Matthew 8:23

[bible passage=”Matthew 8:23″]

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2 thoughts on “Matthew 8:23

  1. Carl Conrad says:

    Matt. 8:23 Καὶ ἐμβάντι αὐτῷ εἰς τὸ πλοῖον ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ.
    [KAI EMBANTI AUTWi EIS TO PLOION HKOLOUQHSAN AUTWi hOI MAQHTAI AUTOU.]

    This passage has been discussed frequently on B-Greek, e.g. http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/20http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2010-March/052924.html http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/19http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/1999-August/006757.html http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/20http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2004-March/028646.html

    The July 2007 discussion seems to me one of the more helpful ones. Here’s Iver’s response to one of mine in that thread, but some who are disturbed by the phrasing of Matt 8:23 might want to read through the whole thread:

    http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/20http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2007-July/043520.html

    Yesterday’ blog entry by Bill Mounce on the Koinonia web site is a discussion of this same somewhat problematic passage: http://www.koinoniablog.net/2010/11/dative-abhttp://www.koinoniablog.net/2010/11/dative-absolute.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2FpQHu+%28Koinonia%29

    Apart from the acknowledgement that the usage in this verse is rather puzzling, what I found somewhat intriguing was the remarks concerning grammar, including the common distinction drawn between “prescriptive” and “descriptive” grammar:

    “Regardless of the specific reason for the dative, it does bring up an interesting point. Is grammar descriptive or prescriptive? The answer is, ‘Both.’ “Grammar is prescriptive in that it contains the rules for how words are put together so there is meaning. Without following grammar, there is no way to know the meaning of the sentence, ‘Bill bit the cat.’ Without grammar, it could be me headed for a tetanus shot. “But grammar is also descriptive. It tells us how a language group uses words. This is why grammar changes. … ”

    I think I would rather avoid this distinction between “prescriptive” and “descriptive” altogether. Languages seems always to be in flux: older standard usage yields before neologisms. I think that grammar is our means of presenting the norms of usage observed by most speakers and writers of a language in a given era and locale. Teachers and editors may endeavor to enforce a particular set of norms: they intend to be “prescriptive” but they are engaged in an ultimately losing battle.

    I find myself at odds, however, with Professor Mounce’s statement, “Without following grammar, there is no way to know the meaning of the sentence, ‘Bill bit the cat.’ Without grammar, it could be me headed for a tetanus shot.”

    I don’t think that we know the meaning of the sentence in question because we know grammar. We have expectations about sequential word-order that can be described by a grammar, but we do not have to LEARN grammatical rules in order to understand other speakers and writers of our language.

    I believe that we really have no difficulty whatsoever when it comes to understanding what Matthew 8:23 means. Our difficulty comes in EXPLAINING the fact that the participial phrase EMBANTI AUTWi is in the dative case. Is it a “dative absolute”? Is it proleptic ahead of AUTWi, itself the dative complement to HKOLOUQHSAN? Or is the AUTWi which follows HKOLOUQHSAN redundantly repetitive of the AUTWi in the initial participial phrase/clause? Is the author guilty of bad grammar? Or are our grammatical “rules” inadequate to provide an accounting for this construction which will satisfy us all?

    My inclination is to think that “grammar” is all theoretical, whether it is what we have learned from the age-old traditions of dead grammarians or what we are being told by academic linguists who often enough are able to give us more satisfying accounts of what we understand an ancient Greek text to be saying. At any rate, I don’t think that we learn to talk and to read by understanding grammatical rules; rather, I think that we attempt to explain our understanding of what we hear and read through our inherited (learned) or newly-formulated (learned) grammatical “rules.”

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

    /George F Somsel http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=GEqwSChP0j_JaRNuRMS28Gy8OmedV58Ln7razTvHbFY=@yahoo.com>/Tue Nov 09 2010 10:58:14 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    It seems to me that Carl’s statement contains what can only be understood as an inate contradiction. “We don’t need to learn grammar to understand, but we ‘inherit’ an understanding of the rules.” It would seem to me that whether we learn them formally in a class or simply by encountering them in our daily life, we do follow a certain grammar. I may be, and indeed is the case, that grammar does change (and can therefore be described as descriptive rather than prescriptive), it is nevertheless somewhat prescriptive for a certain time and circumstance.

    george gfsomsel

    … search for truth, hear truth, learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, defend the truth till death.

