Re: 5 case system vs. 8 case system

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Sat Oct 24 1998 - 01:31:44 EDT wrote:

> I believe that Guthrie/Duvall's Biblical Greek Exegesis addresses this
> issue adequately. It teaches two different methods of diagramming
> sentences, grammatical and semantic. The grammatical diagram serves as
> the foundation for the semantic diagram. The semantic diagram is
> concerned with identifying the meaning of each grammatical component.
> Since the concern of the semantic diagram is with meaning, rather than
> syntax, two different grammatical structures that accomplish the same
> thing will be labeled the same. For example SOU (gen. of possession) and
> SOS, -H, -ON (possessive adjective) would both be labeled semantically as
> "possession".
> The book starts students out with 54 semantic categories to use in
> diagramming, but more could certainly be added.


This sounds like a work worth looking at and I will do just that. If this is
as good as it sounds I would applaud this approach as a large improvement on
the status quo in NT Greek grammars.

There is, however, a distinction between what these folks are doing and what I
was proposing. The model you are describing is built on the distinction
between grammatical categories and semantic categories. The model I was
suggesting was drawing a distinction between morphological categories and
syntactical functional categories. My major concern is with the confusion
created by linking syntactic function like "limits the verb" with a
morphological category like "adverb." What I am trying to promote is the
standardization of syntactical functional terminology so that a clause
constituent which "limits the verb" is always given the same functional title,
 whether it is a participle, an adverb, an accusative neuter noun, or what

Most contemporary NT Greek grammarians seem quite willing to admit that a
morphological category is distributed among multiple syntactical functions.
What they seem reticent to accept is that a single syntactical function is
distributed among multiple morphological categories. If they do accept this
idea, their taxonomies do not reflect it. The standard taxonomies tie the
syntactical function to the morphological category.

An example is the neuter accusative substantive functioning as an adverb. The
standard grammars discuss this as if the adverbial function was some how a
property of the accusative case. We also see genitive participle constructions
functioning adverbially. In this case the adverbial function is treated as if
it were a property of genitive participle constructions. What all this leads
to is a student thinking that these two adverbial functions have nothing to do
with each other. But both of them "limit the verb". It will take the student
5-7 years of study to figure out that "limit the verb" is a syntactical
function that is distributed among multiple morphological categories. Why will
it take this long? Because the taxonomies used to represent this information
link syntactic function directly to morphological function in a tree structure
network. What is required to represent this information is a complex network
like the one used in Louw and Nida's Lexicon. The student needs to be able to
"see" the distribution of syntactical functions across multiple morphological
categories or the student will never get the point.

Have I muddled this sufficiently?

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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