Re: [GTh] Re: Introductory Coptic Grammars
> Thank you. It is time to go for it, I think, as I don't really feel happyGreat! For serious study of a text, there's no substitute for the original
> about being dependent on translations.
> [C.J. Chandler]
language. In the absence of knowing the language, an interlinear is very
helpful in identifying key words which can then be looked up for range of
meaning in a source-language dictionary, but interlinears have their
limitations. They won't tell you, for example, that Coptic has no true
passive voice - and no singular neuter grammatical gender (all nouns and
pronouns are either masculine, feminine, or plural). In any case, Lambdin's
glossary alone is worth the price. It's the next best thing to Crum that
I've seen, and much more user-friendly.
p.s., Does anyone have Eccles' book?
- In a message dated 24/03/2006 20:36:42 GMT Standard Time,
> They won't tell you, for example, that Coptic has no true passiveThank you.
> voice - and no singular neuter grammatical gender (all nouns and
> pronouns are either masculine, feminine, or plural). In any case,
> Lambdin's glossary alone is worth the price. It's the next best
> thing to Crum that I've seen, and much more user-friendly.
No true passive? That's interesting! Now I'm intrigued.
I'm looking forward to getting started!
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> No true passive? That's interesting! Now I'm intrigued.The note on my site about this is as follows:
> [C.J. Chandler]
Some un-English-like features of Coptic:
(3) Coptic has no true passive voice (although it does have some
essentially-passive verbs). Where we would say "He was begotten", the Coptic
says "They begot him", the passive voice being assumed if the word 'they'
lacks a referent. Obviously, this introduces an element of ambiguity, since
the choice between the active meaning and the passive one depends on the
presence or absence of a referent for 'they'. In these cases, I have always
used the active voice, on the grounds that (1) if pieces of Thomas are moved
around, a seemingly-missing referent may be supplied (or an existing one
removed), and (2) translating in the active voice more nearly captures the
ambiguous flavor of the original, anyway.
(Ref: http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/n_oddft.htm )
Another example, 3.4. Literally, "When you know yourselves, then THEY WILL
KNOW YOU", but translated "then you will become known". It's unfortunate if
someone takes the literal at face value, and tries to imagine some unnamed
"they" lurking around, but the only way that I can see to prevent this is to
essentially hide that feature of the original by using something like
'(will-become-known)' - the parens indicating non-literality - for that
verb-phrase. I may end up doing that, but I'm not yet wholly convinced that
that's the way to go, and anyway it's not easy to go through and make all
the necessary changes at this point. (If I thought the interlinear was in
wide use, and particularly if an academic user requested such a change in
order to use it in classes, say, that'd be a different story.)
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@...>
> [. . . ]
> Mike G.
> p.s., Does anyone have Eccles' book?
I've lurked here awhile, and been a fan of your interlinear site for
I picked up Eccles' _Introductory Coptic Reader_ quite by accident
one day (years ago) at Barnes & Noble. I say that only because of
the unusual price sticker affixed to the front of the book, the
residue of which I never could completely remove from the cover. It
struck me as something that had come to that bookseller by some
irregular means, but regardless of its provenance, I viewed the
chance discovery as my gain.
The book is terribly short, covering only 40 of the sayings from
GTh. Rather than actually serving as an "interlinear," each of the
passages included by the author appears first in Coptic, then in
English translation, and then in an explanatory breakdown by words
and phrases, as encountered in each portion of the text. Eccles
mentions that he sought to order those verses in such a way as to
simplify for the reader the presentation of numerous grammatical
points. In effect, while it is really nothing like a "Grammar," I
have found it valuable simply as a convenient resource for examining
the morphological complexities of Coptic constructions.
Roanoke Island, North Carolina
- [Gerry Ballance]:
> Hello Mike.Thanks for saying so, Gerry. It means a lot to me, especially coming from a
> I've lurked here awhile, and been a fan of your interlinear site for
person who knows Coptic as well as you evidently do.
> [Eccles'] book is terribly short, covering only 40 of the sayings fromWhat I'm wondering is whether he covers 77.1. As you know, there's an
unreferenced third person plural there, but it's not a passive construction.
