Re: TIS followed by an Enclitic

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat Aug 02 1997 - 17:28:25 EDT

At 6:34 AM -0400 8/2/97, Clayton Bartholomew wrote:
>When TIS is followed by an enclitic (e.g., TIS ESTIN, Acts 13:15,
>25:14), the accent of the enclitic falls on TIS (Smyth #185, Moulton
>p54). In this case the indefinite pronoun can end up having the
>grave accent of the interrogative pronoun. How then do we
>distinguish between the indefinite and the interrogative in a case
>like this?
>Postscript: This problem is more common in Attic tragedy than in
>the NT.

I think that what you mean is that "the indefinite pronoun can end up
having the ACUTE accent of the interrogative pronoun"--for the
interrogative pronoun ALWAYS has an acute accent.

It is true that when the indefinite TIS is followed by one or more
enclitics, the TIS will take an acute accent and will therefore look like
the interrogative. However, I cannot imagine a situation where the
indefinite pronoun is likely to be confused with the interrogative pronoun:
the interrogative tends as much as possible to take the initial position in
its clause, whereas the indefinite pronoun is itself an enclitic dependent
accentually on the preceding word. In the passage cited above, Acts 13:15,
TIS follows upon EI (a very common combination indeed!): there's no way
this TIS could be thought interrogative.

While I won't bet the farm on the proposition that there's NEVER an
ambiguous TIS--one that is not easily discerned as either interrogative or
else indefinite, I will have to rely on the old saw: "I'm from Missouri,
you're going to have to show me" (an authentically ambiguous instance). I'd
like to see one where the context does not make it immediately clear which
we are dealing with. One might, for instance, theoretically suppose that in
a sentence like

        O)UK O)=IDA TI/S )ESTIN ...

the TIS might be indefinite--but what sense would "I don't know (someone)
is ..." make--and in fact that idea would rather be expressed with a
sentence more like

        O)UK O)=D' EI/ TIS ESTI\N ... ("I don't know whether anyone is ..."

In fact, however, Attic idiom is more likely to write that indirect question as

        O)UK OID' hO/STIS ESTIN ... (combination of indef. TIS with rel. pron.)

On the other hand, there's an archaic ALTERNATIVE declension of TIS one
finds frequently enough in fifth and fourth century Attic texts with
genitive in TE/0 (contracted to TO=U), dative in TW=i, that can be confused
with the definite article in certain circumstances, as, e.g.:

  EN TW=i TO/PWi = (a) on the spot, or (b) on what spot? (= EN TI/NI TO/PWi?)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(704) 675-4243 OR

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:24 EDT