Addition to the Bibliography

I have added Chiara Gianollo and Nikolaos Lavidas’ paper, “Cognate Adverbials and Case in the History of Greek” to the Comprehensive Bibliography of Hellenistic Greek Linguistics. While the title implies coverage of a wide range of history, the argument is based on Biblical Greek.

  • Gianollo, Chiara, and Nikolaos Lavidas. Cognate Adverbials and Case in the History of Greek. Studies in Greek Linguistics 33 (2013) pp. 61-75.

The article is available online at the website of the Institute of Modern Greek Studies at Aristotle University at Thessaloniki.

Dissertation Idea? Case and Infinitival Clauses

I’ve been reading Christina Sevdali’s 2007 dissertation, Infinitival Clauses in Ancient Greek: Overt and Null Subjects, the Role of Case and Focus. She deals primarily with Classical Greek, but delves into some Modern Greek data as well, but she does not deal with the hellenistic period. Her work, though, does raise some questions that should be answered for the hellenistic literature.

Sevdali concludes that both agreement and focus play a role in Case marking in Ancient Greek. Here is part of a long paragraph from pages 209—210 in her last chapter that I think could suggest a dissertation idea for someone working specifically on Hellenistic Greek:

There are various languages [in which] Case can be related to discourse phenomena: Blake, 2001 for example reports Australian languages Nyigina and Gooniyandi where this is true. These languages do not show Case concord within a noun phrase, where Case and number and person are marked on every constituent, i.e. the determiner, the noun, the adjective etc., but Case mark only one constituent, the final one, or the head etc. In some cases, they mark the one that is focalised, essentially using Case as a discourse marker. Miyagawa, 2005 argued that languages can either be agreement prominent (like most Indo-European ones) or focus-prominent (like Japanese), implying that Agreement and Focus are the two sides of the same coin. Assuming that Case exists in both types of languages, it is not unreasonable to assume that it can be linked to Agreement and Focus respectively. On top of that nothing prevents us from arguing that there also exist mixed language types. We want to suggest that AG is a mixed language, being agreement prominent in finite clauses, where Case is linked to agreement, and being focus-prominent in non-finite clauses, where Case is linked to focus as we showed.

Okay… Here are dissertation ideas for the hellenistic period: Can recognizing two different ways in which Case may be assigned (Agreement vs Focus) lead to a clearer understanding of morphological Case assignment in Hellenistic Greek? Under what specific circumstances might morphological Case be controlled by Focus in Hellenistic Greek? Does Focus play any role in the Case assignment of optional arguments of a verb? Does it control the Case assignment of any DPs governed by a preposition, especially prepositions whose object DP is not always assigned the same Case. Prepositions played a larger role in the hellenistic koine than they did in the classical period. How does this affect the agreement/focus split if at all?

Any takers? I’d love to see a dissertation addressing any of these issues.

Infinitival Clauses

Have any of you seen Christina Sevdali’s dissertation, Infinitival Clauses in Ancient Greek: Overt and null subjects, the role of Case and Focus? I have not added it to my bibliography because I don’t know if it addresses any texts from the Hellenistic Period. According to the abstract, the last chapter addresses an issue in Modern Greek, but it is not clear whether “Ancient Greek” includes the Hellenistic Period in Sevdali’s work.

Punctuation in Ancient Greek Texts, Part II

Here is a good example of what I had to say in my last post about the lack of punctuation and spacing in Ancient Greek. The image is from Codex Sinaiticus, Philippians 1:1-2.

Philippians 1:1-2 in Codex Sinaiticus
Philippians 1:1-2 in Codex Sinaiticus

Here is the same text with spaces added between the words:

Notice in addition to the lack of punctuation and spacing, the regular use of abbreviations for the words God (ΘΕΟΥ - ΘΥ), Lord (ΚΥΡΙΟΥ – ΚΥ), Jesus (ΙΗΣΟΥ – ΙΥ), and Christ (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ – ΧΥ). In Codex Sinaiticus as in all of the early manuscripts, such abbreviations are marked by a macron (¯) over the letters. I was not able to do that when I typed out the version with the spaces above. By including both the first and last letters in the abbreviation, the CASE of the words in question is clear (Genitive in this context for all of them), so even the abbreviations present minimal difficulty for a reasonably fluent reader of Hellenistic Greek.

