Where's the genitive at?

(new to greek still) I am surprised by the lack of a genitive in a lot of dictionaries and resources. For example ναυτιλία, does not have a genitive shown on perseus or in my print edition of Liddell&Scott. Is there some assumption that it is -α -ας and not -α -ης or a third declension?
thanks
 
The LSJ assumes that if you are using the lexicon, you know Greek sufficiently well to know what the genitive is of the word you are looking up. It's a reference work, not a teaching tool per se.
 

Hemo Rusticus

J. Wellington Wimpy
On the other hand, the genitive is provided for such words as may deceive even those who know the language well. Nouns that belong to rare classes, such as the m./f. sibilant-stems †(e.g. αἰδώς < *αἰδόσ-ς), will have the gen. forms given.

In the case of your example, you're correct to say that:
there [is] some assumption that it is -α -ας and not -α -ης or a third declension?
because the morphology alone should tell you.

†These words are much more common in Latin, e.g. m. honōs/honōr, and f. arbōs/arbōr, where the long ō is extended from the stem of the nom. sg. through the whole paradigm.
 
On the other hand, the genitive is provided for such words as may deceive even those who know the language well. Nouns that belong to rare classes, such as the m./f. sibilant-stems †(e.g. αἰδώς < *αἰδόσ-ς), will have the gen. forms given.

In the case of your example, you're correct to say that:

because the morphology alone should tell you.

†These words are much more common in Latin, e.g. m. honōs/honōr, and f. arbōs/arbōr, where the long ō is extended from the stem of the nom. sg. through the whole paradigm.
morphology?
so it is -α -ας then?
 
Filie Volcani, The LSJ is actually somewhat inconsistent in its methοdology, and is quite minimalist in that it only lists what is not predictable from the rules of word formation and so forth that at least a beginning student should know. It gives the "unexpected," e.g.,

ἄνθρωπος, ὁ, Att. crasis ἅνθρωπος, Ion. ὥνθρωπος, for ὁ ἄνθρ-:—man...

It lists the gender, but not the genitive. Why? Because as a second declension noun, the genitive is predictable, but the while most 2nd declension -ος are masculine, some are not, and therefore it's not predictable. Similarly it will often list dialectical variations, unexpected stem changes, and so forth.

The recent BrillDAG (Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek), however, has:

ἄνθρωπος -ου, ὁ, ἡ ⓐ usu. masc. human, human being, person, man (in generic or individual sense)...

Which gives not only everything you would need for the noun, but a more accurate definition by 21st century lexigraphical standards.

But being inconsistent, the LSJ will sometimes list all the "good stuff," though not in the order you might expect from your beginning textbooks. Still, being a lexicon its greatest value is that it list actual references in the primary literature where the citation supporting the definition can be found. BrillDAG, with more consistent methodology and more up to date linguistic theory, is a good supplement for in depth work but not a substitute for the LSJ. It is a good substitute for the intermediate LSJ, what we used to call the "middle Liddel."
 

Big Horn

Member
Filie Volcani, The LSJ is actually somewhat inconsistent in its methοdology, and is quite minimalist in that it only lists what is not predictable from the rules of word formation and so forth that at least a beginning student should know. It gives the "unexpected," e.g.,

ἄνθρωπος, ὁ, Att. crasis ἅνθρωπος, Ion. ὥνθρωπος, for ὁ ἄνθρ-:—man...

It lists the gender, but not the genitive. Why? Because as a second declension noun, the genitive is predictable, but the while most 2nd declension -ος are masculine, some are not, and therefore it's not predictable. Similarly it will often list dialectical variations, unexpected stem changes, and so forth.

The recent BrillDAG (Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek), however, has:

ἄνθρωπος -ου, ὁ, ἡ ⓐ usu. masc. human, human being, person, man (in generic or individual sense)...

Which gives not only everything you would need for the noun, but a more accurate definition by 21st century lexigraphical standards.

But being inconsistent, the LSJ will sometimes list all the "good stuff," though not in the order you might expect from your beginning textbooks. Still, being a lexicon its greatest value is that it list actual references in the primary literature where the citation supporting the definition can be found. BrillDAG, with more consistent methodology and more up to date linguistic theory, is a good supplement for in depth work but not a substitute for the LSJ. It is a good substitute for the intermediate LSJ, what we used to call the "middle Liddel."
I don't believe anyone can translate that famous clause of Herodotus into English capturing the Greek meaning: πολλοὶ ἄνθρωποι εἶεν, ὀλίγοι δὲ ἄνδρες. An example from Latin is non nulli sunt: it does not mean some. Real translation is not always possible. It's far more difficult to translate ἄνθρωπος than ἄνηρ.
 
