other languages). But there are also more generic rules. Idioms or basic grammatical rules ("when used with this form in this construction") aren't enough to explain all uses or non-uses of the article, even though they can explain some or many situations. Scientists/scholars can't leave it at that. Is there something else besides grammar which can explain the usage? Indeed there is, namely discourse and pragmatics.


Well, not everyone else had agreed that there are many idiomatic expressions governing the use of the article. I think the best explanation of this multitude of idiomatic expressions is that they sound nice, and they sound nice because they have been heard often, and they have been heard often because they had been used often, and they had been used often because they sound nice... Apart from what we can reasonably classify as grammatical or idiomatic expressions, the rest is stylistic. Most will agree that Mark and Luke have individual styles, and naturally their styles influence essentially every part of what they write, as long as it is able to communicate their meaning. Since there is no hard and fast rule for the use of the article with proper names, I therefore conclude that it would fall under this influence. To claim "salience" as an explanation is to me as explanatory as claiming that "style" is an explanation, because it is too subjective. If I remove all the articles from a random extended passage from an arbitrary Koine Greek writing, can anyone accurately supply the article where it was originally used? If it is less than 90% for proper names, then I would say that your style is different, and it would prove my point. Someone may say that meaning is lost when I remove the articles, and thus reconstructing the meaning is impossible, but then "salience" will be unfalsifiable because it is completely a posteriori, whereas style surely differs across individuals.

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:Unfortunately there's no way to speak about discourse and pragmatics without any linguistic theory. Even if you use only common sense everyday language to explain it, it's still theory. In learning English it may be enough to learn the language from a native speaker who can say "it sounds better" but unfortunately that's not the case with Koine. We must argue why something is more natural than something else, and finally there's no other way to do it than using grammatical and linguistic metalanguage. If you disagree, you can try to persuade people to believe that your interpretation of a NT text is better than some other because it "sounds nicer". Can you say for example which explanation of 'πιστις Χριστου' sounds better, objective (faith in Christ) or subjective (faithfullness of Christ)? Or should we still continue theological/linguistic discussion in metalanguage, doing research and trying to find evidence?


You said that idioms are rules. In my opinion those rules are not metalanguage. The idioms are just like that. For example, the idiom "one man's meat is another man's poison" is fixed and understood even though not every one knows that "meat" is an old English word for "food". Moreover what is more natural to one may be unnatural to another, in which case it is clearly style. For the same reason, I think it is impossible that there is no individual variation with regard to the use of the article. As to whether "πιστις χριστου" means "faith in Christ" or "faithfulness of Christ", the basic meaning of "πιστις" implies "faith", but the context also has to be taken into account. In that particular context, I think the meaning is perfectly clear (See Phlp 1:25,27, 2:17, 3:9.) There is no avenue for "euphony" to dictate the meaning, but "euphony" will influence the way a specific meaning is conveyed. What "sounds nicer" in one situation may sound odd in another. But the meaning (and thus interpretation) remains the same.

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:Back to idioms... you must not confuse idioms (fixed expressions) with generic grammatical rules or discourse rules. Idioms are unique non-generic rules which can't be applied elsewhere, but grammatical and discourse rules aren't. Idioms are linguistically the least interesting of those even though they are important part of any actual language.

When explaining for example the article we can find some idioms. Good - we have found some rules. In what is left over, we can find grammatical rules where article is used or not used in certain situations which can be defined with traditional grammatical terms. For example declinable/indeclinable names could belong here. But there are still cases which aren't explained. Do we say they are explained only by "style", i.e. by what "sounds better"? We don't have to, because we still have resources left, namely discourse studies. For the article - and for word order - it means mostly the theory called information structure. If you can't accept that, you are left with vague "style" which isn't an explanation and doesn't actually say anything. If you accept that there is some weird "information structure" which might explain things and show us rules, then you have to find out what it means. And here we come to linguistic theory. Either you can study it, or you can just say that you know better because you know what sounds nice. If you don't know the theory, you are not in a position to argue against those explanations which use it (unless you have a better theory which actually explains the data).


