'Emphasis' & Constituent Order - SIL International
Constituent Order & Emphasis in the Greek New Testament Stephen H. Levinsohn SIL International Constituent Order & Emphasis If the order is judged to be unusual, is it always for emphasis? In fact, commentators use the term emphasis to refer to two very different phenomena. (Levinsohn, The Relevance of Greek Discourse
Studies to Exegesis, 3.1) Constituent Order: Rom 5:8 , . Constituent Order: Rom 5:8 ,
. Syntactic Typology: 1960s Languages classified on statistical grounds according to the relative order of three constituents: subject (S), verb (V) & object (O): SOV (verb-final: Japanese) SVO (verb-medial: English)
VSO (verb-initial: Welsh). Syntactic Typology: 1960s K. J. Dover: in the language of the New Testament, rules of order are much more easily defined in syntactical terms than they are in Classical Greek. (Greek Word Order [CUP, 1960], 68)
Syntactic Typology: 1960s Blass, Debrunner & Funk: in the narrative of the NT, the verb tends to stand immediately after the conjunction. (A Greek Grammar of the New Testament, 472(1)) Syntactic Typology: Nowadays Languages classified according to the relative order of two pairs of constituents: subjectverb & objectverb.
Japanese: SV/OV English: SV/VO Welsh: VS/VO. (Dryer, On the six-way word order typology) Syntactic Typology: Nowadays Functional factors play a key part in the classification of languages. When determining default order, is the subject the propositional topic? In oral English, the subject carries the primary accent only when NOT the topic (e.g. an angel of the Lrd
appeared to themLk 2:9). (Lambrecht, Information Structure, 234-35) Functional Linguists: Simon Dik explains variations in constituent order in Hungarian (narrative sentences often begin with verb), with the template P1 P2 V X (see next slide). (Dik, Functional Grammar, 363) Simon Diks template
P1 P2 V X P1: Position 1 can be occupied by one or more TOPIC constituents. P2: Position 2 can be occupied by a FOCUS constituent. X: Post-verbal constituents. Simon Diks P1 P2 V X template can usefully be applied to both NT Greek and Biblical Hebrew. If it is common in chronologically ordered material (e.g. narratives) for topical subjects expressed as noun (phrase)s to follow the verb,
then classify the language as VS. The Principle of Natural Information Flow When the principle is adhered to, nonverbal constituents that convey more established information are placed before those that convey less established information: more established less established
The Principle of Natural Information Flow Violating the principle gives emphatic prominence to the non-established information that has been placed before the established information. The principle explains many variations in order within sentences, clauses and noun phrases. Constituent Order Variations: Some Factors 1.
2. 3. 4. 5. Is the subject the propositional topic or not? Diks P1 P2 V X template. Principle of Natural Information Flow. Postposing of topical subjects. [if time] Default and marked orders when an auxiliary verb (e.g. , ) is followed by a participial or infinitival clause.]
Topic, Focus and Diks template for VS languages Dik distinguishes between two types of constituent that can be placed before the verb: TOPIC constituents (in P1) FOCUS constituents (in P2). TOPIC & FOCUS: 1 Th 5:9 / / /
TOPIC & FOCUS: 1 Th 5:9 The topic of a clause or sentence is usually its subject. A comment is made about it.* (*English grammars: subject predicate.) / / /
TOPIC & FOCUS: 1 Th 5:9 The focus is the information in the sentence that is assumed by the speaker not to be shared by him [or her] and the hearer (Jackendoff). / / /
1 Th 1:5: TOPIC in P1  , (Constituents in P1 are underlined.)
TOPIC & FOCUS: 1 Th 3:5d 5c 5d . What is 5d about (what is its topic)? (Our effortsNIV). TOPIC & FOCUS: 1 Th 3:5d
5c 5d . What is the comment about (our efforts)? (Might have been uselessNIV) TOPIC & FOCUS: 1 Th 3:5d
5c 5d . What is the focus of 5d? All of the comment: . TOPIC & FOCUS: 1 Th 3:5d
5c 5d . Part of the comment ( ) precedes the verb, so is in P2. TOPIC & FOCUS: 1 Th 5:7a P1
P2 Diks P1 P2 V X template WHY does Greek sometimes place constituents in P1 or P2, rather than after the verb?
