[b-greek] Re: B-GREEK POLL: Smarts and Sharps both depend on context? Y/N

From: Dan Parker (stoixein@sdf.lonestar.org)
Date: Sat Nov 04 2000 - 10:42:36 EST

Kimmo said:

> Someone said that it is difficult to get clear yes or no
> answers from scholars, because they want to carefully qualify what they
> say. So I am not rambling, I am just trying to be like a scholar ;-)
> The trouble with some of these grammatical rules is that by adding
> enough qualifications, the corpus becomes so small and statistical
> correlations have such a big say that it is possible to make almost any
> rule "work", even if it is not a genuine grammatical rule and
> would not correspond to native intuitions. I think that
> grammarians should go deeper than just
> look at a few instances. These rules (Smart's, Sharp's) should be
> described in terms of their place in the totality of the language. Thus
> looking at analogical structures etc. is relevant. It is not useless to
> ponder why a proposed rule would work in a language and is it likely
> that such a thing would ever have grammaticalized.
> I liked Mark's approach of constituency analysis to the question of
> Smart's rule. Perhaps unfortunately for his idea to hit home in this
> forum, he used UG to support it. While I share the concern Wayne
> expressed about that methodologically, I think his analysis is
> nevertheless pertinent from the Greek point of view.

Both Smart's and Sharp's rules are rules of Koine Greek grammar and
syntax, therefore for any support or criticism to be relevant it must
be with respect to the grammar and syntax of the same language. While
the native language that we speak may be more comfortable to us
personally, arguments with respect to English grammar and syntax are
meaningless with respects to Koine. I do on occasion see a utility in
using English to _illustrate_ something in Koine, but not to _prove_
something about Koine.

> I think that also Sharp's rule should be analyzed in terms of
> constituency. The one article governing two nouns links the two nouns
> together closer than the repetition of the article would. This is
> irrespective of the further constraints of Sharp's rule (singularity
> etc). Now, this linking can be used when the referent(s) is/are
> identical. But it does not mean that there may not be other pragmatic
> reasons to want to group them together, such as them sharing a
> contextually pertinent feature together. So, we have one structure that
> can be used when there is identity of reference, but does not have to
> be.
> If we exclude plural reference, we decrease the probability that the
> referent is not identical. The same thing happens if we include only personal
> references. Thus the rule is likely to be more binding with these
> constraints. We could set a scale of likelihood for the construction
> (with different constraints) to be used
> with identical reference, Sharp's rule with the usual constraints being
> somewhat close to the identical reference end. For the exegete to
> determine if the reference is really identical, context still must be
> considered, because the rule is not as likely to be applicable if there
> are strong contextual reasons for associating the two different
> referents as practically one for the purpose at hand. And the reverse
> side is that Sharp's rule (well, actually no longer Sharp's rule) with
> plural nouns is not completely irrelevant, as the two nouns still have a
> closer association than with the repetition of the article. One just has
> to remember that this association is not necessarily the same as
> identical reference, and it is even more seldom identical with plural
> nouns than with singular nouns. This illustrates scalarity nicely, by
> the way.
> In the case of Smart's constructions, I guess the relevant question is
> why is the personal pronoun repeated. I think the repetition makes sure
> that the pronoun is understood to qualify both nouns. It may also serve an
> emphatic function. This makes perfect sense in the context of John
> 20:28, where two separate referents is pragmatically problematic. And
> the possessive pronoun could also be repeated in the case of
> non-identical reference (a real example of Smart's rule). Thus
> Smart's rule is context dependent.

It is not necessary to repeat the article to prove that it applies to
both nouns. In order to make this claim one would need to demonstrate
examples in Koine where only one possessive is found which results
in ambiguity. Revelation 4:11 is a good example where their is only
one possessive but where there is no ambiguity.

Do you have any examples in Koine where the possessive is repeated
merely for emphasis? (excluding John 20:28, of course.) If you do,
then your statement may have merit.

