In Koine Greek, what is the difference between the perfect tense and the aorist tense?

Ancient Greek has four past tenses; Modern Greek has two, and an auxiliary formation for the other two. The tenses differ in aspect.

The imperfect emphasises that the past action was ongoing or continuous.

The perfect emphasises that the past action is now complete. The main reason for doing that is, as Konstantinos Konstantinides points out, because the results of that past action are still relevant now.

The pluperfect emphasises that the past action was already complete before something else happened.

The last tense is the aorist; in other languages, it is usually called the simple past. It doesn’t indicate whether the action is or was complete or ongoing. In fact, aorist is the Greek word for “indefinite”. It simply states the action happened in the past, and it acts as a default past tense.

If you have to infer an aspect for the aorist, you can infer (by default) that the action is complete, but unlike the perfect, the results of the action are not with us now: it is, so to speak, history.

What does the Greek word παράκλητος (paráklitos) mean? What was the original Aramaic/Hebrew word?

I’ll add to the other answers there’s a subtle nuance in paráklētos. A nuance so subtle, you’ll most often see it discussed in explanations of paráklētos, and the evidence for the distinction can be shaky.

Paráklētos follows the pattern of preposition + verbal adjective; it literally means “by-called” (hence, helper or advocate, some you call to be by your side). These kind of compounds are meant to have a distinction of permanence, according to how they are accented. If they are accented on the final syllable (paraklētós, -ḗ, -ón), the state they describe is temporary: it has happened once-off. If they are accented on the antepenult (paráklētos, -on), the state is permanent. So a paraklētós is a guy you can call on at that particular moment, to get you out of a jam. A paráklētos is someone you always call on to get you out of jams, a permanent advocate.

To illustrate with another example I just made up: if you describe someone as perirrapistós, “around-beaten”, you’re saying he’s just been beaten up. If you’re saying someone is perirrápistos, you’re saying they’re constantly being beaten up, that they look all beaten up, maybe that they’re a permanent victim.

Is true that majority of top US Quorans can’t be as successful in another language as, for example, L.Novakov & D.Triantafyllidou?

Why don’t most Americans learn a second language? Plenty of well-informed answers there.

Can’t? Last I checked, and contrary to international popular opinion, Americans are still human, and capable of learning other languages. Not as driven to learn a second language as a Serb or a Greek? Well, obviously. That’s one of the benefits of being a hegemon. A benefit and a curse.

Lucian of Samosata was the premier author in Greek of the 2nd century AD. And he was proud to be Syrian. How many Greeks were learning Syriac in his day?

Can modern day Greeks understand and read ancient scriptures in ancient ruins (Like this one?)

Variant of what the others have said.

Ruins featuring Roman era Koine? There’ll be some faux amis, but the alphabet shape is recognisable, the grammar and vocabulary you can cope with if you’re educated.

Ruins from 500 BC? The alphabet shapes vary from city to city; the ancient dialects can be very different from Attic. Can you? Not without specialist training.

I’ll counter Dimitrios Michmizos’ answer with the Gortyn code. A scripture (well, a legal code) in ruins in Crete. In Doric and boustrophedon.

… Yeah.

OK, how about a transcription. From IC IV 72 – PHI Greek Inscriptions . With NO HINTS of long vowels (no etas and omegas, the original doesn’t have them), and no accents. I’ll give you spaces between words.

αἰ δε κα πονει δολοσαθθαι, ὀμοσαι τον ἐλοντα το πεντεκονταστατερο και πλιονος πεντον αὐτον ϝιν αὐτοι ϝεκαστον ἐπαριομενον, το δ’ ἀπεταιρο τριτον αὐτον, το δε ϝοικεος τον πασταν ἀτερον αὐτον μοικιοντ’ ἐλεν, δολοσαθθαι δε με.

I’m sure you’re making out some words…

EDIT Joachim Pense Dimitra Triantafyllidou Philip Newton

αἰ δε κα πονει δολοσαθθαι, ὀμοσαι τον ἐλοντα το πεντεκονταστατερο και πλιονος πεντον αὐτον ϝιν αὐτοι ϝεκαστον ἐπαριομενον, το δ’ ἀπεταιρο τριτον αὐτον, το δε ϝοικεος τον πασταν ἀτερον αὐτον μοικιοντ’ ἐλεν, δολοσαθθαι δε με.

