Culy on Double Case Constructions

In the most recently published articles for Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, Volume 6 (2009), Martin Culy has written an article titled Double Case Constructions in Koine Greek. Its quite good. He approaches the issue from the perspective of Classical Transformational Grammar & Relational Grammar, which is interesting in of itself. Relational Grammar isn’t seen much ancient Greek studies, so its nice to read from that perspective – not to mention that we haven’t really seen any linguistic approach to such constructions in some time.

So go read the article, its quite good.

Personally, I would not approach Greek from any sort of framework that requires syntactic derivation (as both Transformational Grammar and Relational Grammar do) simply because Greek voice cannot be adequately explained from such a perspective. Specifically, English has an Active-Passive voice system where voce alternation can be easily via syntactic derivation. But Greek is an Active-Middle-Passive system (or better, an Active-Middle/Passive system) where distinctions between the voice cannot be explained derivationally unless you allow for an overwhelming number of exceptions in the form of the so-called “Deponent” verbs.

Now when I write all of that, I don’t mean to suggest that Culy’s conclusions are incorrect. I think he’s done some very good things here and I think its mostly right. All it really means is that since I would approach this subject from a different framework, my analysis (which I won’t show here, but does exist) would look somewhat different, even though the conclusions themselves would essentially be quite similar.

And for his own purposes, the use of Transformational or Relational Grammar as a framework is perfectly fine. I only write my words above to say that different linguistic frameworks are designed for different things and no framework has a monopoly on the right analysis. And that’s a point that Culy actually makes himself, albeit indirectly. In the last pages of the article, Culy suggests some “interpretive implications” for double accusatives. And to whom does he turn for his implications? Not to Chomsky (Transformational) or any advocate of a Formal syntactic theory. No. Rather, Culy turns to Talmy Givón’s Functional-Typological approach to Syntax, completely different theoretical framework for showing the significance of his initial analysis.

Again, the article is here: Double Case Constructions in Koine Greek (

The whole journal issue is here: