Preposed Verb-initial Units

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Stirling Bartholomew
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Preposed Verb-initial Units

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » September 19th, 2018, 12:59 pm

A fact that has often gone unremarked in previous analyses of clause-initial verbs
in Greek is that many such verbs are fronted along with additional material: that
is, initial verbs can be followed by one or more other constituents or subconstituents
with which they appear to form a unit. Such units are definable in both
informational and prosodic terms. Understanding the functions of initial verbs, as
I hope to show in this study, requires an understanding both of these additional
elements and of the function of these units as a whole.
I will refer to such initial units—both those consisting of a verb by itself and
those consisting of a verb followed by one or more other elements—as ‘preposed
verb-initial units’ or PVUs.

Tom Recht, “Verb-Initial Clauses in Ancient Greek Prose: A Discourse-Pragmatic Study” (Ph.D. diss., UCLA, 2015, Ch.3, page 39 (pdf p.47).

PDF available from Berkeley or Stanford.
Reading this again after a year or two, I am only beginning to comprehend what Tom Recht is doing here. I have a lot of lingering doubts about the viability of his project. His claim to be taking a non-syntactic approach to the subject sounds rather strange. He breaks down the sub classes of Preposed Verb-initial Units by syntactic categories, how is that non-syntactic? I am wondering what sort of analysis he is trying to accomplish. He says "Such units are definable in both informational and prosodic terms" which appears to address my question, but I am still uncertain as to what this discussion is actually about. Take a look at CH. 3.3.1
The status of non-verbal elements in PVUs

The inventory just given has shown that the conditions licensing inclusion of nonverbal elements in a PVU cannot be syntactic, as all kinds of syntactic material can appear in PVUs. Rather, these conditions are discourse-pragmatic. Specifically, I argue that the inclusion of non-verbal elements in a PVU is licensed by the following discourse-pragmatic criterion:
The referents of non-verbal elements in a PVU must either (a) be
discourse-active or discourse-inferable, or (b) form part of an introduced
topic together with the verb. Stated otherwise, they must be
part of the common ground, either (a) actually, or (b) by requested
accommodation.
This criterion holds for all PVUs in my corpus.
Mystifying discussion as if PVU were some sort of established entity which hasn't been proven.
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C. Stirling Bartholomew

MAubrey
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Re: Preposed Verb-initial Units

Post by MAubrey » September 19th, 2018, 3:58 pm

I haven't read it, but if he's talking about Verb+clitic (or well, anything+clitic), then there are a number of established terms: "phonological word", for example. I've been convinced for a while that discussions of word order/constituent order that only looks at grammatical words rather than phonological ones (i.e. prosodic units) is inherently flawed.
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Mike Aubrey, Linguist
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Preposed Verb-initial Units

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » September 19th, 2018, 5:47 pm

MAubrey wrote:
September 19th, 2018, 3:58 pm
I haven't read it, but if he's talking about Verb+clitic (or well, anything+clitic), then there are a number of established terms: "phonological word", for example. I've been convinced for a while that discussions of word order/constituent order that only looks at grammatical words rather than phonological ones (i.e. prosodic units) is inherently flawed.
Mike,

I thought perhaps there were some aspects of Tom Recht's paper that sounded similar things you have shown an interest in. I am pretty clueless about arguments concerning sound patterns and anything clitic. I am open to reading about it but at my age it may be lost cause to learn anything new.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Preposed Verb-initial Units

Post by Stephen Carlson » September 20th, 2018, 6:39 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve read Recht, and his dissertation convinced me that post-verbal focus was a thing in Greek.

By “non-syntactic” he means that the PVU need not be a (full) syntactic constituent. It may not seem like a big deal to those used to Greek hyperbaton and other forms of “discontiguous” constituents, but it’s a signal to linguists that he’s not interested in the typical generative grammar mechanisms of movement.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Preposed Verb-initial Units

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » September 21st, 2018, 1:11 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
September 20th, 2018, 6:39 pm
It’s been a while since I’ve read Recht, and his dissertation convinced me that post-verbal focus was a thing in Greek.

