Re: translation of "melle"

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Sep 21 1995 - 08:51:32 EDT

At 8:36 AM 9/21/95, Shaughn Daniel wrote:
>>To get back to the point, by the NT period, MELLEI, MELLOUSI(N) are used
>>quite regularly as auxiliaries with a present infinitive to form a
>>periphrastic future tense. There is thus no difference (I challenge anyone
>>to show me a difference) between hOTAN MELLHI TAUTA SUNTELEISQAI PANTA and
>>hOTAN TAUTA SUNTELHTAI PANTA or,to take it out of the subjunctive, between
><raising hand slightly> I think there is a difference, but maybe something
>that I can't perfectly reflect in experience. My German-soon-to-be-wife
>almost always makes the mistake: "We gonna get married soon. You ready?"
>and then I answer her, implying that she left out a word, "We'RE gonna get
>married soon. And yes, I'm ready, are the bags packed?" The verb "are" +
>present participle (GONNA is defective from "going to") being the present
>continuous in grammatical form, functioning as a future, AND the former
>without the "are" is defective based on her memory of English. To me, an
>East Texas boy, "fixin' to" and "gonna" mean something different. Take
>these examples:
>1. I'm gonna repair the truck <today>.
>2. I'm fixin' to repair the truck.
>3. I'm going to repair the truck <today>.
>4. I will repair the truck <today>.
>My feeling tells me that 2 is more contingent then all the rest, and my
>feeling also told me to drop off the "today" on the end (Why that? I don't
>know). Now when we get to questioning with "gonna", then one can leave out
>the "to be" part, I feel:
>1. [Are] You gonna repair the truck <today>?
>2. You fixin' to repair the truck?
>3. Are you going to repair the truck <today>?
>4. Will you repair the truck <today>?
>2 is still the most contingent to my feeling for East Texas dialect. If any
>of this helps, then let me know. I'm still confused about it all.

I won't argue with you over this last point, viz., that (2) is more
contingent than the others (although my dialectal perspective is
north-central New Orleans rather than Easat Texas), but I would still
affirm that by the NT era the construction (MELLEI + infinitive) is a
simple auxiliary equivalent in meaning to a future indicative--that there's
no real semantic difference anymore as there might have been 300 or more
years earlier. I don't think it differs in substance from the semantic
equivalence of the construction (PROS + accusative) and the dative of the
person addressed in combination with a verb of speaking:


I think that what you're getting into here is the danger that I often have
fallen into myself, namely, that of interpreting phrases etymologically
from a diachronic perspective rather than semantically from the more
appropriate synchronic perspective when our concern is with what the
expression "meant" to the original speaker and hearer/reader of the phrase.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:27 EDT