Re: towards a grammar of clothing..

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat May 09 1998 - 08:11:27 EDT

This is a late response, but I was on the road most of the day yesterday
driving from St. Louis to western North Carolina and only downloaded a huge
mailbox of B-Greek stuff last night without being able to digest it all at

At 9:28 AM -0500 5/07/98, Steven Cox wrote:
> Uhh.. this apparently is a live issue back in the pews of
> Blighty so I tread carefully... but note that 1Cor11:4
> concerns PAS ANHR not PASA GUNH so lots of angry mens-
> libbers ought to be protesting against losing the right
> to bear hats in public :-D

I realize of course that you raise a moral and constitutional question here
at the same time ;-) -- but since you make reference in the subject header
to a "grammar of clothing," most of us neither "bear" nor "bare" a hat--we
"wear" one. And speaking of grammar of clothing, did I ever mention on this
list my embarrassing first endeavor to withdraw money from my bank in
Munich? I phrased my request using AUSZIEHEN, something like, "Ich moechte,
bitte, aus meinem Konto ausziehen." The teller laughed and explained to me
that the verb I wanted was ABHEBEN, the literal sense of which goes back to
taking coins off the top of a stack, but that AUSZIEHEN is normally used
only of "undressing." There are, of course, myriad possibilities of
idiomatic embarrassment between speakers of different languages. Another
anecdote that some might appreciate here is that the first pastor in my 35+
years in my St. Louis congregation was telling about his year of study in
Germany and meeting Rudolf Bultmann; he was delighted and tried to say
something nice--he's always wanted to meet him, because, "Herr Professor
Doktor, Sie haben ein grosses Geruch." Well, in the right context, GERUCH
can indeed mean "reputation," but its normal sense is "reek" or "smell."

> More seriously..

Yes, let's be serious!

> The interaction of prepositions between clothing and body
> parts presents all kinds of opportunity for idiom and
> variance in modern languages [leading to some funny and
> less funny misunderstandings], In particular the use of a
> preposition with one item of clothing proves little about
> the same preposition with a different item. A few good
> Asian grammars include lists of which prepositions, *and
> which verbs*, to use with each class of clothing.
> Which B-Greek grammar has this list?
> In the absence(?) of grammatical guidance I for one am
> uneasy about any interpretation of I Cor 11:4 which
> doesn't have a very hefty pile of evidence behind it.
> BAGD offers Plutarch Moralia 200f
> Wilcken Chrestomathy 499:5
> LSJ has nothing immediately obvious.
> If only some kind benefactor would search TLG for KATA THS

The suggestion made earlier was that the genitive is ablative, "down from
..." --and I know that this is true in some instances, such as the Homeric
and poetic KAT' OULUMPOU, "down from Olympus." I wonder, however, whether
KATA with some of these phrases may be like KATA QALATTHS, i.e. the
genitive is partitive, "down on the surface of the wide sea." Might not
KATA KEFALHS in some expressions mean precisely "covering the surface of
the head" rather than "hanging down from the head"? The Plutarch passage
above appears to mean, "he walked with a cloak over his head." This could,
of course, mean "hanging down from" in the sense that the man was wearing a
hooded cape, but it might also mean "covering." I'm puzzled by the second
one; here in the mountains the only dictionary I have is a late Victorian
unabridged "great Scott," which gives "dice table" for TABLA and "drum" for
TABALA. Could this be a wrap-around scarf of some sort? If so, this too
could mean "covering" in the sense of "concealing"--although theoretically
one might also imagine PERI or even AMFI being used in this situation.

You do raise an interesting question. My guess is that the answer is to be
found somewhere in the vocabulary and usage of Greek comedy and mime.

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