I disagree that two separate referents is "pragmatically problematic."
Evidently Augustine did as well, for he considered each MOU to
reference a different person. Therefore we must discard our theological
presuppositions and use objective means in our analysis of this rule,
not subjective ones. So far, the only really 100% objective evidence
that has been presented on this forum with respects to Smart's rule is
Smart's rule itself, for there are no exceptions to Smart's rule.

> Furthermore, it seems to catch very
> little of how Greek grammar actually works: we can explain the data with
> other principles that we already need to account for linguistic
> phenomena in Greek (such as constituency and pragmatics) with no need to
> create a separate rule. The constituency analysis is better motivated
> and makes more correct
> predictions (e.g. in John 20:28, as pointed out in several posts in this
> thread).

A Koine grammatical rule should be challenged with Koine, not English.

> I could propose a rule that when one person is addressed, and you have
> Smart's construction used as an address (vocative function), only one
> person is meant: it works much better with actual data than Smart's rule.
> (Could anyone find an exception?)

The reason that your rule cannot stand is because you cannot provide
_any_ actual data to support it! Many if not most take this expression
as an exclamation. It is also an example of the independent usage of the
nominative. You have yet to prove that there is any Smart's construction
that is used as an address. The closest example is Revelation 4:11
where the same nouns as found at John 20:28 are found in an address
to one person, but there the possessive pronoun is _not_ repeated.
This refutes your rule. To use John 20:28 as an example of your rule
would be circular. Do you have any real-world examples? There are
plenty examples to support Smart's rule which has now been field-tested
with some of the best minds in Koine.

> However, this kind of rule does not really tell us anything insightful about
> Greek grammar, in accordance with Clay's insightful comment on this kind of
> rule generation. The more useful thing than to learn this rule would be
> to understand why it works (which really has very little to do with
> grammar: if you address one person with two titles, you mean to
> use them to describe the one person. Circular, isn't it?)

If I might ask, how then is Sharp's rule useful? Is it not used when
there is an ambiguous Sharps expression? The same is true of Smart's
rule. When all the examples in Koine are completely unambiguous that
have this construction, and only one is ambiguous, the proper use of
the rule is to exegete the ambiguous example with the examples of those
that are not ambiguous. Since there are no exception to Smart's rule,
then this is is an easy decision to make, for Smart's rule is the _only_
objective means by which to come to this conclusion. It will certainly
not due to overturn objective evidence with subjective evidence, will it?

> I think that Smart's rule is not very likely to contribute much to
> our understanding of Greek grammar. The repetition of the pronoun may
> bring an element of emphasis that may account for the possible relative
> infrequency of violations of the rule (if indeed they are infrequent, I
> have not counted any sizable corpus of the construction). Yet, in many
> contexts the emphasis may be felicitous (it is not so rare to describe a
> personal relationship to something in two different way). There are
> probably more contexts in which the violation of Smart's rule is
> felicitous than contexts in which the violation of Sharp's rule is
> felicitous, though I have not made a statistical study.

There are no exceptions to Smart's rule in Koine.

> Sharp's rule does point out an interesting principle, though I would not
> regard it as an absolute rule.
> Yet, to deviate from Sharp's rule (with the usual qualifications of the
> rule) would be fairly marked and should cause the exegete to look for a
> reason for the deviation in the context. (One thing that you learn in
> linguistics classes is that very often it is possible to conjecture a
> context in which the weirdest clauses are felicitous. Therefore to make
> a rule like Sharp's absolute needs great caution.)
> So, yes, I think the approach to both rules should in principle be the
> same.
> And finally, YES, both are context dependent, though Smart's probably
> much more so.
> Just my vote in the poll,
> Kimmo

I would agree that Sharp's is context dependant precisely because there
are exceptions, not based on subjective means. I cannot do the same
for Smart's and have as yet seen any grammatical evidence against it.

Dan Parker.

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