[b-greek] Re: Mt 15.27 and Mk 7:26

From: Iver Larsen (iver_larsen@sil.org)
Date: Sun Feb 24 2002 - 04:19:29 EST

> The matter of the translation of YAR, though seems to require a
> distinction which has so far evaded me. I have not been able to
> grasp the distinctions between purpose, result, grounds, and
> reason. These same distinctions are made with sugjunctives,
> infinitives, and conjunctions. I am sure that they will come
> again in my studies, and perhaps I will eventually come to
> appreciate the distinctions.

Yes, Richard. I am sure you will, eventually. It is not that simple, and it
is not primarily a matter of matching Greek words with corresponding English
words, since a one-to-one correspondence does not exist.

> It seems certain that such distinctions are intuitive in my
> native English language. For instance, the varied uses of "that."

That intuition is built up through years of use of the language. Linguists
try to describe the patterns, but a native speaker makes inferences from
individual words and context on the fly.
> But the uses of YAR are listed in my text as reason, grounds,
> explanation, emphasis (which seems to me to be covered generally
> by the preceding uses) and transition.

GAR is a conjunction which in discourse linguistics is often called a
"sentence connector". It indicates a relationship between sentences (or
clauses) that cannot be matched with any one corresponding word in English.
The fundamental function of GAR is to introduce a further explanation or
give grounds for what has just been said.
Discourse linguistics is a fairly new branch of linguistics, so some of the
older textbooks will be somewhat outdated in their treatment of the function
of GAR.
"Emphasis" is NOT a function of GAR. Such a misunderstanding probably came
about from sentences where the context or word order give an emphasis, and
that emphatic aspect was then wrongly attached to GAR. For instance, KAI
("also/even") does emphasize the word it precedes, here "the dogs".
The word "transition" is very vague. GAR is used in narratives to introduce
a background comment, and in a certain sense there is a transition going on
when you move from the main story-line (event-line) to a background comment
(but that does not apply to the verse in question.) DE can also introduce a
background comment, but then the comment in contrastive rather than
explanatory. In an argumentative text, GAR introduces another step in the
argumentation or it may move the argumentation into a somewhat different
aspect of the overall topic.
> Regardless of the nuances of reason and grounds, they do not seem
> to fit the context of this passage that seems to be more of a
> polemic contrast, more suited perhaps to DE.

A good comment. Since GAR, and not DE, was used, it will help you to see the
different uses of DE and GAR.
> "Yes Lord, now even the dogs eat" - transition
> "Yes Lord, surely even the dogs ear' - emphasis
> It seems to stretch the expression to read YAR as "but," unless
> there is useage beyond the explanations I have found in the text
> I am using.

Yes, GAR in itself cannot be translated as "but" and I don't think anyone
would suggest that. At least I would not.
The GAR explains her implicit request. (It is polite in many cultures to
make requests indirectly, especially if a person of low status is asking a
high-status person for a favour.) Maybe it is easier to see if we make
explicit that implicit request: "Yes, Lord, (but please help me even though
I am not one of the "children" (Jews)), for (GAR) even the dogs (non-Jews)
eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' (Jews') table."
So, when you see a "but" in a idiomatic translation, this "but" is from the
implicit clause, and GAR is then not translated, because the implicit clause
that it is grounds for is not explicit. If that clause is made explicit as
above, then GAR can be translated by the normal "for".

Iver Larsen

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