Particuliterate.

Particuliterate is a resource I wish I’d had when I was studying Greek; from the About page:

While there is not much information in learning materials on Greek particles, there is a wealth of material elsewhere. In journals, monographs, conference proceedings, and reference sources, one will find a number of fascinating arguments about how to understand the meaning of particular particles. And yet, most students do not know where to look for these, and if they find them, the jargon and background information which the reader is assumed to know pose difficulty to the student just beginning to dip their toes into Greek scholarship.

This website is aimed primarily at that student. Its goal is to aggregate the discussion of particles, which is often spread out and hard to track down, into one place, where the views of various scholars can be summarized in a succinct and understandable manner. Particles entries include extensive hyperlinking to the Glossary page, which includes definitions for common terms and explanations of theories which underlie the arguments being described.

Yet this website is not only aimed at that student. Experienced scholars who wish to follow up on the summaries will find full bibliographies accompanying each entry.

In general, one particle entry will be added to the site each week. A schedule is provided in the Particle Directory page. Occasionally, the schedule may be disrupted by a desire to write a more general post not devoted to a single particle, or be delayed due to my other commitments, but regular updates can be expected starting on Apr 1.

Of course, you can find detailed analysis in Denniston’s The Greek Particles, but that’s over seventy years old now and perhaps a little dense for the average student. (Via Sententiae Antiquae.)

Comments

  1. When it comes to particles, Latin is to Greek as Greek is to Hittite. Let us hope the Anatolian languages get a mention.

  2. How well are the functions of the Hittite particles known?

  3. Hoffner and Melchert’s A Grammar of the Hittite Language have a long chapter on clitic sentence particles, with sections on: wa(r), z(a), the ‘local’ group { an, apa. asta, kan, san }, pat. Clitic conjunctions: (y)a, ma are in a separate chapter. These, and the pronominal clitics, each go into a particular slot (1 to 6) of the clitic chain following a word. By contrast Theo van den Hout’s Elements of Hittite simply says that the exact function of sentence particles is not yet known, but I suspect that this is a convenient oversimplification for a book intended as a Tirocinium (his description). Comparisons with Latin as well as Greek are evident – e.g. “uk pat” -> Latin “ego met”.

  4. Thanks!

  5. This site should be a useful resource if it keeps going. (Too bad it’s limited to Homer, since the use of particles in prose is at least as interesting, but you can’t have everything.) I eagerly await the discussion of my favorite particle δή, which for all its apparently multifarious uses and consequent reams of Dennistonian and other exegesis is (as I realized one day) pretty much the exact equivalent of a common hand gesture in everyday use in most Western cultures.

    Tangentially related, I just stumbled upon this delightful list of mnemonics for Greek meters. “Each choriamb bleats like a lamb…”

  6. When I was taught classics at school (started Latin in 1946) it was pointed out that for translation the notion of language as speech should be enlarged to embrace stress, rhythm and non-verbal gestures – with eyebrows, or shoulders, for example; and that many Greek particles were best translated in this larger language. It was suggested that Greek needed these words because their stresses and tones were used for purposes different from those of English, which does without explicit particles, or has to use periphrasis instead.

  7. Stu Clayton says:

    the notion of language as speech should be enlarged to embrace stress, rhythm and non-verbal gestures – with eyebrows, or shoulders, for example; and that many Greek particles were best translated in this larger language.

    I’m ahead of my time. Whenever the subject of Greek particles comes up, I shrug in incomprehension.

    my favorite particle δή

    I never got beyond δέ myself. I always associate it with that song It’s Raining μέν.

  8. Cf. Numinous Little Words and Holophrase. German particles, Armenian particles, Greek particles… no one can learn how to use them.

  9. John Cowan says:

    I think the difficulty is about the same as the difficulty of learning all those verb + preposition compounds in English, the analogue of German separable verbs. To hit, to hit (up)on (discover), to hit on (flirt with), to hit out, to hit back, to hit (somebody) with, etc. etc.

