Ancient Greek Relative Clauses

In the latest volume of the  Journal of Greek Linguistics (Volume 14), Stefanie Fauconnier has published an article on Ancient Greek relative clauses using data from Zenophon. She argues for a perspective that I have not encountered in work on the hellenistic period. Here is what her abstract says:

In this paper I argue that Ancient Greek has two distinct strategies for relative clause formation, corresponding to what is known in typology as externally and internally headed relative clauses. Furthermore, I explore two differences between these constructions. First, in comparison with their external counterparts, internal constructions are more restricted semantically. They can only be interpreted as restrictive relative clauses, while external constructions can also be interpreted as non-restrictive. Second, internal constructions are more restricted syntactically, given that they are not used when the domain nominal is subject in the relative clause. For external constructions there is no such syntactic restriction. Finally, I point out a number of convergences between internal relative clauses and noun phrases with an attributive participle. The findings presented in this paper are based on a study of Xenophon.

 The journal requires a paid subscription to view online. If you do not have a subscription, but want to see an earlier version of Fauconnier’s research on this topic, you can take a look at the outline of a 2011 presentation  she gave at the Pavia International Summer School for Indo-European Linguistics (University of Pavia, Italy). That outline shows some of the evidence she used and basic elements of her argument.

If you are aware of similar research on the hellenistic period, please let me know. I would like to have something in the bibliography here at on this topic. If nothing is available for the hellenistic period, I’ll add Fauconnier’s article.

The Representation of Speech Events in Chariton's Callirhoe and the Acts of the Apostles

I have just added Adrian Smith’s new book on Speech Events to the Comprehensive Bibliography of Hellenistic Greek Linguistics.

Two things about this book caught my attention. First, it is—as far as I know—the first book-length treatment of speech events in Hellenistic Greek. Second, it deals with two texts, one from the Greek New Testament, and the other from Hellenistic Greek outside the Christian canon. This is something I have longed to see for some time. We need to push our analyses of the language beyond the confines of the literature of our faith. If Smith’s proposals hold true for both early Christian texts and texts from the wider Hellenistic literature, he will have accomplished something of real note.

More Additions to A Comprehensive Bibliography of Hellenistic Greek Linguistics

I have continued to update the bibliography today in a number of ways. There are now more that twice the number of works available for purchase through directly from the bibliography than before. There are also many more articles available either for purchase or for reading online without charge.

To distinguish between articles for a fee and those available without charge, I have devised a consistent convention for linking:

  • For articles available for a fee, I have linked the title of the journal to the site where the fee must be paid.
  • For articles available for reading without charge, I have linked the title of the article to the online text.

I have also added the following book:

I eventually hope to connect all dissertations in the bibliography to University Microfilms for easy purchase, but I have not made much progress on this yet.

I hope you enjoy the improvements.

Additions to A Comprehensive Bibliography of Hellenistic Greek Linguistics

I have added the following items to the Comprehensive Bibliography of Hellenistic Greek Linguistics:

Of course, this bibliography can never be truly comprehensive, contrary to what the title may imply, because the field is not static. As new works appear that fulfill the narrow criteria for inclusion, I add them to make the bibliography as comprehensive as possible.

If you know of works that you think should be included, please recommend them. You can use the “Bibliography” link in the main menu to do that. That link will take you to a page that explains what kinds of works are accepted, and gives you a form to make your recommendation easily.

I hope you enjoy the new additions.

The Change from SOV to SVO in Ancient Greek

I have added the following article by Ann Taylor to the bibliography at

The change from SOV to SVO in Ancient Greek.” Language Variation and Change. 6.1 (1994) 1-37.

While the order of major sentence constituents is quite free at every stage in the development of Ancient Greek, the distribution of those constituents is not random at any stage, and one particular constituent order can be shown to be dominant at each stage. Taylor argues that the dominant constituent order was verb-final (SOV) in Homer, but changed to verb-medial (SVO) by the Hellenistic period.

Using the paradigm of Kroch (1989), Taylor constructs two models—one for the verb-final grammar of the Homeric period (before 800 B.C.) and one for the verb-medial grammar of the Hellenistic Koiné (c. 100 A.D.). She describes the intervening period (Herodotus, c. 450 B.C.) as in part like Homer and in part like the Koiné. She shows further that the ratio of these two constituent orders in Herodotus is also supported by an independent measure of the distribution of weak pronouns and clitics. Version 3 (or is it 4?)

Today I uploaded a completely redesigned site at Every page except the grammar has been redesigned. You will see much that looks familiar, but plenty that is new as well. The greatest changes are behind the scenes, with a thorough rewriting of the code that makes the site run. I have written many hundreds of lines of HTML and totally replaced all of the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) that control the look of the pages.

Here are some of the more obvious changes:

  1. The alphabet page now contains pronunciation recommendations for the Hellenistic period. (It always had them for Classical and Modern Greek.) I have inserted audio recordings with the Hellenistic Koine pronunciation suggestions. This slows down page load time, but has a big enough payoff to warrant it. The recordings are not stellar, but they provide an approximation of one of the many varieties of pronunciation that were current during the period.
  2. ALL informational pages now have a Google search bar at the bottom of the page.
  3. The bibliographies page has been cleaned up and now has a clearer, easier to follow organization. Several former pages have been combined into a single elegant page.
  4. The blogs page had become obsolete since the same information it contained is included here on this blog in the blogroll on the right. This page was simply replaced by a link that brings you here.
  5. The dictionaries page includes a number of additions, including a new section with basic information on Ancient Greek lexicographers—writers in the ancient world who wrote discussions of Greek vocabulary or early lexicons.
  6. In addition to cleaning up the epigraphy page I have added information on resources that have come online since the last major renovation of this site (2009).
  7. I added Textkit’s Greek and Latin Forum to the forums page and streamlined the look of all the resources presented there.
  8. Little has changes on the history page other than visual presentation and small improvements in wording.
  9. On the learn Greek page, I deleted references to sites that have not been updated in the last couple of years and added a link to William Mounce’s online resources for his Basics of Biblical Greek.
  10. The manuscripts page brings a range of improvements from updated information on the resources that were already listed there to adding resources that were not available in 2009.
  11. The software page has also seen updates with the deletion of links to organizations that have provided nothing new for the study of Greek in several years to the addition of one company that has recently begun a move into Ancient Greek software.
  12. Since the overwhelming majority of computers now on the market can use Unicode fonts, and there are many of them available on the internet, I have eliminated the fonts page here at

I hope you enjoy the updated site and find it useful.

Like everything new in the world of computing, I’m sure there will be some mistakes in what I have created. I encourage you to point them out to me. You can do that either by emailing me, if you already have my address (I’m sorry I can’t post it here because of SPAM bots that read websites to find them!), or by using the contact option in the menu bar just under the picture at the top of this page.

Updates to lessons 22 and 23

I have updated lessons 22 and 23 (Present and Imperfect Middle/Passive). The changes to lesson 22 are very minor—just a few wording changes. The main change to lesson 23, though, is the deletion of the discussion on transitivity. I will introduce that topic in a later lesson with much better examples. This change helps unnecessary complication, tightening the focus on the issue of voice.

I also made a few changes to the course lexicon (cumulative vocabulary list) to improve entries for some of the verbs presented in these lessons.