From: Joe A. Friberg (JoeFriberg@email.msn.com)
Date: Thu May 11 2000 - 16:08:41 EDT
It is an interesting problem, as to how languages resolve the conflict
between competing syntactic genders when they are conjoined. Some call it
"gender-conflict resolution". This is not just a problem of pronominal
reference, but also found in the appropriate Subject-Verb agreement, as in
Heb. and in Gk ptcs.
The possible strategies of resolution are:
1. hierarchical, so that the higher ranking gender wins out in the
2. proximal, so that the closer noun wins the day
3. semantic, so that the semantic domain of the conjoined
Or, languages (people!) use a combination of these. As with many
grammatical phenomena, sometimes the speaker uses one method but is not very
comfortable with it because none of the methods has won out in general
In Gk: when it comes to groups of people, usually (always?) m. wins out.
(This is a case of strategy 1., but also depends on strategy 3. to specify
the semantic domain of *people*.)
With *things*, strategy 3. can definitely be used, as shown clearly or at
least implied with several of your examples; this is esp. expected when the
pronominal reference is TAUTA PANTA (A 7.49), which is a categorical
reference and is expected in the n.
However, two of your references also could be explained in terms of
hierarchy: Gal 5.17 and Jn 6.9, if n. outranks both m. and f.
My study of Gk in this area has concluded that there are lots of
inconsistencies! Hope these comments help.
Joe A. Friberg
Arlington, Texas, USA
----- Original Message -----
From: "Roe" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Biblical Greek" <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, May 01, 2000 12:54 PM
Subject: Re: dem. pronouns w/ multiple antecedents
> Dear B-Greekers,
> (Re: my posts "Gender & number: GOMORRA, SODOMA")
> I recently demonstrated my lacking understanding of gender agreement for
> demonstrative pronouns having multiple antecedents of differing genders.
> My assumption had been that the demonstrative pronoun would be masculine
> plural -- as masculine plural is used to indicate a group whose members
> have heterogeneous genders. (E.g., Rev 7:14 OhUTOI [masc.] EISIN OhI
> ERCOMENOI EK THS QLIYEWS THS MEGALHS...)
> However, I am coming to the conclusion that when the demonstrative
> pronoun refers to multiple mixed-gender antecedents, the pronoun stands
> in neuter plural, as a few examples show:
> Gal 5:17 TO DE PNEUMA [neut] KATA THS SARKOS [fem], TAUTA [neut] GAR
> ALLHLOIS ANTIKEITAI...
> Acts 7:49 hO OURANOS [m] MOI QRONOS, hH DE GH [f] hUPOPODION TWN PODWN
> MOU... OUCI hH CEIR MOU EPOIHSEN TAUTA [n] PANTA
> John 6:9 ESTIN PAIDARION hWDE hOS ECEI PENTE ARTOUS [m] KRIQINOUS KAI
> DUO OYARIA [n], ALLA TAUTA [n] TI ESTIN EIS TOSOUTOUS
> Is my conclusion that demonstrative pronouns having multiple antecedents
> of differing genders are as a rule (always?) neuter? If so, what is the
> situation with Hebrews 11:13? -- KATA PISTIN APEQANON OhUTOI [masc.]
> PANTES... Because Sarah is mentioned as one of those, I presume that
> OhUTOI could not refer to each of those listed in the above verses as
> multiple specific antecedents, as in the other examples above (for I
> would then expect neuter pl. - TAUTA), but that it instead refers
> generally to the mixed-gender group.
> Where am I still erring? (Besides perhaps posting a question below the
> assumed Greek level for forum participants...)
> Thanks for any help, and have a great week!
> (Half of whose posts are rightly labelled 'off topic'... with the other
> half wrongly not...)
> D. W. Roe
> Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
> B-Greek home page: http://sunsite.unc.edu/bgreek
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