    – Jan Hus _________

    ________________________________ Sent: Tue, November 9, 2010 8:36:35 AM Grammar Is/Isn’t

    Matt. 8:23 ??? ??????? ???? ??? ?? ?????? ??????????? ???? ?? ??????? ?????. [KAI EMBANTI AUTWi EIS TO PLOION HKOLOUQHSAN AUTWi hOI MAQHTAI AUTOU.]

    This passage has been discussed frequently on B-Greek, e.g. http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/20http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2010-March/052924.html http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/19http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/1999-August/006757.html http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/20http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2004-March/028646.html

    The July 2007 discussion seems to me one of the more helpful ones. Here’s Iver’s response to one of mine in that thread, but some who are disturbed by the phrasing of Matt 8:23 might want to read through the whole thread:

    http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/20http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2007-July/043520.html

    Yesterday’ blog entry by Bill Mounce on the Koinonia web site is a discussion of this same somewhat problematic passage: http://www.koinoniablog.net/2010/11/dative-abhttp://www.koinoniablog.net/2010/11/dative-absolute.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2FpQHu+%28Koinonia%29

    Apart from the acknowledgement that the usage in this verse is rather puzzling, what I found somewhat intriguing was the remarks concerning grammar, including the common distinction drawn between “prescriptive” and “descriptive” grammar:

    “Regardless of the specific reason for the dative, it does bring up an interesting point. Is grammar descriptive or prescriptive? The answer is, ‘Both.’ “Grammar is prescriptive in that it contains the rules for how words are put together so there is meaning. Without following grammar, there is no way to know the meaning of the sentence, ‘Bill bit the cat.’ Without grammar, it could be me headed for a tetanus shot. “But grammar is also descriptive. It tells us how a language group uses words. This is why grammar changes. … ”

    I think I would rather avoid this distinction between “prescriptive” and “descriptive” altogether. Languages seems always to be in flux: older standard usage yields before neologisms. I think that grammar is our means of presenting the norms of usage observed by most speakers and writers of a language in a given era and locale. Teachers and editors may endeavor to enforce a particular set of norms: they intend to be “prescriptive” but they are engaged in an ultimately losing battle.

    I find myself at odds, however, with Professor Mounce’s statement, “Without following grammar, there is no way to know the meaning of the sentence, ‘Bill bit the cat.’ Without grammar, it could be me headed for a tetanus shot.”

    I don’t think that we know the meaning of the sentence in question because we know grammar. We have expectations about sequential word-order that can be described by a grammar, but we do not have to LEARN grammatical rules in order to understand other speakers and writers of our language.

    I believe that we really have no difficulty whatsoever when it comes to understanding what Matthew 8:23 means. Our difficulty comes in EXPLAINING the fact that the participial phrase EMBANTI AUTWi is in the dative case. Is it a “dative absolute”? Is it proleptic ahead of AUTWi, itself the dative complement to HKOLOUQHSAN? Or is the AUTWi which follows HKOLOUQHSAN redundantly repetitive of the AUTWi in the initial participial phrase/clause? Is the author guilty of bad grammar? Or are our grammatical “rules” inadequate to provide an accounting for this construction which will satisfy us all?

    My inclination is to think that “grammar” is all theoretical, whether it is what we have learned from the age-old traditions of dead grammarians or what we are being told by academic linguists who often enough are able to give us more satisfying accounts of what we understand an ancient Greek text to be saying. At any rate, I don’t think that we learn to talk and to read by understanding grammatical rules; rather, I think that we attempt to explain our understanding of what we hear and read through our inherited (learned) or newly-formulated (learned) grammatical “rules.”

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)Show footer

    /[OP]Carl Conrad http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=P7C2D1EQE03QTjfS_tb6dISzPP5MZcDxxh3zb1_bQlM=@mac.com>/Tue Nov 09 2010 11:04:18 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    Show quoted textLet me “parse” what I wrote, lest it be misunderstood/misinterpreted:

    ” I don’t think that we learn to talk and to read by understanding grammatical rules; rather, I think that we attempt to explain our understanding of what we hear and read through our inherited (learned) or newly-formulated (learned) grammatical ‘rules.'”

