This question concerning the pluralization of letter names has led me to ask a somewhat related question on the use of Greek to clarify indeclinable nouns in Latin.

The background to this question is that I possess a Hebrew Bible edited by Everardus Van der Hooght and printed in 1833, but which I think represents amendments to an earlier tradition. Van der Hooght provides a Latin preface, dated, I think, 1705 (I think that's what CIↃ IↃ CC V represents), in which he discussed various technical points of the Hebrew text. In particular, he sometimes uses Greek articles to clarify the use of indeclinable Hebrew terms. For example:

Præter hanc notam absentiæ τȣ* Dagesch, ...

This is the only place I've seen that usage, so I was wondering anyone has seen it used elsewhere in similar situations.

* that should be τοῦ with ου ligature and circumflex

1 Answer 1


I happen to have seen one in Marracci's Refutatio Alcorani (1698), Prodromus, Vita Mahumeti, Caput 24 (https://books.google.nl/books?id=HwY_AAAAcAAJ&pg=PA29):

... ne fortè ... per technas Imperium à se τῷ Aly destinatum præriperent.

Literally: "... lest perhaps ... they would by artifices snatch away the Empire destined by him for Ali."

Elsewhere he has no problem using an indeclinable 'Aly' as a genitive ("Ismael filius Aly"), dative ("præcepit patrueli suo Aly"), accusative ("in fratrem Aly filium Abutaleb") or ablative ("Auctore Aly filio Ebrahim").

I've also found one in a letter from a Vandevalus to a Craneveldt around 1520 (https://books.google.nl/books?id=101lb8v-bJcC&pg=PA47):

Nam τὸ "al" articulus est Araborum ...

I.e.: "For 'al' is the article of the Arabs ..."

IJsewijn et al. note:

The use of the Greek article in Latin to single out a word is a humanistic usage. Mediaeval Latin authors used either the demonstrative "hoc" or a newly coined article "li" or "ly".

By 'humanistic' they must mean 'neo-Latin'.

Here are some more, from Tanquerey's Synopsis theologiae dogmaticae (1921), Tomus II, p. 288 (https://archive.org/details/synopsistheologi02tanq/page/228):

Omne quod movetur, ab alio movetur. Hoc patet consideranti naturam motûs seu τοῦ fieri. Etenim : i) motus seu τὸ fieri est unio successiva diversorum; ...

"Everything that moves, is moved by something else. This is clear to someone who considers the nature of movement or (of) becoming. For: i) movement or becoming is the successive unity of diverse things; ..."

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