Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rethinking 'let me'

I've done just 11 lessons, the very simplest, from the McGuffey readers into Greek and Latin, and already met a host of problems. The least of these is what to do with names. I turned a few of the early ones into Graecised or Latinate versions, but others (Jip!) I have more simply transliterated.

Perhaps the one that I've thought over the most, is the construction "Let X"; now in English this is fairly straightforward, because we use lots of auxiliary verbs. At first I began to render this with an imperative of 'permit/allow', sinere or ἐάω, plus an infinitive. This seemed to best fit the sense of the first appearance, and preserved me from introducing the subjunctive. But as I've gone on, I'm beginning to wonder whether I shouldn't simply use a 2nd person subjunctive. Once you get to sentences such as "Let me do X, won't you?", it has a sort of subjunctive force, rather than a permissive-imperative.

As always, I would appreciate your thoughts.


Daniel Streett said...

I think αφες is used in this sense by our period. See BDAG's entry part 5.a-b for details and examples.

Seumas Macdonald said...

Thanks, will have a look.