As I said before, the best explanation of a random string is the string itself and not some specially engineered formula to fit the string. Likewise, the best explanation of individual preferences is the preferences themselves and not some theory that is fit to the usage data. A theory about the use of the article must be able to predict accurately when the article is used and not merely able to "explain" the usage. I cannot accept any "theory" where a choice between valid alternatives always implies meaning, as it would imply that the typical reader actually does not grasp much of the meaning of a typical text simply because he does not know or is not at that moment aware of all valid alternatives and thus does not recognise any specific nuance particular to the chosen alternative. Therefore, if a choice between alternatives may bear no meaning, then there is no way to predict which one is chosen unless you know the writer's language proficiency as well as his style. Of course in the case of the article with proper names, it has nothing to do with language proficiency. But I think it is unwise to also dismiss style, because the greater the number of "rules" (grammatical or idiomatic), the more likely an individual will deviate in some way or another, and that is style.

Tony Pope wrote:
David Lim wrote:Well, the article I found said this:
Steve Janssen wrote:
Another idiom is the use of names with the preposition μετα. Names never have the article with μετα, though titles may. This can be seen in Matt 2:11; 4:21; 8:11; 26:69, 71; Mark 1:29; Acts 7:45; Galatians 2:1; Philippians 4:3; and Hebrews 11:9.

This pattern is what I was referring to when I compared "μετα" and "προς" with proper names. Of course, I only had the time to briefly scan the article so I did not verify any claim.


Even if true for the NT, it doesn't appear to be a universal rule in Greek that names never have the article with μετά. In Chariton's Callirhoe I found μετά with a name 11x without the article (1.1.3, 3.3.6, 3.6.2, 4.7.2, 5.1.1, 5.2.4, 6.6.4, 6.7.12, 7.3.11abc) and 1x with the article (5.3.9).

A phrase with the preposition μετά is often used for introducing someone to the narrative or reintroducing them after they have faded from the reader's attention, so it doesn't seem surprising that the tendency with μετά is not to use the article. In the articular example from Callirhoe, Callirhoe is already introduced into the narrative but the focus at that point is on her rival Rhodogune.

Ἐξέλαμψε δὲ τὸ Καλλιρρόης πρόσωπον ... Συνῆκε δὲ καὶ ἡ Ῥοδογύνη τῆς ἥττης, καὶ μήτε ἀπελθεῖν δυναμένη μήτε βλέπεσθαι θέλουσα ὑπέδυ τὴν σκηνὴν μετὰ τῆς Καλλιρρόης,


In Matt 26:51 it does not look like Jesus in the preceding sentences has faded from the reader's attention. Anyway, writers like the one you found may not "obey" such a rule, whereas those of the new testament may have thought that "μετα" + article + proper name sounds odd.
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Re: ὁ Ἰησοῦς· The article with proper names

Postby David Lim » January 17th, 2012, 12:59 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:If people just give up when they see no explanation, there won't be any explanations for anything. Scientific and hard-to-understand nature of an explanation isn't a reason to abandon it. It's a good reason to hate the way it's put into words, but not a reason to say it's wrong or implausible.


Oh by the way I thought of one example where it will be hard to justify the existence of an explanation: "λεγειν προς αυτον/αυτους" / "λεγειν αυτω/αυτοις" (See Luke 7:40,43, Luke 20:3,8,23,25, John 2:3,4). Mark and John never use "ειπεν προς αυτον". Matthew and Mark never use "ειπεν προς αυτους". Matthew uses "ειπεν προς αυτον" only once and John uses "ειπεν προς αυτους" only once, suggesting that both Matthew and John knew of such a construction with the preposition but avoided it. So it seems like a clear stylistic variation.
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Re: ὁ Ἰησοῦς· The article with proper names

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » January 17th, 2012, 5:48 am

David Lim wrote:Oh by the way I thought of one example where it will be hard to justify the existence of an explanation: "λεγειν προς αυτον/αυτους" / "λεγειν αυτω/αυτοις" (See Luke 7:40,43, Luke 20:3,8,23,25, John 2:3,4). Mark and John never use "ειπεν προς αυτον". Matthew and Mark never use "ειπεν προς αυτους". Matthew uses "ειπεν προς αυτον" only once and John uses "ειπεν προς αυτους" only once, suggesting that both Matthew and John knew of such a construction with the preposition but avoided it. So it seems like a clear stylistic variation.


