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

From: Kimmo Huovila (kimmo@kaamas.kielikone.fi)
Date: Mon Nov 06 2000 - 13:40:36 EST

Dan Parker wrote:
> Kimmo said:
> > 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.
> Kimmo,
> 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 am in agreement. I did say that I agreed with Wayne making the same
My point was not that I praised the applicability of Mark's native
intuition, but that the whole question should be approached from doing a
constituency analysis and compare that with known behavior of
My point was that Mark was on the right track looking at the

> > 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.

I think that your comment on the necessity of repeating the article
has more to do with Sharp's rule than Smart's. It is not really

But if you are interested in this issue, I can throw in a few thoughts.
You are right that it is not necessary to repeat the article, but it is
necessary to write unambiguous language, either. If the article is not
I would suppose that it does create a grammatical ambiguity (which may
be semantically
solved). It may be hard to test, as there are no natives alive.
But what would you think of the following constructed examples:


I think it would be obvious that the dog and the sheep are different


Could (2) be ambiguous without the third clause? Is the friend the dog
or not?

If you want to test this hypothesis with the existing Greek corpus you
find enough examples of this kind of a situation where a definite and an
noun would be naturally juxtaposed, and see what structures are used.

Note that in (1) the second noun is indefinite.

Of course the examples are constructed and you may respond by saying
that they would
not be acceptable by the native Koine intuition. If you can prove that
somehow with
a good corpus study of enough examples where the above structure would
be expected
on semantic grounds, I would be interested.

You asked for examples where only one possessive results in ambiguity.


Does (3) imply that I possess the dog? Or could it just be my friend,
but someone else's pet?

I am sorry that I cannot check Rev. 4:11 now, as I no longer have e-mail
at home and
therefore I now have no access to a Greek New Testament while doing
e-mail. A citation of the
passage would have helped.

> 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 would ask you a counter-question. Do you have any evidence that the
cannot be repeated? That would be the exception to the expectation. You
can juxtapose
two full NPs with KAI, even if the NPs have identical reference. An NP
may have a possessive pronoun in it.
Therefore if the possessive cannot be repeated, we have found a
significant anomaly in Greek nominal syntax.
Smart's rule would be more credible if you could lift the requirement
for a possessive pronoun.

BTW, how would you express a reference to an entity that is "my friend
and your enemy"?

If you want to study this out, find a largish corpus of Smart's
construction from relevant
Greek literature (say a hundred examples), and see if you find any
exceptions, being sensitive to context.

> 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.

I have not used one theological argument, nor is theology the reason
behind my view.
I still think that a separate reference is pragmatically difficult.
Could you, please, cite Augustine's
comment on this (in English, I do not know Latin)?
I do not think Smart's rule is objective evidence here, as the very rule
has not yet been established.

How do you (and Augustine) make sense out of John 20:28 with Smart's
rule? Do you paraphrase
it as "Oh my God! You are my lord!"? If this is the sense, I think it
would be
reasonable to ask you for evidence that there is a Christian use of this
for the phrase hO QEOS MOU in the early church. You would also need to
work out the
pragmatics of the phrase as an exclamation and see if the pragmatic
constraints of the
use of the phrase apply in John 20:28.

Or do you maintain an independent deictic reference to both? But please
explain how that
would fit the context.

> > 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.

Agreed. But that does not affect my point here. I discussed methodology.

> > 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!

Strange indeed that you take issue here. All relevant examples of my
will work, because the rule is circular reasoning! All you need to do is
to find its logic, and you are all set. And assuming that John 20:28
the conditions (which might be debatable, though it is hard to make a
good case
against the conditions being met), there is one. It is not an empty set.
Yet, my concern here was methodological. I tried to illustrate that
rules like that may not really be the best way to increase our knowledge
a language.

> Many if not most take this expression
> as an exclamation.

I have no problem taking it as an exclamation. But it does not affect
the point here.

> It is also an example of the independent usage of the
> nominative.

If you mean it is grammatically independent of the verb, then you are of
course correct.

> 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.

Sorry, I do not have a GNT at hand to check Rev. 4:11. But as I
the verse is not relevant, as you say that the possessive is not
Therefore it is not an instance of Smart's rule.

> This refutes your rule.

No. It only says that the converse is not true, but I never claimed it
would be.
My rule said nothing of structures of this kind.

> To use John 20:28 as an example of your rule
> would be circular.

No more than any other verse. Look at the context and grabble with the
If using John 20:28 is circular, why not any and all other verses? It is
imperative to take the context into account when formulating a rule like
this. If the
context is strongly against your rule, then the rule is thereby

> 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.

Did anyone really do a good corpus study? With how many examples?

> > 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?

I said my rule was circular, not Sharp's. I think I explained the
of Sharp's with my reinterpretation of it as a scalar phenomenon.

> 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.

With a few important qualifications, namely that all Koine examples
constitute a
significant corpus and that the text linguistic context is reasonably
This may not be the case here.

> 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.

Why do you disregard context as an objective means? With such a small
this is a major methodological shortcoming. Also, you have just ignored
objections raised against the rule so far. I wonder why...

> It will certainly
> not due to overturn objective evidence with subjective evidence, will it?

The issue is that what we count as objective evidence seems to differ

> > 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.

Did you really check all extant Koine corpus? How many examples of
rule did you find?


> 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.

Hey, if you want to believe in Smart's rule, that's fine with me. My
in the first place had more to do with linguistic methodology than with
John 20:28
or Smart's rule. I just do not feel that your linguistic methodology is
sound here
(regardless of one's view on John 20:28). I just hoped to contribute in
that area.


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