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Headword: Ῥῆμα
Adler number: rho,131
Translated headword: verb
Vetting Status: high
“Verb” is the name for the verbal utterance without qualification, such as “[I] beat”, “[I] write”, that which alone is said without qualification. But what is signified by a verbal utterance without qualification is called “predicate”.
Greek Original:
Ῥῆμα: ῥῆμα λέγεται ἡ ἁπλῶς ῥηματικὴ φωνή, οἷον τύπτω, γράφω, ἁπλῶς μόνον λεγόμενον: τὸ δὲ ἐκ τῆς ἁπλῶς ῥηματικῆς φωνῆς σημαινόμενον κατηγορία καλεῖται.
The whole entry sounds Stoic in character. As Diogenes Laertius 7.63 reports in the context of a Stoic doxography, γράφω (“[I] write”) is classified as a verb, but it must be understood as an “incomplete expression”. See also sigma 1357, where the Suda speaks of a “quasi- event” (παρασύμβαμα ) or “incomplete predicate” as a “thought that is not self-complete”. A “quasi-event”, though, is rather an impersonal verb with a dative depending on it, such as Ἰωάννει μέλει , i.e. “to John there is a care for” (on this issue see, Ammonius, Commentary on Aristotle's De interpretatione 44.18-45.7, ed. Busse, included in SVF 2.184). The other important point is that in the assertion “John writes” the expression “writes” is not strictly the verb, but the signification of the “verbal sound”, which in this case is a “predicate” (κατηγόρημα ). A verb is rather what signifies a “non-composed predicate”, i.e. a predicate in which the subject “I” is elliptical: “(I) write”, “(I) speak” (this is the Stoic canonical definition of “verb”, quoted by Diogenes Laertius 7.58 and, I think, closely connected with this Suda entry).
For further discussion see J. Barnes, “Language”, in Algra, Barnes, Mansfeld, and Schofield (1999), especially, 202-206. See also Long & Sedley (1987) vol. 1, 1999-202 and Frede (1994).
J. Algra, J. Barnes, J. Mansfeld, and M. Schofield, (eds.) The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy (Cambridge 1999).
M. Frede, “The Stoic Notion of a lekton”, in S. Everson (ed.), Language. Companions to Ancient Thought 3 (Cambridge 1994) 109-124.
A.A. Long & D.N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers (2 vols. Cambridge 1987).
Keywords: definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; philosophy
Translated by: Marcelo Boeri on 3 September 2002@19:17:04.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (cosmetic modifications) on 4 September 2002@21:50:06.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 16 January 2003@08:13:34.
Marcelo Boeri (Minor correction in the Greek of the note.) on 8 July 2003@19:57:32.
Catharine Roth (corrected betacode) on 17 August 2006@01:07:52.
David Whitehead on 28 October 2013@06:45:59.
David Whitehead (coding and other cosmetics) on 25 May 2016@06:33:17.


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