Word Order of Genitive (Enclitic) Pronouns

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Word Order of Genitive (Enclitic) Pronouns

Post by Stephen Carlson » June 10th, 2013, 6:38 am

RandallButh wrote:That analysis would make pragmatic sense if the position of the non-salient ("demoted") enclitic had the rhetorical effect of adding prominence to the verb by bringing syntactic and phonological weight to the verb phrase.
Well, there's a chicken-and-egg problem in that it is not clear which comes first. It could be that the desire to add prominence to the verb has the effect of attracting the enclitic, or it could be that adding the clitic confers additional prominence in the form of increasing the phonological weight. Unless one is a historical phonologist, it probably doesn't matter for it is enough to observe the patterns of behavior. I have my own theory, but I don't want to be dogmatic about something for which very little evidence has survived.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Re: Word Order of Genitive (Enclitic) Pronouns

Post by Stephen Carlson » June 10th, 2013, 6:43 am

MAubrey wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:David Goldstein in his dissertation (pp. 159-163) proposes that this pattern involves a kind of presupposition cancelling in (rhetorical) questions. He argues that it "can be seen as an extension of the exhaustive focal readings in declarative sentences."

If this hypothesis hold for Koine, it would imply that the questions in John 9:26 are not sincere.
Well, that's precisely what my (unspoken) hypothesis was! (which I might have unconsciously stolen from Goldstein...having read it myself last year...)
Yeah, the main reason why I've found Goldstein so helpful is that he's seen the exceptional cases and proposed ways for accounting for them, so I haven't found it necessary to modify his theory to make sense of Koine patterns. (By contrast, I haven't found Janse's work as straightward to apply to the issues I was having with the text of Galatians.)

I wish, however, his sense of information structure was more sophisticated than Birner and Ward's work for English they did a long time ago, but maybe it's best to view that shortcoming as an opportunity for improvement.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Re: Word Order of Genitive (Enclitic) Pronouns

Post by Stephen Carlson » June 10th, 2013, 6:49 am

RandallButh wrote:That is good, Stephen C., except that it seems to equate "marking" with Focus.
Well, I wasn't trying to.
RandallButh wrote:I distinguish Focal/Salient Marked structures from Contextualized/Topicalized non-salient marked structures.
So do I. In fact, I think that any approach that fails to distinguish focus and topic and just lumped the two concepts all under "emphasis" or "prominence" is inadquate to explain what's going on.
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Re: Word Order of Genitive (Enclitic) Pronouns

Post by RandallButh » June 10th, 2013, 7:59 am

Iver, it is important to find places where the 'left is always more prominent' position can be tested. Is it always more prominent or only sometimes more prominent?

'Prominence' also needs to be defined. If it simply means 'more visible', then we are agreed.
However, I distinguish "more visible and +salient" from "more visible and -salient." Actually, I distinguish those pre-verbally.
Post-verbally I qualify the "more visible" part since they are not prominently in front of the verb. We would agree that the post-verbal are less-prominent. So post verbally I might paraphrase these as "somewhat visible +salient" vs "somewhat visible and -salient." And the natural collation is in the order ("somewhat visible -salient" -> "somewhat visible and +salient." ).

for example, in Mt 17.15 'have mercy on my son', the "son" can be read as more salient. Certainly the continuing statement focuses on the son. To inject "my" into the story as marked prominence seems to be a distraction. (Is the father concerned for himself or for his son? The more probable is "for his son.") Then in the following sentence the 'him' is brought close to the verb and becomes more pre-supposed than the new salient information "your disciples". This of course, is accounted for by the pronoun for the more pre-supposed and the noun phrase for the more salient/newer. So do we have examples where the partially-fronted item is unambiguously more salient?

The opposite was made clear, I thought, at Mt 7:24-26 where the salient part of the illustration was 'building on bedrock' vs. 'building on sand' and the 'his' was insipid. The point of the parable was the illustration, not that the illustration belonged to each person, which was a given. The "his" is naturally read as less-salient.

This would have been unambiguous in Hebrew:
כל השומע את דברי האלה ועושה אותם
אדמה לחכם אשר בנה את ביתו על הסלע
...
כל השומע את דברי האלה ולא יעשה אותם
נדמה לאויל אשר בנה את ביתו על החול
The 'his' is hidden and taken-for-granted in Hebrew. Now a translator in Greek may change this, but there is no clear reason for such a change in Matthew and my interpretation of the Greek doesn't involve such a change. In fact, my interpretation of the Greek fits the natural salience, where "his" is less-salient.