(I have it as "I am the light - the one which is upon all of them.") This
would make sense if it was, say, appended to the saying about the 24
prophets, since they would be the "them", but as it stands it doesn't make
much sense to me. (If what was intended was "I am the light which is over
everything", why not use P-THRef as it's used immediately following?.) What
do you and/or Eccles make of it?
- --- In email@example.com, "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@...>
>coming from a
> Thanks for saying so, Gerry. It means a lot to me, especially
> person who knows Coptic as well as you evidently do.Oh, I'm hardly an expert, Mike. My lifelong, geeky fascination with
languages has led me to dabble in the study of a number of them, but
I've only gained some degree of proficiency in a few (all modern).
While I've been trying for years to acquire the materials necessary
to make it possible for me to teach myself Coptic, it is only in
recent months that I finally have what I consider to be adequate
resources. Now, I simply need the time required to devote to that
endeavor. Unfortunately, thanks to work and other demands in my
personal life, spare time is something that has been quite scarce for
me, so my mission will undoubtedly continue to be a slow process,
just as my involvement with Internet groups seems to have become
relegated to a few moments on my day off.
> What I'm wondering is whether he covers 77.1. As you know, there'san
> unreferenced third person plural there, but it's not a passiveconstruction.
> (I have it as "I am the light - the one which is upon all ofthem.") This
> would make sense if it was, say, appended to the saying about the 24doesn't make
> prophets, since they would be the "them", but as it stands it
> much sense to me. (If what was intended was "I am the light whichis over
> everything", why not use P-THRef as it's used immediatelyfollowing?.) What
> do you and/or Eccles make of it?Sorry to say that Eccles does not cover that saying. I'm not sure
> Mike Grondin
how Marvin Meyer's translation is received here, but my acquaintance
with his book on the Gospel of Thomas goes waaaay back, and I
occasionally still find myself resonating with his renderings in
instances where others leave me cold. Here's that entire passage:
77. Jesus said, "I am the light that is over all things. I am all:
from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of
wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."
I would have to say that it makes more sense to me as it stands in
the Coptic. How exactly Meyer viewed the technical particulars for
his rendering is something that I could not answer. I know that
Lambdin says that "THR" must take a resumptive suffix, and it does
indeed match the same pronoun in the preceding clause (eT-2Ijw-OY),
so maybe the question would be better focused on finding a referent
for that previous instance of "OY." I am inclined to wonder if
something like a prospective referential function (rather than a
retrospective one) could be applicable here. This would appear to be
consistent with the remainder of that passage, as well as with
As for "P-THRef," it seems to me that the connotation of "the All"
would be lost if this phrase were also used for the first occurrence
of "THR." For instance, if we were to have Jesus saying that he was
the Light OVER the All, before saying that he WAS the All, then we
either diminish the concept of "the All" or we leave ourselves with
another contradiction. On a more technical basis, unless additional
changes were made to the first part of 77.1, the expression "P-THRef"
carries a definite article and a masculine singular suffix that would
need to be reconciled somehow with the rest of that sentence. I
don't see a way to accomplish that without altering the content to
the point that it becomes unnecessarily redundant.
- Hi everyone,
A while ago, we had a discussion about Coptic grammars in which Ariel
Shisha-Halevy's "Coptic Grammatical Chrestomathy" was mentioned as good,
but very expensive. In case anyone is interested, it is currently available
through Abebooks.com at around $52 US, which from my perspective isn't
I now own a copy and would endorse April DeConick's assessment that although
the author suggests that you could use it to teach yourself Coptic, it isn't
really suitable for anyone who doesn't have at least the basics already. And
also her assessment about the usefulness of the tables and glossaries in the
back. Another rider, though: although it has a comprehenisve glossary of
the gramatical terms used in it in the back, I think it would be more than a
little daunting to anyone who has not had much exposure to the complexities
"One can easily understand a child who is afraid of the dark. The real
tragedy of life is when grown men and women are afraid of the light." -
Rev Judy Redman
Uniting Church Chaplain
University of New England
ph: +61 2 6773 3739
fax: +61 2 6773 3749