I would have agreed with you on this all the time. And yet I can't agree with you on the larger matter. I feel it's hard to explain and I'm out of steam for this topic, at least for a while. But the discussion has been fruitful and your texts have given much to think about. I just hope the linguists here will take this seriously because it's critical to be able to argue from ground up why linguistic theories are needed and why they may be correct. Maybe too often linguists argue in too high level, not being able to step down from the ivory tower. (By the way, the same goes for exegetics, hermeneutics and theology. Sometimes it's impossible to convince non-educated people about the value of education, or non-exegete about the value of knowing historical background etc., or an ordinary believer about the value of theology. But just assuming your own competence, using your own jargon and turning to preach to the choir doesn't help either. Usually there's some truth in non-expert critique of expert knowlegde.)
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Re: ὁ Ἰησοῦς· The article with proper names

Postby Mark Lightman » January 18th, 2012, 12:32 am

ἔγραψεν ὁ Βυθος: Basically, the principle that choice implies meaning is a good one, even if several phrases may overlap a particular situation.


Hi, Randall,

I decided to test Steve Runge’s dictum that choice always implies meaning. I watched this new video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAxvXlKG ... r_embedded

where at 4:09 the guy says τὸν ἄρτον ὀπτᾶν θέλω. (“I want to toast the bread.”) I happen to know this guy, so I asked him some questions about his choice of words. I did not tell him why I was asking the questions. Here is exactly what I wrote to him:

1. Why did you use the article?
2. By fronting τον αρτον did you mean to place emphasis on it? If not, why did you use this word order?
3. Why did you use the progressive ὀπτᾶν and not the aorist ὀπτῆσαι?
4. You said θέλω instead of βούλομαι. As you know, some people say that the former is more a matter of desire and the latter is more a matter of will or intention, although others say that it is the other way around. Some people say that βούλομαι, because of its middle passive ending, is more marked for subject affectiveness, where the subject participates in or is changed by the verb. What was your intention in choosing θέλω? If you had said τον αρτον οπτᾶν βούλομαι, would that have had a different meaning, and if so, how?


And this is exactly what the guy wrote back:

Gee, uh... because it sounded good?


As Pilate might have said: ὅ γέγραφα, γέγραφα.

I have no doubt that choice SOMETIMES implies meaning, but just as often it implies euphonics, and more often than that language choice is no choice at all. It just comes out that way. I call this semantic minimalism.

Eeli wrote
...I'm out of steam for this topic, at least for a while. But the discussion has been fruitful...


I’m with you on both counts. I much more agree with David Lim than I do with you, but I’ve enjoyed reading all your comments. ἔρρωσο φίλτατε.
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Re: ὁ Ἰησοῦς· The article with proper names

Postby Donald Cobb » January 18th, 2012, 9:54 am

I suppose I should give a word of explanation here.

My response to Mark was a quick, off-the-cuff, tongue-in-cheek reply to his questions, and that in a private conversation. It was not meant to be a serious answer. As for the video itself, it’s very primitive and my own koine speaking is obviously no standard for judging anything.

Having said that, there some truth intended in my joking reply to Mark. I’ve been following this thread from afar and it’s been very interesting and informative. It’s pushed me to look a little more into Greek construction and be ever more aware of what’s going on as the New Testament authors (or others) write. I am not a linguist by any stretch of the imagination, but here are some thoughts that have been on my mind as I’ve pondered over the material.

I think one of the things that often skews our sense of the Greek sentence is our own English language: English is not a case-based language, so word order in a sentence is decisive. Change the order of the words and you change the meaning. However, that’s not the case in every language. As an example, I’ve spent over half my life in a French-speaking environment. Though French is not my native language, I learned it early in life, it’s deeply imbedded in who I am, and I hear, read, write and speak it daily. It’s the language I use in my home. Now French is not really as case-based language either, but it does have remnants of the Latin cases, so that means that word order is more flexible. So I could say, for instance:
- “Si je pense à ce que Paul a dit…”
or
- “Si je pense à ce qu’a dit Paul…”
I’ve just said the same thing. Although I’ve reversed the subject and the verb in the second clause, neither the meaning nor the emphasis has been changed. There are times when the sentence structure can reflect a particular emphasis, but it’s by no means necessary. Of course, we can’t assume that French and Greek are analogous. But if I ask the question: what would prompt me to change the ‘standard’ order of the sentence I just wrote, the only correct answer is aesthetics.