In terms of 'powerful' generalities, the principle of having both marked salient items and marked non-salient (less-salient) items is considered established crosslinguistically within such systems as Functional Grammar, Role and Reference, et al., where the terms Focus and Topic/Pivot were developed in order to distinguish them.
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Re: Word Order of Genitive (Enclitic) Pronouns

Post by MAubrey » June 10th, 2013, 3:55 pm

RandallButh wrote:Iver, it is important to find places where the 'left is always more prominent' position can be tested. Is it always more prominent or only sometimes more prominent?
Then there's another question:

What does "left is always more prominent" refer to? Does it refer to words? And if so, phonological words or syntactic words? Does it refer to full constituents? And if so, phonological constituents or syntactic constituents?
Iver Larsen wrote:The reason I like the principle that left movement implies hightened relative prominence is that it can nicely explain all the data with a simple and powerful principle.
A clitic is first and foremost a phonological entity and must be first explained as such before talking about pragmatic structure. As such, the "left moment" principle seem to me to be reductionistic and fails to account for the most basic data point of all: that clitics are clitics.
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Phillip Trees
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Re: Word Order of Genitive (Enclitic) Pronouns

Post by Phillip Trees » June 11th, 2013, 10:43 pm

New to forum! Not too advanced but eager to learn.
Discovered you by searching for any info on why the word order of mou in John 11:21, 32 differs while most translations render it the same. But the context sure seems to imply that Martha and Mary would not say the identical thing. Thoughts? Is this an example of fronting?
Thank you.
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Re: Word Order of Genitive (Enclitic) Pronouns

Post by Iver Larsen » June 12th, 2013, 2:52 am

RandallButh wrote: ...
for example, in Mt 17.15 'have mercy on my son', the "son" can be read as more salient. Certainly the continuing statement focuses on the son. To inject "my" into the story as marked prominence seems to be a distraction. (Is the father concerned for himself or for his son? The more probable is "for his son.") Then in the following sentence the 'him' is brought close to the verb and becomes more pre-supposed than the new salient information "your disciples". This of course, is accounted for by the pronoun for the more pre-supposed and the noun phrase for the more salient/newer. So do we have examples where the partially-fronted item is unambiguously more salient?

The opposite was made clear, I thought, at Mt 7:24-26 where the salient part of the illustration was 'building on bedrock' vs. 'building on sand' and the 'his' was insipid. The point of the parable was the illustration, not that the illustration belonged to each person, which was a given. The "his" is naturally read as less-salient.

This would have been unambiguous in Hebrew:
כל השומע את דברי האלה ועושה אותם
אדמה לחכם אשר בנה את ביתו על הסלע
...
כל השומע את דברי האלה ולא יעשה אותם
נדמה לאויל אשר בנה את ביתו על החול
The 'his' is hidden and taken-for-granted in Hebrew. Now a translator in Greek may change this, but there is no clear reason for such a change in Matthew and my interpretation of the Greek doesn't involve such a change. In fact, my interpretation of the Greek fits the natural salience, where "his" is less-salient.

In terms of 'powerful' generalities, the principle of having both marked salient items and marked non-salient (less-salient) items is considered established crosslinguistically within such systems as Functional Grammar, Role and Reference, et al., where the terms Focus and Topic/Pivot were developed in order to distinguish them.
Any analysis and interpretation depends on our presuppositions. You presuppose and work within Functional Grammar. I do not, and this is not the only linguistic theory. I am not happy with a binary, dichotomistic view of language as if only one item can be in focus or salient at a time. So, if you ask: Is the father concerned for himself or for his son, my answer would be: He is concerned for both. They are not mutually exclusive.

In Mat 17:15 the son is clearly prominent or in focus in the whole sentence, but within the NP μου τὸν υἱόν I take the pronoun to be relatively more prominent than the head noun. I interpret this to mean that the father acc. to Matthew's rendering is implying: I am suffering as much as my son. Have mercy on me by healing my son. (I do not think it matters for pragmatic word order prominence whether the pronoun is considered by some to be clitic or not.) I think it is similar to what we saw in: He hit him on the mouth, he cut him at the ear, he anointed him on the eyes.

