Word order and emphasis in Acts 2:39

Word order and emphasis in Acts 2:39

Postby D Ryan Lowe » December 28th, 2012, 2:29 pm

ὑμῖν γάρ ἐστιν ἡ ἐπαγγελία καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν καὶ πᾶσιν τοῖς εἰς μακράν, ὅσους ἂν προσκαλέσηται κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν.

What is the expected word order of this sentence, what what is emphasized in the current word order?

I'm trying to learn discourse analysis from Steven Runge's book Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament. His High Definition New Testament has for you and for your children and for all who are far off in bold, but it seems to me that since only ὑμῖν is before the verb, and the expected word order is that it should after the verb, that only for you should be considered emphasized.
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Re: Word order and emphasis in Acts 2:39

Postby Stephen Carlson » December 28th, 2012, 4:14 pm

I don't have Runge's High Definition New Testament. How does he explain the meaning of his bolding?
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Re: Word order and emphasis in Acts 2:39

Postby serunge » December 29th, 2012, 3:23 am

D Ryan Lowe wrote:ὑμῖν γάρ ἐστιν ἡ ἐπαγγελία καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν καὶ πᾶσιν τοῖς εἰς μακράν, ὅσους ἂν προσκαλέσηται κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν.

What is the expected word order of this sentence, what what is emphasized in the current word order?

I'm trying to learn discourse analysis from Steven Runge's book Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament. His High Definition New Testament has for you and for your children and for all who are far off in bold, but it seems to me that since only ὑμῖν is before the verb, and the expected word order is that it should after the verb, that only for you should be considered emphasized.


Hi Ryan,

Generally speaking you are correct. In this case there is a compound indirect object which is the most salient part of the clause. Only one part is fronted, which can mean it is the more salient of the two, or that the whole is too complex to front in its entirety. The latter is the case here ( see Levinsohn 2000:57-60 on split constituents).

If you hover over the latter half in the Lexham Discourse Greek NT it is labeled "main clause emphasis-other." This indicates some factor other than simple word order affected the judgment, i.e. a split constituent in marked focus. Here is the relevant portion from the glossary: "Alternatively, if only one portion of a clause element is fronted for emphasis’ sake, the remainder of this element also receives emphasis by virtue of its grammatical relation to the fronted portion."

Hope that helps,

Steve
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Re: Word order and emphasis in Acts 2:39

Postby RandallButh » December 29th, 2012, 1:12 pm

Ryan, it may also help in the future to remember that "emphasis" works in two different ways, one of which is not "emphatic" in the colloquial English sense.
A fronted piece of a sentence is marked, which by itself is neutral.
The marked piece of the sentence may be the salient piece of the sentence, carrying the main point, and therefore "Focus".
Or it may be contextual and organizational, providing a framework for relating to the context and then a different piece of the sentence will carry the main point, salient information.

In Acts 2.39 the "promise" relates to the larger context and is not marked, while the salient information is "you", along with the heavy expansion of "you" that follows: "...your children, all who ... , and ...". So "you" is marked for Focus. As Steve explained, the further expansion of the dative ("...your children, and all who...") shares in the Focus even though it is not marked itself.
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Re: Word order and emphasis in Acts 2:39

Postby D Ryan Lowe » December 30th, 2012, 4:01 am

Stephen Carlson, bold type in the High Definition New Testament indicates emphasis.

Randall Buth, I am using Runge's definition of emphasis. As I understand it, Runge categorizes elements that appear in a focus position as "frames of reference" or "emphasis" (Runge 2010:269). Emphasized elements, which Runge marks in bold, are a subset of elements in a focus position, and is emphatic in the colloquial English sense.

Steve Runge, thank you for the reply! And thank you for writing a fantastic discourse grammar.

Are there any guidelines on determining whether the fronted part is the more salient part, or whether the whole clause is too complex? Is this something you would determine based on context? Or based on the overall size of the clause?
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Re: Word order and emphasis in Acts 2:39

Postby Stephen Carlson » December 30th, 2012, 5:27 am

D Ryan Lowe wrote:As I understand it, Runge categorizes elements that appear in a focus position as "frames of reference" or "emphasis" (Runge 2010:269). Emphasized elements, which Runge marks in bold, are a subset of elements in a focus position, and is emphatic in the colloquial English sense.


Maybe Steve can correct me, but I have a different understanding (unfortunately his book at the office and I'm at home now). I think Runge uses "emphasis" as a synonym for focus (but I can't remember). It does not really make sense to have a "frame of reference" in "focus position," because frame of reference (topic) and focus are two different things. Both of them lie in a pre-verbal position, but the "focus position" is a pre-verbal position after the frame of reference, or, in other words, a position between the frame of reference and the verb.

It gets a little more complicated because unemphasized elements, such as pronominal and clausal clitics, and in your example ἐστιν (I know, a verb), tend to land in second position, regardless of information structure (though their phonologically unemphasized state implies that they are not in focus)..

D Ryan Lowe wrote:Are there any guidelines on determining whether the fronted part is the more salient part, or whether the whole clause is too complex? Is this something you would determine based on context? Or based on the overall size of the clause?


As I understand it, even when the whole clause is too complex to be fronted (generally at least two phonological words) and there's a split constituent ("hyperbaton" as the classicists would call it), the front part is the most salient.
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Re: Word order and emphasis in Acts 2:39

Postby RandallButh » December 31st, 2012, 2:32 am

stefanos egrapsen
It does not really make sense to have a "frame of reference" in "focus position," because frame of reference (topic) and focus are two different things. Both of them lie in a pre-verbal position, but the "focus position" is a pre-verbal position after the frame of reference, or, in other words, a position between the frame of reference and the verb.