Diks template: why in P1? Most constituents in P1 signal switches of attention.* . (we) 7
8 6 Diks template: why in P1?: Acts 1:5 Most constituents in P1 signal switches of attention. ,
. A switch of attention from John to you. (Contrast but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy SpiritNIV.) Diks template: why in P1?: Col 1:20-22 20
, 22 Attention switches from all things to you (who have also been reconciled). (21 begins a new paragraph in NIV 21 with Once.) Diks template: why NOT in P1?
When Paul does NOT want attention to switch to the new subject, then the subject follows the verb. 9 8
Diks template: why in P2? Constituents in P2 are there for prominence. Most commonly, the prominence is contrastive or truly emphatic. Emphasis proper involves expressing strong feelings about an item or indicating that what follows is unexpected. In P2 for contrastive prominence
8 / 7 (1 Th 5:7-8) and are in In P2 for emphatic prominence
(1 Th 3:5d) By placing in P2, Paul emphasises his concern that our efforts might have been useless (NIV). In P2 to highlight what follows , [
] (1 Th 4:15) Placing cataphoric in P2 high- In P2 to highlight what follows NIV often fails to convey the highlighting associated with cataphoric .
According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. Let me explain (this is the word of the Lord Im speaking to you!). We who are alive (Wright) P2 and Split Constituents When a coordinative constituent is focally prominent, it is common
for only the first part to be in P2. , (1 Th 1:6a) P2 and Split Constituents Complex focal constituents can also be split because the two parts are unequally relevant.
, , (1 Th 2:14)) The bolded constituent is probably split because only the second part Diks P1 P2 V X template: Summary WHY does Greek sometimes place
constituents in P1 or P2, rather than after the verb? Most constituents in P1 signal switches of attention. Constituents in P2 are there for prominence (most often, contrastive or emphatic). Principle of Natural Information Flow Application to clauses and sentences. When the principle is adhered to,
non-verbal constituents that convey more established information are placed before those that convey less established information: more established less established Principle of Natural Information Flow more established less established Pronominal constituents usually precede nominal ones. / / /
(1 Th 5:9a) Topical subjects usually precede nonverbal constituents of the comment (with objects [arguments] typically before peripheral constituents). Principle of Natural Information Flow
Adhering to the Principle may result in unexpected orders of constituents: postposed subjects, postposed verbs, postposed objects. Dominant focal element (DFE) Adhering to the Principle of Natural Information Flow / (1 Th 4:6a)
The direct object ( less established information) has been postposed after the Adhering to the Principle of Natural Information Flow (Ja 2:2)
The subject ( ) is not the topic of the conditional clause, but is focal. Principle of Natural Information Flow: Dominant Focal Element ,
/ / / [DFE]DFE] (1 Th 1:6) Violating the Principle of Natural Information Flow gives prominence to the nonestablished information that has been placed before the established information. This is usually done by placing the constituent before the verb, in P2.
Violating the Principle of Natural Information Flow Explicit violation of the Principle: non-established established* verb. 1 Th 2:8c: P2 established verb
. 1 Th 2:10: P2 established verb Violating the Principle of Natural Information Flow
Explicit violation of the Principle: non-established - established verb. Explicit violations of the Principle show that the author feels particularly strongly about what he is emphasising. Violating the Principle of Natural Information Flow
quite common in identificational clauses such as information interrogatives, in which all but the question word is the presupposition, and the question word itself is the focus. , ; (Gal 3:1; rhetorical) ;
Violating the Principle of Natural Information Flow in clauses that begin with the copula when a topical subject is placed after the complement. . (Ac 23:13) The subject relates back to 12 (
), so is established Violating the Principle of Natural Information Flow within a phrase results in the preposed part being given prominence. 6 7
(1 Th 2:6, 7) Principle of Natural Information Flow: First Attributive Position An adjective in first attributive position (Art Adj N) receives greater emphasis than the substantive (Wallace 1995).
