Re: Bible Windows - mostly off topic

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun May 14 2000 - 18:01:41 EDT

At 10:20 AM -0700 5/14/00, clayton stirling bartholomew wrote:
>One important attribute that all the different commercially distributed
>biblical language research systems have in common is that they employ an
>approach to language which is either pre-modern (19 century) or at best, a
>sort of minimal subset of "Standard Theory" (Chomsky c.a. 1965). I have yet
>to see an implementation of a "Functional" approach to grammar in the form
>of a BHS or GNT database. I consider this essentially a failure of nerve on
>the part of the developers.
>The current BHS and GNT databases are all structured around *formal*
>language features (morphology, word order, etc.). This is easy to do because
>there isn't much in the way of argument about what constitutes the *formal*
>language features.
>A BHS or GNT database structured according pragmatic, semantic and syntactic
>functions is NOT easy to implement and for that reason none of the
>commercially distributed biblical language research systems have such a
>database. Every now and then someone tells us they are developing a database
>like this but it never arrives. I suspect we will be throwing away our BAGD
>3rd edition to buy the 4th edition before we see a "Functional" database of
>the GNT or BHS.
>The current databases are useful for a limited range of tasks, but once you
>start thinking about language in a manner which transcends "Standard Theory"
>you are going to find yourself using these databases less and less for
>serious work. You will still use them however to discover patterns of formal
>language features.

My one big question, Clay, regarding the sort of database that you
envision: do you think that there's enough consensus regarding a
"Functional" approach to grammar? I know how you despise theory, but do you
think a "Functional" approach to grammar that is independent of theory is
in plain view somewhere or even on the horizon? It is all very well to cry
out continually for something better than 'the pitiful grammatical tools
now readily available,' but I haven't really seen that "something better"
and what I have seen IS dependent on theory.


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243 OR

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