Re: meaning EAN

From: Paul Zellmer (
Date: Tue May 20 1997 - 00:09:01 EDT

Carl W. Conrad wrote:
> At 10:41 PM -0400 5/19/97, Andrew Kulikovsky wrote:
> >Filloi,
> >
> >While reading in 1 John last night I came across EAN in 1 John 2:28 which
> >the NIV translates as "when". I was confused by this because EAN is made
> >up of EI + AN and AN makes a definite statement contingent, yet the
> >context and translation as "when" seems to indicate certainty...
> >
> >I checked Louw & Nida and BAGD and sure enough "when" is given as a
> >possible meaning. But this goes against the indefiniteness introduced by
> >AN (EAN).
> >
> >Am I missing something here? I don't understand.
> What is needed here is a bit of perspective of the sort gained from
> awareness of the history of the language and the transformations it has
> gone through from the Homeric and Classical Attic to the many varieties of
> Koinˇ. Just as the hINA clauses have expanded beyond the original adverbial
> purpose function to encompass quite a variety of substantive clauses in
> Koinˇ, so EAN clauses have expanded beyond their original base as protasis
> of general and vivid future conditions. For one thing, many users of EAN
> are not even conscious of its original inclusion of an EI; in effect EAN
> has become a marker for subjunctive clauses in all kinds of conditions: EAN
> + subj. = hOTAN + subj. = EAN TIS + subj. = hOSTIS AN + subj.--or you may
> find a hOS EAN. In short, "if-ever" comes to be equivalent to "whenever"
> and "whoever" when the clause is the apodosis of a condition calling for a
> subjunctive. Sometimes you'll find the "when" or "who" expressed, but it
> does occasinally happen that EAN simply by marking a conditional apodosis
> IMPLIES the temporal or relative element appropriate in the context. So
> it's not really that "when" is the meaning of EAN but rather that one must
> read the context carefully to determine the best way to convey EAN + subj.
> in any particular instance.
> It strikes me that Latin CUM + subjunctive clauses are very much like Koinˇ
> EAN + subjunctive clauses: CUM marks dependency in a subjunctive clause in
> Latin, and one must determine from context whether in a given instance it
> should be understood as "when," "since," or "although." I don't mean to
> say that EAN functions just as does CUM but rather that as a particle of
> subordination it can assume a variety of functions, just as EAN can.

Carl (and Andrew),

There are other languages that have made this same type shift. In fact,
the Filipino minority language that I work in introduces all future
events with a phrase meaning literally, "when if". Normally there is no
longer any residual subjunctive-type doubt, but the form remains.


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