Putting in omegas and etas AND chis and phis:

αἰ δέ κα φωνῆι δολώσαθθαι, ὀμόσαι τὸν ἐλόντα τῶ πεντηκονταστατήρω καὶ πλίονος πέντον αὐτὸν ϝὶν αὐτῶι ϝέκαστον ἐπαριόμενον, τῶ δ’ ἀπεταίρω τρίτον αὐτὸν, τῶ δὲ ϝοικέος τὸν πάσταν ἄτερον αὐτὸν μοιχίοντ’ ἐλέν, δολώσαθθαι δὲ μή.

Attic equivalent:

εἰ δ’ ἂν φωνῇ δολώσασθαι, ὀμόσαι τὸν ἐλόντα το­ῦ πεντηκονταστατήρου καὶ πλείονος, πέμπτον αὐτόν, αὐτὸν αὐτῷ ἔκαστον ἐπαρώμενον, το­ῦ δὲ μετοίκου τρίτον αὐτὸν, τοῦ δὲ οἰκέτου τὸν δεσπότη ἕτερον αὐτὸν μοιχοῦντ’ ἐλεῖν, δολώσασθαι δὲ μή.

but if anyone should declare that he has been taken by subterfuge, the captor is to swear, in a case involving fifty staters or more, with four others, each calling down solemn curses upon himself, and in the case of an apetairos [resident alien] with two others, and in the case of a serf the master and one other, that he took him in adultery and not by subterfuge.

EDIT: Mohammad Yamini. Ah, I too have just noticed the actual inscription. I will transcribe it, seeing as how I can’t find it online. There’s a couple of words I don’t understand; I’ve put question marks for them.

Μενέδημος Ἀπολλοδότῳ καὶ Λαοδικέῳ τοῖς ἄρχουσι καὶ τῇ πόλει χαίρειν. Το­ῦ γραφέντος πρὸς ἡμᾶς προστάγματος [ ] βασιλέως ὑποτέτακται [] τάφον κατακολουθεῖτε οὖν τοῖς ἐπεσταλμένοις καὶ φροντίσατε ὅπως ἀναγραφὲν τὸ πρόσταγμα εἰς στήλην διοινὴν (?) ἀνατεθῇ ἐν τῷ ἐπιφανεστάτῳ τῶν ἐν τῇ πόλει ἱερῶν.

Ἔρρωσθε οιρ. Πανήμου.

Βασιλεὺς Ἀντίοχος Μενεδήμῳ χαίρειν. [ ]μενοι τῆς ἀδελφῆς βασιλίσσης Λαοδίκης τὰς τιμὰς ἐπὶ πλεῖον αὔξειν καὶ τοῦτο ἀναγκαιότατον ἑαυτοῖς νομίζοντες εἶναι διὰ τὸ μὴ μένον (?) ἡμῖν φιλοστόργως καὶ κηδεμονικῶς

Menedemus to Apollodotus and Laodiceus, the leaders, and to the city: greetings! Of the command written to us … has submitted to the king … tomb, so follow what has been written to you, and take care that the command be put up in an inscription in a (?) column in the most prominent of the temples in the city.

Hail. (?) of Panemus.

King Antiochus to Menedemus: greetings! []ing to increase the honours of our sister queen Laodice, and considering to ourselves that this is most necessary, not only so that we caringly and as a guardian…

Thank God I found a transcription of the same decree at this point, though written to another destination:


Yeah, we can read it. I’ll excuse myself from transcribing and translating the rest, and will let you do Google translate on the Italian translation instead.

I woiuld not have worked out οιρ: it’s θιρ, which is the Year 119 of the Seleucid empire (193 BC), only normally it would be ριθ.

To the victor, the spoils

In The 1000 answer club, I noted that Michael Masiello, Dimitra Triantafyllidou and myself had around 940 posts, and I put up a challenge on who was to reach 1000 first.

In PM, Dimitra bowed out of the challenge, because she has a life, but she said she was happy to act as cheerleader. Only no short skirts.