    “through our inherited … ‘rules'” is to be construed with “we attempt to explain our understanding of what we hear and read” —

    i.e. I think that we use our “inherited … rules” as a MEANS of EXPLAINING our understanding of what we hear and read.

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)Show quoted text

    /George F Somsel http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=GEqwSChP0j_JaRNuRMS28Gy8OmedV58Ln7razTvHbFY=@yahoo.com>/Tue Nov 09 2010 11:23:58 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    I don’t think we fundamentally disagree, but I think Mounce is correct in saying that grammar is both descriptive and prescriptive. It is descriptive in that it accounts for usage in a particular period under particular circumstances, but it also prescribes in that, during the period and in the circumstances in which the convention described by grammar is operative, it must be followed if one is to convey or understand the meaning of any particular statement.

    In the sentence “Bill bit the cat” we understand that Bill is the one who is engaging in the act described by the verb and that “cat” is the object of the action. This is because our inherited (and prescriptive) rules for English grammar at this time follows a SVO pattern. If, however, the convention were to change so that we began to follow an OVS pattern then Bill could be the object and “cat” could be the subject. One need only look at the change in the meaning of words in order to observe this phenomenon. If I were to say “Bill is gay” the hearer today would most likely understand that I was referencing Bill’s sexual preferences. If we were to retroject ourselves into a previous understanding of the word “gay” then it might be understood that Bill is happy. If we were to retroject ourselves even further back into the history of the word, we might then understand that Bill was wearing brightly colored clothing. It all depends upon time and circumstance, but during a particular time and under particular circumstances grammar is prescriptive if we wish to be correctly understood.

    george gfsomsel

    … search for truth, hear truth, learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, defend the truth till death.

    – Jan Hus _________

    ________________________________ Cc: B-Greekhttp://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=FVXLF5qLDydNiw4DmdpP0AWDHS2f70_ifrao_YdSPSk=@lists.ibiblio.org> Sent: Tue, November 9, 2010 9:03:45 AM Grammar Is/Isn’tShow quoted textLet me “parse” what I wrote, lest it be misunderstood/misinterpreted:

    ” I don’t think that we learn to talk and to read by understanding grammatical rules; rather, I think that we attempt to explain our understanding of what we hear and read through our inherited (learned) or newly-formulated (learned) grammatical ‘rules.'”

    “through our inherited … ‘rules'” is to be construed with “we attempt to explain our understanding of what we hear and read” —

    i.e. I think that we use our “inherited … rules” as a MEANS of EXPLAINING our understanding of what we hear and read.

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)Show quoted text?????.Show quoted textShow footer

    /[OP]Carl Conrad http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=P7C2D1EQE03QTjfS_tb6dISzPP5MZcDxxh3zb1_bQlM=@mac.com>/Tue Nov 09 2010 11:32:24 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    Show quoted textThen a five-year-old who hasn’t been to school and doesn’t even know what grammar is cannot formulate a sentence like “Bill bit the cat” or understand what that sentence means when he hears it?

    My point is that there are indeed norms of usage for a time and place, but that a grammatical accounting of that usage is a theoretical construct that is secondary to the actual usage of speakers and writers, listeners and readers. I would not equate the norms of usage with “grammar.” I think that any grammar is an endeavor to describe and explain the norms of usage.

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)Show quoted text

    /Christine Bussman http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=9P6JLRQxtiF9fj4McgWDnbwTVwG5PE0vKcR53YfgDF0=@geek-den.net>/Tue Nov 09 2010 12:13:07 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    Show quoted textI think most of this discussion comes down to a definition of grammar. Some of us would say that that five year old is using grammar, he just hasn’t yet learned the rules for that grammar. We use the term ‘grammar’ to describe not just the formulation of rules that describe how we speak, but also the natural understanding of those rules that is necessary to be understood. The five year old has only the natural understanding of grammar. The older person who is learning English as a second language may only have the the formulated rules. An older native speaker (hopefully) has both, and uses both as needed.

