Usage and Grammar

Q. While incorporating Latin or Greek words into an English text, what case should be used? Take, for example, the phrase “taking up the question of kronon kai ton kairon.” Normally, the English preposition “of” should take the genitive, but the student is relying on a scriptural text which has the preposition peri and has reproduced the accusative case. He could have avoided the difficulty by using the English preposition “about”; however, should he remain faithful to the Greek text or put the Greek words into the genitive, in accord with the English preposition?

A. I don’t think the Greek or Latin phrase should be considered to be connected with the syntax of the English except as a noun phrase. I would treat such words and phrases the same way you would a quoted phrase in English, although case is not often explicit in English:

Consider “Sarah’s” as a possessive . . .

Although “Sarah’s” is the direct object of “consider,” we couldn’t cast it as an accusative (Consider “Sarah” as a possessive . . .) and preserve the intended meaning. In the same way, you shouldn’t change a Latin or Greek term to the accusative. If it’s quoted, I would leave it in the original form; if no particular case is required, I would use the nominative.