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Title:Word order in ancient Greek: VSO, SVO, SOV, or all of the above?
Author(s):Cervin, Richard Stuart
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hock, Hans Henrich
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Ancient
Language, Linguistics
Literature, Classical
Abstract:Post-Homeric Greek is a language which has a high degree of freedom in the placement of words/phrases within the sentence, so much so that there have been competing claims regarding the so-called 'basic' or 'unmarked' order of constituents. VSO, SVO, and SOV have all been claimed to be the 'basic' word order by various scholars, whose claims are usually made either on the basis of statistical studies or on the basis of language typology. The statistical studies are faulty for the following reasons: (1) the statistical method most commonly employed (frequency counts) is improper and fails to control for relevant variables; (2) the selected data base is often too narrow and not representative of the Greek language as a whole; (3) the results are contradictory. Different researchers, even working with the same text, often have mutually exclusive results. The studies of Greek syntax which are based on language typology theory are likewise faulty because it can be demonstrated that Greek exhibits syntactic behaviour which contradicts the predicted syntactic behaviour of any given type of language. Furthermore, many of the typology studies are based on an understanding of typological theory which is excessively restrictive.
Rather than deal with the problem of Greek word order from a statistical or typological perspective, I approach the problem via an examination of various movement processes such as fronting and extraposition, and the landing sites which are associated with these processes. This is discussed in Chapter 1.
In Chapter 2 I examine the behavior of clitics and sentential particles, which are restricted to clause or phrase initial position (proclitics), or to second position (enclitics and 'postpositives'). Second position is a complicated notion in Ancient Greek, and is defined as occurring anywhere within the initial constituent, marking what precedes as emphasized.
Chapters 3 and 4 cover movement processes. Chapter 3 contains a discussion of fronting and the relevant landing sites of COMP and TOP. Also, a preverbal focus position is postulated as an additional landing site. Chapter 4 covers extraposition and the implications that process has for determining basic order in Greek.
Chapter 5 deals with VP asymmetries in terms of patterns of verbs, direct and indirect objects, and adverbs. Also discussed is the behaviour of major constituents within nonfinite structures (infinitives, participles, and genitive absolutes). There are no discernable asymmetries in the behaviour of the VP. With regard to nonfinite structures, all possible permutations of the constituents S, V, and O occur, and the orders of SVO and SOV are equally frequent. This fact, along with the fact that there are no discernable asymmetries within the VP, lead to the conclusion that the Greek VP is flat.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Cervin, Richard Stuart
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9114192
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9114192

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