Re: Greek Word Order
Mon, 27 Jan 1997 11:48 -0500 (EST)

TO: B-Greek Listers
FROM: Harry J. Harm
DATE: 27 January 1997
RE: Greek Word Order

Dear B-Greek Listers,

Greetings from Mississippi. I was several B-Greek Digests behind when I
ran into the thread on Greek Word Order. I hurriedly read the next
digests because I have a special interest in this topic. The first
paper I ever published was "Word Order in Jude". It is an application
of Friberg's analysis to Jude.

Friberg, Timothy, "New Testament Greek Word Order in LIght of Discourse
Considerations," Ph.D. Thesis, Univ. of Minnesota, Mar. 1982 (343
pp. + indices and bibliography).

A good summary *of Tim's dissertation can be found in an article by John
Callow in START 7 & 8 (6/83 and 9/83). Callow summarizes Friberg's
methodology and conclusions, compares them with Randy Radney's thesis on
word order in Hebrews and then apllies their conclusions to 2
Thessalonians 3:6-16a.

(START = Selected Technical Articles Related to Translation; copies can
be obtained from the International Academic Bookstore, 7500 W. Camp
Wisdom Road Dallas, TX 75236; my copy is on micro-fiche)

Radney, J. Randolph, "Some Factors that Influence Fronting in Koine
Clauses," M.A. thesis, Univ. of Texas at Arlington, May 1982 (136
pp. + bibliography)

Below are some quotes from the review (pp. 3-4).

"Friberg's approach rests on two basic presuppostitions. The
first is that 'word order is well constrained" (6). There is no
reason, he maintains, to posit only two extremes of completely
rigid word order or completely free word order, the latter being
the usual approach of the standard Greek grammars. Rather, Koine
Greek exhibits variations in word order which can be plausibly
accounted for by one or more of the four broad categories of
syntactic constraints, semantic constraints, pragmatic
constraints, and stylistic constraints.

"The second basic presuppostion is that 'discourse analysis is as
rigorous a subdiscipline of linguistics as is sentential syntax'
(7), and the results of this thesis as seen as evidence of the
validity of this presuppostion.

"Friberg works with the ideas of 'marked' and 'unmarked/
unconditioned'. A marked order or pattern is one that can be
accounted for by one or more of the above constraints; it is, in
that sense, 'constrained'. On the other hand, the 'unmarked/
unconditioned' order, the 'neutral' one, lacks such constraints.
Based on Schwartz (1978), Friberg works with the hypothesis that
'among the determinants of markedness (is) the factor of text
frequency' (9), so he starts from the commonest pattern for any
given construction and looks for conditioning foctors for the
others. (He assumes there is only one unmarked pattern for a
given construction (174).) But, as he himself points out, there
is no rigid correlation between 'markedness' and statistical
frequency. However, with a large body of data, and with the
availability of computers and the lack of native speakers, the
most frequent pattern found for any given construction is the
obvious place to start in a study of word order."

One thing I liked about Friberg's thesis is that he didn't just work on
the clause level word order. He posits neutral word orders for 28
grammatical constructions.

If I have time and if there is some interest I could summarize Friberg's
results for these 28 constructions and summarize Randy Radneys


Harry :{)


It seems to me that this was Timothy Friberg's dissertation (U. of
Minn.?) I have it documented in my own dissertation on Greek word order
in Hebrews, but I'm drawing only a hazy recollection of the details at
the moment. I'll try to check on it soon and give the particulars if
nobody beats me to it. (Perhaps someone already has.) At any rate, I do
know that I acquired a copy through University Microfilms at the U. of
Mich. in Ann Arbor.

Randy Leedy

Of course there is variation from one author to another, but I'm basing
my "feel" mostly on a reading of Luke-Acts, which represents nearly one
third of the New Testament. I once read a dissertation of the basic word
order in Luke's Gospel which argued that the basic (unmarked) order was
verb-subject-object, but his own statistics clearly showed that the
order subject-verb-object was more common. I don't find that to be a
problem. (I wish I could remember the name of the author of that

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy

Meredith College