By “non-syntactic” he means that the PVU need not be a (full) syntactic constituent. It may not seem like a big deal to those used to Greek hyperbaton and other forms of “discontiguous” constituents, but it’s a signal to linguists that he’s not interested in the typical generative grammar mechanisms of movement.
I got bogged down in the middle of the dissertation. Couldn't see the forest for the trees. Skipped ahead to Chapter 6 Further implications to see if the big picture would become clear. There seems to be too many frameworks active here at the same time. Half of the bibliography are works that I am familiar with. The other half have to do with sound patterns which is an approach I have avoided like the plague. To participate in that discussion one needs to read at least several of the following works:
Devine, A. M., and L. D. Stephens. 1990. ‘The Greek phonological phrase’. Greek,
Roman, and Byzantine Studies 31:421-446.
——. 1994. The prosody of Greek speech. Oxford University Press.
——. 1999. Discontinuous syntax: Hyperbaton in Greek. Oxford University Press.

Fraenkel, Eduard. 1932. ‘Kolon und Satz, I: Beobachtungen zur Gliederung des
antiken Satzes’. Nachrichten der Göttinger Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften,
Phil.-hist. Klasse, 197-213.
——. 1933. ‘Kolon und Satz, II: Beobachtungen zur Gliederung des antiken
Satzes’. Nachrichten der Göttinger Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, Phil.-hist.
Klasse, 319
——. 1964. ‘Nachträge zu “Kolon und Satz”’, in Kleine Beiträge zur klassischen
Philologie, vol. 1, pp. 93-130. Rome: Storia e Letteratura.
——. 1965. Noch einmal Kolon und Satz. Munich: Bayerische Akademie der
Wissenschaften.

Goldstein, David Michael. 2010. Wackernagel’s Law in fifth-century Greek. Ph. D.
dissertation, Dept. of Classics, University of California, Berkeley.
——. 2012. ‘Review of Frank Scheppers, The Colon Hypothesis: Word Order,
Discourse Segmentation and Discourse Coherence in Ancient Greek (Brussels
2011).’ Bryn Mawr Classical Review 05.49.
——. 2013. ‘Wackernagel’s Law and the Fall of the Lydian Empire’. Transactions
of the American Philological Association 143:2.325-347.
——. 2015. Classical Greek syntax: Wackernagel’s Law in Herodotus. Leiden: Brill.
Golston, Chris. 1995. ‘Syntax outranks phonology: Evidence from Ancient Greek’.
Phonology 12:3.343-368.

Janse, Mark. 1993. ‘The prosodic basis of Wackernagel’s Law.’. In Les langues
menacées. Actes du XVe Congrès international des linguistes, Québec, Université
Laval, 9-14 août 1992, Vol. 4, ed. A. Crochetière, J.-C. Boulanger, and C.
Ouellon, pp. 19–22. Sainte-Foy: Presses de l’Université Laval.
——. 1994. ‘L’ordre des mots dans les langues classiques. Bibliographie 1939-
1993.’ Techniques et Méthodologies Modernes Appliqueés à l’Antiquité 1:187-
211.

Scheppers, Frank. 2011. The colon hypothesis: Word order, discourse segmentation
and discourse coherence in Ancient Greek. Brussels: VUBPress.

Selkirk, Elizabeth. 1995. ‘Sentence prosody: Intonation, stress,and phrasing.’ In
Handbook of Phonological Theory, vol. 1, ed. John A. Goldsmith, pp. 550-
140 569. Blackwell.
I have at some time looked at

Devine, A. M., and L. D. Stephens. 1990.
——. 1999. Discontinuous syntax: Hyperbaton in Greek. Oxford University Press.

Scheppers, Frank. 2011. The colon hypothesis: Word order, discourse segmentation and discourse coherence in Ancient Greek.

Goldstein, David Michael.
——. 2012. ‘Review of Frank Scheppers, The Colon Hypothesis: ...

That is not enough.
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C. Stirling Bartholomew

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