https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AveryAndre1

πράγμα as stuff

In the Greek phrasal future section I noticed the sentence "We are not going to drink this thing", OK translation being Δεν πρόκειται να πιούμε αυτό το πράγμα; a minor problem is that the English doesn't seem correct; one would drink or refuse to drink stuff, but not a thing. But Greek πράγμα perhaps covers both of these (I guess from some other sentences I've encountered elsewhere); if so, that would be an interesting difference to point out to learners (basically, 'things' in English are mostly discrete items that you can pick up, while 'stuff' is amorphous goop)

March 17, 2017

17 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/spdl79
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  • 1015

Hmm, I'd respectfully disagree and say that "we are not going to drink this thing" is absolutely fine. It's quite informal, and probably not entirely grammatically correct, sure, but I could imagine contexts in which you could use it. Let's say you're at a bar with your friends, and the bartender mixes up a revolting cocktail. "We're not going to drink this thing", you say in disgust. "Do this thing" is also quite a common phrase in English, and I've heard all sorts of verbs being substituted for "do".

March 17, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaye16
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  • 10

I'm going to agree with "spdl79" that while it might not be the optimal translation it is not uncommon in English. In addition, I should mention that "stuff" is another accepted translation. We often have a long list of accepted translations for the very reason that translations are often not exact. Thank you for your input and precise explanation. We look forward to help from the community.

March 17, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/spdl79
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  • 1015

Quite! I'd never actually even thought about 'thing' being singular and 'stuff' being plural. It's just that most native speakers don't either, and it's quite common to use 'thing' for plural underlying items or situations.

March 17, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AveryAndre1

OK, but I'm still wondering if something like Τί είναι αυτό το πράγμα; would be a good way to say 'what is this stuff?' in a situation where you found blobs of some unknown kind of glop on your clothes.

March 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaye16
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  • 10

Yes, I think the replies above confirm that we agree that "stuff" is a more universal expression than "thing" and can be used for individual items as well as "glop" :-). I have added "stuff" to the translation for the sentence here. Thanks again.

March 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KSmpY3Ru

Can anyone differentiate between these two sentences when they're translated into Greek:

The boy reads her the menu. Her boy reads the menu.

And another example:

His girl reads a book. The girl reads him a book.

Thank you.

March 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stergi3

Mizinamo answered the question in the link he added. I 'll explain it using some Grammar and Syntax:

The boy reads her the menu= Το αγόρι τής διαβάζει το μενού.

Subject (S): Το αγόρι Verb (V): διαβάζει Objects (O): τής, το μενού.

About τής:The rule about the accent on monosyllable words is the following:

"Παίρνουν τόνο και οι αδύνατοι τύποι των προσωπικών αντωνυµιών (µου, σου, του, την, της, τον, το, µας, σας, τους, τα), όταν στην ανάγνωση υπάρχει περίπτωση να θεωρηθούν εγκλιτικές λέξεις: ο πατέρας µού είπε ( = ο πατέρας είπε σ’ εµένα), ενώ ο πατέρας µου είπε ( ο δικός µου πατέρας είπε), η δασκάλα µάς τα έδωσε (η δασκάλα τα έδωσε σ’ εµάς), ενώ η δασκάλα µας τα έδωσε (η δική µας δασκάλα τα έδωσε). Όταν, όµως, δεν υπάρχει περίπτωση να µπερδευτούν οι προσωπικές αντωνυµίες µε τα οµόηχά τους εγκλιτικά, τότε δεν παίρνουν τόνο: Ο δάσκαλος που θα µας στείλουν."

Look at the examples above with bold letters and skip the rules if you cannot understand what they say. The personal pronouns μου, σου, του etc take an accent when and only when there is ambiguity if they are personal pronoun or a possessive pronoun. Never in other cases.

In your example τής is a personal pronoun and it can be confused with a possessive, της. So we have no ambiguity putting a accent on it.

Her boy reads the menu: Το αγόρι της διαβάζει το μενού. S: To αγόρι της, V: διαβάζει, O: το μενού.

That της is a possessive in English and in Greek too. Never put an accent on monosyllable possessive pronouns.

A bit complicated, eh? Even Greeks, including me, make mistakes in it.

The above rule and the examples are taken from the Dictionary schoolbook "Ορθογραφικό-ερμηνευτικό λεξικό (Δ΄, Ε΄, ΣΤ΄ Δημοτικού)" http://ebooks.edu.gr/modules/ebook/show.php/DSDIM-F102/651/4161,19326/, where you can find all cases about accent.

March 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KSmpY3Ru

Ευχαριστώ πολύ!

March 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KSmpY3Ru

I have a question for you Stergi3, though this might look like pettiness and triviality, but I am somehow convinced that there must be an example of Greek possessive and personal pronouns mixed up and confused. So, here is the question: Suppose somewhere in Athens we have a big commercial billboard for some family restaurant, with a picture of happy mother and her son sitting in the restaurant, ready to order, and beside the picture it is written in big, bold, capital letters: "THE BOY READS HER THE MENU" which translates as: "ΤΟ ΑΓΟΡΙ ΤΗΣ ΔΙΑΒΑΖΕΙ ΤΟ ΜΕΝΟΥ". Since the sentence is written in capital letters when Greeks don't put accents, so how would the Greeks know that billboard says "the boy reads her the menu" and not "her boy reads the menu"?

