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Thread: Optatives

  1. #1
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    Optatives

    A book I have gives only four examples of optatives:

    1) Να ΄ρχότανε να τον βλέπαμε.
    2) Ας τον δω κι ας πεθάνω.
    3) Μακάρι/Που να μην τον είχα συναντήσει.
    4) Εύχομαι να μην τον ξαναδώ.

    Could anyone please point me to a Web page that gives a few more examples? Μακάρι να είχα άλλα παραδείγματα.
    Last edited by panettonea; 6th June 2013 at 11:00 AM.

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    Re: Optatives

    Since nobody has found any other examples yet, let me ask this. Is the following sentence idiomatic?

    Ήθελα να ήμουν πλούσιος.

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by panettonea View Post
    Since nobody has found any other examples yet, let me ask this. Is the following sentence idiomatic?

    Ήθελα να ήμουν πλούσιος.
    Yes, but it refers to the past. That is: "Όταν ήμουν νέος, ήθελα να ήμουν πλούσιος" -"When I was young ..."

    If you refer to the present: "Θα ήθελα να ήμουν/είμαι πλούσιος".

    Other examples:
    Ας γινόταν κάτι επιτέλους.
    Να είσαι πάντα καλά.
    Μακάρι να γράψω καλά στις εξετάσεις.
    Πήγαινε στην ευχή (του Θεού).


    You may also see in books the wish (ευχή) being introduced with "είθε να", "άμποτε να", but these words are not used any more.

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Perseas View Post
    Yes, but it refers to the past. That is: "Όταν ήμουν νέος, ήθελα να ήμουν πλούσιος" -"When I was young ..."

    If you refer to the present: "Θα ήθελα να ήμουν/είμαι πλούσιος".

    Other examples:
    Ας γινόταν κάτι επιτέλους.
    Να είσαι πάντα καλά.
    Μακάρι να γράψω καλά στις εξετάσεις.
    Πήγαινε στην ευχή (του Θεού).


    You may also see in books the wish (ευχή) being introduced with "είθε να", "άμποτε να", but these words are not used any more.
    Thanks, Perseas. I guess using ήμουν makes the improbability of the wish seem stronger?

    Let me try to translate your examples:

    Let something finally happen/be done.
    Be well/in good health always.
    I hope I do well on the exams.
    Go in the blessing of the Lord.


    I've actually seen είθε να somewhere, but not the second one.
    Last edited by panettonea; 8th June 2013 at 11:08 AM.

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    Re: Optatives

    I think all the translated sentences render correctly the meaning of the sentences in Greek.

    Quote Originally Posted by panettonea View Post
    I guess using ήμουν makes the improbability of the wish seem stronger?
    Personally, I don't see any difference.

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Perseas View Post
    I think all the translated sentences render correctly the meaning of the sentences in Greek.
    Thanks. I was just hoping to be somewhere in the ballpark.

    Personally, I don't see any difference.
    My book does say this: "The subjunctive used here (1) with an imperfective past tense verb expresses a strong wish for something which is unlikely to happen." It was referring to the first example in my first post, in contrast with the other three. But maybe that doesn't necessarily apply in all cases with the imperfect.

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by panettonea View Post
    My book does say this: "The subjunctive used here (1) with an imperfective past tense verb expresses a strong wish for something which is unlikely to happen." It was referring to the first example in my first post, in contrast with the other three. But maybe that doesn't necessarily apply in all cases with the imperfect.
    Yes, as a rule what your book says is correct. This is also what my book says. Also, in this example I admit I can see it clearly enough: "Να ΄ρχότανε να τον βλέπαμε."

    In these examples "Μακάρι να ήμουν πλούσιος" and "Θα ήθελα να ήμουν πλούσιος", I can also see the strong wish for something which is unlikely to happen.
    I think that this "Θα ήθελα να..." make the wish in the whole sentence "Θα ήθελα να είμαι πλούσιος" seem more strong.
    Last edited by Perseas; 8th June 2013 at 6:04 PM.

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Perseas View Post
    I think that this "Θα ήθελα να..." make the wish in the whole sentence "Θα ήθελα να είμαι πλούσιος" seem more strong.
    As opposed to maybe the case without the Θα?

    Actually, perhaps it's the wish itself, regardless of the wording, that conveys the unlikelihood the most. I mean, what percentage of people in this world are actually rich?

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by panettonea View Post
    As opposed to maybe the case without the Θα?
    If you use Ήθελα να ήμουν πλούσιος to express the wish to be rich now or sometime in the future, it is wrong. You have to include the θα in the beginning.

    When said like that, it unequivocally means what Perseas wrote.
    In a nutshell:
    "Once in my life I wanted to be rich and now
    I don't want it anymore or
    I know 100% that I can't be or
    I don't care"

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by panettonea View Post
    As opposed to maybe the case without the Θα?
    ...more strong and unlikely to happen as opposed to "Θέλω να είμαι πλούσιος", I meant to say.

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Tassos View Post
    When said like that, it unequivocally means what Perseas wrote.
    In a nutshell:
    "Once in my life I wanted to be rich and now
    I don't want it anymore or
    I know 100% that I can't be or
    I don't care"
    Thanks. Would Ήθελα να είμαι πλούσιος carry those same basic meanings?

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Perseas View Post
    ...more strong and unlikely to happen as opposed to "Θέλω να είμαι πλούσιος", I meant to say.
    OK, I can see that.

