The semantics of the later Koine Greek perfect have been the subject of considerable debate in recent years. For the immediately post-Classical language Haug (2004) has suggested that the perfect combines resultant state and XN semantics, unifiable under the framework of event realisation (Bohnemeyer & Swift 2004). The present article presents a modified unitary semantic in terms of participant property (Smith 1997), and assesses its validity with reference to the translation of the perfect indicative active into Gothic. It is found that, while non-state verbs are translated only with past-tense forms in Gothic, contrary to traditional and even many modern views of the Greek perfect, the perfect of both pure state and change-of-state verbs are compatible with both past and non-past tense readings. The fact that this is the case regardless of the diachronic pedigree of the perfect forms concerned is taken as evidence consistent with the existence of the proposed unitary semantic for the Greek perfect in the New Testament in the eyes of the Gothic translator.
In this contribution, I offer a summary of my 2014 Ph.D. dissertation from the University of Patras on headedness in word formation and lexical semantics.
In this paper I argue that Ancient Greek has two distinct strategies for relative clause formation, corresponding to what is known in typology as externally and internally headed relative clauses. Furthermore, I explore two differences between these constructions. First, in comparison with their external counterparts, internal constructions are more restricted semantically. They can only be interpreted as restrictive relative clauses, while external constructions can also be interpreted as non-restrictive. Second, internal constructions are more restricted syntactically, given that they are not used when the domain nominal is subject in the relative clause. For external constructions there is no such syntactic restriction. Finally, I point out a number of convergences between internal relative clauses and noun phrases with an attributive participle. The findings presented in this paper are based on a study of Xenophon.
In this contribution, I offer a summary of my 2013 University of Patras Ph.D. dissertation on compounding in Modern Greek and German.
The Late Medieval Greek “vernacular” (12th–15th c.) is one of the least studied stages of the history of the Greek language. The lack of interest by linguists can presumably be ascribed to its major source, i.e. metrical πολιτικὸς στίχος poetry. The language of this type of poetry has been labelled a “Kunstsprache”, because of its oral-formulaic character and because of its mixed idiom incorporating vernacular yet also archaizing elements. In this article, however, I demonstrate that the Late Medieval Greek πολιτικὸς στίχος poetry should not automatically be excluded from linguistic research, given that it clearly possesses a strongly vernacular, i.e. spoken, syntactic base: its underlying syntax runs in a very natural way. This is proven by the fact that we can apply the modern linguistic concept of the Intonation Unit, the basic unit of analysis in contemporary spoken(!) languages, to the texts composed in the πολιτικὸς στίχος: far from having an artificial syntax, the πολιτικὸς στίχος poetry is conceptually made up of short, simple “chunks” of information. More precisely, each verse consists of two (stylized) Intonation Units, demarcated by the fixed caesura, which can thus be equated with an Intonation Unit boundary. This thesis is supported by various arguments, both of a metrical and of a syntactico-semantic nature. Arguments belonging to the former category are the length of each half-line, the possibility of stress on the first syllable of each half-line, the origin of the metre, and especially the avoidance of elision at the caesura. In the second category of (syntactico-semantic) evidence, we can consider the tendency of each half-line for constituting a grammatical sense-unit. I also bring forward some little-studied syntactic features of Late Medieval Greek: first, I pay attention to the distribution of the archaizing “Wackernagel particles”, which do not only appear in second position in the verse, but also occur after the first word/constituent following the caesura and thus further confirm my thesis. The same holds for the position of “corrective afterthoughts”, for the verbs and pronominal objects taking the singular are consistently separated from their plural referents by the caesura. Once the Intonation Unit is thus established as a meaningful methodological tool for the analysis of the πολιτικὸς στίχος poetry, the way is cleared for more linguistic research on the Late Medieval Greek vernacular.
In Ancient Greek a single set of indefinite enclitic pronouns was used indifferently in both negative/affective environments (i.e. like negative polarity items (NPI)) and in positive ones (i.e. like positive polarity items (PPI)). At the same time the negative pronouns used as negative quantifiers (NQ) were also employed as emphatic NPIs, with negative concord. The two functions of each class (i.e. PPI-like vs NPI-like, NQ vs NPI) were determined by syntactic distribution. In the specific case of negative sentences, an indefinite before a sentential negative marker (NM) functioned like a PPI but after a NM like an NPI, while a negative pronoun before a NM was an NQ but after an NM an NPI. This pattern was at odds with the canonical VSO clause structure that evolved in later antiquity, in which focal constituents were contrastively stressed and fronted to the left periphery: neither indefinite nor negative pronouns could be focalised because of the prosodic and/or semantic restrictions on their distribution. This deficiency was eventually remedied by formal/prosodic recharacterisation, the loss of NQs and the generalisation of NPIs to all syntactic positions available to DPs, including the focus position, a process that triggered their reinterpretation as involving universal quantification over negation rather than, as before, existential quantification under negation. The Modern Greek PPI kápjos and NPI kanís are traced from their origins in Ancient Greek and their role in the evolution of the system is explored. The final outcome is typologically to be expected in so far as NQs are redundant in a system in which NPIs appear freely both before and after NMs.
Within the framework of Generative Grammar, a standard (hypo)thesis has been that a (broad) wh-parameter may distinguish between two types of languages: those that front wh-elements (e.g., English) and those that realize them in situ (e.g., Chinese). Wh-fronting languages may also attest in situ arrangements, and a tacit (hypo)thesis, tied to the one above, is that in situ configurations translate to echo questions, while fronting configurations are genuine (information-seeking) questions. Neat as this taxonomy might look like, more recently it has been shown that, in Modern Greek, which is a typically wh-fronting language, each wh-configuration may map to either meaning. On the assumption that syntax mediates between form and meaning, mapping the former to the latter, the question that the Modern Greek evidence raises is to what extent syntax regulates the form-meaning associations under consideration. In other words, the question is “how much” of the relevant semantics is registered in the corresponding syntactic structures. Capitalizing on already documented evidence from distribution, interpretation, and intonation, the present paper argues that syntax encodes certain aspects of the relevant semantics, and pans out a formal system that attributes other aspects of this semantics to a direct interaction between PF and LF, thereby recognizing the existence of this interface area. The theoretical import(ance) of this analysis (part of which is prefigured elsewhere) is that it revisits the standard organization of the Grammar, as viewed from a Minimalist perspective.