    This duality of grammar is part of why some of us find the old skill of diagramming sentences so helpful. It’s another place that the two parts of grammar overlap and can help each other be understood.

    Christine BussmanShow quoted text

    /[OP]Carl Conrad http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=P7C2D1EQE03QTjfS_tb6dISzPP5MZcDxxh3zb1_bQlM=@mac.com>/Tue Nov 09 2010 13:18:27 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    Show quoted textShow quoted textI agree that much of this discussion comes down to how we define “grammar.” I want to make a real distinction between “common usage” — the usage that is observed by the majority of speakers and writers and listeners and readers of a language in any particular era and locale — and “rules of grammar.” I think that the “rules of grammar”, whether they be those handed down traditionally and taught in schools or newly-formulated by academic linguists, are endeavors to describe “common usage” and explain how and why it works. And again I call attention to the text of my subject-header: we know what that text means well enough, but we have considerable difficulty offering an altogether mutually acceptable “grammatical” accounting of it. Perhaps the author of GMt hasn’t properly “absorbed the rules through hearing the language spoken.”?

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)Show quoted text

    /George F Somsel http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=GEqwSChP0j_JaRNuRMS28Gy8OmedV58Ln7razTvHbFY=@yahoo.com>/Tue Nov 09 2010 13:41:55 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    Carl Conrad wrote: “Perhaps the author of GMt hasn’t properly ‘absorbed the rules through hearing the language spoken.’?”

    That is possible as we observe even today with some who aren’t able to adequately phrase a statement in a form easily comprehensible to their contemporaries, but I wouldn’t wish to state that that is the case without thoroughly surveying the literature of the period to determine that such is a fact. It is relatively easy to make a determination whether such is the case with contemporary writings in a language which is native to us though even then there are occasions when we encounter difficulties.

    george gfsomsel

    … search for truth, hear truth, learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, defend the truth till death.

    – Jan Hus _________

    ________________________________ http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=GEqwSChP0j_JaRNuRMS28Gy8OmedV58Ln7razTvHbFY=@yahoo.com> Cc:http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=FVXLF5qLDydNiw4DmdpP0AWDHS2f70_ifrao_YdSPSk=@lists.ibiblio.org> Sent: Tue, November 9, 2010 11:18:18 AM Grammar Is/Isn’tShow quoted textShow quoted textI agree that much of this discussion comes down to how we define “grammar.” I want to make a real distinction between “common usage” — the usage that is observed by the majority of speakers and writers and listeners and readers of a language in any particular era and locale — and “rules of grammar.” I think that the “rules of grammar”, whether they be those handed down traditionally and taught in schools or newly-formulated by academic linguists, are endeavors to describe “common usage” and explain how and why it works. And again I call attention to the text of my subject-header: we know what that text means well enough, but we have considerable difficulty offering an altogether mutually acceptable “grammatical” accounting of it. Perhaps the author of GMt hasn’t properly “absorbed the rules through hearing the language spoken.”?

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)Show quoted textShow footer

    /George F Somsel http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=GEqwSChP0j_JaRNuRMS28Gy8OmedV58Ln7razTvHbFY=@yahoo.com>/Tue Nov 09 2010 13:06:24 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    Of course a 5 yr old who hasn’t been to school understands. He understands not because he has been to school (which he has not) but because he has absorbed the rules through hearing the language spoken.

    george gfsomsel

    … search for truth, hear truth, learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, defend the truth till death.

    – Jan Hus _________

    ________________________________ Cc: B-Greekhttp://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=FVXLF5qLDydNiw4DmdpP0AWDHS2f70_ifrao_YdSPSk=@lists.ibiblio.org> Sent: Tue, November 9, 2010 9:31:37 AM Grammar Is/Isn’tShow quoted textThen a five-year-old who hasn’t been to school and doesn’t even know what grammar is cannot formulate a sentence like “Bill bit the cat” or understand what that sentence means when he hears it?

    My point is that there are indeed norms of usage for a time and place, but that a grammatical accounting of that usage is a theoretical construct that is secondary to the actual usage of speakers and writers, listeners and readers. I would not equate the norms of usage with “grammar.” I think that any grammar is an endeavor to describe and explain the norms of usage.

