Mk 1:10 prenuclear participles NOT "points of departure"

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Stirling Bartholomew
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Mk 1:10 prenuclear participles NOT "points of departure"

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » September 25th, 2015, 3:54 pm

Levinsohn (2000:187 §11.1.3) explicitly excludes prenuclear participles from his treatment of "points of departure" because they do not signal discontinuities. He admits that prenuclear nominative participles may introduce some change in circumstances and that genitive absolutes signal change of subject. This is one reason I have not adopted "points of departure." The definition for "points of departure" (Levinsohn 2012:38) makes no mention of discontinuities:
Definition:
The term POINT OF DEPARTURE designates an element that is placed at the beginning of a clause or sentence with a dual function.
1. It establishes a starting point for the communication; and
2. It “cohesively anchors the subsequent clause(s) to something which is already in the context (i.e. to something accessible in the hearer’s mental representation).” (Dooley & Levinsohn 2001:68)
What I call a contextualizer fits this description more or less. But I break company with POINT OF DEPARTURE over the issue of discontinuity. I think it is useful to talk about constituents in front of the nuclear clause that relate what follows to the context. Marking discontinuity is a different issue from contextualizing[1] and I don't consider it useful to bundle the two concepts.
Mark 1:8 ἐγὼ ἐβάπτισα ὑμᾶς ὕδατι, αὐτὸς δὲ βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ. 9 Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις ἦλθεν Ἰησοῦς ἀπὸ Ναζαρὲτ τῆς Γαλιλαίας καὶ ἐβαπτίσθη εἰς τὸν Ἰορδάνην ὑπὸ Ἰωάννου. 10 καὶ εὐθὺς ἀναβαίνων ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος εἶδεν σχιζομένους τοὺς οὐρανοὺς καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα ὡς περιστερὰν καταβαῖνον εἰς αὐτόν· 11 καὶ φωνὴ ἐγένετο ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν· σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν σοὶ εὐδόκησα. 12 Καὶ εὐθὺς τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτὸν ἐκβάλλει εἰς τὴν ἔρημον. 13 καὶ ἦν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσεράκοντα ἡμέρας πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ σατανᾶ, καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων, καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ. 14 Μετὰ δὲ τὸ παραδοθῆναι τὸν Ἰωάννην ἦλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ
Mark 1:10 is an example ἀναβαίνων ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος ties the vision εἶδεν σχιζομένους τοὺς οὐρανοὺς to the baptism.

This issue came up while I was exploring the question of discourse prominence and participles. In Mark 1:10 ἀναβαίνων ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος is "background" for εἶδεν σχιζομένους … καταβαῖνον, where the participles in the vision form a linear time sequence. The vision is an embedded narrative. Not sure if the voice φωνὴ ἐγένετο in verse 11 is part of the embedded vision narrative or on the same level with εἶδεν. I lean toward the later analysis. The vision and the voice are very important to the narrative.

[1] I don't think my definition of contextualizers is identical to Randall Buth's. Yesterday I read his paper on the verbless clause in Hebrew. At times he seems to be talking about discontinuity and sometimes entire clauses function as contextualizers. I have no problem with entire clauses but I think Randall is doing something subtle that I haven't as yet figured out. See: Buth, Randall. Word order in the verbless clause: A generative-functional approach. In The Verbless Clause in Biblical Hebrew, edited by Cynthia L. Miller, 79-108. Winona Lake IN: Eisenbrauns. http://www.biblicallanguagecenter.com/w ... h-1999.pdf
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Mk 1:10 prenuclear participles NOT "points of departure"

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » September 28th, 2015, 3:20 pm

