Subject Assignment - Semantic Functional Hierarchy

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Thu May 25 2000 - 15:35:25 EDT

Those who are familiar with Simon Dik's Semantic Functional Hierarchy
(SFH**) may be able to make some sense out of this. Others will perhaps want
to utilize the delete key with extreme prejudice.

On page 78 Simon Dik* suggests that beginning around the 5th century BC
Attic Greek began allow the syntactical Subject to be assigned to the
semantic Recipient with the restriction that the Recipient was animate. This
represented a shift right on the Semantic Functional Hierarchy (SFH*). Prior
to this time the syntactical subject was only assigned to the semantic Agent
or the semantic Goal.

What I am wondering is, by the time we reach NT period has the assignment of
subject moved any further to the right on the SFH? Can the subject in the NT
period be assigned to the Beneficiary? Can the subject be assigned to a
Recipient which is not animate?

If this question makes no sense, trash it.

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

*See pages 68ff, in Dik, Simon. Functional Grammar, Dordrecht,

For this information about Greek, Dik cites:
1971 - Adams, Douglas Q., Passives and problems in Classical Greek and
Modern English. Working Papers in Linguistics, Ohio State Univ. 10, pages

**The Semantic Functional Hierarchy (SFH) presented by Dik is read from left
to right:

Agent > Goal > Recipient > Beneficiary > Instrument > Location > Temporal

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