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.

3 Comments on “Ancient Greek Relative Clauses”

  1. A Leiden dissertation already in the bibliography does treats the NT and analyzes Koiné relatives in this manner. See ch. 6 of Allison Kirk’s “Word Order and Information Structure in New Testament Greek.”

    • And see also Martin M. Culy, “A Typology of Koine Relative Clauses” in “Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics 1989” (vol 33), pp. 67-92. Culy also uses the Greek of the NT primarily.

    • Thank you for the reminder, Spencer. I’ll have to take a closer look at Kirk’s dissertation. I didn’t remember it being the done from the same perspective as Fauconnier’s work.

      For any of you interested in reading chapter 6 of Kerk’s dissertation, here’s the link.

      I do not currently have access to Culy’s “Typology,” so I can’t go back and look at that one at this time.

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