Adjective – Noun Orderings

I figured it out today! A while back Lingamish and I were working on adjectives and their positions.

In a comment he wrote,

Sure, translate it any way you like, but what is the difference? What is triggering the different attributive forms? And why is ὁ ἀγαθός ὁ βασιλεὺς not possible?

And don’t tell me it’s stylistic. That’s cheating.

I have to say GGBB is most unsatisfactory talking about emphasis and “a sort of climax.” (306)

He’s wondering about the difference between the different attributive positions. All Wallace says is that one is more emphatic and another is less so. Its just an assertion – no evidence or reasoning why, which, if you think about it, is rather irritating.

But I figured out why.

The first attributive position is the more marked position.

ὁ ἀγαθὸς βασιλεύς

The second and third positions “ὁ βασιλεὺς ὁ ἀγαθός,” and “βασιλεὺς ὁ ἀγαθός” are less marked.

But why?

I figured it out. It hit me while diagramming Ephesians .

Simply put, as I understand it, when it comes to modifiers, Greek is a right branching language. What does that mean? Well English for possession is a left branding language. Thus we can have sentences like,

Bob’s uncle’s neighbor’s brother’s cousin’s aunt’s sister’s daughter’s college roommate quit school.

image

Greek on the other hand is typically a right branching language:

image

(The Lord God gave him the throne of his father David.)

That’s what makes the first attributive position in the Noun Phrase more marked. You can only put one modifier in that slot, while on the other side of the noun you can pile them on as much as you’d like – especially with the genitives.

Greek then seems to have a special slot for when a particular attribute of a noun requires emphasis – give me the blue coat, not the black one.

So, what do you think of this explanation? Does it make more sense than Wallace’s assertion? Don’t worry, you can say no, my self-esteem doesn’t depend on it.

Lastly, why “ὁ ἀγαθός ὁ βασιλεὺς” isn’t possible…I have no idea…

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