  10. I have sometimes wondered why there are still a smaller number of German phrasal verbs that govern their objects by preposition, instead of having the preposition converted into a separable prefix. There doesn’t seem to be an pattern to it, as far as I know—why, for example, auf Deutsch, “He died of the plague,” ist, “Er ist an der Plage gestorben.”

  11. PlasticPaddy says:

    @brett
    I would take “an der Pest” and “of the plague” to be adverbial and not verbal constructions. How did they die? Of plague.

  12. Russian particles are famous:
    – they form chains (some are actual chains of several particles)
    – in different villages particles are different
    – particularly hard to translate

    For typological observations we need some definition of what is a “particle”, but Indo-European particles, I think, can be compared to them, carefully of course.

  13. And Russian prefixed verbs are a good analoigy for English phrasal verbs.

    Does not really help an English learner with, say, “get”. For some reason, they are hard to make sense of, these phrasal verbs, when you are not a native speaker.

    I guess , English elarners of Russian also have complex feelings when facing some 70 verbs from, say (let’s don’t use anything like “get”, but something more specific) -счVт- “count”.

  14. Any interesting example of a hyper-local use of a Russian particle you noticed, drasvi?

  15. PlasticPaddy says:

    @brett
    To be more precise, the separable prefix verbs work like this: I went up the mountain, ich ging das Berg hinauf, the up/hinauf does not describe how you walked. There are cases like went under and underwent in English where the prefix can be separable or not, and it is clearer in the non-separable case. Also there are multi-prepositional expressions like “er ging auf mich zu” (he approached me), but I would class these with “he went into the room” in English. Maybe you are talking about something like “er sprach das Mädchen an” (he addressed the girl-sorry for sexism😊). But this is different from “er ist an der Pest gestorben” (not intended as a punishment from God or a consequence of the address). “das Mädchen an ” does not explain how he spoke, but the an turns spoke into addressed.

  16. @PlasticPaddy: The prepositional phrases certainly behave like adverbials grammatically, but I can’t agree that they are fundamentally different in a semantic way from the separable verb prefixes. This is based, naturally, on my native experience with English. Take the analogous English sentence: “He spoke to the girl.” A response to the question of how he spoke could be “loudly,” or “over the telephone,” or “to the girl.” There may be a little bit of tension with using the last of those three—”to the girl”—to answer a “how” question, but it doesn’t feel like it’s wrong grammatically, merely an odd choice of wording.

    In English there isn’t a clear demarcation between a phrasal verb ending in a word that is normally a preposition and a single-word verb followed by a modifying prepositional phrase. However, it should be no surprise if a German speaker perceives the two as semantically different constructions. For one thing, German retains more than a single object case, which does allow for a greater range of grammatical structures. However, I think much of the perception of a sematic difference in German may simply be derived from the existence of grammatical difference between two possible constructions.

  17. Y, if you mean this: “in different villages particles are different”, no. As I told elsewhere, I do not know much about Russian dialectology. To notice this, I need exactly to compare villages, and I rarely visit those.

    It is from literature about particles in Russian (not exactly textbooks, but anyway). I wanted to link here an article* about these and other unusual properties of our particles (it has some IE parallels too) but haven’t found it yet.


    *in Russian:(

  18. There may be a little bit of tension

    There can be a semantic load behind this tension. But you have a point here: Russian or German are not the same as English in this respect. Maybe the above is exactly based on my eperience with Russian.

    Russian instrumental and locative are adverbial cases for me. Russian dative and accusative are object cases (if we forget about some uses of DAT that are similar to INSTR).

  19. “Adverbial” here means, you can put it in brackets and consider a comment to the whole clause with whatever verb. “Object” means, a verb is directed at it, the preposition/phrase are more intimately linked to the verb. I am intentionally using less scientific terms: I am speaking about my perception, not about an analyzis of a corpus based on any of possible wrong models of grammar:) A Russian would find it difficult to explain how these are different and if they are different at all:

    (1) on lyog na krovat’ “he lay-down on bed.ACC”
    (2) on lyog na krovati “he lay-down on bed.LOC”.

