Monday, March 30, 2015

Greek word order—again

Most adjectives and other modifiers of the noun, however, convey no such semantic difference between attributive and predicative position. In general, modifiers can be freely placed before or after their head in both definite and indefinite NPs [noun phrases]. This begs the question of whether there may be any explanation for prenominal and postnominal position. For Classical Greek there is evidence that it is information structure that determines modifier position after all. (Dik 1997; Viti 2008a [StudLang 32:894–915], 2008b [Glotta 84:203–38]; Bakker 2009 [The Noun Phrase in in Ancient Greek]). More precisely, it has been claimed that the modifier is prenominal when it is the most salient element of the NP.—Giovanni, “Word Order” in Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics, page 538

<idle musing>
Interesting, isn't it? You did follow all that, didn't you? : )

Now, let's take a look at James 1:5 again:

αἰτείτω παρὰ τοῦ διδόντος θεοῦ πᾶσιν ἁπλῶς καὶ μὴ ὀνειδίζοντος καὶ δοθήσεται αὐτῷ.

ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. (NRSV)

So, according to Giovanni, the most salient (relevant) part of the noun phrase "God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly" is that he is "giving." The fact that he does so "generously and ungrudgingly" tells us how he gives, but James didn't consider that as important as the fact that our God is a "giving" God.

Isn't linguistics fun? : )
</idle musing>

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