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)Show quoted textShow footer

  2. Carl Conrad says:

    Matt. 8:23 Καὶ ἐμβάντι αὐτῷ εἰς τὸ πλοῖον ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ.
    [KAI EMBANTI AUTWi EIS TO PLOION HKOLOUQHSAN AUTWi hOI MAQHTAI AUTOU.]

    This passage has been discussed frequently on B-Greek, e.g. http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/20http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2010-March/052924.html http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/19http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/1999-August/006757.html http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/20http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2004-March/028646.html

    The July 2007 discussion seems to me one of the more helpful ones. Here’s Iver’s response to one of mine in that thread, but some who are disturbed by the phrasing of Matt 8:23 might want to read through the whole thread:

    http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/20http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2007-July/043520.html

    Yesterday’ blog entry by Bill Mounce on the Koinonia web site is a discussion of this same somewhat problematic passage: http://www.koinoniablog.net/2010/11/dative-abhttp://www.koinoniablog.net/2010/11/dative-absolute.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2FpQHu+%28Koinonia%29

    Apart from the acknowledgement that the usage in this verse is rather puzzling, what I found somewhat intriguing was the remarks concerning grammar, including the common distinction drawn between “prescriptive” and “descriptive” grammar:

    “Regardless of the specific reason for the dative, it does bring up an interesting point. Is grammar descriptive or prescriptive? The answer is, ‘Both.’ “Grammar is prescriptive in that it contains the rules for how words are put together so there is meaning. Without following grammar, there is no way to know the meaning of the sentence, ‘Bill bit the cat.’ Without grammar, it could be me headed for a tetanus shot. “But grammar is also descriptive. It tells us how a language group uses words. This is why grammar changes. … ”

    I think I would rather avoid this distinction between “prescriptive” and “descriptive” altogether. Languages seems always to be in flux: older standard usage yields before neologisms. I think that grammar is our means of presenting the norms of usage observed by most speakers and writers of a language in a given era and locale. Teachers and editors may endeavor to enforce a particular set of norms: they intend to be “prescriptive” but they are engaged in an ultimately losing battle.

    I find myself at odds, however, with Professor Mounce’s statement, “Without following grammar, there is no way to know the meaning of the sentence, ‘Bill bit the cat.’ Without grammar, it could be me headed for a tetanus shot.”

    I don’t think that we know the meaning of the sentence in question because we know grammar. We have expectations about sequential word-order that can be described by a grammar, but we do not have to LEARN grammatical rules in order to understand other speakers and writers of our language.

    I believe that we really have no difficulty whatsoever when it comes to understanding what Matthew 8:23 means. Our difficulty comes in EXPLAINING the fact that the participial phrase EMBANTI AUTWi is in the dative case. Is it a “dative absolute”? Is it proleptic ahead of AUTWi, itself the dative complement to HKOLOUQHSAN? Or is the AUTWi which follows HKOLOUQHSAN redundantly repetitive of the AUTWi in the initial participial phrase/clause? Is the author guilty of bad grammar? Or are our grammatical “rules” inadequate to provide an accounting for this construction which will satisfy us all?

    My inclination is to think that “grammar” is all theoretical, whether it is what we have learned from the age-old traditions of dead grammarians or what we are being told by academic linguists who often enough are able to give us more satisfying accounts of what we understand an ancient Greek text to be saying. At any rate, I don’t think that we learn to talk and to read by understanding grammatical rules; rather, I think that we attempt to explain our understanding of what we hear and read through our inherited (learned) or newly-formulated (learned) grammatical “rules.”

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

    /George F Somsel http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=GEqwSChP0j_JaRNuRMS28Gy8OmedV58Ln7razTvHbFY=@yahoo.com>/Tue Nov 09 2010 10:58:14 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    It seems to me that Carl’s statement contains what can only be understood as an inate contradiction. “We don’t need to learn grammar to understand, but we ‘inherit’ an understanding of the rules.” It would seem to me that whether we learn them formally in a class or simply by encountering them in our daily life, we do follow a certain grammar. I may be, and indeed is the case, that grammar does change (and can therefore be described as descriptive rather than prescriptive), it is nevertheless somewhat prescriptive for a certain time and circumstance.

    george gfsomsel

    … search for truth, hear truth, learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, defend the truth till death.