    …an, arguably, harder times explaining how it is different from
    (3) …v krovat’ “…in bed.ACC”.

    (2) means, he chose the bed as the place where he will be lying (likely, resting, but not always, depends on the context). He could have decided to lie down elsewhere.

    (1) evokes a mental image of a unitary directed movement of something vertical towards horizontal, with bed as the target, without choosing. The semantics of aim or target is here. But then with other verbs and prepositions the difference is more striking. “To sit in the bed” can also be used in the sense “sit up”.

    (4)za gory “to-behind/beyond mountains.ACC” is a travel to behind a mountain range, crossing it (note how I added “to” in my gloss) while
    (5)za gorami, “behind/beyond mountains.ACC”, when said about a trip, would mean most of the journey occured there, possibly including the starting point, possibly not.

  20. David Marjanović says:

    My experience is that while German, French, Russian and Mandarin particles can rarely be translated 1 : 1 between each other, understanding them in one language lets you understand them in the others if you get enough exposure. It feels like I’d learn the Greek ones very quickly.

    ich ging das Berg hinauf

    Den Berg, but of course that doesn’t influence the point. What may influence it is the ongoing shift, largely completed in colloquial registers, from directional adverbs to separable verb prefixes: wohin gehst du > wo gehst du hin – “where are you going” shifting from a standalone verb “walk” + single-piece directional “whither” to a prefixed verb hingehen “go there” + atomized wo “where” (location only, not direction). That also means I interpret a rather untranslatable verb zugehen into er ging auf mich zu, even though it never occurs outside of auf jemand(en) zugehen.

    (…unlike its homonym: da geht es zu “unpleasant things are going on there”.)

    A response to the question of how he spoke could be “loudly,” or “over the telephone,” or “to the girl.” There may be a little bit of tension with using the last of those three—”to the girl”—to answer a “how” question, but it doesn’t feel like it’s wrong grammatically, merely an odd choice of wording.

    I find that contrived. But then, from my German background, I don’t have that much of a concept of “adverb”.

  21. David Marjanović says:

    (1) on lyog na krovat’ “he lay-down on bed.ACC”
    (2) on lyog na krovati “he lay-down on bed.LOC”.

    Isn’t that just the usual Indo-European distinction of direction (prep + ACC) and place (same prep + DAT in German, ABL in Latin, “LOC” in Russian)?

    Er legte sich aufs Bett (direction; ACC das Bett; transitive verb legen, legte, gelegt; reflexive pronoun as the object of laying)
    Er lag auf dem Bett (place; DAT dem Bett; intransitive verb liegen, lag, gelegen; no object)

    Those exact examples are difficult to illustrate in English, because onto isn’t used much (unlike into) and the verbs (transitive lay, laid, laid and intransitive lie, lay, lain) have become hopelessly confused, to the point that the reflexive version of lay down (sich niederlegen) is lie down.

  22. English would transfer the distinction to the verb aspects: He lay down on the bed / He was lying (/laying) on the bed.

  23. David Eddyshaw says:

    In Kusaal, the contrast is in whether the postposition is followed by the locative particle or not:

    O digil gbauŋ la tɛɛbʋl la zug.
    3AN lay book:SG ART table:SG ART head.
    “She’s put the book on the table.”

    Gbauŋ la bɛ nɛ tɛɛbʋl la zugun.
    Book:SG ART exist FOC table:SG ART head.LOC.
    “The book is on the table.”

    (The standard orthography conceals the actual structure, which contains an enclitic particle: zugu=n.)

    @TR:

    I don’t think that English actually represents the difference aspectually: rather, it just so happens that the aspectual difference correlates very often with this distinction for pragmatic real-world reasons. The contrast would be more something like:

    “She’s laid the book on the table flat.” (It was standing on the table already, but upright.)
    “She’s laid the book flat on the table.” (It was in her hand before that.)

    The Kusaal would be respectively (with digil “lay flat”):

    O digil gbauŋ la tɛɛbʋl la zugun.
    O digil gbauŋ la tɛɛbʋl la zug.

