[b-greek] RE: Word order with Iver, Clay, and Cindy

From: Mark Beatty (marksresearch@hawaii.rr.com)
Date: Wed Jun 27 2001 - 22:52:57 EDT

Dear Iver, Clay, and Cindy,

Thank you for your comments. I think we are talking about different things.
Iver states:

"If you count the examples of noun plus hOUTOS you will find that in the
majority of cases hOUTOS follows the noun, and this would be the order where
no special emphasis or contrast is intended. I would call it the unmarked
order, which I assume corresponds more or less to your term economic."

Cervin (1993) criticizes Friberg from using the "majority of occurrences"
approach stating:

"He lacks a valid statistical method. Many of the frequencies that he
tabulates are either insignificant, irrelevant to his argument, or skewed.
And he does not make use of any statistical tests to insure an unbiased
interpretation of his data (Cervin 1993:81)."

I agree with Cervin and have abandoned such approaches. I am not even
intimidated by one form being used more often then another even if I count
the lower-numbered form as "the basic word order." As to "emphasis,"
"contrast," and "markedness," I almost reject these terms as meaningless
since they are used so often for so many different things and in circular
reasoning. One is really not saying much at all by using the terms. Consider
Friberg on "emphasis":

"Emphasis is focus, either marked or unmarked Marked focus highlights an
argument over the predicate, or more generally a naturally unmarked element
over the constructional focus. (1982:10)"

I use the terms "important for a semantic/discourse reason" or "pay
attention to for a semantic/discourse reason."

My theoretical package contains deductive theories making claims about word
order from universal principles of syntax. My data base, therefore, is all
6,808 languages of the world including all forms of them. Since it is
deductive, however, the data I have analyzed is not anywhere near the scope
of predictions that are made. Such analysis is a research program of many
people for several generations. Such research has been begun. As for word
order of noun phrases I did analyze the genitive THS PISTEWS of Hebrews
12:2. My syntax labels this as an "uneconomic" word order and my discourse
analysis concludes that the authorial intent is for cohesiveness between the
many occurrences of PISTIS in Hebrews 11 and Hebrews 12.

Along those lines, what are the basis for your theoretical claims? You use
the word "normal," how "normality" determined? You use the words "emphatic"
and "marked," and "different levels of syntax." What is the justification
for such terms. What evidence do you have for your theoretical assumptions?

Iver further states:

"I cannot accept your conclusion, because I think the starting axiom is
incorrect. Since the order in Luke 14:30 is hOUTOS hO ANQRWPOS this is an
"uneconomic" order in Greek. It is because it is uneconomic that the order
can be used to indicate a contrast between THIS foolish builder and expected
behavior of ordinary builders."

If I understand your point, you are saying that the hOUTOS hO ANQRWPOS is
"marked" and the original author had the intent to use this word order to
show contrast between the foolish builder and all sorts of other wise
builders. You are saying that the contrast is because of this word order and
if this word order was not here there would be no contrast. Is this what you
are claiming?

In clarification, my point is that if any uneconomic word order is for some
semantic/discourse purpose and discovering the purpose is something inferred
from the context. Thus it would never be appropriate to say "all uneconomic
word order is for contrast" just as it would never be appropriate to say
"every time the word 'dog' is used as a subject it stands for a Doberman."

Additionally Iver states:

"What makes you claim that hOUTOS after a noun is syntactically uneconomic?
Actually, I believe the opposite is the case according to normal Greek
usage. It is hOUTOS before a noun that is uneconomic, if I understand your
term uneconomic correctly."

As of now my noun-phrase/determiner-phrase analysis suggests that hOUTOS
after a noun is syntactically uneconomic is because when a demonstrative is
base generated in the determiner position it would have scope and control
over the noun that follows it allowing phi-feature checking. If the
demonstrative occurs after a noun then a null morpheme node would have to be
formed after the post-noun demonstrative and a feature checking chain would
have to be formed between the first noun and the null morpheme. In my theory
feature checking chains are less economical than base generation in a
feature checking position.

Hopefully this definition should clear up any misunderstandings and
objections you have. As you can see, however, I use "uneconomic" differently
than you. For me "uneconomic" in no way is similar to traditional notions of
"marked" or "emphasized." "Uneconomic" is the mechanics of syntax not
inferential semantics/discourse.

Let me illustrate with prepositional phrases. A traditional preposition
contains the features of case and theta role that must be checked by a noun.
In English, Greek, and Vietnamese the noun usually occurs after the
preposition. I see this as a result of the headedness parameter and thus see
all three languages as having the same head left, complement right
headedness. It is not necessary, however, for all nouns to occur after the
preposition, as can be seen in questions words like "who" and "what."
Consider English where there is some variability in where a wh-word can
occur, for example, as in (1) and (2):

1) Who do you like to study with?
2) I like to study with Iver and Clay.

