Re: Dependent clauses, etc.

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Sat Mar 08 1997 - 22:49:03 EST

At 9:04 AM -0600 3/7/97, Ronald Ross wrote:
>Micheal Palmer wrote:
>> 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

Actually, I think they DID have a choice, even in these cases. Assuming
that your proposal that in "participial relative clauses" the NP can only
function as subject (and, by the way, I think you are probably right about
this, though I wouldn't treat the NP as relativized) is correct, then in
all of the places where they chose to use a "participial relative clause"
they could have used a normal relative clause with the relative pronoun in
the nominatve case, couldn't they?

Why didn't they in such cases. I suspect that the reason has to do with
more than syntactic constraints.

If I am understanding correctly what you are calling a "participial
relative clause" (what the grammars treat as an adjectival use of the
participle), then the NP actually retains its function in the matrix
clause, but is coreferential with the [phonetically unrepresented] subject
of the participial clause. I would not treat this NP as "relativized" other
than in a very loose sense in which I meant that *semantically* it is the
same as the unstated subject of the participial clause (i.e. it is
coreferential with that subject).

Take, for example, the NP BASILEIAN in Matthew 25:34:


Here the noun (NP) BASILEIAN is assigned accusative case by the matrix verb
KLHRONOMHSATE. The participle receives its case from the noun which it
modifies, which must (as you point out) be coreferential with its subject.
That is, BASILEIAN is *syntactically* the object of of KLHRONOMHSATE, but
it may also be said to be the subject of the participle HTOIMASMENHN in the
general sense that it is coreferential with the subject of that participle.
[For those of you unfamiliar with the term "coreferential", I just mean
that BASILEIAN and the subject of the participle refer to exactly the same
entity.] The fact that the case of BASILEIAN is assigned by the matrix verb
leads me to treat it as still a part of that clause, rather than treating
it syntactically as the subject of the participle, though clearly on a
semantic level, the subject of the participle must be understood as
coreferential with BASILEIAN.

Have I understood you correctly, or am I describing something different
from what you had in mind?

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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