[b-greek] RE: The interaction of Greek voice with other parts of the language

From: Bryant J. Williams III (bjwvmw@com-pair.net)
Date: Thu Nov 01 2001 - 12:25:20 EST

Dear Iver:

Please explain what you said in English :).

I do not understand what you mean by 'experiencer,' beneficiary,' 'patient,'
etc. If this is linguistic terminology, then it may be wise for those of the
group who are dealing with linguistics, to give a definition of the terms.
This will allow those of us who are on the outside looking in the ability to
understand what you are talking about.

Thank You.

En Xpistw,

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
----- Original Message -----
From: Iver Larsen <iver_larsen@sil.org>
To: Biblical Greek <b-greek@franklin.oit.unc.edu>
Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2001 9:07 AM
Subject: [b-greek] RE: The interaction of Greek voice with other parts of
the language

> Mike said:
> > 1. OK, I'm sitting here looking at a verb in my GNT. It is
> > morphologically (A) or (M) or (P), pick one. If that
> > morpheme doesn't tell me what it is, then what does? And I
> > mean this to be a very serious question. I'm looking for
> > guidance so that I can look at a GNT text (with its
> > associated grammar and lexis) and tell from how the author
> > has used that grammar and lexis how to interpret the
> > morpheme. There is an interplay going on between the
> > morpheme and other semantic pieces; what are those pieces and
> > what's the interplay[1]?
> Carl has already responded, and I would agree with virtually everything he
> said.
> But let me approach the issue from the viewpoint of semantics. I have not
> finished thinking through the issues, but I see some patterns which make
> sense to me and also give me a feeling why for some verbs the middle and
> passive overlap so much.
> I am using the primary semantic roles of A (agent), E (experiencer) P
> (patient). These are the basic primary roles and they are expressed in
> by actual cases. The A is in nominative, the E is in the accusative or the
> nominative depending on factors that I'll mention later. The P is in the
> accusative or in the nominative depending on the same factors.
> Sometimes we have other primary roles like B (beneficiary) in the dative
> S (source) in the accusative or genitive. Then there are many options for
> secondary semantic roles to be attached to the verb, but these all employ
> prepositions in Greek, and the lexical meaning of the preposition and the
> case it governs decide the role.
> I shall use English verbs as examples in order to focus on the general
> concepts rather than specific Greek lexical items and forms.
> When I say: clothe(A,E,P) I refer to a semantic verb with the nuclear
> meaning "to clothe someone in something". The case frame has three
> or arguments: agent (in nominative), experiencer (in accusative) and
> (in accusative).
> There is a relationship between a basic verb form with a full set of case
> frames, call it AF, and a verb form with a reduced set of case frames,
> it MF.
> There is a different relationship between the basic verb, the AF form, and
> another verb form with a reduced set of case frames, call it PF.
> Let me look at the first relationship first. Let me try to give two
> with AF to the left and the MF to the right and a few examples:
> clothe(A,E,P) put on(E(A),P)
> raise(A,E) rise(E(A))
> lose(A,E) get lost(E(A))
> While the verbs in the first column would be syntactically constructed in
> their full forms with a subject and an object (and for the first one a
> second object), those in the second column would be constructed only with
> subject, except that the first one would have an object, too. What has
> happened is that the E role has merged with the A role and the case frame
> has been reduced with one argument. The E role is in focus, but the A role
> is still part of it. This means that I do something to myself, but what I
> experience, or what happens to me, is more important than the fact that it
> is me who is also the agent. Grammatically, the first argument is in the
> nominative - except in the Greek infinitive with accusative - and the
> argument is almost always in the accusative. So, in the AF the E is in the
> accusative, but in the MF the same E is in the nominative.
> Now let me compare the same AF forms with the PF form:
> clothe(A,E,P) be clothed in(E,P) (-A)
> raise(A,E) be raised(E) (-A)
> lose(A,E/P) be lost(E/P) (-A)
> find(A,P) be found(P) (-A)
> give (A,P,B) be given(P,B) (-A)
> The extra hanging (-A) means that the agent role is not part of the case
> frame, but it may be supplied by a secondary role mechanism, that is by
> of a preposition. In this respect it is no different from other secondary
> roles that may be attached by way of other prepositions. If E or P refers
> a human, it is sometimes to hard to make a distinction between them.
> When we compare the MF with the PF it is clear that for the verbs which
> include an E role in the basic AF form, the MF and PF are indeed very
> similar. With some verbs and in some contexts, the difference is so subtle
> and unimportant that it is non existent. With other verbs and in other
> contexts, the difference is more important.
> Take the example of a child who got separated from her mother in the mall.
> The child would be in the MF mode of thinking: get lost(E(A)). "I am
> "I feel lost". I may be the cause or my mother may be the cause, but the
> important thing is: I experience lostness.
> The mother would be in the PF mode of thinking: be lost(E) (-A). "My child
> is lost". How did I lose her?
> The verbs without an E role in the basic frame do not lend themselves to
> MF form, but as long as they have an A role, we can expect a PF form.
> A verb like suffer(E) cannot have a corresponding PF form since there is
> A, nor can it have a corresponding MF form since it has only one case
> argument (it is intransitive). It has a "passive idea" in the sense that
> role is E and therefore the subject is experiencing the suffering, but it
> does not have an MF or PF form. By adding prepositions one can say many
> things about the suffering. In Greek it can also have an accusative like
> suffered many things", but I would be inclined to interpret this as an
> adverbial accusative rather than the primary case argument P. If it was a
> I would expect a PF form like "many things were suffered." If Greek can
> that, well, then it is a P. If not, then it is an adverbial accusative. I
> could not find any M/P forms in the GNT of PASCW.
> Some verbs do not have an AF form, but only occur in the MF and possibly
> also in the PF form if the MF has two case arguments. A verb like go(E(A))
> is an MF form because although the E is in focus, there is simultaneously
> A involved.
> So, to try to give some kind of an answer to Mike's question, I would look
> at both the lexical content of the verb and the case frames plus semantic
> roles involved. From this I can have a good guess whether the verb will
> appear in the AF, MF or PF form. In the Greek language of the NT it
> to me that a few, very few, verbs may have maintained a 3-fold distinction
> between AF, MF and PF, but for the vast majority of verbs the MF and PF
> forms have become mixed and the morphological distinction that some of
> have does not appear to be significant, although there is a general
> for PF to have the QH forms in aorist and future and the MF to have the
> middle forms. The distinction between MF and PF appear to be primarily an
> underlying, semantic distinction.
> I would also look at the difference between authors. For instance, only in
> Acts do we find the future middle form of AKOUW. The other authors may
> use the future active with the same meaning.
> I would also look for suppletive forms. For instance, the verb TIKTW -
> a child - is basically active. Looking at the semantic case frames there
> no reason to have a middle. But all future forms are in the middle form
> where I would have expected an active. The meaning is just like the
> so for some reason the middle future is used instead of the active. All
> semantically passive forms of this verb use the QH paradigm.
> I am using this as a framework at the moment. It probably needs refinement
> and further development, and it does not address all the questions of
> verb forms and the various anomalies that undoubtedly exist, especially
> because of language change. There is enough here for an interesting major
> research project.
> Iver Larsen
> ---
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