Deponency: The SBL Panel Discussion Part I

This is the first post of probably four or five that detail my thoughts on the panel discussion on the topic of deponency as a viable grammatical category for the description of Ancient Greek.

As a whole, the panel consisted of Stanley Porter, Bernard Taylor, Jonathan Pennington, and Con Campbell with Randall Tan presiding.  This is also the order in which they presented their papers.

Porter’s paper consisted of a sort of overview, seeking to provide criteria for determining whether deponency is a valid category. This was then followed by Bernard Taylor, who examined and charted out the how Greek middle voice has been described through the history of Greek grammar, focusing centrally on the ancient Greek grammarians. Jonathan Pennington’s paper presented the data for medio-passive forms through the book of Matthew. His goal was to test the validity of a deponency-free analysis across a corpus. Lastly, Con Campbell presented a paper on “the discussion so far,” with reference to the work of Bernard Taylor, Jonathan Pennington, Carl Conrad, Neva Miller, Rutgar Allan, and rather recently, Stratton Ladewig, whose DTS dissertation has just been completed defending deponency.

Overall, I was quite encouraged by the level of consensus reached by the panel. There is little disagreement about the rightness of “laying aside” deponency. This looks good for the future. I hope such consensus at least on the panel will prevent the question of middle voice in Greek from becoming as muddled as the aspect debate has. Granted, at this point Stratton Ladewig’s dissertation is still an issue, but at this point I am in complete agreement with Campbell that his arguments have “more bark than bite.”

The next several posts will focus on several topics. Each will discuss a point of the panel discussion that caught my attention. My posts will not be summaries of the session as a whole. Summaries will only be provided to the extent that it is relevant to clarifying the point at hand. Some of these subjects will be gathered together in a single post, if I can keep myself brief. The first of these is already up an available.

  1. Dionysius Thrax & Translating Πάθος
  2. The Middle Voice and Language Typology
  3. Clarifying Allan & Kemmer on Middle Voice: Markedness
    The Middle Voice Panel Discussion: An Interim Comment

  4. Clarifying Allan & Kemmer on Middle Voice: Cognitive Linguistics