A Little Greek Dream of Mine

I wrote this up some time ago and recent conversations have draw me back to it. On my hard drive, a couple very, very small sections are already filled in. Perhaps over the next couple decades, it will turn into something more real.


With that out of the way, here it is: my proposed table of contents for a Modern Descriptive Grammar of Hellenistic Greek.

There are some sections that lack detail — suggestions are very welcome if you see anything missing that you think should be included.

There’s a PDF HERE — though spacing is odd in it.

Table of Contents

1.      Morphology & Parts-of-Speech

1.1      Verbal Inflectional Categories

1.1.1             Aspect            Situation Aspect            Viewpoint Aspect            Interaction

1.1.2             Tense            Past            Non-past            Future

1.1.3             Mood/Modality            Indicative            Subjunctive            Imperative            Optative

1.1.4             Subject Agreement            Person            Number

1.2      Inflectional Morphology of the Verb

1.2.1             Imperfective Root

1.2.2             Perfective Root

1.2.3             –μι Verbs

1.3      Auxiliary Verbs

1.3.1             Types of Auxiliaries

1.3.2             Periphrasis

1.4      Nominal Inflectional Categories

1.4.1             Gender            Gender as Noun Class            Masculine            Feminine            Neuter            Gender in Nouns            Gender in Substantival Modifiers

1.4.2             Number            Singular            Plural            Dual*

1.5      Inflectional Morphology of the Noun

1.6      Inflectional Morphology of the Adjective

1.7      Inflectional Morphology of Determiners

1.7.1             Article

1.7.2             Demonstratives

1.8      Inflectional Morphology of Quantifiers

1.9      Derivational Morphology

1.9.1             Infinitive

1.9.2             Participle

1.9.3             Middle Verbs

1.9.4             Nominalization

1.9.5             Modifier Derivation

1.10  Other word classes

1.10.1         Pronouns        Personal Pronouns        Possessive Pronouns        Reflexive Pronouns

1.10.2         Prepositions

1.10.3         Other        Adverbs        Negators        Modal Particles        Connectives

2.       Basic clause structure

2.1      Verbal Predicates

2.1.1             Intransitives

2.1.2             Transitives

2.1.3             Ditransitives

2.2      Non-verbal Predicates

2.2.1             Equative, Attributive, and Locative Clauses

2.2.2             Existential and Possessive Clauses

2.2.3             Negated Non-verbal Predicates            Negated Possessive            Negated Existential

2.3      Constituent Order & Clause Structure

2.3.1             Discourse Relations

2.3.2             Semantic Relations

2.3.3             Grammatical Relations

2.4      Noun Phrase Structure

2.4.1             Major Functions of the Noun Phrase

2.4.2             Continuous Noun Phrases

2.4.3             Discontinuous Noun Phrases

2.4.4             Determiner Phrase            Structure                    The Demonstrative                    The Article            Relation to the Noun Phrase            Identifiability

2.4.5             Constituent Order & Noun Phrase Structure

2.4.6             Lexical Nominalization            Processes for Forming Nouns from Lexical Verbs            Syntactic Collocation                    Assimilation of Arguments to NP Syntax                    Unexpressed Arguments

2.5      Other Types of Phrases & Their Structure

2.5.1             Prepositional Phrases

2.5.2             Quantifier Phrases

3.      Sentence Patterns & Pragmatics

3.1      Questions

3.1.1             Interrogative Sentences            Content Questions            Yes-No Questions

3.2      Commands

3.2.1             Positive Commands

3.2.2             Negative Commands

3.3      Negation

3.3.1             Clausal

3.3.2             Noun Phrase Negation

3.4      Coordinate Constructions

3.4.1             Postpositivess

3.5      Subordinate Constructions

3.5.1             Complement Clauses

3.5.2             Adjunct/adverbial clauses            Subordinate Clauses denoting Cause            Subordinate Clauses denoting Temporal Relations            Subordinate Clauses denoting Concession            Subordinate Clauses denoting Purpose/Result            Subordinate Clauses denoting Condition

