Syntactic Latinisms in Greek?

From: Domenico LEMBO (
Date: Tue Sep 10 1996 - 14:57:52 EDT

Recently C. Conrad asked about a possible influence of Latin Grammar on
(hellenistic) Greek. Well, the current view is that nothing such exists
except sometimes in official (administrative) documents, translated from
Latin into Greek or badly written in Greek. And, generally speaking, this
is quite right.
One could, however, rephrase it better. Maybe nothing such exists as
established, codified, embedded anew in Greek grammar. But there are at
least occasional traces of this phenomenon: traces one can discover in
single texts or in single authors, wherever bilingualism is given, both as
individual competence and as pressure exerted by a foreign language. And
now and then there *is*, I suspect, grammaticalisation in Greek of some
Greek Latin pattern.
Let's take two examples from NT. In Lc 7.4 we read: AXIOS ESTI O(I)
PAREXE(I) TOUTO (= lat. dignus est cui hoc praebeas). This is a clear
Latinism, but an occasional one. Elsewhere (e.g. Io 1.27) we find AXIOS +
HINA, but this is surely an established pattern. And, if it derives from
Latin *dignus ut*, then one could rethink the whole matter...
The ground is not yet explored enough. A case study is: M. Dubuisson, Le
Latin de Polybe. Les implications historiques d'un cas de bilinguisme,
Paris 1985. Useful hints are also in: Zum Umgang mit fremden Sprachen in
der griechisch-roemischen Antike: Kolloquium der Fachrichtungen Klassische
Philologie der Universitaeten Leipzig und Saarbruecken am 21. und 22.
November 1989 in Saarbruecken, hrsg. von Carl Werner Mueller, Kurt Sier und
Juergen Werner. Stuttgart: Steiner, 1992.

D. Lembo


       Domenico LEMBO Universita' di Napoli


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