  24. January First-of-May says:

    “She’s laid the book on the table flat.” (It was standing on the table already, but upright.)
    “She’s laid the book flat on the table.” (It was in her hand before that.)

    Russian would have something like Она положила книгу на столе горизонтально* and Она положила книгу на стол горизонтально, possibly (but not necessarily) with different word order.
    The difference (aside from word order) comes out to the same as in drasvi’s examples: table.“LOC” (I’m not sure what the actual case here is; by school grammar it’s “prepositional”) and table.ACC respectively.

     
    *) offhand I can’t think of a simpler word for “flat” in this context; more pragmatically the latter sentence just wouldn’t include one at all, while the former could probably skip it too but would then sound weird

  25. I am afraid, “flat” is here because of phrasal verbs. You can say “get in”, then maybe you can use get with any adverb (flat-adverb or up-adverb, not flatly-adverb) then maybe you can say “get google” when you want someone to be google.

  26. PlasticPaddy says:

    @dm, brett
    I suppose the conscription of prepositions (or not) to serve as part of the verb in German is in some respects arbitrary (sorry for neutering Berg, in Ireland there are only hills, so I don’t have to use the word much 😊). I still think there are principles, i.e. addressing is different from speaking to (I think speaking to would correspond in more cases to sprechen/reden mit jemandem). The principle here is whether the action is directed, e.g. walking up the hill is directed, walking on the floor is not directed, and jumping on to the floor is directed, but aufspringen is already used for “jumping up” (get up quickly from a seated or lying position), so tough luck😊.

  27. (1) on lyog na krovat’ “he lay-down on bed.ACC”
    (2) on lyog na krovati “he lay-down on bed.LOC”.

    Isn’t that just the usual Indo-European distinction of direction (prep + ACC) and place (same prep + DAT in German, ABL in Latin, “LOC” in Russian)?

    Er legte sich aufs Bett (direction; ACC das Bett; transitive verb legen, legte, gelegt; reflexive pronoun as the object of laying)
    Er lag auf dem Bett (place; DAT dem Bett; intransitive verb liegen, lag, gelegen; no object)

    No, that’s not the difference here. on lyog na krovati is “Er legte such auf dem Bett hin”, so either implying he was sitting or standing on the bed before, or a question of focus – “he lay down, and the place he chose for that is the bed”. While the construction with the accusative is a holistic movement, even conventionalised, often synonymous with “he went to bed”.
    auf dem Bett liegen “to be lying on the bed” uses a different verb, like in German or varieties of English that don’t mix up “lie” and “lay”: on lezhal na krovati

  28. Er legte such auf dem Bett hin
    For “such” read “sich”. I need bigger keys for my fat fingers.

  29. David Marjanović says:

    Ah, thanks. I don’t think I had ever encountered lyog before, so I prompty forgot I knew lezhal

    table.“LOC” (I’m not sure what the actual case here is; by school grammar it’s “prepositional”)

    I, too, was taught to call it the prepositional, and Langenscheidt dictionaries agree. But it’s cognate with the actual-factual locative of Lithuanian, which expresses “in” without the need for an adposition, and AFAIK with locatives elsewhere in Indo-European.

    “She’s laid the book on the table flat.” (It was standing on the table already, but upright.)
    “She’s laid the book flat on the table.” (It was in her hand before that.)

    Sie legte das Buch auf dem Tisch {flach | um | nieder | flach hin}. (DAT)
    Sie legte das Buch flach auf den Tisch. (ACC, with flach pretending to be an adverb that describes how the laying is performed)

  30. Yes, normally it is prepositional, and paradigms in school often look like:

    мышь
    мыши
    мыши
    мышь
    мышью
    о мыши “about mouse”.

    I just find this all inconvenient:( And there is also vocative “О мышь!”, found in Alice in Wonderland, which, I think, made me chose “mouse”.
    ‘A mouse – of a mouse – to a mouse – a mouse – O mouse!’

