2009-04-19

Μετά χαράς: supplemental

Philip points out that ípeto in the Dittamondo excerpt is also Greek: of course! And here, the commentary:
"ípeto"
Είπε το(ν) "He told him". Obvious error for Είπα το(ν) "I told him". I'm going to take the clitic on face value as accusative, confirming that whoever told degli Uberti about how a Macedonian peasant might speak was from the north of Greece. (The proto-Bulgarian inscriptions has accusatives replacing datives, and the xi AD church deeds of Southern Italy have genitives, so we know the isogloss between accusative and genitive indirect objects was already in place.)

This might instead be "He said the [following]", with the το an article introducing the following clause. But while articles can introduce nominalised quotations (Το πολύ το Κύριε Ελέησον κι ο παπάς το βαριέται "Even a priest gets sick of too much 'Lord have mercy'"), that would be pretty forced here.



George adduces ηξεύρω from Cappadocia, for which my thanks. I remember my own Cypriot grandmother saying δεν ηξέρω γιέ μου, and I've only just clicked their initial /i/ is likely related.

I think my argument that μετά χαράς is contemporary diglossia and not a fossil is weakened by the fact that we clearly do have such prepositional genitive fossils elsewhere. I'm thinking of από σπέρας "since last night, overnight" and από βδομάδας "from next week". Morphologically they are entirely vernacular (Ancient Greek would have had ἀφ’ ἑσπέρας and ἀφ’ ἑβδομάδος), but they just as clearly have a prepositional genitive; and their vernacular phonology makes it clear they can't have been borrowed from archaic Greek, either in 1300 or 1800. (There's a whole family around the former expression in Early Modern Greek—Kriaras s.v.—showing people trying to grapple with it: αποσπέρα αποσπερί αποσπερίς αποσπερού αποσπερής).

My argument for μετά χαράς being diglossic boils down to intuition over it being a politeness formula—something that archaic Greek speakers would have kept using. But there's no elided vowels as in από σπέρας to confirm how nativised μετά χαράς was.

Trust George to do the relevant TLG search, and that does in fact weigh more towards it being just vernacular, and thus just a fossil: Cantacuzene's letters to the sultan were in Demotic, and the Saints' Lives did indeed make concessions to the vernacular. My lame response is, any spoken form of High Greek would have been closer to Koine than the fake Thucydides of the historians, so μετά χαράς could well still have been learnèd. But I'm not sure, given the distribution George reports.

The similar expression George mentions is μετά βίας "perforce", again with a prepositional genitive. Kriaras s.v. βία 4a gives quotations in Early Modern Greek of both the archaic μετά βίας and the partly updated με βίας (in Libistros); the latter is a nativisation of the preposition, which like από σπέρας suggests productive spoken use. Btw George, why'd you think it less likely to have been colloquial?

I have no recollection of the examples of μετά χαράς, although I recall I was on the lookout after discovering Dittamondo. Given how half-baked my conclusion about μετά χαράς was in the previous post, I'm not sure I should have published anything on it. :-) At any rate, for better or worse (and it is for worse in most ways, except for googlability), this is where I publish now...

4 comments:

  1. Nick, didn't you have an example of "meta charas" related, I think, to the fall of Ioannina to the Ottomans?

    As for "meta bias", I felt that it would be less likely to show up in conversation on account of its abstractness -- sheer intuition, and not great thinking, perhaps...

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  2. Fall of Ioannia: I *thought* that's what you were referring you. No, that was the formula μικροί τε και μεγάλοι "great and small" that I was going to write from—the striking thing being that a poetic formula in Demotic could end up in an Ottoman demand for surrender in Demotic. It indicated to me that with so little writing in the vernacular around, people would latch on to whatever model they could find, including fake ballad formulas.

    Yeah, I don't think μετά βίας "perforce" is that abstract. If anything, the Turkish loanword in με το ζόρι, which means the same and is very much in colloquial use, probably displaced the μετά βίας formula.

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  3. Ah, that "mikroi te kai megaloi" ... have you noticed that it shows up 20 times in Lives of Saints*, Ephraem the Syrian**, and even Ioannis Chrysostomos ... before it starts showing up, in formulaic fashion, in those late medieval poems?

    *what if those Lives of Saints did not merely "make concessions to the vernacular" ... but ARE in fact the vernacular?

    **pay attention to that Syrian man if you wish to understand the history of Greek :-)

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  4. I did a tally of where the expression turned up in, and in fact was trying to work out whether it used to be "great and small" before become "small and great"—i.e. whether metre dictated the arrangement. I'll have to dig the bottom of the abandoned papers pile to see how far I got. (In fact, I was digging last night when I found that I've misplaced the Greek poems of Rumi. I really really hope they turn up where I think I've left them.)

    Vernacular Saints' Lives? Well, the immediate reaction is always "naah", but the Proto-Bulgarian inscriptions (which probably are the vernacular of viii AD) are not as far removed from the Koine as you might think; and telltale vernacularisms like relative όπου do turn up in those Saints' Lives. So they may or may not be the spoken language, but they're possibly closer than the default assumption.

    Of course (as I found when I was checking Ephraem for my Future Subjunctive paper), that Syrian got translated into Greek very early on indeed—within a generation. But yeah, he's certainly legit data...

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