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Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
That's a nice phrase.
 
I don't believe anyone can translate that famous clause of Herodotus into English capturing the Greek meaning: πολλοὶ ἄνθρωποι εἶεν, ὀλίγοι δὲ ἄνδρες. An example from Latin is non nulli sunt: it does not mean some. Real translation is not always possible. It's far more difficult to translate ἄνθρωπος than ἄνηρ.
Both the OLD and the L&S give "some" and "several" as glosses for nonnulli. As for your Herodotus quote, good one. It depends in Greek on the fact that ἄνθρωπος and ἀνήρ really don't mean the same thing, though there is some overlap, and it's that overlap that makes the semantic pun in Greek possible. However, I don't think there is a problem with capturing the thought, but like a lot of Greek, it requires real translation, and not anything woodenly literal, and that means we tend to lose the semantic pun. "Though men are many, warriors are few" (considering the military context of the citation in 7.210). One translator has "that among so many people there were few real men..."

Herodotus. (1920). Herodotus, with an English translation by A. D. Godley. (A. D. Godley, Ed.). Medford, MA: Harvard University Press.

Though they give the idea, both translations are really inadequate -- they lack the impact of the Greek.
 

Big Horn

Member
Both the OLD and the L&S give "some" and "several" as glosses for nonnulli. As for your Herodotus quote, good one. It depends in Greek on the fact that ἄνθρωπος and ἀνήρ really don't mean the same thing, though there is some overlap, and it's that overlap that makes the semantic pun in Greek possible. However, I don't think there is a problem with capturing the thought, but like a lot of Greek, it requires real translation, and not anything woodenly literal, and that means we tend to lose the semantic pun. "Though men are many, warriors are few" (considering the military context of the citation in 7.210). One translator has "that among so many people there were few real men..."

Herodotus. (1920). Herodotus, with an English translation by A. D. Godley. (A. D. Godley, Ed.). Medford, MA: Harvard University Press.

Though they give the idea, both translations are really inadequate -- they lack the impact of the Greek. Ezra Pound once mentioned purchasing a Latin translation of Homer published in the eighteen-thirties.
OLD and L&S are stuck. A real translation would require the addition of a rather clumsy clause, e.g., "It is not the case that none..."

Regarding Herodotus, English simply has no word for either ἄνθρωπος or ἄνηρ. The translator should have translated the two words into Latin. Most people reading an English translation of Herodotus a century ago would have had Latin even if they had not had Greek. Latin translations of Homer were relatively popular in the old days; I don't know about Herodotus.
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
Latin translations of Homer were relatively popular in the old days; I don't know about Herodotus.
This website contains links to editions of Greek texts with Latin translation for a whole bunch of Greek works, including Herodotus. It's pretty cool.
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OLD and L&S are stuck. A real translation would require the addition of a rather clumsy clause, e.g., "It is not the case that none..."

Regarding Herodotus, English simply has no word for either ἄνθρωπος or ἄνηρ. The translator should have translated the two words into Latin. Most people reading an English translation of Herodotus a century ago would have had Latin even if they had not had Greek. Latin translations of Homer were relatively popular in the old days; I don't know about Herodotus.
So the problem here appears to be an idiosyncratic view of what translation is. "Stuck?" "A real translation?" I don't think so. Your "real translation" would not simply be clunky, but wrong.

As for ἄνθρωπος and ἀνήρ, more accurate to say that English has no one word corresponding to the precise semantic range of either Greek word. What we do have are several words which correspond to the various aspects of the semantic range of each, which can be supplied by the translator in the appropriate context. Of course, the word "man" in English itself has been subject to semantic flux and shift over the past 1/2 century or so, thanks to social and cultural changes, and that makes the translator's job even more interesting... :)

I suggest a review of general linguistics and lexical semantics in particular.
 

Big Horn

Member
This website contains links to editions of Greek texts with Latin translation for a whole bunch of Greek works, including Herodotus. It's pretty cool.
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Ezra Pound once mentioned purchasing a Latin translation of the Odyssey in France. He said that it had been published in the early nineteenth century. Given his demand for maximum clarity, I suspect that he would have joined me in my objection to the standard translation of Cicero's words cited above. Latin says it so much more clearly than English in this instance.

Translation isn't always possible. The reason for the problem in Cicero is a typological difference between Latin and English, but the problem in Herodotus is merely lexical although that does not mean that there is a solution.
 
