[b-greek] Re: Clarification on Terminology

From: Mike Sangrey (mike@sojurn.lns.pa.us)
Date: Mon Oct 30 2000 - 09:24:32 EST

Mark Armstrong wrote:
> 2. Elliptical construction. This term has arisen from my examination of
> Mark 2:10, "IVA DE EIDHTE.........". The adverbial clause is described by
> Morna Hooker as an elliptical construction - apparently because it has no
> direct linkage with a main verb or participle in the pericope, or maybe its
> antecedent is back in verse 5. In any case, verse 10 gives the choice
> between two alternatives.

Maurice A. O'Sullivan <mauros@iol.ie> said:
> Again from the SOED:

> Elliptical Gram. Characterized by ellipsis; spec. (of sentences etc.)
> defective, lacking a word or words needed to complete the sense.

Although I'm sure I'm being a pedantic nitpicker here, and THAT against
the Oxford Dictionary!, but I find this way of defining ellipsis as
somewhat unpalatable.

My quibble is with "complete the sense." I think of it as "adhere to
the commonly accepted grammar." If one didn't have some sense of the
intended sense, one would have a hard time determining what that word or
words might be. Ellipsis appears to me to be a form of economy while
sometimes adding meaning which is only possible by the intelligent use
of empty space.

If I say, "I walked the pier." Everyone knows the `sense'; it needs
nothing to complete it. However, I would have conformed better to the
grammar by saying, "I walked _on_ the pier." Although, depending on
context, the former may better convey the sense intended. The former
offers some semantic color not painted on the canvas by the later.

Furthermore, labeling a particular construction as elliptical when that
construction is used in a long since dead language is doubly difficult--do
we really understand how the language flowed naturally on the street, the
market place, the kitchen? Is grammar to be defined by the mathematical
rigor of the sanitized language lab; or is it the experienced guide
through the living symbiosis of the glade?

If we define `ellipsis' too rigidly, then it could be applied much too
frequently. Ironically then, it looses much of its benefit for exegesis.

Well, sorry for the knee-jerk reaction; I see the description `ellipsis'
used too frequently for my tastes. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).

Mike Sangrey
Landisburg, Pa.
               It's OK to think differently, just think together.
               Sooner or later that will bring out our faults;
               then we can deal with them...together.

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