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