Ancient Greek Relative Clauses

In the latest volume of the  Journal of Greek Linguistics (Volume 14), Stefanie Fauconnier has published an article on Ancient Greek relative clauses using data from Zenophon. She argues for a perspective that I have not encountered in work on the hellenistic period. Here is what her abstract says:

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.

 The journal requires a paid subscription to view online. If you do not have a subscription, but want to see an earlier version of Fauconnier’s research on this topic, you can take a look at the outline of a 2011 presentation  she gave at the Pavia International Summer School for Indo-European Linguistics (University of Pavia, Italy). That outline shows some of the evidence she used and basic elements of her argument.

If you are aware of similar research on the hellenistic period, please let me know. I would like to have something in the bibliography here at on this topic. If nothing is available for the hellenistic period, I’ll add Fauconnier’s article.

Update to the Manuscripts Page

I have updated the manuscripts page at to include Alan Bunning’s Center for New Testament Restoration. By providing online access to the contents of an amazing number of early New Testament manuscripts, Allan is providing a tremendous service to all who are interested in the earliest wording of text of the New Testament.

Looking forward to SBL

Are you going to SBL in San Diego? I am, and I’d love the chance to talk with any of you who are going to be there. If you will be there, contact me via the Contact page here.

Jonathan Robie and I will be doing a presentation on Monday afternoon/evening for a joint session of the Global Education and Research Technology Section and the Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies Section. This is a themed session entitled “Teaching the Bible in an Open World: Open Resources for Teaching and Learning with the Bible” (S24-317a). Our presentation is entitled Greek Syntactic Analysis for Humans (“Does this analysis make my text look fat?”). Here’s the abstract:

By exposing the internal structure of a text, syntax trees represent important elements of meaning, and can be used to explain difficult constructs, teach Greek reading skills or for syntactic queries. But the phrase-structure syntax trees most widely used in biblical studies are redundant, complex, based on theories that are no longer widely accepted, and poorly model the function of the Greek verb. We combine the strengths of dependency grammars and phrase structure grammars to create a more flexible and powerful model. We use a hybrid approach. Some features of Greek syntax, such as Noun Phrases and Prepositional Phrases, neatly fit traditional phrase structure categories. Verbs do not. We represent verbs and their relationships with phrase structures in terms of a verb’s arguments. We have created an analysis using this model, based on the Global Bible Initiative (formerly Asia Bible Society) Greek New Testament syntax trees from (a phrase structure treebank) and the PROEIL treebank of the New Testament created by Dag Haug (a dependency structure treebank). Using Koine Greek texts, we present new ways to visualize the structure of Greek syntax that are simpler and more closely fit the language. Users can examine texts directly, choosing whether to highlight phrase structure (our Phrase View) or verbs and their relationships to surrounding constituents (Verb View). The same model can be used to better support syntactic queries and for teaching the Greek language.

Our presentation is the last of five in this session that runs from 4:00 to 6:30 pm. Ours is likely to start around 6:00. Unfortunately, this session is scheduled at the same time as one of the meetings of the Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics Section. Oh well… no schedule is perfect.

I hope to see you there.

Updates to the Epigraphy Page

Today I updated the epigraphy page at to provide references to two books relevant to the topic.

Bradley H. McLean’s 2011 book, An Introduction to Greek Epigraphy of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods from Alexander the Great down to the Reign of Constantine, provides a discussion of the evidence from the period of greatest concern for this website and blog. Craig Cooper’s recent collection of essays (2013), Epigraphy and the Greek Historian, provides discussions of specific inscriptions illustrating the nature of epigraphy and its relevance to the task of the historian.


Lexicography/Dictionaries Page

I have made a number of changes to the Lexicography and Dictionaries page at Here are the main ones:

I hope you find these additions helpful.

The Representation of Speech Events in Chariton’s Callirhoe and the Acts of the Apostles

I have just added Adrian Smith’s new book on Speech Events to the Comprehensive Bibliography of Hellenistic Greek Linguistics.

Two things about this book caught my attention. First, it is—as far as I know—the first book-length treatment of speech events in Hellenistic Greek. Second, it deals with two texts, one from the Greek New Testament, and the other from Hellenistic Greek outside the Christian canon. This is something I have longed to see for some time. We need to push our analyses of the language beyond the confines of the literature of our faith. If Smith’s proposals hold true for both early Christian texts and texts from the wider Hellenistic literature, he will have accomplished something of real note.

More Additions to A Comprehensive Bibliography of Hellenistic Greek Linguistics

I have continued to update the bibliography today in a number of ways. There are now more that twice the number of works available for purchase through directly from the bibliography than before. There are also many more articles available either for purchase or for reading online without charge.

To distinguish between articles for a fee and those available without charge, I have devised a consistent convention for linking:

  • For articles available for a fee, I have linked the title of the journal to the site where the fee must be paid.
  • For articles available for reading without charge, I have linked the title of the article to the online text.

I have also added the following book:

I eventually hope to connect all dissertations in the bibliography to University Microfilms for easy purchase, but I have not made much progress on this yet.

I hope you enjoy the improvements.

Additions to A Comprehensive Bibliography of Hellenistic Greek Linguistics

I have added the following items to the Comprehensive Bibliography of Hellenistic Greek Linguistics:

Of course, this bibliography can never be truly comprehensive, contrary to what the title may imply, because the field is not static. As new works appear that fulfill the narrow criteria for inclusion, I add them to make the bibliography as comprehensive as possible.

If you know of works that you think should be included, please recommend them. You can use the “Bibliography” link in the main menu to do that. That link will take you to a page that explains what kinds of works are accepted, and gives you a form to make your recommendation easily.

I hope you enjoy the new additions.

A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek II

A couple of days ago I posted a note about the reprint of Robert Funk’s Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek. At the time I was confident that most of you already knew that almost all of the content of that book is available online a no charge, so I didn’t mention it. Some of you may not know, though, so I’m including a link to the online materials below.

Funk’s Grammar Online

You can see my earlier post about the reprinted edition here:

Earlier Post

On Generating the Greek Noun Phrase

After many years away from seriously analyzing Greek Noun Phrases I am rereading Cheryl A. Black and Stephen Marlett’s article “On generating the Greek noun phrase” (Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session. 40: 89-105, 1996). I wish it had been published a couple of years earlier. I would love to have had a copy while I was writing Levels of Constituent Structure.

If you are interested in Greek phrase structure and understand the symbols DP, NP, XP as labels for types of phrases, you should be able to understand the article well. You can download your own copy if you’re interested or read it online at the same location.