3.5.3             Relative Clauses            Headed Relative Clauses            Non-headed Relative Clauses

3.6      Discourse Structure

3.6.1             Sentences

3.6.2             Paragraphs

3.6.3             Self-repair & Correction in Discourse

4.      Residue

5.      Conclusion

6.      Appendices

6.1      Appendix #1 – The Problem of Greek Voice

6.2      Appendix #2 – The Tense / Aspect Debate

6.3      Appendix #2 – The Greek Referential System

6.4      Appendix #3 – The Lexicon

14 thoughts on “A Little Greek Dream of Mine

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  1. This outline looks great, Mike. You wouldn’t believe how much time we spent debating how the grammar should be structured in the discussions around the (now defunct) revision of BDF that happened back in the 1990s.

    1. It originated as a grammar sketch outline used at GIAL for teaching field methods. I’ve significantly expanded it and added many language specific headings. There are a few redundancies I need to work out.

  2. Well, I had a dream once that I’d see — within my lifetime — a new Hellenistic Grammar sponsored by Bob Funk and the project chaired by Daryl Schmidt — Micheal Palmer worked on tha committee once and knows of it. It was not to be and will not be. Projects like that don’t just happen.

    1. Several of us worked for a number of years on that project, with the University of Chicago Press promising a contract soon to appear. It never did, and we finally gave up waiting. Some of the papers presented at our meetings were published in a number of different places, but the grammar was never produced.

      If such a project is ever to be completed, I believe it will need to be a collaborative effort with a strong web presence.

      1. Its unfortunate that it was never realized.

        Micheal, for my thesis, in the tradition of applied linguistic programs, I’m writing a grammar sketch on Hellenistic Greek syntax based on portions of Mark, Josephus, 4 Macc, 2 Peter, and a few documentary papyri. I’m aiming using roughly a 10,000-15,000 word corpus. Its not much, but its a start that I hope will be able to grow or at the very least for a solid basis for expansion. When its complete, I will likely look toward putting it up online, though I haven’t decided quite yet what will happen. My target audience would be linguistics/translators who even now don’t even have a sketch of Hellenistic Greek for reference, so part of me is hoping that SIL might be interested in publication.

    1. Currently, there’s an entry under “derivational morphology” labeled “Middle Verbs,” but I’m not satisfied with that organization and will change it.

      The main issue for me is that simply having it under “inflection” doesn’t satisfy activa & media tantums aren’t inflected. So I’m torn about where to put it right now. What I know for sure is that I will only have a Active/Middle division with the Passive being treated as a sub-function of the middle form.

  3. Have a look at Christian Lehmann’s work (Latinist/typologist at Cologne). One thing he would suggest is that to do a truly good job you really need two (half) grammars: one that takes the formal expressions available in the language and describes their uses/functions. The other, starting from basic *functions* and describing what formal expressions are associated with them. The problem with doing it only in one ‘direction’ is that isomorphism (1 form corresponding to 1 function) is an illusion. So for instance, purpose: many ways to express purpose (ranging from PPs to pple.s to finite clauses). Future tense: used to talk about the future, but also about purpose (fut. pple.s; relative clauses;..), likelihood, ..
    When you look back at your TOC, you’ll see that you have a mix going on.

    1. Yeah, it is rather mixed. Part of that is simply a result of having only examined personally a limited number of issues. That’s why currently somethings are more Greek-centric than others. I don’t believe at all in isomorphism — there are a couple Koine/Hellenistic Greek scholars who try really hard to do that and then we just kind of laugh at them when it doesn’t work (e.g. claims that Greek is a tenseless language!).

      Ideally, I suppose that I would prefer to discuss issue of polysemous forms within the morphology section and various functions within the syntax section. Thus, I’d discuss function of participles, functions of conjunctions in the morphology/part-of-speech section and then how different ways of expressing purpose in the syntax section and how these different ways relate to each other semantically or pragmatically.

      But I also know that what I’ve written thus far doesn’t necessarily represent that either. But hey, I’m only 25. I’ve got plenty of time to work out the details (if you’re ever looking for a doctoral student to examine Hellenistic Greek, let me know).

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