I was up to 999 last night. I noted this morning Michael’s 1000th post with contentment: Michael Masiello’s answer to If I were to arrange a date at a bookstore, which book would you choose? If I took you to a bookstore and instead of splitting the bill we bought a book for each other or for ourselves, which genre or specific book would you choose?

No Callimachus for you, Magister, but have this instead:

Legend, Left to Right:

  • Dēmētēr Ainesiagos. Dimitra, Leader of Praises.
  • Nikolaos Didaktōr. Dr Nick.
  • Masiellos Magistēr.

Yes, I know very well that the Latin word magister was borrowed into Byzantine Greek as maïstōr. But this is an Ancient vase, you see.

And no, I never have seen Michael in a beret. (Yes, that’s what it’s supposed to be.) But come on. What other headgear would you picture on him?

Beret: The beret is part of the long-standing stereotype of the intellectual, film director, artist, “hipster”, poet, bohemain and beatnik.

What is the etymology of Gylippus? It has to do with horses, but what else?

Γύλιππος (Gýllipos) in Gerhard Köbler’s site is all I get, and all it says is “origin unclear”.

It does indeed look like a compound of gyl– and hippos “horse”. There is no gyl– word in attested Greek. There are the diminutives gyl-arion and gyl-iskos referring to kinds of fish; and there is the noun gylios, referring to a long-shaped satchel (Aristophanes), or to a hedgehog. Aristophanes also has the word gyliauchēngylios-necked”, meaning “long-necked, scraggy-necked”. gyliippos > gylippos could possibly be a “gylios-necked horse”, or someone associated with them.

For Quora writers who have over 1000 answers: What is your favorite answer you have written?

Just hit 1000, so now I can answer this, forsooth.

I like many of my answers. I love the answers where I get to do my own reasoning in linguistics, based only on a couple of Wikipedia references. I love the answers where I get to do silly drawings. I love the answers where I give shout outs to people I’ve come to count as friends. I love the answers where I tell rambling anecdotes, as a way of getting to the point of the question.

The answer I think I love the most is the one where the rambling anecdote was the point of the question.

Nick Nicholas’ answer to How can one summarize the Watergate scandal to a kid?

I haven’t done a cartoon version of this. Yet. It would be a glorious think if I did; I’ve already practiced the Nixon ski-slope nose on a stick figure.

Why does “Chinaman” carry a negative, denigrating connotation, while “Englishman” does not?

Thanks to posters, and in particular those I agree with 🙂 — Lee Ballentine, Sng Kok Joon Leonard.

Some answers brought up how the word was coined, so I went to the Oxford English Dictionary. As it turns out, the entry for Chinaman has not been updated yet, and Google Books was if anything more informative.

Of the words for “inhabitant of China”, Chinese has been in use since the 17th century (with the plural Chineses). Chinese is an Italian word, and Italian missionaries were the most prominent Europeans to have had early contact with China.

Chinaman shows up in the 18th century. The first meaning attested in the OED is “someone who sells china, i.e. porcelain”; the earliest instance I can see is from 1746: The gentleman’s magazine. The word used with reference to Chinese people first shows up in Google Books in a history of the English East India Company, from 1759: An Universal History, from the Earliest Account of Time.

(Oh, Lee Ballentine? “Chinaman’s chance” shows up in OED too. “Colloquial, now derogatory”.)

Sng Kok Joon Leonard suspects that Chinaman is simply a calque into English of the Chinese Zhongguo ren. It could be, either as mocking of Chinese grammar (as some posters suspect), or as simply a more English-like name than the Romance Chinese. (Cf. Frenchman, Dutchman; *Chin-ese-man combines two suffixes, so it wouldn’t work.) My own suspicion is that once chinaman was coined referring to porcelain-salesmen, the transfer to inhabitants of China would have been irresistible anyway.

At any rate, yes, the early usages of Chinaman were written by English colonialists and orientalists, in the lead up to or during the 100 years of humiliation. But I don’t buy it that they were meant to be derogatory. The next instance is in a 1779 Malabar–English dictionary: A Dictionary of the English and Malabar Languages; I don’t see why you would bother to be derogatory in that context.