Exceptions relate to the Principle of Natural Information Flow (Levinsohn, A Fresh Look at Adjective Noun Ordering in Articular Noun Phrases). Principle of Natural Information Flow: First Attributive Position (Mt 5:30)
The order of adjective and noun conforms to the Principle of Natural Information Flow because featured in 29 ( ), whereas did not. The order is: more established - less established, so does NOT receive greater emphasis than . Principle of Natural Information Flow: First Attributive Position
(Mt 7:17) The order of adjective and noun violates the Principle of Natural Information Flow because featured earlier in 17 ( ), unlike : less established - more established Such a violation gives contrastive prominence; the contrast with
is emphasised. Principle of Natural Information Flow: Summary When the principle is adhered to, the order is: more established less established When the principle is violated (less established more established)
prominence is given to the less established information. Ambiguous orders Especially problematic with sentences of only two words or phrases. , 17 , 18 (1 Th
16 5:16-18) Is the first word/phrase in P2 OR has the verb been postposed? Ambiguous orders: 1 Th 5:16 , Which word is prominent: Be joyful always (
) Always be joyful ( )? If anarthrous, I usually consider the first constituent to be in P2. Ambiguous orders: 1 Th 2:15 a
b , c d In b-d, which word or phrase is
prominent: the verb or the constituent that precedes it? Postposed topical subjects (Acts 23:13) When presenting an event, postposing the subject typically selects from the cast of active participants the one who is the centre of attention for the next part of the story (Concentrate on this character!). Postposed topical subjects
Concentrate on this character! (Jn 4:28; the woman, rather than Jesus or his disciples) (Ac 15:36; Paul, rather than Barnabas)
Postposed topical subjects When the subject of an active verb is postposed, the event concerned is usually in chronological sequence with the last one described. Contrast subjects in P1: signalling a switch of attention, not chronological sequence. Postposed topical subjects
(Lk 1:49: Magnificat, not narrative). In 48, Mary takes up Elizabeths words of 42: . As she states why this will be so (), she switches the hearers attention from herself to the Almighty (the centre of attention for the rest of the song)!
Postposed topical subjects Occasionally, the motivation for postposing a topical subject seems to mark the end of a unit that concerns that topic. (Mk 8:12) brings discussion of the sign that the Pharisees had requested (11) to a close.
Application to Rom 5:8 , b c . a 8a: what is unusual about the order? The topical subject, , has been postposedcontrastive
prominence. Application to Rom 5:8 , b c . 8b: why does come a before the verb?
P2; contrasts with a righteous man and a good man in 7; adds to the surprising nature of this statement: emphasis. Application to Rom 5:8 , b
c . 8b + c: double contrast with 6-7: s versus Christ; rightous & good men versus sinners. Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Barclay). a Application to Rom 5:8 , b
c . How do we explain the order of 8bc? is in P2 in relation to 8c (8b-c is presupposed information from 6). a Application to Rom 5:8 a ,
[ ] * . b-c It was [while we were still sinners] that Christ* died for us. (*Refocus on Christ [anarthrous]; all the
Constituent Order Variations: Some Factors: Review 1. Whether the subject is the propositional topic or is focal. 2. Diks P1 P2 V X template. 3.
Orders that adhere to versus violate the Principle of Natural Information Flow. 4. Postposing of topical subjects. Default order in constructions with an auxiliary verb Default position of topical subjects: between the auxiliary
and the participle (Levinsohn, Constituent Order in and Usages of - Participle Combinations in the Synoptics and Acts, 2). (Lk 1:21) Default order in constructions with an auxiliary verb Typologically, Aux S - V as default is
not surprising for a VS language. S infinitive. (Mt 17:22) Default order in constructions with an auxiliary verb S infinitive
(Mt 4):17) S - participle (Mt 11:1) Default order in constructions with an auxiliary verb
- notional S - infinitive (Jn 3:7) (Mt 16:21; in P2 relative to )
References Dik, Simon C., The Theory of Functional Grammar, Part I: The Structure of the Clause (Foris, 1989). Dryer, Matthew S., On the six-way word order typology, Studies in Language 21.2 (1997) 69-103.
Lambrecht, Knud, Information Structure and Sentence Form: Topic, Focus, and the Mental Representations of Discourse Referents (CUP, 1994). References (continued) Levinsohn, Stephen H., The Relevance of Greek Discourse Studies to Exegesis, Journal of Translation 2.2 (2006). , A Fresh Look at Adjective Noun
Ordering in Articular Noun Phrases, paper presented at July 2011 meeting of SBL, London; online at www.sil.org/~levinsohns, Unpublished Conference Papers page. References (continued) , Constituent Order in and Usages of Participle Combinations in the Synoptics and Acts, paper presented at the Congress of the International Syriac Language Project, Munich, Germany, August 2013. (To
appear in Perspectives on Linguistics and Ancient Languages 5.)
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