Distinctions driven by source language (was Re: Mark 8:24)

From: Mike Sangrey (mike@sojurn.lns.pa.us)
Date: Tue Jun 29 1999 - 11:18:33 EDT

[Several statements about HOTI elided] and then...
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu said:
> .... But there is a principle involved here that is, I think important:
> many of our grammatical distinctions of category are based upon our
> need to convey the sense of a foreign language into a target language,
> and our distinctions are based upon the requisites of the target
> language; it is a mistake to assume that these distinctions are
> necessarily grammatically or logically present in the original
> language.

Thank you Carl! (I am fairly new to Greek; I took a one year course a
number of years ago and am now trying to refresh.)

I've been cogitating over the very principle you mention here, although
I've been relating it to vocabulary and not to grammar. Does not this
principle apply similarly to vocabulary?

When I reference a lexicon, it frequently bothers me that the distinctions
which are being made appear slight and seem to me to reflect a molding
by the target language. What I want is a lexicon that tells me how the
Greek person understood the meaning. For some words, say AGKALH, the
meaning would be identical in both source and target languages; however,
for other words, say, PEIRASMOS, the meaning is more complex (not to
start that discussion--been there, done that.)

How safe is it to read an entire lexical entry and try to form a
semantical composite of that word? I realize that concepts are much
larger than a given word and that the "real" meaning of an individual
word is derived from the context. Also, I'm certainly aware of the
occurance of polysemy where a word can have different fields of meaning,
like the English word 'trunk'. I would be very interested in your--and
other's--comments about lexical and grammatical distinctions being driven
by the source language.

Perhaps this is much too large a question and the feel for it is developed
over time after ingesting many, many examples. Is it a worthy cause
to pursue "thinking like a Greek?" Or am I blinded by the idealism
of a youthful perspective? [Ummmmm...of Greek, that is--I'm not that
young actually, but relative to Greek, I'm just a teany-bopper.]

Thanks ahead of time.

Mike Sangrey

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