    – Jan Hus _________

    ________________________________ Sent: Tue, November 9, 2010 8:36:35 AM Grammar Is/Isn’t

    Matt. 8:23 ??? ??????? ???? ??? ?? ?????? ??????????? ???? ?? ??????? ?????. [KAI EMBANTI AUTWi EIS TO PLOION HKOLOUQHSAN AUTWi hOI MAQHTAI AUTOU.]

    This passage has been discussed frequently on B-Greek, e.g. http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/20http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2010-March/052924.html http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/19http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/1999-August/006757.html http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/20http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2004-March/028646.html

    The July 2007 discussion seems to me one of the more helpful ones. Here’s Iver’s response to one of mine in that thread, but some who are disturbed by the phrasing of Matt 8:23 might want to read through the whole thread:

    http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/20http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2007-July/043520.html

    Yesterday’ blog entry by Bill Mounce on the Koinonia web site is a discussion of this same somewhat problematic passage: http://www.koinoniablog.net/2010/11/dative-abhttp://www.koinoniablog.net/2010/11/dative-absolute.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2FpQHu+%28Koinonia%29

    Apart from the acknowledgement that the usage in this verse is rather puzzling, what I found somewhat intriguing was the remarks concerning grammar, including the common distinction drawn between “prescriptive” and “descriptive” grammar:

    “Regardless of the specific reason for the dative, it does bring up an interesting point. Is grammar descriptive or prescriptive? The answer is, ‘Both.’ “Grammar is prescriptive in that it contains the rules for how words are put together so there is meaning. Without following grammar, there is no way to know the meaning of the sentence, ‘Bill bit the cat.’ Without grammar, it could be me headed for a tetanus shot. “But grammar is also descriptive. It tells us how a language group uses words. This is why grammar changes. … ”

    I think I would rather avoid this distinction between “prescriptive” and “descriptive” altogether. Languages seems always to be in flux: older standard usage yields before neologisms. I think that grammar is our means of presenting the norms of usage observed by most speakers and writers of a language in a given era and locale. Teachers and editors may endeavor to enforce a particular set of norms: they intend to be “prescriptive” but they are engaged in an ultimately losing battle.

    I find myself at odds, however, with Professor Mounce’s statement, “Without following grammar, there is no way to know the meaning of the sentence, ‘Bill bit the cat.’ Without grammar, it could be me headed for a tetanus shot.”

    I don’t think that we know the meaning of the sentence in question because we know grammar. We have expectations about sequential word-order that can be described by a grammar, but we do not have to LEARN grammatical rules in order to understand other speakers and writers of our language.

    I believe that we really have no difficulty whatsoever when it comes to understanding what Matthew 8:23 means. Our difficulty comes in EXPLAINING the fact that the participial phrase EMBANTI AUTWi is in the dative case. Is it a “dative absolute”? Is it proleptic ahead of AUTWi, itself the dative complement to HKOLOUQHSAN? Or is the AUTWi which follows HKOLOUQHSAN redundantly repetitive of the AUTWi in the initial participial phrase/clause? Is the author guilty of bad grammar? Or are our grammatical “rules” inadequate to provide an accounting for this construction which will satisfy us all?

    My inclination is to think that “grammar” is all theoretical, whether it is what we have learned from the age-old traditions of dead grammarians or what we are being told by academic linguists who often enough are able to give us more satisfying accounts of what we understand an ancient Greek text to be saying. At any rate, I don’t think that we learn to talk and to read by understanding grammatical rules; rather, I think that we attempt to explain our understanding of what we hear and read through our inherited (learned) or newly-formulated (learned) grammatical “rules.”

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)Show footer

    /[OP]Carl Conrad http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=P7C2D1EQE03QTjfS_tb6dISzPP5MZcDxxh3zb1_bQlM=@mac.com>/Tue Nov 09 2010 11:04:18 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    Show quoted textLet me “parse” what I wrote, lest it be misunderstood/misinterpreted:

    ” I don’t think that we learn to talk and to read by understanding grammatical rules; rather, I think that we attempt to explain our understanding of what we hear and read through our inherited (learned) or newly-formulated (learned) grammatical ‘rules.'”