Ezra Pound once mentioned purchasing a Latin translation of the Odyssey in France. He said that it had been published in the early nineteenth century. Given his demand for maximum clarity, I suspect that he would have joined me in my objection to the standard translation of Cicero's words cited above. Latin says it so much more clearly than English in this instance.

Translation isn't always possible. The reason for the problem in Cicero is a typological difference between Latin and English, but the problem in Herodotus is merely lexical although that does not mean that there is a solution.
I love this. Nothing like name-dropping a famous dead poet and saying "I'm pretty sure he would have agreed with me..."

An excellent article on translation and its use in the classroom. Despite the title, it has equal applicability to ancient Greek:

 

Big Horn

Member
I love this. Nothing like name-dropping a famous dead poet and saying "I'm pretty sure he would have agreed with me..."

An excellent article on translation and its use in the classroom. Despite the title, it has equal applicability to ancient Greek:

Wilson's approach is not unflawed.

 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
Agreed, but that doesn't mean the advice given in the article is wrong.
I don't fully understand that article to be honest:

These exercises are not a substitute for the work novice students need to do to develop fluency in Latin or ancient Greek. Wilson shared, “I think non-translation exercises need to be very prominent — talking about word order, literary effects, syntax, and comprehension exercises that don’t involve translation.” Still, many of these activities are accessible to students even as they are continuing to build their vocabulary and understanding of syntax. And, they can prevent students from viewing Latin and ancient Greek as simply a complicated puzzle to decipher.

Teaching translation intentionally can help students listen to the voices of a faraway people and convey what they have heard to their own generation.
A) All the exercises proposed require some kind of base translation to work with unless you want to produce complete gibberish:

Perform the text out loud. Lombardo noted, “All of this was meant to be heard since people usually had these works read to them. It has to work as a performance.” He suggests having each student give a dramatic presentation to underscore this point. This kind of performance is central to Lombardo’s approach to translation. “I read it out loud in the original language expressively. Then, I try to transfer that feeling to English.” After performing or hearing the text, students can identify the emotion and tone either in a class conversation or written reflection.
This is presented as if it were a pre-reading activity ... but it doesn't work that way because students simply cannot act out a text they don't understand.

Start by reading, not deciphering. Mike Fontaine, a Classics professor at Cornell whose translation of Vincent Obsopoeus’ De Arte Bibendi is coming out in April, begins translating by reading. “I would read it and try to absorb the couplet in my head without decoding the grammar. Then, I would ask ‘How would you convey that in English?’” This approach can help students develop a more holistic impression of the text instead of focusing on word-level meaning.
Again, the obvious answer you will get from students will be "No idea, I don't understand the text".

B) You can do all of this as post-reading/post-translating exercises, but if that's what is meant, the article is simply stating the obvious in presenting methods that are decades old ... there's nothing new about that – unless all you ever do in Anglo-American classrooms is truly just to translate without any follow-up.
 
I don't fully understand that article to be honest:



A) All the exercises proposed require some kind of base translation to work with unless you want to produce complete gibberish:



This is presented as if it were a pre-reading activity ... but it doesn't work that way because students simply cannot act out a text they don't understand.



Again, the obvious answer you will get from students will be "No idea, I don't understand the text".

B) You can do all of this as post-reading/post-translating exercises, but if that's what is meant, the article is simply stating the obvious in presenting methods that are decades old ... there's nothing new about that – unless all you ever do in Anglo-American classrooms is truly just to translate without any follow-up.
Now this is turning into an interesting discussion. There are all sorts of ways to test comprehension on a passage that do not require translation. Asking students to paraphrase or retell the story in a different format is actually different from translation. Of course, we can ask them comprehension questions in the language and have them respond in that language, but even having them answer comprehension questions in their primary language uses different skills than translation.

My response to the article is that I don't want to see translation replaced, but supplemented and augmented by other strategies to engage students more fully in the language without their primary language intervening.
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
Now this is turning into an interesting discussion. There are all sorts of ways to test comprehension on a passage that do not require translation. Asking students to paraphrase or retell the story in a different format is actually different from translation. Of course, we can ask them comprehension questions in the language and have them respond in that language, but even having them answer comprehension questions in their primary language uses different skills than translation.
That's what is done in modern languages, but in modern languages, the texts are usually easier and the foreign language is spoken in class. Most classical Latin texts (or Greek for that matter) are usually not understood by school students on first reading (actually, I know many Latin university students near the end of their studies whom I couldn't ask to paraphrase a text quickly). You can of course deal with sentences and texts along comprehension questions like quis quid ubi quibus auxiliis cur quomodo quando, but it usually requires (quite) a bit of help from the teacher.

None of this is new, though, is it?
 
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