To see the earlier discussion, go here:

On January 6, 2013 I added a third post on the topic of punctuation:

Important! [Added Jan. 19, 2015]
While the earliest manuscripts of the biblical texts did not contain punctuation, it is usually clear to a competent reader of Ancient Greek where the punctuation belongs.

It is a serious mistake to assume that the absence of punctuation in those manuscripts means a person who does not read Greek is free to choose where to put the punctuation in an English translation. To make decisions about where the punctuation belongs it is necessary to read Ancient Greek very well. Many options that would seem to be available in an English text are ruled out by the structure of the Greek text.

Mark Janse on Hellenistic Greek

I have added eight works by Mark Janse to my Comprehensive Bibliography of Hellenistic Greek Linguistics. (Thanks to Mike Aubrey for providing the bibliographic information on six of them and a lead to the seventh.)

Dr. Janse is Research Professor in Asia Minor and Ancient Greek at Ghent University. He has written extensively about the history of Greek and related issues in Linguistics. The publications that I have added to the bibliography are ones that consciously apply a specific insight from Linguistics to the study of Greek from the Hellenistic period, or in one case from the Classical period where no similar work has yet been published for Hellinistic Greek.

Here are the items I added:

Janse, Mark. “Aspects of Bilingualism in the History of the Greek Language.” In: J.N. Adams, Mark Janse & Simon Swain (eds.), Bilingualism in Ancient Society. Language Contact and the Written Word. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, 332-390.

________. “The Distribution of the Enclitic Personal Pronouns in New Tetament Greek in the Light of the Septuagint and the Modern Greek Dialects of Asia Minor: A Structural-Functional Analysis.” PhD. dissertation: Ghent University, Department of Latin and Greek.

This dissertation is available from Dissertations Abstracts International 58 (1997) 776-C. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International.

________. “La phrase segmentée en grec ancien. Le témoignage des enclitiques.” Bulletin de la Société de Linguistique de Paris 86.1 (1991) XIV-XVI. Paris: Klinck sieck.

________. “La position des pronoms presonnels enclitiques en grec neo-testamentaire a la lumiere des dialectes neo-helleniques. In C. Brixhe ed. La koine grecque antique I (1993), 83-121. Nancy: Presses Universitaires de Nancy.

________. “Phonological Aspects of Clisis in Ancient and Modern Greek.” Glotta 73 (1995-1996) 155-167. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

________. “The Prosodic Basis of Wackernagel’s Law.” In André Crochetière, Jean-Claude Boulanger & Conrad Ouellon (eds.), Les langues menacées. Actes du XVe Congrès international des linguistes, Québec, Université Laval, 9-14 août 1992. Sainte-Foy: Presses de l’Université Laval, 1993, Vol. 4, 19-22.

Originally presented as a paper at the 15th International Congress of Linguists, Quebec, August 9 to 14, 1992.

Creve, Sam, Mark Janse, and Kristoffel Demoen, “The Pauline Key Words πνεῦμα and σάρξ and their Translation.” Filología Neotestamentaria. Vol. 20 (2007), 15-31.

Mike Aubrey has himself done a good amount of work on Hellenistic Greek Clitics and reached similar conclusions. He has posted several discussions at ΕΝ ΕΦΕΣΩ.

The Lattice of Case and Agentivity, by Scott Grimm

I just finished reading the first chapter of Scott Grimm’s masters thesis, “The Lattice of Case and Agentivity,” and I’m looking forward to the rest of it!

Grimm shows a very clear grasp of the issues at stake and the limitations of several current linguistic theories. While recognizing the contributions of advances in both syntax and semantics in clarifying our understanding of Case in a number of languages, he also gives a concise presentation of the questions remaining to be answered—mainly the relationship of the oblique cases to syntax and semantics. If his analysis in the remaining chapters is equally lucid, we will have much to gain from reading it.

While it is not his primary objective to resolve the issue of case attraction in Hellenistic Greek, he does address it and propose a new way of understanding the phenomenon. I have not yet read that part, but I’m looking forward to it!

You can download the entire thesis for free.

You can also download his more recent article, “Case Attraction in Ancient Greek.” I’ll start reading that too soon!

Case Attraction in Ancient Greek

Have any of you read Scott Grimm’s 2007 article, “Case Attraction in Ancient Greek”? (Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2007, Volume 4363/2007, 139-153.)

The abstract looks very interesting. You can purchase online access for $25, but I’m not sure what a hard copy costs.