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Tassos View Post
    If you use Ήθελα να ήμουν πλούσιος to express the wish to be rich now or sometime in the future, it is wrong.
    OK, Tassos, I just came across something interesting. In a book by Anne Farmakides (A Manual of Modern Greek, I), she includes these two sentences and translations:

    Ήθελα να ήμουν μικρός............I wish I were little
    Ήθελα να είχα παιχνίδια............I wish I had toys

    Ι had instructions on how to view the book on a popular Web site, but they got yanked. Anyway, it's possible to go to the popular Web site and look inside the book to see the text for yourself. These sentences are at the bottom of p. 81.

    Is Farmakides just plain wrong here? The book was written in 1983, I believe--don't know if that would make a huge difference. I actually own the book--it's a pretty good one. Incidentally, she founded the Modern Greek program at McGill University in Montreal and used to teach there for decades. If she's still alive, she's probably in her late 80s. It's kind of funny that in a newspaper article, she once said that Greek was one of the easiest languages to learn, and also the most melodious. No bias there, I'm sure.
    Last edited by panettonea; 11th June 2013 at 5:19 AM.

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by panettonea View Post
    In a book by Anne Farmakides (A Manual of Modern Greek, I), she includes these two sentences and translations:

    Ήθελα να ήμουν μικρός............I wish I were rich
    Ήθελα να είχα παιχνίδια............I wish I had toys
    I understand "Ήθελα να..." as "I wanted to ..." .
    "Ήθελα" is past, whereas "I wish" is present.

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    Re: Optatives

    As a side note, I had a look at the pages of that manual that are available online. The first page I looked at, in the Greek-English glossary, had "χάνω" (I lose) translated as "loose" and "ωάριο" (ovum) translated as "ovule", for no obvious reason. I would not put a lot of trust in the English used in the book.

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Perseas View Post
    I understand "Ήθελα να..." as "I wanted to ..." .
    "Ήθελα" is past, whereas "I wish" is present.
    That seems to make the most sense. I wonder what she was thinking, though?

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by velisarius View Post
    As a side note, I had a look at the pages of that manual that are available online. The first page I looked at, in the Greek-English glossary, had "χάνω" (I lose) translated as "loose" and "ωάριο" (ovum) translated as "ovule", for no obvious reason. I would not put a lot of trust in the English used in the book.
    I've read the whole book, and while there are definitely typos, etc., most of them are fairly minor. For instance, the examples you mention fall more under that category. And one definition of "ovule" is "a small ovum." Incidentally, I searched for "loose" in the book on that Web site, but nothing turned up. However, their search engine often fails to pick up valid results. The matter we're referring to is far different, but of course Farmakides's translation could still be completely wrong.

    One other key point. She makes an important distinction in translation here:

    Ήθελα να είμαι μικρός = I wanted to be little
    Ήθελα να ήμουν μικρός = I wish I were little [italics mine]

    She includes several other contrasting pairs as well. So, whether she's right, wrong, or somewhere in between , I think her translations here are intentional. If Farmakides has since moved back to Greece and is still alive, maybe one of you-all can track her down to see what she meant there.
    Last edited by panettonea; 11th June 2013 at 5:25 AM.

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by panettonea View Post
    One other key point. She makes an important distinction in translation here:

    Ήθελα να είμαι μικρός = I wanted to be little
    Ήθελα να ήμουν μικρός = I wish I were little [italics mine]
    Here's an example in context where the two are used together:

    "Και αμέσως η γνώμη μου άλλαξε για τα παιδιά αυτά. Τους συμπάθησα επειδή, σε αντίθεση με τους υπόλοιπους, μένουν πιστοί στις ιδέες τους. Ήταν τόσο παράξενο που ξαναζωντάνευε μπροστά μου η εποχή πίστευαν σε ιδέες και έδιναν μάχες γι αυτές. Χαμογέλασα από ευτυχία, αλλά και από ανακούφιση αφού άδικα φοβόμουν, και λανθασμένα πίστεψα τα όσα άκουσα. Ήθελα να ήμουν και εγώ ένας από αυτούς, ήθελα να είμαι και εγώ στις γραμμές τους." http://elamcy.com/wordpress/?p=5744

    Is is possible that a distinction between the two is made more often in Cypriot Greek?

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Live2Learn View Post
    Here's an example in context where the two are used together:

    "... Ήθελα να ήμουν και εγώ ένας από αυτούς, ήθελα να είμαι και εγώ στις γραμμές τους."

    Is is possible that a distinction between the two is made more often in Cypriot Greek?
    First of all, the use of "ήθελα..." indicates that both actions took place in the past. It's important to realize that. Τhe writer expressed a desire in the past, and that's why he chose "ήθελα". "I wish I were.." as translation would refer to the present.

    Personally, I don't see a distinction in the meaning between "... να ήμουν" and "... να είμαι" (as I said in post #5). The writer could have written as well: "ήθελα να είμαι και εγώ ένας από αυτούς" or "ήθελα να ήμουν κι εγώ στις γραμμές τους."
    Last edited by Perseas; 11th June 2013 at 9:05 AM.

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    Re: Optatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Live2Learn;13380931[B
    ]Ήθελα να ήμουν [/B]και εγώ ένας από αυτούς, ήθελα να είμαι και εγώ στις γραμμές τους." http://elamcy.com/wordpress/?p=5744
    Thanks for finding that.

    Is it possible that a distinction between the two is made more often in Cypriot Greek?
    Well, Farmakides was apparently from Athens. And I don't mean Athens, Georgia.

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