After spending more time reviewing "points of departure" in several publications I am getting a little closer to understanding what Buth and Levinsohn are actually talking about. I haven't given this much though recently so a review of the publications nudged me to new level which might be described as a level of less-misunderstanding rather than comprehension.
Stirling Bartholomew wrote:Levinsohn (2000:187 §11.1.3) explicitly excludes prenuclear participles from his treatment of "points of departure" because they do not signal discontinuities. He admits that prenuclear nominative participles may introduce some change in circumstances and that genitive absolutes signal change of subject. This is one reason I have not adopted "points of departure." The definition for "points of departure" (Levinsohn 2012:38) makes no mention of discontinuities:
Definition:
The term POINT OF DEPARTURE designates an element that is placed at the beginning of a clause or sentence with a dual function.
1. It establishes a starting point for the communication; and
2. It “cohesively anchors the subsequent clause(s) to something which is already in the context (i.e. to something accessible in the hearer’s mental representation).” (Dooley & "points of departure" 2001:68)
What isn't perfectly clear in this definition is the internal structure of "points of departure." The concept is not linked to any particular grammatical/syntactical pattern. In includes discontinuities of several types marked by a variety of clause initial constituents which may or may not be the topic in accord with a topic-comment framework. This isn't nearly as clear in Levinsohn 2000 as it is in Levinsohn 2007/2012[1]. Buth 1999 was talking about just one kind of "contextualizer" whereas Levinsohn covers the entire spectrum of "points of departure." This potentially causes confusion, it did for me anyway. In section 3 of Levinsohn 2007/2012[1] the discussion is broken down under: temporal point of departure, situational points of departure, spatial point of departure, referential points of departure, spacers, left-dislocation and so forth. Grasping the abstract nature of the concept POINT OF DEPARTURE is essential to making progress with both Buth's and Levinsohn's publications on this topic.

[1] SELF-INSTRUCTION MATERIALS on NARRATIVE DISCOURSE ANALYSIS Stephen H. Levinsohn SIL International © 2012 by SIL http://www-01.sil.org/~levinsohns/narr.pdf
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Mk 1:10 prenuclear participles NOT "points of departure"

Post by Stephen Carlson » September 29th, 2015, 2:08 am

Where does Levinsohn get the term "point of departure" from? Halliday?
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Mk 1:10 prenuclear participles NOT "points of departure"

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » September 29th, 2015, 12:01 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Where does Levinsohn get the term "point of departure" from? Halliday?
Stephen,

Levinsohn does cite Halliday on other topics but "point of departure" appears to come from Garvin's[1] translation of Beneš 1962 [2]:
Other linguists, however, recognise that points of departure are as much backward- as forward-looking (see, for example, Givón 1990:847). In other words, such constituents have a bi-directional function:
 to serve as a starting point for the communication, and
 to provide the primary basis for relating a sentence to its context or mental representation.
This insight should probably be credited to Beneš. Back in 1962, he referred to such a constituent as the “basis” which, “serving as a point of departure for the communication, is directly linked to the context” (as translated by Garvin 1963:508). Levinsohn 2012:40 [3]

[1] Garvin, P. L. 1963. Czechoslovakia. In Current Trends in Linguistics, edited by T. E. Sebeok, 1:499-522. The Hague: Mouton.

[2] Beneš, E. 1962. Die Verbstellung im Deutschen, von der Mitteilungsperspektive her betrachtet. Philologica Pragensia 5:6-19.

[3] SELF-INSTRUCTION MATERIALS on NARRATIVE DISCOURSE ANALYSIS Stephen H. Levinsohn SIL International © 2012 by SIL http://www-01.sil.org/~levinsohns/narr.pdf
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Mk 1:10 prenuclear participles NOT "points of departure"

Post by Stephen Carlson » September 29th, 2015, 5:54 pm

Thanks. I think Halliday is doing something similar: using (an informal) "point of departure" to define his Theme. What I think Levinsohn is doing is converting the explicans of his predecessors into an explicandum: he makes point of departure a term in and of itself. Perhaps he does so in order to nuance the notion further. If I recall his discussion correctly, he makes so much of the (implicit?) requirement that there is a discontinuity that theme elements at the beginning of text cannot be a "point of departure" in his scheme because there is nothing preceding it to contrast with. Yet, it is at the very beginning of a text that one often expects orientating and contextualizing expressions, in other words, prototypical themes and settings.

In my view, Levinsohn is best at recognizing the importance of preceding work on (essentially) information structure and its application to our texts. He is also good at teaching them to us. But his own attempts at refining the concepts and renaming them have not been as successful in my opinion. His point of departure is a case in point; I think his view of δέ as a "development" marker is another.

Getting the notions right is hard, exacting work. He is to be commended for advancing the discussion even if his particular proposals may leave something to be desidered. (In fact, I suspect that everyone's proposals have something to criticize.)
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

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