Classical Greek Syntax

Wackernagel's Law in Herodotus


Author: David Goldstein
In Classical Greek Syntax: Wackernagel's Law in Herodotus, David Goldstein offers the first theoretically-informed study of second-position clitics in Ancient Greek and challenges the long-standing belief that Greek word order is ‟free” or beyond the reach of systematic analysis. On the basis of Herodotus’ Histories, he demonstrates that there are in fact systematic correspondences between clause structure and meaning. Crucial to this new model of the Greek clause is Wackernagel’s Law, the generalization that enclitics and postpositives occur in ‟second position,” as these classes of words provide a stable anchor for analyzing sentence structure. The results of this work not only restore word order as an interpretive dimension of Greek texts, but also provide a framework for the investigation of other areas of syntax in Greek, as well as archaic Indo-European more broadly.

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David Goldstein Ph.D. (2010), University of California, Berkeley, is Assistant Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he holds a joint appointment in Linguistics and the Program in Indo-European Studies.
With this study, then, Goldstein has shown what Wackernagel’s Law really is in classical Greek (or at least in the prose of Herodotus), and how clitics contribute to our understanding of the structure of a Greek sentence. This is a fascinating and useful study, and a sound basis for further work. - Anne Mahoney, Tufts University, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018.
This book will be of interest to Classicists, Indo-Europeanists, and theoretical linguists.