[b-greek] Word Order and Zero Anaphora

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (c.s.bartholomew@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Thu Oct 05 2000 - 14:49:54 EDT

Givon* in his discussion of word order typology language universals suggests
that the position of the pronominal inflection on a verb can be taken into
consideration when discussing word order typology. His illustration is from
Biblical Hebrew, where he contrasts the the prefix and suffix forms of the
verb and seems to consider these as examples of SV and VS word order.

If we were to take this idea over into Koine Greek where pronominal verb
inflection is always appended to the end of the word this would have some
serious ramifications for our understanding of the "unmarked" clause order
in Greek.

In other words, if we are doing statistics on VS and SV word order and every
occurrence of zero anaphora** would count as an example of VS word order
then this would have a big impact on our statistics.

I have some serious reservations about this procedure. I question the use of
verb morphological marking as a means of testing word order typology. It may
be that there is some diachronic aspect of this problem I am not aware of.
Perhaps pronominal verb suffixes were once independent words that became
fused with the verb. However, this would not really change my mind on this
subject even if it were true. I still think that looking at Hebrew or Greek
pronominal inflections on the verb as word order "data" is wrong headed.

S.E. Porter (Idioms, p292-3) alludes to this problem but does not really
discuss it.

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

*page 218 #58 in:
Givon, Talmy. Syntax: A Functional-Typological Introduction, (vols. 1)
Benjamins, Amsterdam, 1984.

**zero anaphora: A clause where the subject of the verb is ONLY indicated by
the pronominal verb inflection, not by an independent pronoun, article or
full noun phrase.

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