Bad Greek

Jonathan Robie (
Sat, 02 Nov 1996 08:13:35 -0500

> Leaving aside the terminology about attraction and the exact
> definition of it, there's still a point I hope I can maintain: that
> the examples I offered as bad Greek are, in fact, bad Greek, and that
> THAT SORT of attraction does not occur.

I often see these kinds of statements here. Since none of us speaks
Hellenistic Greek as our native language, how can we prove that such
constructions are bad Greek? A construction is not bad simply because
it is unusual. And what criteria do we use for bad Greek? The Chicago
Manual of Style doesn't cover Hellenistic Greek.

What constitutes "bad English"? Did Martin Luther King use bad English?
did Ogden Nash? does Leo Rosen? does Brother Blue? Suppose we had to
analyze current American usage thousands of years later, without access
to English grammars. How would we determine what is bad and what is good?

I'm very aware that after 8 years of studying German, my German wasn't
that great until I moved to the country. After 1 year, both I and my
daughters, who had never studied the language, understood it better than
what I had been able to learn in school and college.

> But we can replace our English lens with a Greek one by looking at some
> examples of similar constructions in which the subject is
> unquestionably an infinitive phrase.

Is it really that easy? Does that mean that any time someone turns a unique
phrase, it is bad Greek?


Jonathan Robie
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