In (1) the object of the preposition does not occur after the preposition
but in (2) it does. As I understand language there are features that must be
checked configurationally. Three of these features are theta, case, and Q
(for questions). The preposition controls it's object and checks theta and
case features. Q features are checked in various ways--base generating a
question word in COMP or base generating the verb in the INFL. In English
questions both features are vying for control. This is where languages
differ. In languages like English, the Q feature wins out over the Theta and
Case features and the most economic structure is base generating the Q word
for feature checking and then forming a (minimal) feature checking chain to
check Theta and Case features. As I understand, however, in Greek and
Vietnamese the most economic structure is to base generate the noun as the
object of the preposition. In Greek the whole prepositional phrase is often
(perhaps always) moved to the front of the sentence as it can be in
Vietnamese. In English, however, the preposition can be left behind forming
that some social groups try to discourage claiming that "A preposition is
not something you should end a sentence with."

With this I can address Clayton's comments. He states:

"The issue under discussion was constituent order in Hebrews. Mark Beatty
implied that one need not distinguish between LXX quotes in Hebrews and
non-quotes when discussing constituent order patterns. His reason for this
was some sort of claim relating to language universals. Not having the total
framework he is working in clearly defined, I cannot evaluate his claim, but
I think his application of his theory to the question about the LXX quotes
in Hebrews is problematic."

My "some sort of claim to universals" does not accurately describe my
position since my comments applied directly to the unique qualities of Greek
and not to other languages. My claim is that the headedness parameters and
feature checking hierarchy of the classical Greek, Koine Greek, and Modern
Greek have not changed.

I do acknowledge, however, that a translation or someone who does not speak
a language natively can adversely effect the language produced. In this
case, however, the person is simply not using a wide spread variety of the
language. If certain structures are widespread, we call it a dialect. If
there is a lot of borrowing from two languages and it passes on to a second
generation, then we call this a Creole. If this is the case in the LXX
quotes, I would be appreciative empirical evidence. What Clay and Cindy have
offered, however, is the suggestion that this possibly could be the case
because of their theoretical presuppositions. I need more than that to
respond and we need more than that to bring my theoretical bundle into

But let us talk about language change to see other empirical support for my
theoretical bundle. My syntax theory claims that INFL "inflection" is a part
of every possible human language. In English this manifests as "is, will,
may, could, etc." In most Classical and Koine inflection manifests as
suffixes and prefixes on the verb. But consider three important

3) The verb being before the subject is one way to indicate a Greek
4) Classical and Koine have "periphrastic" participles where the verb EIMI
is followed by a participle.
5) Modern Greek uses the INFL node for such morphemes as THA "will."

My analysis of this is that Greek always had the INFL node but early Greek
did not have independent inflection morphemes and the only overt evidence
the use of INFL to form questions. Greek started using the INFL node more
through the periphrastic participle. Modern Greek has a full blown INFL node
as does English.

As to my claims about the LXX quotes, it is strange that Clay and Cindy are
using them to argue against my position. What if I said, "The LXX quotes
contradict my theory but I am throwing them out because doing so makes my
theories work." I would think that would be a weakness of my argument. What
I am saying is that my theories are robust enough to cover quotations and
different writers of different forms of the language. I see this as a
strength and not a weakness. It appears that Clay and Cindy would have to
write multitudes of different grammars-one for LXX, one for Koine, one for
Modern, and perhaps a variety of different grammars for different writes of
Koine. By writing so many different grammars, the similarities would be
missed. I see such an approach as mistaking variable cultural and
personality differences for principles of syntax.

My posts, however, have largely been limited to syntax. My theoretical
package includes semantics/discourse. Syntax interfaces with semantics by
creating uneconomic structures. Semantics involves inferring the purpose of
a "special" word order from the context. This topic, I suspect, is for
another time and perhaps another forum.

As to you objecting to me leaving "complex" sentences out of my data, please
be clear why you object to that. It seems you contradict yourself when you
suggest I include LXX passages but then suggest I put the complex sentences
in my analysis.

In conclusion, in support of my theory I offer various logical arguments
such as poverty of stimulus (mentioned in an earlier post) that claims that
children innately know various syntactic principles true in all languages
and have a variety of parameters that are set according to the language(s)
they are exposed to. In addition I offer various empirical arguments such as
questions and prepositional phrases to include various structures in English
and Greek. I claim to be able to explain various other language facts such
as historical change of the use of the Greek INFL. I also offer extensive
analysis of word order phenomenon, only a small amount of my analysis was
included in my last post. In the traditional literature on word order, and
in Cindy's, Iver's and Clay's responses, I fail to see logically grounded
theories or compelling empirical data.


Mark Beatty

B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: [jwrobie@mindspring.com]
To unsubscribe, forward this message to leave-b-greek-327Q@franklin.oit.unc.edu
To subscribe, send a message to subscribe-b-greek@franklin.oit.unc.edu

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:00 EDT