The 1872 instance, which is the first the OED cites, is if anything trying to show an empathetic picture of China: The Foreigner in Far Cathay. As the modern blurb puts it, “The author is determined to give a picture of the country and its inhabitants that is realistic and free of the tired clichés often found in contemporary Western accounts of the country. […] Concerned that the West should show China the respect it deserves, he attempts especially to capture the essence of the Chinese character.”

The book mostly uses Chinese, but occasionally uses Chinaman. The instance OED quotes is:

It has been observed that drunkenness is not a Chinese failing: on the contrary, I am happy to be able to bear witness that John Chinaman is a most temperate creature.

Sounds condescending? Are you sure? Creature does not mean beast, after all. And why is he calling his exemplar “John Chinaman”? Because he’s invoking John Bull. He’s giving Mr Average Chinese the same name he’d give Mr Average Briton. That may be patronising, but it is not vituperative.

Like others said: Chinaman was not born a racist name. Chinaman became a racist name, because it picked up those connotations in the West, particularly with Australian and American panic over Chinese migration. And Chinaman was susceptible to picking up those connotations, because it was a newer, less common, and likely more colloquial word than Chinese.

It picked up the racism of its speakers; like any word might have. It’s irredeemable now.

It makes me think of the closest equivalent word in Greek. The Modern Greek word for Turkish woman is turkala. It sounds derogatory to me. But it sounds derogatory because Greeks have traditionally hated Turks, and it’s grammatically odd (the only instance of that suffix in the language). And there is no good word to replace it, unlike Chinaman and Chinese (turkissa is outnumbered by turkala 100:1; tourkida remains a hypothetical form). People on forums online wonder what form they should use instead of turkala. But as they get more friendly and familiar with Turks (including Turkish women), I suspect, the derogatory tone of turkala will likely just go away.

What was the profession of 1st Greeks who arrived in Australia and became famous for that?

You’ve read something somewhere, OP, I can tell, but I’m at a loss about where. The answer, pace Romain Bouchard, is not in Wikipedia, but I don’t remember it.

Let me try and reconstruct it.

The big Greek migration wave into Australia was in the 1950s–70s. The stereotype was milk bar owner (= grocery story) or fish and chip owner, because that was highly visible (my parents were among them). Less visible, but I suspect more common, was factory worker.

Milk bars are now just about extinct, and the fish and chip shops have bifurcated: some boutique nouveau fish and chip shops are Greek, but the common hole in the wall kind of places are now Chinese. As for factories, like much of the First World, we don’t have any any more. So the new wave of migrants from Greece (fleeing austerity and connecting with relatives in Australia) seem to have ended up here in Greektown Melbourne, mainly in the service industries.

This is not the time frame OP is asking about.

There was a Greek community worthy of the name since I guess the 1890s; the first Greek church in Melbourne was founded in 1900.

But I think the trade OP is alluding to is sponge divers. There were sponge divers in the north of the country, a trade practiced in Greece in the Dodecanese; that trade also accounts for the sizeable Greek community in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The pearling company Paspaley was set up in the 1920s by a Greek Paspalis family.

I do know that the pre-War Greek population of Australia are disproportionately from a few islands—Castellorizo (including the Paspaleys), Kalymnos, Ithaca in Melbourne. Castellorizo and Kalymnos are both sponge diver islands.

How many days did it take for you to get 1000 answer views per day in Quora? What did you do to achieve more views?

First time I hit 1000 views was two months in; last time I fell below 1000 was nine months in. At 13 months in, I’m between 2500 (on days I don’t write) and 5500 (when I write something that goes popular).

It’s been answered by others so often: write what you’re interested in, cultivate friendships with other Quorans, use pictures appropriately, have some levity. And as has also been commented by so many others, the answers that go viral are not the answers you’re most proud of. I’ve done some good joking dialogues, I’d like to think; some entertaining (if not good) cartoons; some well-researched linguistic speculations; some insightful explorations of national character.

And what do my most viewed answers say about Quora? From Nick Nicholas’ answer to What does your top answer on Quora say about you? What’s the story behind your answer? Did you have any idea it would become so popular?

  • Ooh, Greek obscenity!
  • There are many Indians on Quora.
  • Richard White is a popular Quoran.
  • Ooh, toasting in Greek!
  • Lots of Quorans are anxious about how to spell.