Re: Dependent clauses, etc.

From: Ronald Ross (
Date: Fri Mar 07 1997 - 10:04:53 EST

Micheal Palmer wrote:
> At 5:50 PM -0600 3/6/97, Ronald Ross wrote:
> >. . .. I am aware that I am to a large degree an outsider on this list,
> >so I hesitate to make suggestions of this nature, but it seems to me
> >that it would be healthy for the study of biblical languages to begin to
> >look at them in light of other languages. Linguists working in the area
> >of typologies typically take two different approaches: 1) start from a
> >form (structure) and see what functions it fulfills within a language
> >and cross-linguistically; 2) start with a function and see what forms
> >it takes within a language and cross linguistically. If a variety of
> >forms do what relative clauses are supposed to do, then we can probably
> >conclude that they are different types of relative clauses. IMHO.
> You should not feel like an "outsider". Your comments are very welcome
> here. I find your awareness of modern linguistics refreshing. If my
> response to your last post contributed in any way to your feeling like an
> outsider, I sincerely appologize.

No, no! I was not referring to anything you or anybody else has said.
I was simply referring to the fact that very many members of the list
have had (or are acquiring) a theological education, teach (or plan to)
at theological institutions, are very familiar with the people in the
field and in some (perhaps very vague) sense are coming from the same
place. I meant nothing more than that.
> The distinction you make between two different approaches in the paragraph
> quoted above is helpful. I tend to fit your type 1), though I definitely
> see the value of the type 2) approach. The *reason* that I like the first
> type of approach (especially when discussing Greek in this forum) is that I
> believe that Greek speakers of the hellenistic period *chose* to use a
> participial clause rather than a clause with a relative pronoun (for
> example) for a reason, and that reason gets blurred if we lump the two
> types of clause together in one semantically or functionally defined
> category. Still, there is great value to the second type of approach, and
> it overcomes some of the serious shortcomings of my own approach.
> By the way, I could NOT explain what the reason for their choice of one of
> these types of clause over the other was with any clarity. That's one of
> those things I'm still working on. :-)

Neither could I. I think there are some sytactic constraints at work
that might explain something. For instance, in the cases that I
referred to as participial relative clauses, it seems to me that the
relativized NP can only function as subject of the relative clause,
whereas in the other type, it can have many other syntactic functions
(hence the different cases available to relative pronouns). So if this
is right, then in many cases it would seem they didn't really have a


Ron Ross

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