    “through our inherited … ‘rules'” is to be construed with “we attempt to explain our understanding of what we hear and read” —

    i.e. I think that we use our “inherited … rules” as a MEANS of EXPLAINING our understanding of what we hear and read.

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)Show quoted text

    /George F Somsel http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=GEqwSChP0j_JaRNuRMS28Gy8OmedV58Ln7razTvHbFY=@yahoo.com>/Tue Nov 09 2010 11:23:58 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    I don’t think we fundamentally disagree, but I think Mounce is correct in saying that grammar is both descriptive and prescriptive. It is descriptive in that it accounts for usage in a particular period under particular circumstances, but it also prescribes in that, during the period and in the circumstances in which the convention described by grammar is operative, it must be followed if one is to convey or understand the meaning of any particular statement.

    In the sentence “Bill bit the cat” we understand that Bill is the one who is engaging in the act described by the verb and that “cat” is the object of the action. This is because our inherited (and prescriptive) rules for English grammar at this time follows a SVO pattern. If, however, the convention were to change so that we began to follow an OVS pattern then Bill could be the object and “cat” could be the subject. One need only look at the change in the meaning of words in order to observe this phenomenon. If I were to say “Bill is gay” the hearer today would most likely understand that I was referencing Bill’s sexual preferences. If we were to retroject ourselves into a previous understanding of the word “gay” then it might be understood that Bill is happy. If we were to retroject ourselves even further back into the history of the word, we might then understand that Bill was wearing brightly colored clothing. It all depends upon time and circumstance, but during a particular time and under particular circumstances grammar is prescriptive if we wish to be correctly understood.

    george gfsomsel

    … search for truth, hear truth, learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, defend the truth till death.

    – Jan Hus _________

    ________________________________ Cc: B-Greekhttp://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=FVXLF5qLDydNiw4DmdpP0AWDHS2f70_ifrao_YdSPSk=@lists.ibiblio.org> Sent: Tue, November 9, 2010 9:03:45 AM Grammar Is/Isn’tShow quoted textLet me “parse” what I wrote, lest it be misunderstood/misinterpreted:

    ” I don’t think that we learn to talk and to read by understanding grammatical rules; rather, I think that we attempt to explain our understanding of what we hear and read through our inherited (learned) or newly-formulated (learned) grammatical ‘rules.'”

    “through our inherited … ‘rules'” is to be construed with “we attempt to explain our understanding of what we hear and read” —

    i.e. I think that we use our “inherited … rules” as a MEANS of EXPLAINING our understanding of what we hear and read.

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)Show quoted text?????.Show quoted textShow footer

    /[OP]Carl Conrad http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=P7C2D1EQE03QTjfS_tb6dISzPP5MZcDxxh3zb1_bQlM=@mac.com>/Tue Nov 09 2010 11:32:24 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    Show quoted textThen a five-year-old who hasn’t been to school and doesn’t even know what grammar is cannot formulate a sentence like “Bill bit the cat” or understand what that sentence means when he hears it?

    My point is that there are indeed norms of usage for a time and place, but that a grammatical accounting of that usage is a theoretical construct that is secondary to the actual usage of speakers and writers, listeners and readers. I would not equate the norms of usage with “grammar.” I think that any grammar is an endeavor to describe and explain the norms of usage.

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)Show quoted text

    /Christine Bussman http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=9P6JLRQxtiF9fj4McgWDnbwTVwG5PE0vKcR53YfgDF0=@geek-den.net>/Tue Nov 09 2010 12:13:07 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    Show quoted textI think most of this discussion comes down to a definition of grammar. Some of us would say that that five year old is using grammar, he just hasn’t yet learned the rules for that grammar. We use the term ‘grammar’ to describe not just the formulation of rules that describe how we speak, but also the natural understanding of those rules that is necessary to be understood. The five year old has only the natural understanding of grammar. The older person who is learning English as a second language may only have the the formulated rules. An older native speaker (hopefully) has both, and uses both as needed.

    This duality of grammar is part of why some of us find the old skill of diagramming sentences so helpful. It’s another place that the two parts of grammar overlap and can help each other be understood.