  31. By the way, I can’t suppress my curiosity any more: what is the etymology of “drasvi”?

  32. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russenorsk

    And this dialogue specifically: pomor.no (in Norvegian, there is also a Russian version of the site).

    It is a trade pidgin that existed until we closed borders in mid 20th century. And I simply liked the word, because it does sound as a Norvegian version of zdra[v]stvuj. I even considered injecting it in Russian as a greeting.

  33. Trond Engen says:

    God dag: [Russenorsk] is a trade pidgin that existed until we closed borders in mid 20th century.

    A pidgin that disappeared remarkably fast when the trade ended, leaving hardly a dialect term or a slang word behind.

  34. Another thing about zdra[v]stvuj is that Moroccans complain at this word and terrible Russian consonant clusters.

    A textbook transcription of Moroccan Arabic is full of those: it has dropped orifignal short vowels, and most schwas arise are predictable prosodically, but not lexically. Writing them down is pointless. The rule is not unlike one that acted in Russian itself. I think, after the law of open syllables we must have sounded a bit like Japanese (Yo-ko-su-ka). But then reduced ĭ and ŭ were dropped or promoted to e, o (in Russian): bĭrĭvĭno > brevno, mostly grouping consonants in pairs.

    But for a Russian Moroccan at first looks full of consonants and then you find, Moroccans are scared too. “How?” you (Russian) ask. “What consonant clusters!? We have lots of vowels! Did not you hear our songs? Lots of vowels. Listen: “hjflsgjhhdfdfdfdfsf*!” Do you hear? Vowels. We just speak really fast and you do not hear them, but they are there!”.

    The above was an extra reason for me to like the word.

    *I just typed a random sequence here:)

  35. Stu Clayton says:

    Sie legte das Buch flach auf den Tisch. (ACC, with flach pretending to be an adverb that describes how the laying is performed)

    I would say it’s an adjective describing the final state of the book, the result of the laying. An ad quem rather than an adverb.

    Like “off” in “let’s call the whole thing off”, and ab in sie sagte ab.

    Or flach in sie legte ihn flach. Here we are dealing with a terminus ad quim.

  36. I, too, was taught to call it the prepositional, and Langenscheidt dictionaries agree. But it’s cognate with the actual-factual locative of Lithuanian, which expresses “in” without the need for an adposition, and AFAIK with locatives elsewhere in Indo-European
    Correct. It’s called prepositional in Russian because it is used only after prepositions, even though it is not the only case that is used after prepositions (fun fact: all textbook cases in Russian can be used after a preposition, even the nominative). In the grammar of other modern Slavic languages that I know, the cognate case usually is called locative. In OCS, there were still preposition-less uses of the case (e.g. after verbs of touching the place that was touched was in the preposition-less locative).
    I would say it’s an adjective describing the final state of the book, the result of the laying. An ad quem rather than an adverb.
    FWIW, traditional school grammar agrees with you here.

  37. Stu Clayton says:

    I thought David’s “pretending to be an adverb” was an oddly misleading explanation. Maybe he meant something like this: “adverbs are not declined, so this is an adverb. But it’s really an adjective of result.”

    I often think these latinoid grammar categories are more trouble than they’re worth. What they purport to tell you has to be hedged and qualified in order to obtain a net cash value. Their main function (I say function, not purpose) is to encourage endless inconclusive discussions.

    Recently I’ve been considering the possibility that language is a symbiotic virus living on an animal substrate. I wouldn’t say it was introduced by aliens, it could have arisen naturally. The combination seems to be not without advantages for both sides, as is the way of symbiosis. The virus needs the host because it can’t reproduce itself.

  38. Stu Clayton says:

    I forgot to mention what animals get from the virus. At the very minimum it gives them something to do (“speak”), where they would otherwise be bored out of their skulls. inter taedium et linguam nascimur.

  39. Laurie Anderson is going to sue you for copyright infringement. (William S. Burroughs would do so if he weren’t so dead.)