March 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stergi3

Yes, there is ambiguity in this case. :) But notice that the capital letters in Greek should have an accent, but they are not practically used. In the above case they should use accents. Here is the above phrase accented: ΤΟ ΑΓΌΡΙ ΤΉΣ ΔΙΑΒΆΖΕΙ ΤΟ ΜΕΝΟΎ.

Notice that accents and aspiration didn't exist in Ancient Greek. The scholars and philologist of Alexandria in the Hellenistic period (after 323 B.C to 146 B.C) added them in order to help the proper stress and aspiration for the people who had not Greek as a native language and not only, to help the understanding of the texts written with capital letters that time, there were not lower letters before 8th c. AC. But aspiration marks are not used anymore in Greek since 1982. Even when I was a student we used them to write, and all this voted by the Greek Parliament to simplify the language. But the Ancient Greek learners have to learn all the rules for accents and aspiration marks, and I assure you there are many. Some Greeks insist to use polytonic system (three accents) and aspiration marks (two of them), because of the ambiguities that can make the use of one accent only. And also, they believe that the Greek language is getting less beautiful in writing without these marks.

March 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stergi3

It depends on the learning style of each one of us. The children has no problem to learn their native language, even a second one in just a few months.

About Greek orthography, there had been written a lot. Why should Greeks have to know the historical orthography and do not replace it by a phonetic alphabet. It is almost the same problem like in English. Why do not change it to a phonetic one? Well, about Greek, it is the only descendant of Ancient Greek and if we replace the historical with a phonetic one, the chain will break. For some learners here there is a motivation really important, to use Modern Greek as a bridge language to Ancient Greek, an approach that is acceptable by many scholars. Some prefer to take a photo of the word and use some intuition to write it correctly. Others use the origin, the etymology to guess the orthography. Or both.

There are some milestones in the Greek orthography. The main one is that we have to recognize the word, is it a noun, a verb etc? After that we try to split the word to parts, the main part, θέμα, and the suffix, κατάληξη. Not very different than other languages. Since you learn το θέμα, the others are easy, you add the suffix. Some verbs are irregular. The problem so is how to write the invariable part, θέμα. Well, most people take a photo of it. I prefer to correlate the word with others, similar and try to find the origin of the word, but it is a matter of learning style

March 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KSmpY3Ru

Thank you for the detailed answer. My impression is that Greek language might be also simplified considering the system of writing down the same sounds but with different letters. For example, the letter "i" can be written as η, οι, υ, ει, υι, and the letter "e" can be written as ε, αι. How do the Greeks know which "i" to put? If a Greek hear some new word, does he immediately know how to write it down or it takes someone to spell it for him so he can write the word properly (like in English)? How do you know that "girl" is κορίτση and not κορήτσι? How do you know that it is δικηγορος and not δηκιγωρως? Both words are pronounced exactly the same. Is there a system to it or we just have to learn writing Greek words by heart?

March 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/spdl79
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  • 1015

Half-and-half, KSmpY3Ru. You do have to learn things by heart, but then there are also lots of patterns which really only start becoming obvious once you've been learning by rote for a while. For example, if you get a t-i-r combination, it will almost always be spelled with an eta in the middle, ie, τηρ. I really did struggle with 'which vowel to use?' when I first started learning Greek (never mind 'where do I put the accent?'), but after a year, it's become a lot more intuitive.

March 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Didn't you like the answer I already gave you for that exact question on https://www.duolingo.com/comment/21499676 ?

(I couldn't respond directly to the question since it was too far nested, but I did reply directly to another comment of yours.)

March 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KSmpY3Ru

Sorry mizinamo! I have just seen that you did indeed answer to my question. And yes, I like it very much, thank you! I just posted that question days ago, and since I didn't get the answer from anyone for days I posted the same question in another place, I mean, here. The problem is I stopped checking the previous place for answer and in the meanwhile you answered, so I didn't notice that. Never mind, I got the answer finally, thanks.

March 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KSmpY3Ru

Thank you Stergi3 for your useful information. I just have one remark. You mentioned "phonetic alphabet" and put Greek language in almost the same group as English, i.e. they both might adopt the phonetic alphabet. Well, I think we are actually talking about phonemic orthography, the system in which, ideally, one letter represents one sound (in reality this ideal no language has yet achieved). For the English language we can say with absolute certainty that it has a highly non-phonemic orthography, but I don't think this is the case with Greek language. It seems to me that Greek language is completely opposite - it has a highly phonemic orthography. Every letter in Greek alphabet represents only one sound and we can always perfectly read any Greek word once we have learnt all 24 letters of Greek alphabet and few diphthongs (which is not the case in English where we must remember how some word is written or look up in the dictionary or have someone to spell it for us) . The problem with this language is, and I have already said that in my previous comment, that in only few instances we have various different letters and diphthongs standing for one sound. Thus "η" is always "i" like in "hit, wit, lit", but also are "ει", "οι", "υ" and "υι". This "problem", in my opinion, doesn't qualify Greek language to be in the same group as English in terms of phonetic orthography.

March 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KSmpY3Ru

Oops, I have just seen the mistake I made. I wrote about reading and writing as the same thing. Yes, we have difficulties writing Greek like we have writing English because the principle of "one letter - one sound" is not completely applied in both languages (English being farther away from it), but when it comes to reading, Greek is much easier to read again because it is much closer to phonemic orthography than English. And this is my conclusion: Greek is much closer to the ideal phonemic orthography then English, though it is not yet fully phonemic (an probably will never be).

March 21, 2017
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