For Mat 7:24-26 you say the point of the parable was the illustration. I would say that the parable and the illustration is the same. Jesus illustrates his main point with a parable. The main point of the overall message is the contrast between an obedient and a disobedient person. In the first clauses in 24 and 26, the verbs are prominent: Hearing - doing, versus hearing- not doing. The parable of the wise and unwise builder is like an embedded discourse which needs to be analysed on its own. I agree that within the parable the prominent contrast is bedrock versus sand. This is not indicated by word order placement, but by lexical contrast. In terms of word order the verbs are again prominent like in the main point, because the actions of laying a proper foundation or not are crucial to underscore and illustrate the actions of obedience and disobedience in the overall message of Jesus. Now, how do we interpret the fronted αὐτοῦ? It is difficult to interpret it within the illustration. I think that is why Levinsohn talked about thematic "saliency". The word "his" is not prominent within the illustration, but it is prominent within the theme of the overall message, because it highlights the contrast between the wise and foolish man who illustrate the obedient and disobedient person. It is not a matter of given versus new information nor a matter of possession.

I am not particularly interested in which analysis is "right" or "wrong". I am just looking at the data from a different perspective, which makes more sense to me.
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Re: Word Order of Genitive (Enclitic) Pronouns

Post by Stephen Carlson » June 12th, 2013, 3:21 am

Phillip Trees wrote:New to forum! Not too advanced but eager to learn.
Discovered you by searching for any info on why the word order of mou in John 11:21, 32 differs while most translations render it the same. But the context sure seems to imply that Martha and Mary would not say the identical thing. Thoughts? Is this an example of fronting?
Welcome to the forum, Phillip! We have a practice of quoting the Greek text under discussion, so I'll do it now:
John 11:21, 31 wrote:21 εἶπεν οὖν ἡ Μάρθα πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν· κύριε, εἰ ἧς οὐκ ἂν ἀπέθανον ὁ ἀδελφός μου·

32 Ἡ οὖν Μαριὰμ ὡς ἦλθεν ὅπου ἦν Ἰησοῦς ἰδοῦσα αὒτὸν ἔπεσεν αὐτοῦ πρὸς πόδας λέγουσα αὐτῷ· κύριε, εἰ ἦς οὐκ ἄν μου ἀπέθανον ὁ άδελφός.
This is a very nice minimal pair. Thanks for pointing this example out.

In my view, μου is a clitic and has little phonological weight of its own and tends to be pulled out of its canonical (or default) position to follow a highly phonologically prominent constituent. The further it has to move, the more prominent its host has to be. So v. 21 shows the default order, and Mary's statement in v.32 shows μου being attracted to an emphasized (and focal) οὔκ. In other words, Mary's statement has a stronger sense of denial that her brother would have died if Jesus had been there.

If I understand Iver's theory that all leftward movement of a constituent indicates additional prominence on that constituent, even if (or notwithstanding) it is an unaccented enclitic, then his theory (to the extent I understand it) would predict additional prominence on μου. (This would have to create an exception to the general rule that unaccented constituents are not prominent, and so in the big picture his theory is not really simple.) But I'm baffled why Mary would emphasize that Lazarus is her brother, when he is also Martha's brother and there's no other brother around in the context.
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Re: Word Order of Genitive (Enclitic) Pronouns

Post by Stephen Carlson » June 12th, 2013, 3:24 am

Iver Larsen wrote:(I do not think it matters for pragmatic word order prominence whether the pronoun is considered by some to be clitic or not.)
By some??? Is there is a single, competent scholar of Greek that does not think that μου is a clitic? If so, please say who it is. I really want to know.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Re: Word Order of Genitive (Enclitic) Pronouns

Post by Stephen Carlson » June 12th, 2013, 3:32 am

Iver Larsen wrote:In terms of word order the verbs are again prominent like in the main point, because the actions of laying a proper foundation or not are crucial to underscore and illustrate the actions of obedience and disobedience in the overall message of Jesus. Now, how do we interpret the fronted αὐτοῦ?
It is the result of having emphasized the action of building; in other words, the pronominal constitutent αὐτοῦ has been pulled forward by the extra prominence on the ᾠκοδόμησεν. After all, you've just said that "the actions of laying a proper foundation or not are crucial to underscore." I completely agree, and that's exactly what the theory about the effect of the extra prominence of the verb ᾠκοδόμησεν predicts. What makes this example interesting is that the third person oblique pronouns can behave in this way just like their first and second person clitic counterparts.
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