I’ve been reading Christina Sevdali’s 2007 dissertation, Infinitival Clauses in Ancient Greek: Overt and Null Subjects, the Role of Case and Focus. She deals primarily with Classical Greek, but delves into some Modern Greek data as well, but she does not deal with the hellenistic period. Her work, though, does raise some questions that should be answered for the hellenistic literature.
Sevdali concludes that both agreement and focus play a role in Case marking in Ancient Greek. Here is part of a long paragraph from pages 209—210 in her last chapter that I think could suggest a dissertation idea for someone working specifically on Hellenistic Greek:
There are various languages [in which] Case can be related to discourse phenomena: Blake, 2001 for example reports Australian languages Nyigina and Gooniyandi where this is true. These languages do not show Case concord within a noun phrase, where Case and number and person are marked on every constituent, i.e. the determiner, the noun, the adjective etc., but Case mark only one constituent, the final one, or the head etc. In some cases, they mark the one that is focalised, essentially using Case as a discourse marker. Miyagawa, 2005 argued that languages can either be agreement prominent (like most Indo-European ones) or focus-prominent (like Japanese), implying that Agreement and Focus are the two sides of the same coin. Assuming that Case exists in both types of languages, it is not unreasonable to assume that it can be linked to Agreement and Focus respectively. On top of that nothing prevents us from arguing that there also exist mixed language types. We want to suggest that AG is a mixed language, being agreement prominent in finite clauses, where Case is linked to agreement, and being focus-prominent in non-finite clauses, where Case is linked to focus as we showed.
Okay… Here are dissertation ideas for the hellenistic period: Can recognizing two different ways in which Case may be assigned (Agreement vs Focus) lead to a clearer understanding of morphological Case assignment in Hellenistic Greek? Under what specific circumstances might morphological Case be controlled by Focus in Hellenistic Greek? Does Focus play any role in the Case assignment of optional arguments of a verb? Does it control the Case assignment of any DPs governed by a preposition, especially prepositions whose object DP is not always assigned the same Case. Prepositions played a larger role in the hellenistic koine than they did in the classical period. How does this affect the agreement/focus split if at all?
Any takers? I’d love to see a dissertation addressing any of these issues.