  40. Stu Clayton says:

    Sigh, I just *knew* somebody must have got there before me. About Burroughs I should have remembered – there’s that section of Naked Lunch where some guy’s articulate asshole takes over his body. I can only plead that I read it when I was 14. In my formative years …

  41. I thought David’s “pretending to be an adverb” was an oddly misleading explanation. Maybe he meant something like this: “adverbs are not declined, so this is an adverb. But it’s really an adjective of result.”
    Part of the issue is that German, different to many other European languages, doesn’t distinguish formally between predicatively used adjectives and adverbs. It nevertheless distinguishes adjectives and adverbs as word classes – adjectives can be used as attributes, while true adverbs cannot, e.g. one cannot use bald “soon” as an attribute, one must use the derived adjective baldig.

  42. January First-of-May says:

    And there is also vocative “О мышь!”, found in Alice in Wonderland

    I’ve read a Ukrainian translation once and it had О мишо! – they put the word in the actual vocative, but kept the O because it was too symbolic or something.

    I wonder how other translations into languages with actual vocatives deal with this scene.

    zdra[v]stvuj

    This word, incidentally, comes up in my favorite outrageous case of implausible emendation…

    …In the 12th century, John Tzetzes wrote a text that contained, among other things, a bunch of (different) sentences in multiple languages – which included Russian:

    And also I welcome the Ros according to their habits:
    “Be healthy, brother, sister, good day to you.
    Sdra
    [sic], brate, sestritza,” and I say “dobra deni.”

    It turns out that the texts are in good meter, and the weird sdra is missing a syllable.
    However, the usual emendation is sdra[ste], which is… come on? This is 12th century, the final yers might not have even dropped yet (see dobra deni), and you’re postulating a form where most of the consonants are compressed away.

    (As a side-note, this cannot be Russian-as-we-know-it; a 12th century East Slavic form would start with sdoro. It has to be in some [West or?] South Slavic dialect. I’m only calling it “Russian” because so does Tzetzes.)

    My counter-emendation, for what it’s worth, is sdra[vo] – or maybe with some other final vowel, not sure, but almost certainly something like this.
    Zaliznyak (RIP) could certainly have proposed a form that would fit perfectly, but to the best of my knowledge nobody happened to bring this passage to his attention.

    Recently I’ve been considering the possibility that language is a symbiotic virus living on an animal substrate.

    I believe the term is “meme”.

  43. Stu Clayton says:

    I can’t at the moment think of any other such “true adverbs”, only spät, früh, verfrüht, verspätet, unverhofft, unerwartet … usw. “baldig” occurs rarely in print or speech. Maybe that’s why there are so few true adverbs – they can’t be used as adjectives without transformation into something weird, so one shies away from using them as adjectives (“zieht die Hand vornehm zurück“, as Nietzsche liked to say).

  44. This word, incidentally, comes up in my favorite outrageous case of implausible emendation

    Thanks very much for that; I posted that passage from Tzetzes back in 2003, and I’ve updated it to reflect your remarks.

  45. Stu Clayton says:

    I believe the term is “meme”.

    Yeah, that’s why I avoided the word. It would have put me in the category of Facile Cranks. I am definitely not a crank.

  46. January First-of-May says:

    and I’ve updated it to reflect your remarks.

    Thanks – that was quite unexpected!

    I’ve mentioned this on LH previously in 2018, but it apparently went unnoticed at the time, possibly because 1) it came as the last part of a much longer comment, and 2) I didn’t link to the original 2003 LH post.

    (Some googling tells me that the emendation сдра[в] [sic] is not original to me.)

    or maybe with some other final vowel, not sure

    On second thought, despite my relative lack of knowledge on both Old Slavic and Byzantine Greek, I think I could make a decent guess. The missing syllable is suspected to be due to haplology. On the surface there is little visible opportunity. But how would Tzetzes have written /v/ if his beta represented /b/? Well, in the Latin sentences v is beta, so maybe also with a beta.