Paul Dirac says, “In Science, one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it’s the exact opposite.” In French, the role of aesthetics in word order and choice of vocabulary, even in everyday speech—at least in middle- to upper middle class society and on up—is very present: we say things in a certain way to each other, sometimes for emphasis, sometimes for information, but also, and constantly, for euphony: “Because it sounds nice.”

I would take Dirac’s categories and say this: most communication is situated somewhere between the two poles of ‘information’ and ‘poetry’ (or aesthetics). Style is a somewhat subjective balance of these two things, as they interact with and at the same time influence traditional speech patterns.

As I read Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Strabo, Isocrates, Galen, and others, I’m constantly struck by the way these authors are obviously “playing” with the language (Dionysius goes so far as to say so in his Thucydides, 52.4). Word order can appear to be a convoluted “tapeworm” of clauses, adjectives separated from their substantives by verbs, the main verb coming, seemingly randomly, at the beginning, the middle or the end of the phrase. Most of this seems clearly to be driven by taste and the pleasure of having a balanced construction that rings nicely in the ears (one of the goals, incidentally, of the Greek rhetoricians).

With the possible exception of Hebrews, some passages in Luke-Acts (mostly Acts) and Paul, New Testament Greek is not like that—at least not to the same degree. But style is never completely forsaken in the New Testament authors, even Mark, the fourth Gospel and Revelation. That makes the desire to explain each phrase, each construction in terms of “content” and “meaning” a risky venture. Can word order, an—apparently—somewhat arbitrary use or omission of articles reflect a conscious desire for “salience,” or emphasis? No doubt. Sometimes at least. But to say that this must always be the case would be, in my mind at least, to foist upon the material one of Dirac’s poles at the expense of the other. And that is hardly scientific.


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Re: ὁ Ἰησοῦς· The article with proper names

Postby David Lim » January 18th, 2012, 11:13 am

Mark Lightman wrote:[...]

And this is exactly what the guy wrote back:

Gee, uh... because it sounded good?


As Pilate might have said: ὅ γέγραφα, γέγραφα.


You gave me such a laugh! :lol:

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:I would have agreed with you on this all the time. And yet I can't agree with you on the larger matter. I feel it's hard to explain and I'm out of steam for this topic, at least for a while. But the discussion has been fruitful and your texts have given much to think about. I just hope the linguists here will take this seriously because it's critical to be able to argue from ground up why linguistic theories are needed and why they may be correct. Maybe too often linguists argue in too high level, not being able to step down from the ivory tower. (By the way, the same goes for exegetics, hermeneutics and theology. Sometimes it's impossible to convince non-educated people about the value of education, or non-exegete about the value of knowing historical background etc., or an ordinary believer about the value of theology. But just assuming your own competence, using your own jargon and turning to preach to the choir doesn't help either. Usually there's some truth in non-expert critique of expert knowlegde.)


Eeli, Mark, Mike, Stephen, Tony, and all others, I really have enjoyed this discussion, and certainly as Eeli said, I think we will all continue to think about these things in linguistics, even if we stop here, for the moment. :)
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Re: ὁ Ἰησοῦς· The article with proper names

Postby RandallButh » January 18th, 2012, 12:14 pm

Well, Mark, euphonics is also part of meaning/communication as one slides into rhetoric and poetic.

Consider for example:

"I TRY MY BEST,
TO BE JUST LIKE ______________"

Now we are set up to fill in the line with "the rest" we try our best to be just like the rest.
But Dylan was writing/singing, so it came out
"I try my best,
to be just like I am"

and then he saves the form by continuing
"but everybody want's me, to be just like them"
Go Bobbie go.

