Funk - A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek

Re: Funk - A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic G

Postby MAubrey » July 16th, 2013, 6:39 pm

David M. Miller wrote:
Funk identifies the six basic sentence patterns in hellenistic Greek and describes how all actual Greek sentences are derived, via various transformations, from these six patterns


I really like Funk's approach to syntax, but have always wondered about its theoretical underpinnings. Can someone with a background in linguistics comment on where Funk's theory of 'transformational grammar' (?) fits in the grand scheme of linguistic theory? Has his approach been superseded by more recent developments? Are there weaknesses in the theory that we should be aware of?


Well, the short answer to the first question is that it doesn't. That is to say, the use of the term 'transformations' in this case is not equivalent to a 'theory of transformational grammar.' With that said, Funk's use of the term 'transformation' seems to be limited to the kinds of of transformational rules common in the late 1960s. Funk only uses it with reference to Greek passives, which were the most commonly discussed type of transformation Chomsky's 'Standard Theory' articulated in his Aspects of a theory of syntax in 1967. However, Funk isn't using transformations to deal with divergences in word/constituent order the way mainstream generative grammar does, just the single active-passive alternation. This is a major distinction between his work and all of the mainstream generative tradition. The only non-passive use of the term 'transformation' in Funk is made with reference to English, not Greek ("English It-transformation" in the section on [url="http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/project/funk-grammar/pre-alpha/lesson-45.html"]subordinators[/url])

We can that his approach has been superseded to the extent that:

(1) This perspective on Greek voice has been superceded by the views advocated by a number of prominent members of this forum and published in a variety of places (e.g. Kemmer, 1991; Allan 2003, etc). Beyond that, viewing the active-passive distinction as merely a syntactic alternation that provides no propositional difference in meaning is also highly problematic from a more general linguistic view of things independent of the language.

(2) The idea of describing grammatical alternations as transformations has progressively become less and less accepted over the course of the past two decades. Mainstream generativism is by no means dead, but it isn't as pervasive as it was in years past. Even still, it wouldn't be particularly difficult to frame his 'sentence types' independent of the passive transformation, so it really isn't an issue.

With all of that said, one of the marks of a truly excellent grammar is having a grammatical description that's comprehensible to readers independent of the theoretical framework used. Grammars that depend too heavily on their frameworks tend to become incomprehensible over time. For example, many of the grammars of minority languages written by Wycliffe members using the frame of Tagmemics are virtually impossible to read today. Grammar writing, as a discipline within linguistics, places significant emphasis on being as theory neutral in its presentation of language structure as possible because we want our grammar to continue to be accessible to the next generation. Grammar writing is a communicative act and shouldn't stand or fall on the basis of the theory used. And what makes Funk's work so successful is that he communicates so very well independent of whatever he had in mind theoretically.
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Re: Funk - A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic G

Postby Hefin J. Jones » July 18th, 2013, 2:58 am

As a dabbler in matters greek and linguistic it seems to me that Bloomfieldian Descriptive Linguistics was a bigger influence on BIGHG than Generativism - note the references to Gleason in numerous places in the work.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Alla ... _(linguist)

http://www.glottopedia.org/index.php/H. ... Gleason_Jr.


I always liked BIGHG because he seemed to have far more insight into the structure of greek than any of my instructors (good blokes all of them!!!) or the intermediate grammars I had to use (Wallace) or used anyway (Porter & CFDMoule). Going back to BIGHG very recently has shown me how insightful Funk was. Carl Conrad has registered his preference for Funk's gentle and intelligible use of linguistic metalanguage in comparison to others. Myself, I think that the discipline despite its warring schools does have some fairly stable metalanguage that is becoming ever more normal in standard introductions to modern languages (e.g. the Routlage grammars, and standard handbooks by the likes of Oxford). Funk is still ahead of the game in some respects - especially in Syntax (real Syntax as opposed to what often passes under that name in biblical Greek circles).
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Re: Funk - A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic G

Postby MAubrey » July 18th, 2013, 10:19 am

Hefin J. Jones wrote:As a dabbler in matters greek and linguistic it seems to me that Bloomfieldian Descriptive Linguistics was a bigger influence on BIGHG than Generativism - note the references to Gleason in numerous places in the work.

Good call, that is certainly a definite possibility!
Hefin J. Jones wrote:I always liked BIGHG because he seemed to have far more insight into the structure of greek than any of my instructors (good blokes all of them!!!) or the intermediate grammars I had to use (Wallace) or used anyway (Porter & CFDMoule). Going back to BIGHG very recently has shown me how insightful Funk was. Carl Conrad has registered his preference for Funk's gentle and intelligible use of linguistic metalanguage in comparison to others. Myself, I think that the discipline despite its warring schools does have some fairly stable metalanguage that is becoming ever more normal in standard introductions to modern languages (e.g. the Routlage grammars, and standard handbooks by the likes of Oxford). Funk is still ahead of the game in some respects - especially in Syntax (real Syntax as opposed to what often passes under that name in biblical Greek circles).

Absolutely. The warring schools get all the press, but they has always been a definite divide between the theoretical work (what does language look like in the brain?) and the practical work (how are all languages same or difference?) The latter has been far more stable, especially since the 1980s.
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Re: Funk - A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic G

Postby Ken M. Penner » July 30th, 2013, 3:41 pm

I just received my copy today. It looks great! I'm hoping to teach from it this year.
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Re: Funk - A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic G

Postby Paul-Nitz » November 12th, 2013, 11:36 am

Hefin J. Jones wrote:(real Syntax as opposed to what often passes under that name in biblical Greek circles


What is real syntax? Clue me in.

Ken M. Penner wrote:I just received my copy today. It looks great! I'm hoping to teach from it this year.


Have you been teaching from it?
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Re: Funk - A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic G

Postby Ken M. Penner » November 12th, 2013, 11:40 am

Paul-Nitz wrote:Have you been teaching from it?

No, I didn't get enough student interest this year to teach Greek.
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Re: Funk - A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic G

Postby Hefin J. Jones » November 13th, 2013, 8:41 am

Paul-Nitz wrote:
Hefin J. Jones wrote:(real Syntax as opposed to what often passes under that name in biblical Greek circles


What is real syntax? Clue me in.


Much of what was called syntax in many older and even some current koinē studies is really semantics and pragmatics garbled. Syntax proper is the study of the structure of phrases, clauses etc… Rather neglected until more recently.
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Re: Funk - A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic G

Postby Steve Westfall » February 8th, 2014, 1:08 pm

I still have my copy of the three-volume second-printing edition from 1977, although it now resides in gallon zip-lock bags. I remember my consternation when it started falling apart after I had opened it a few dozen times.

Carl commented on the poor binding of the earlier editions, but I haven't seen any comments on the quality of the binding for the new Polebridge Press edition. Is it robust enough to survive a student's use during a year or two of classes and then find a place in one's library without falling apart?

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Re: Funk - A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic G

Postby Ken M. Penner » February 8th, 2014, 11:00 pm

Steve Westfall wrote: I haven't seen any comments on the quality of the binding for the new Polebridge Press edition. Is it robust enough to survive a student's use during a year or two of classes and then find a place in one's library without falling apart?

I would say yes.
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