    In this case my emendation is sdra[va], corresponding to an original *с(ъ)дравъ or similar (cf. dobra, which is usually interpreted as *добръ). This would then have been written as σδρα[βα] βρατε… (modulo accents), and I could see a copyist getting confused!
    (For the record, the spelling βρατε is attested for the next word, but the specific quoted manuscript in question used a different one. Of course this would require a chain of multiple errors to work exactly.)

  47. Great, I’ve added that as well!

  48. However, the usual emendation is sdra[ste], which is… come on? This is 12th century, the final yers might not have even dropped yet (see dobra deni), and you’re postulating a form where most of the consonants are compressed away
    Not to invalidate your point, but conventional phrases like greetings often are compressed very strongly, e.g. German Guten Abend “good evening” is colloquially often compressed to [na:mt].

  49. David Marjanović says:

    Even in transcriptions, β was used for both [b] and [v] for centuries; it took a long time for μπ to appear.

    As a side-note, this cannot be Russian-as-we-know-it; a 12th century East Slavic form would start with sdoro. It has to be in some (West or?) South Slavic dialect.

    Other than South, it could indeed be Czech/Slovak. But it is the FYLOSC familiar greeting that is zdravo today.

    A pidgin that disappeared remarkably fast when the trade ended, leaving hardly a dialect term or a slang word behind.

    What happens in the Arctic Ocean stays in the Arctic Ocean.

    I wonder how other translations into languages with actual vocatives deal with this scene.

    Latin and Ancient Greek did use this O with their vocatives, at least for dramatic purposes.

    Yeah, that’s why I avoided the word. It would have put me in the category of Facile Cranks. I am definitely not a crank.

    Richard Dawkins isn’t a crank either. 🙂 Just an upper-middle-class twit.

    I thought David’s “pretending to be an adverb” was an oddly misleading explanation. Maybe he meant something like this: “adverbs are not declined, so this is an adverb. But it’s really an adjective of result.”

    No, I knew about predicative adjectives vs. adverbs, and agree that the distinction makes (some) sense even in German, but I couldn’t find a way to tell them apart here. “Flat” is the answer to “how does it lie when she’s done putting it” (predicative adjective), but in German there doesn’t seem to be a way to tell that it’s not, grammatically, the answer to “in what way is she putting it” (adverb).

  50. meme

    a monkey made a funny sound and another monkey monkeyed (aped, parroted) her but as they are freaking monkeys, they keep doing this and the joke went too far?

  51. David Marjanović says:

    Indeed it did, and soon you, too, will be familiar with all Internet traditions.

  52. Latin and Ancient Greek did use this O with their vocatives

    As far as Latin is concerned, there are probably many more Os with vocatives in old-fashioned school grammars and elementary textbooks than in the whole of the surviving Latin literature. When I was learning Latin (early 1970s) there were no Os in the paradigms anymore. And if you look at actual Latin literature, Ovid has, for example (Amores 2.10.1-2):

    Tu mihi, tu certe, memini, Graecine, negabas
    uno posse aliquem tempore amare duas.

    And then there is the famous beginning of Cicero’s first Catilinarian speech, adressing Catilina without any O. And I don’t think that is because in Catilina the vocative is identical to the nominative.

  53. Indeed it did, and soon you, too, will be familiar with all Internet traditions.

    Just in case: “joke went too far” was about the genus Homo and our langauge.

    a mouse — of a mouse — to a mouse — O mouse!
    Looks neat because of “a”.

  54. David Marjanović says:

    Yes, I meant to say only that O existed; at least in Latin it wasn’t used often.

    Just in case: “joke went too far” was about the genus Homo and our langauge.

    I know, and tried to claim that the joke is still ongoing and still going farther and farther.

    Looks neat because of “a”.

    Bavarian dialects like mine use definite articles even with proper names, and indefinite article with mass nouns. A noun without an article has to be a place name… or in effect a vocative.

  55. Lars Mathiesen says:

    FWIW, Danish can tell if it uses an adverb in Hun lagde bogen fladt på bordet. You could say Hun lagde bogen åben på bordet where åben would have to be analysed as a predicate adjective agreeing with bogen in gender, but it has a slightly weird tinge — though not enough to call for a rewrite.

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