How important is syntax?
Posted: November 17th, 2015, 3:29 pm
I noticed this from a dissertation on particles I was reading:
Have we overemphasized syntax over other ways of understanding the text?To ancient scholars, discourse consisted of different-sized units not based primarily on syntactical division, but rather on the sense of completion on the one hand and the speaker’s physical limitations on the other. From the nineteenth century onwards, conversely, the approach to discourse segmentation in ancient Greek texts reveals a strong tendency to regard syntax as the primary structure. This exclusive focus on syntax obscures the important role of particles in the articulation of discourse. A greater sensitivity to the linear presentation of both epic and lyric is needed for an understanding of the function of particles and their host units. The present chapter gathers the relevant evidence, both cross-linguistic and specific to ancient Greek, for the contention that not the sentence or clause, but the discourse act is the basic unit of language use. It is with regard to this smallest subdivision of discourse that the function of particles is to be understood.