δε and ἀλλα

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David Ting
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δε and ἀλλα

Post by David Ting » August 18th, 2011, 3:42 am

It is mentioned in the text book that both should be translated as "but", and ἀλλα is stronger than δε. What does "stronger" mean?

Is using ἀλλα in the translation below reasonable?
The evil men were killing the disciples, but the disciples were not dying in darkness and sin.
οἱ πονηροι ἀπεκτεινον τους μαθητας, ἀλλα οἱ μαθηται οὐκ ἀπεθνησκον ἐν σκοτιᾳ και ἁμαρτιᾳ.
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: δε and ἀλλα

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » August 18th, 2011, 7:18 am

You can read the relevant sections (at least δε and ἀλλα) in http://www.ntdiscourse.org/docs/Discour ... sample.pdf. Better yet, buy the whole book and read it :)

To answer your question: the textbook is misleading, if you represent it correctly.

ἀλλα is quite much an "explicit" 'but', like the English equivalent 'but' - although this, too, is simplification. In a way your textbook is correct. To quote Runge, "Heckert is able to reach more specific conclusions than “adversative” in his description of
ἀλλὰ. He describes ἀλλὰ as a “global marker of contrast”, one that “introduces a
correction of the expectation created by the first conjunct; an incorrect expectation is
cancelled and a proper expectation is put in its place.”" If a writer uses ἀλλα he's pointing at the contrast.

δε is more delicate than ἀλλα. It doesn't point out like "look, it's this, not that". There's no one correct translation for δε - it depends on the context. Often it can be translated as 'but', but not always. At discourse level δε is used to mark "development", for example new scene in narrative. 'But' wouldn't be a natural translation for it.

For example:
The cat is black - the dog is brown.
The cat is black and the dog is brown.
The cat is black but the dog is brown.

The information in all these clauses is the same, and there's contrast in all the clauses, whether 'but' is used or not. 'But' only makes the contrast explicit - the dog isn't black, it's brown. Whether you want to use it or not depends on the context, just like in your own example. ἀλλα sounds natural there, but only if the larger context supports its message.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: δε and ἀλλα

Post by Barry Hofstetter » August 18th, 2011, 8:26 am

Good response by Eeli. I would summarize by saying that ἀλλά nearly always adversative -- it's a big but, so to speak, which is what the text means by "stronger," it shows a specific ("strong") contrast. δέ has a much wider usage and is primarily a discourse marker -- with μέν in the preceding clause it can often be used to show contrast, without it may indicate continuity with the previous clause(s) and is best left untranslated, when showing up without a preceding δέ it can introduce a change in subject (and may be translated as an adversative if the context warrants), and so forth. Different authors might use it somewhat differently. The issue here is one of semantics and usage, and your best bet is to have a look at the articles on the two words in BDAG or LSJ.

In your sentence (is that from Machen?) I would use ἀλλά.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

RickBrannan
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Re: δε and ἀλλα

Post by RickBrannan » August 18th, 2011, 8:48 am

Hi David.

I think both Eeli and Barry's responses are helpful. I agree with Eeli, Steve Runge's stuff is very helpful in understanding the primary functions of the most commonly used conjunctions (instead of just associating an at times unhelpful gloss with each of them).

A few years back, while in the midst of a full-on examination of the role of αλλα at the discourse level, I wrote a post about the difference between αλλα and δε that might be helpful: http://bit.ly/h9VInJ

That examination of αλλα ended up as a paper presented to the ETS in 2008 and has been subsequently edited and will be published in "Discourse Studies and Biblical Interpretation". The ETS version of the paper is available on my web site, it might be helpful in thinking about αλλα and its difference from other conjunctions typically glossed "but". The paper is here: http://www.supakoo.com/rick/papers/ , if you scroll down to the "2008" section, you'll see a link to both the paper and the conference handout.

Hope it helps!
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Rick Brannan
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Logos Bible Software

David Lim
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Re: δε and ἀλλα

Post by David Lim » August 18th, 2011, 9:24 am

David Ting wrote:It is mentioned in the text book that both should be translated as "but", and ἀλλα is stronger than δε. What does "stronger" mean?

Is using ἀλλα in the translation below reasonable?
The evil men were killing the disciples, but the disciples were not dying in darkness and sin.
οἱ πονηροι ἀπεκτεινον τους μαθητας, ἀλλα οἱ μαθηται οὐκ ἀπεθνησκον ἐν σκοτιᾳ και ἁμαρτιᾳ.
My own opinion is that neither is "stronger", but rather that they have different functions. To me, "αλλ[α]" is a conjunction that takes two clauses and (almost always) contrasts between them, however "δε" is a conjunction that takes only the succeeding clause, essentially beginning a new clause. So "αλλα" is very close to "but" but "δε" is something like "however" / "moreover". Incidentally "however" in English can sometimes be used as a post-positive too. ;) I would choose "οι δε μαθηται" for your example, but I could be wrong..
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David Ting
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Re: δε and ἀλλα

Post by David Ting » August 19th, 2011, 4:45 am

He describes ἀλλὰ as a “global marker of contrast”, one that “introduces a
correction of the expectation created by the first conjunct; an incorrect expectation is
cancelled and a proper expectation is put in its place.”" If a writer uses ἀλλα he's pointing at the contrast.

δε is more delicate than ἀλλα. It doesn't point out like "look, it's this, not that". There's no one correct translation for δε - it depends on the context. Often it can be translated as 'but', but not always. At discourse level δε is used to mark "development", for example new scene in narrative. 'But' wouldn't be a natural translation for it.

For example:
The cat is black - the dog is brown.
The cat is black and the dog is brown.
The cat is black but the dog is brown.

The information in all these clauses is the same, and there's contrast in all the clauses, whether 'but' is used or not. 'But' only makes the contrast explicit - the dog isn't black, it's brown. Whether you want to use it or not depends on the context, just like in your own example. ἀλλα sounds natural there, but only if the larger context supports its message.
Thank you, Eli. I find this explanation very helpful. I believe I understand better the difference now.
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David Ting
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Joined: July 9th, 2011, 9:32 am

Re: δε and ἀλλα

Post by David Ting » August 19th, 2011, 4:48 am

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In your sentence (is that from Machen?) I would use ἀλλά.
No, it is from Ray Summers' Essential of New Testament Greek.
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David Ting
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Re: δε and ἀλλα

Post by David Ting » August 19th, 2011, 4:55 am

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I would choose "οι δε μαθηται" for your example, but I could be wrong..
David,

According to Eli's explanation, ἀλλὰ is one that “introduces a correction of the expectation created by the first conjunct; an incorrect expectation is
cancelled and a proper expectation is put in its place. In this case, the expectation could be the "disciples were dying", but it is incorrect, and thus is cancelled and replaced with a proper expectation the "disciples were not dying". Therefore, I believe ἀλλὰ is a better choice :D
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