Stephen, that is generally true, both in Greek and across languages. However, Greek is something of a rare bird in this because it sometimes has things 'against the grain', that is, a Focal constituent will precede a 'frame of reference'. Maybe Steve R has a tagged text that can spit out a half dozen examples to illustrate this.

Ryan, you may ask 'how' does one tell the difference between such 'against the grain' Focus->Topic(frame of reference) orders from the more expected and more usual Topic(Frame of reference) -> Focus order? Basically, by weighing the word order against the salient/new/less-predictable information of the sentence constituents. Yes, this means that things sometimes become ambiguous and capable of more than one "reading". Ambiguity, of course, is normal in language, and explains why poetry readings at Tuesday night coffee gatherings can sometimes have more than one good reading of the same text (in most languages).
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Re: Word order and emphasis in Acts 2:39

Postby serunge » December 31st, 2012, 2:37 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
D Ryan Lowe wrote:As I understand it, Runge categorizes elements that appear in a focus position as "frames of reference" or "emphasis" (Runge 2010:269). Emphasized elements, which Runge marks in bold, are a subset of elements in a focus position, and is emphatic in the colloquial English sense.


Maybe Steve can correct me, but I have a different understanding (unfortunately his book at the office and I'm at home now). I think Runge uses "emphasis" as a synonym for focus (but I can't remember). It does not really make sense to have a "frame of reference" in "focus position," because frame of reference (topic) and focus are two different things. Both of them lie in a pre-verbal position, but the "focus position" is a pre-verbal position after the frame of reference, or, in other words, a position between the frame of reference and the verb.

It gets a little more complicated because unemphasized elements, such as pronominal and clausal clitics, and in your example ἐστιν (I know, a verb), tend to land in second position, regardless of information structure (though their phonologically unemphasized state implies that they are not in focus)..

D Ryan Lowe wrote:Are there any guidelines on determining whether the fronted part is the more salient part, or whether the whole clause is too complex? Is this something you would determine based on context? Or based on the overall size of the clause?


As I understand it, even when the whole clause is too complex to be fronted (generally at least two phonological words) and there's a split constituent ("hyperbaton" as the classicists would call it), the front part is the most salient.


Dr. Carlson is correct on all counts. Terminology is a pain, but it is important. I am fighting my own learning curve at the moment reading my way into the New Perspective on Paul. Focus, from the standpoint of information structure, refers to newly asserted info, not position in the clause. I restrict the term emphasis to focal information in a marked position, typically before the verb. However, placing non-focal info (established or inferable from the context) in a marked position has a different effect. This is what Randall describes as a contextualizing constituent, what Levinsohn calls a point of departure, and what the discourse grammar refers to as frames of reference. The pure verbal position can add prominence to information, but its status (newly asserted vs. established/inferable) is the determining factor between CCs/PoDs/Frames vs. marked focus/emphasis.

Regarding the split constituents, the fronted part is prototypically more salient, the other is riding on the coat tails, so to speak.
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Re: Word order and emphasis in Acts 2:39

Postby Stephen Carlson » December 31st, 2012, 7:36 am

RandallButh wrote:Stephen, that is generally true, both in Greek and across languages. However, Greek is something of a rare bird in this because it sometimes has things 'against the grain', that is, a Focal constituent will precede a 'frame of reference'. Maybe Steve R has a tagged text that can spit out a half dozen examples to illustrate this.


Thanks, Randy. I would love to see some examples of this. I'm not aware of any, but I don't any theoretical objection to it either.
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Re: Word order and emphasis in Acts 2:39

Postby Stirling Bartholomew » January 1st, 2013, 3:37 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
RandallButh wrote:Stephen, that is generally true, both in Greek and across languages. However, Greek is something of a rare bird in this because it sometimes has things 'against the grain', that is, a Focal constituent will precede a 'frame of reference'. Maybe Steve R has a tagged text that can spit out a half dozen examples to illustrate this.


Thanks, Randy. I would love to see some examples of this. I'm not aware of any, but I don't any theoretical objection to it either.



preverbal focus & setting constituents

Towards the beginning of his discussion of Points of Departure Levinsohn 2000:9 cites Matt. 6:2a Ὅταν οὖν ποιῇς ἐλεημοσύνην, μὴ σαλπίσῃς ἔμπροσθέν σου. The conditional Ὅταν clause is according to Levinsohn a point of departure. Helma Dik 2007:36-37 in her discussion of preverbal Setting constituents[1] chooses to exclude from her her definition of Settings anything which could be considered a clause in its own right, e.g., genitive absolutes, adverbial clauses, etc.

In his discussion of preverbal focus constituents Levinsohn 2000:37 cites James 1:2 Πᾶσαν χαρὰν ἡγήσασθε, ἀδελφοί μου, ὅταν πειρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις. He marks Πᾶσαν χαρὰν as the focus constituent but does not consider the conditional ὅταν clause a Point of Departure. I would assume that the position of the ὅταν clause is the reason for not calling it a Point of Departure.

I have not found an example of a focus constituent followed by a point of departure both in front of the main verb in the same clause. I am not saying this does not happen. However, Levinsohn 2000:37 states "Any point of departure that is present will preceed any preverbal focal constituent" (italics in original). So perhaps we have a disagreement between Levinsohn and Buth?

I am tempted to depart both from Levinsohn and Helma Dik and suggest that the James 1:2b ὅταν clause functions as a contextualizer. My notion of a contextualizer includes clauses and does not depend on position relative to the clause being contextualized. So my contextualizer is not equal to Levinsohn's point of departure or Helma Dik's Setting.



[1] Helma Dik’s framework is only vaguely similar to Levinsohn’s, differences abound. Setting constituents are similar in some respects to Points of Departure, contextualizers, whatever.
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