    Christine BussmanShow quoted text

    /[OP]Carl Conrad http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=P7C2D1EQE03QTjfS_tb6dISzPP5MZcDxxh3zb1_bQlM=@mac.com>/Tue Nov 09 2010 13:18:27 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    Show quoted textShow quoted textI agree that much of this discussion comes down to how we define “grammar.” I want to make a real distinction between “common usage” — the usage that is observed by the majority of speakers and writers and listeners and readers of a language in any particular era and locale — and “rules of grammar.” I think that the “rules of grammar”, whether they be those handed down traditionally and taught in schools or newly-formulated by academic linguists, are endeavors to describe “common usage” and explain how and why it works. And again I call attention to the text of my subject-header: we know what that text means well enough, but we have considerable difficulty offering an altogether mutually acceptable “grammatical” accounting of it. Perhaps the author of GMt hasn’t properly “absorbed the rules through hearing the language spoken.”?

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)Show quoted text

    /George F Somsel http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=GEqwSChP0j_JaRNuRMS28Gy8OmedV58Ln7razTvHbFY=@yahoo.com>/Tue Nov 09 2010 13:41:55 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    Carl Conrad wrote: “Perhaps the author of GMt hasn’t properly ‘absorbed the rules through hearing the language spoken.’?”

    That is possible as we observe even today with some who aren’t able to adequately phrase a statement in a form easily comprehensible to their contemporaries, but I wouldn’t wish to state that that is the case without thoroughly surveying the literature of the period to determine that such is a fact. It is relatively easy to make a determination whether such is the case with contemporary writings in a language which is native to us though even then there are occasions when we encounter difficulties.

    george gfsomsel

    … search for truth, hear truth, learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, defend the truth till death.

    – Jan Hus _________

    ________________________________ http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=GEqwSChP0j_JaRNuRMS28Gy8OmedV58Ln7razTvHbFY=@yahoo.com> Cc:http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=FVXLF5qLDydNiw4DmdpP0AWDHS2f70_ifrao_YdSPSk=@lists.ibiblio.org> Sent: Tue, November 9, 2010 11:18:18 AM Grammar Is/Isn’tShow quoted textShow quoted textI agree that much of this discussion comes down to how we define “grammar.” I want to make a real distinction between “common usage” — the usage that is observed by the majority of speakers and writers and listeners and readers of a language in any particular era and locale — and “rules of grammar.” I think that the “rules of grammar”, whether they be those handed down traditionally and taught in schools or newly-formulated by academic linguists, are endeavors to describe “common usage” and explain how and why it works. And again I call attention to the text of my subject-header: we know what that text means well enough, but we have considerable difficulty offering an altogether mutually acceptable “grammatical” accounting of it. Perhaps the author of GMt hasn’t properly “absorbed the rules through hearing the language spoken.”?

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)Show quoted textShow footer

    /George F Somsel http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=GEqwSChP0j_JaRNuRMS28Gy8OmedV58Ln7razTvHbFY=@yahoo.com>/Tue Nov 09 2010 13:06:24 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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    Of course a 5 yr old who hasn’t been to school understands. He understands not because he has been to school (which he has not) but because he has absorbed the rules through hearing the language spoken.

    george gfsomsel

    … search for truth, hear truth, learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, defend the truth till death.

    – Jan Hus _________

    ________________________________ Cc: B-Greekhttp://mailhide.recaptcha.net/d?k=01Vgu1OPoq87OnAPuqo0xFMg==&c=FVXLF5qLDydNiw4DmdpP0AWDHS2f70_ifrao_YdSPSk=@lists.ibiblio.org> Sent: Tue, November 9, 2010 9:31:37 AM Grammar Is/Isn’tShow quoted textThen a five-year-old who hasn’t been to school and doesn’t even know what grammar is cannot formulate a sentence like “Bill bit the cat” or understand what that sentence means when he hears it?

    My point is that there are indeed norms of usage for a time and place, but that a grammatical accounting of that usage is a theoretical construct that is secondary to the actual usage of speakers and writers, listeners and readers. I would not equate the norms of usage with “grammar.” I think that any grammar is an endeavor to describe and explain the norms of usage.

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)Show quoted textShow footer

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