"He is neither bad nor perfect."
Translation:Αυτός δεν είναι ούτε κακός ούτε τέλειος.
I'd totally agree that's the primary definition for it - it does literally translate as 'without shape', after all - but I also understood it as sometimes having a wider meaning than that. My dictionary has it down as having secondary meanings of 'bad, wicked, uneasy, thin, ugly, serious, grave, seamy, vile, filthy, horrid, nasty...'
I'm very new to Greek though so I could well be wrong and I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has another take on it or if you could explain further, alepouditsa.
Άσχημος can mean bad in metaphoric sentences. For example, έχει άσχημο χαρακτήρα=he has a bad character/personality, έχει άσχημη ψυχή=he has a bad/wicked soul etc. Είναι άσχημος would only translate as "he is ugly".
Indeed sometimes we use άσχημος as bad, but not in this situation. we can say άσχημος καιρος(bad weather) or άσχημη συμπεριφορα (bad behaviour) for example. Although I do not know if there is a general rule, I think it depends on the situation...
Thanks for getting back to us alepouditsa - between you and Troll you've really helped to clarify how to use it.
Essentially it seems much the same as 'ugly' in English - it's never used as a direct synonym for 'bad', but you can, for example, say someone 'has an ugly personality' or 'the weather is really ugly' if you want to emphasise that something is particularly unpleasant.
What I was thinking when I read the phrase in English, was in the context of how well someone performs a task. For example, in response to the question: "How well does he paint", or "How well does he teach". I would expect to give an answer such as "Δεν ειναι ουτε καλος, ουτε και ασχημος". Wouldn't this be the correct way to respond to that question?
I think not... You can say that someone "ζωγραφίζει άσχημα (as an adverb)=paints bad, but not that he is an άσχημος ζωγράφος=ugly painter, to talk about his painting ability.
I'm just wondering about word order. I thought it was less important in Greek because of the inflections, but when I wrote, "Δεν είναι αυτός ούτε κακός ούτε τέλειος", it was counted as wrong. Is this because the word order is not possible or is it merely a software fault?
Instantly 'αυτός' seems out of place. While it still makes sense, it is an unorthodox, even incorrect, structure, something you might hear (speech transcripts are typically all over the place) or maybe read in a literary context, with the twisted syntax shifting the focus on whatever it wants to...
So, short answer: it's wrong. :D
Greek syntax is indeed flexible, but sticking to the subject-verb-object structure pays off!
I answered this as "he is not either bad or perfect" but was marked as wrong. It is (as far as I can tell) a correct variant on the answer, though slightly more periphrastic.
As a sentence in English, it sounds very awkward to my ear. I suspect if we asked a good sample of native speakers, not many would judge it acceptable.
As a native speaker I would say it depends on context and emphasis depending upon whether you wish to elide the "not either ... or" to a "neither ... nor".