[b-greek] Re: universal syntax

From: Daniel L. Christiansen (dlc@multnomah.edu)
Date: Thu Oct 26 2000 - 15:35:02 EDT

Mark Beatty wrote [snipped]:

> Briefly, in response to Daniel L. Christiansen on using other languages, he
> is partially right about syntax not applying to other languages-but this
> depends on what syntax you are using. It appears, by Christiansen's own
> confession, that his syntax does not apply to other languages, and perhaps
> not even to Modern Greek. My syntactic paradigm does, and if exceptions can
> be found it is a significant blow to the validity of my syntactic paradigm.
> Consider Christiansen's examples:
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> But consider the following well-formed sentence in English: "I consider the
> man handsome." Whether you analyze this by larsonian structures or small
> clauses, the syntax is very similar to the Greek hO ANHR KALOS.

    I did think of such sentences, but rejected them as being inapplicable to the
syntactical question at hand. Such a construction is possible in English with only
a limited number of verbs (those of personal cognition, and those of creation). "I
make/paint/draw the man handsome"; "I consider/think the man handsome": both
sentences prompt us to understand a "to be" verbal relationship between the noun and
adjective. But, it is the stated verb which demands this, and not the noun and
adjective. Such structures are also possible in Greek (e.g.--acts 16:15 EI
KEKRIKATE ME PISTIN ), but that is not the structure of hO ANHR KALOS.
    The Greek structure hO ANHR KALOS contains no verbal--the syntax of the
substantives themselves allows us to understand a verbal relationship existing
between the noun and the adjective. Apart from the "Tarzan-talk" I earlier
mentioned, I don't think that a verbless sentence in English can achieve the same or
similar effect. If one defines "syntax" apart from the presence and form of the
spoken/written constituents, I suppose it would be possible to construct a syntax
which bridges languages. However, that would be a syntax of thought, and not of the
spoken/written word. There, we are in an entirely different discussion.

At least, that's my opinion . . . Daniel
Daniel L. Christiansen
Professor of Biblical Languages, Portland Bible College
Adjunct Professor, Bible Department, Multnomah Bible College
(503) 820-0231

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