I'll stay with 'choice implies meaning'.
Now, don't work yourself up in a hissy fit. Start with the truism and work outwards:
Choice involves choice. Someone may claim that they didn't chose anything, they just said it. But the fact remains that they chose one item over another. The reason for the choice may escape the speaker, but the brain made it nevertheless. Explaining choice is the job of the linguist. Rhetoric and speech is the job of a communicator. They focus on the effect and the intended communication and the choices are often made unconsciously.
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Re: ὁ Ἰησοῦς· The article with proper names

Postby David Lim » January 19th, 2012, 9:04 pm

RandallButh wrote:Choice involves choice. Someone may claim that they didn't chose anything, they just said it. But the fact remains that they chose one item over another. The reason for the choice may escape the speaker, but the brain made it nevertheless. Explaining choice is the job of the linguist. Rhetoric and speech is the job of a communicator. They focus on the effect and the intended communication and the choices are often made unconsciously.


Even if I agree that the speaker always makes a choice whether consciously or unconsciously between alternatives (and I do not think that it is always true), I am certain that linguistics can only offer an "explanation" of the choice after it is already made, simply because the choice is dependent on the individual. As I said, one would have to know exactly both the speaker's language proficiency as well as his style in order to be able to accurately predict his choice of words and constructions, and I believe "προς αυτον" is evidence of that. This means that even if choice is involved in a speaker's usage of one alternative over another, it will be irrelevant to us when we want to explain the meaning intended, because it may differ greatly between different individuals. For example, we certainly cannot claim that the single occurrence of "ειπεν προς αυτον" in Matthew or "ειπεν προς αυτους" in John means something different from the usual "ειπεν αυτω" or "ειπεν αυτοις", because we simply do not know their style precisely enough. It is of course possible that they used the prepositional construction in that single place in contrast to their usual use of the dative, but it is much more likely that it is just part of a fluctuation in usage, as Luke shows. Likewise, it will not be wise to conclude that Mark means something when he "refuses" to use the prepositional construction! He may never have known it, or he might have known it but did not like it, or he might have avoided it because it costs more time and ink and paper; how would we know?

Donald Cobb wrote:I suppose I should give a word of explanation here.

My response to Mark was a quick, off-the-cuff, tongue-in-cheek reply to his questions, and that in a private conversation. It was not meant to be a serious answer. As for the video itself, it’s very primitive and my own koine speaking is obviously no standard for judging anything.


By the way, this proved my assertion, because how do we know what standard Mark's Koine Greek is? Maybe he did not learn enough to know that "ειπεν προς αυτον" is more "refined" speech? All I have been saying is that it would be difficult to draw any additional meaning out from a sentence other than the meaning that the sentence itself clearly expresses, whether we look at word order or vocabulary usage or grammatical constructions or sentence length or whatever, because all those things may be part of one's style, including one's learning specifically.

Donald Cobb wrote:Having said that, there some truth intended in my joking reply to Mark. I’ve been following this thread from afar and it’s been very interesting and informative. It’s pushed me to look a little more into Greek construction and be ever more aware of what’s going on as the New Testament authors (or others) write. I am not a linguist by any stretch of the imagination, but here are some thoughts that have been on my mind as I’ve pondered over the material.

I think one of the things that often skews our sense of the Greek sentence is our own English language: English is not a case-based language, so word order in a sentence is decisive. Change the order of the words and you change the meaning. However, that’s not the case in every language. As an example, I’ve spent over half my life in a French-speaking environment. Though French is not my native language, I learned it early in life, it’s deeply imbedded in who I am, and I hear, read, write and speak it daily. It’s the language I use in my home. Now French is not really as case-based language either, but it does have remnants of the Latin cases, so that means that word order is more flexible. So I could say, for instance:
- “Si je pense à ce que Paul a dit…”
or
- “Si je pense à ce qu’a dit Paul…”
I’ve just said the same thing. Although I’ve reversed the subject and the verb in the second clause, neither the meaning nor the emphasis has been changed. There are times when the sentence structure can reflect a particular emphasis, but it’s by no means necessary. Of course, we can’t assume that French and Greek are analogous. But if I ask the question: what would prompt me to change the ‘standard’ order of the sentence I just wrote, the only correct answer is aesthetics.


I think even in English word order is still very flexible so that it may sometimes not bear any meaning at all. For example:
"him alone you will serve"
"you will serve him alone"
Is there a difference between the two in modern English? Some will use the former (probably because they read the scriptures) but others will use the latter. And neither of them are trying to make a distinction from the other alternative.
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