New Dissertation on Koine Word Order (Allison Kirk, Leiden)

New Dissertation on Koine Word Order (Allison Kirk, Leiden)

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 2nd, 2013, 8:20 am

Minutes ago, I just heard about this dissertation (Nov. 2012) by Allison Kirk at Leiden: https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/20157

Here is the abstract:

This dissertation examines word order variation in the Koine Greek of the New Testament Greek in a variety of domains: declarative clauses, questions and relative clauses. In particular, I examine the way in which word order corresponds to information structure.

It is argued that although New Testament Greek shows a variety of possible permutations of the sentence elements subject (S), verb (V) and object (O), in declarative clauses, questions and relative clauses, the word order is not free. Rather, it is partly governed by phrase structure and partly by information structural considerations such as Topic and Focus. This is manifested in all of the domains investigated. I argue that the basic word order is best described as VSO with an SVO alternative basic word order. Marked clauses, such as SOV, OVS, OSV and also some SVO clauses involve topicalization or focus movement of the arguments.

This thesis is of interest to syntacticians who are interested in word order and the syntax-pragmatics interface as well as to historical linguistics and classics scholars.


Haven't read it yet, but thought folks might be interested.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: New Dissertation on Koine Word Order (Allison Kirk, Leid

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 3rd, 2013, 9:33 am

Having read the dissertation, I'm not sure New Testament exegetes will be able to get much out of it. The theoretical approach of the thesis is firmly within the generative grammatical paradigm (think Chomsky) and much of the dissertation is spent solving particular problems generated by the theory, such was what is the landing site of when the verb is moved out of its canonical position. It is not clear how an exegete can apply her insights, and linguists operating in a different theoretical framework, such as functional linguistics, may find little directly relevant to their concerns in the dissertation.

Nevertheless, there does seem to be a decent set of useful examples that any analysts of NT word order must consider.
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Re: New Dissertation on Koine Word Order (Allison Kirk, Leid

Postby Stirling Bartholomew » January 4th, 2013, 11:25 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:Having read the dissertation, I'm not sure New Testament exegetes will be able to get much out of it. The theoretical approach of the thesis is firmly within the generative grammatical paradigm (think Chomsky) and much of the dissertation is spent solving particular problems generated by the theory, such was what is the landing site of when the verb is moved out of its canonical position. It is not clear how an exegete can apply her insights, and linguists operating in a different theoretical framework, such as functional linguistics, may find little directly relevant to their concerns in the dissertation.

Nevertheless, there does seem to be a decent set of useful examples that any analysts of NT word order must consider.


Stephen,

I agree. Early Chomsky is a framework that is commonly employed by students of ancient languages, but this monograph is middle and late Chomsky. The portions I read were far to technical to be palatable to anyone who is not already a member of the club. Your comment “much of the dissertation is spent solving particular problems generated by the theory” is spot on. These are not problems that need to be solved by students of NT Greek. They are artifacts of the framework in question. Never the less, there are middle Chomsky people and minimalists who also study Ancient Greek so there will be an audience for this work.
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Re: New Dissertation on Koine Word Order (Allison Kirk, Leid

Postby Stirling Bartholomew » January 4th, 2013, 12:44 pm

I spoke too soon. Reading past the first fifty pages, I find that this work is somewhat more eclectic than I previously thought. There seems to be a blend of late Chomsky and Functional concepts in the treatment of basic word order in the NT. I found a number of valuable insights in the second chapter and in the third chapter became overwhelmed by framework incomprehensibility. This is all perfectly normal reading NT linguistics.
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Re: New Dissertation on Koine Word Order (Allison Kirk, Leid

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 4th, 2013, 1:29 pm

Yeah, there are some good parts. It is nice to see the focus on information structure, as well as more attention given to relative and interrogative clauses than usual.
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Re: New Dissertation on Koine Word Order (Allison Kirk, Leid

Postby MAubrey » January 5th, 2013, 2:41 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:I spoke too soon. Reading past the first fifty pages, I find that this work is somewhat more eclectic than I previously thought. There seems to be a blend of late Chomsky and Functional concepts in the treatment of basic word order in the NT.

That's pretty much what late Chomsky has become in terms of word order. Anything that deals with information structure within mainstream generativism post Katalin Kiss' work on Hungarian word order in the early to mid 90's looks like this.
Stirling Bartholomew wrote:I found a number of valuable insights in the second chapter and in the third chapter became overwhelmed by framework incomprehensibility. This is all perfectly normal reading NT linguistics.

Skip to chapter 4.
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Re: New Dissertation on Koine Word Order (Allison Kirk, Leid

Postby Stirling Bartholomew » January 5th, 2013, 4:22 pm

MAubrey wrote:Skip to chapter 4.


I will go back to reading Agamemnon, I see the project hasn't totally expired.
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