Imagining Greek Grammar Books of the Future

Many of my long time readers will probably remember that I am a major fan of the three volume set of linguistics books entitled:

Language Typology and Syntactic Description: Volume 1, Clause Structure

Language Typology and Syntactic Description: Volume 2, Complex Constructions

Language Typology and Syntactic Description: Volume 3, Grammatical Categories and the Lexicon

This 3 volume set is edited by Timothy Shopen and as of 2007 is in its second edition (first edition 1985).

I have often imagined that an analysis and survey of Hellenistic Greek following the themes & topics discussed in these books would make for a fantastic read. That is, if you really enjoy reading grammar – which I do.

The table of contents of this set reads almost like a Whose Who of linguistics for the past couple decades (with a few notables missing, like Dik, Van Valin, Bresnan, Chomsky, Hale, Culicover, Jackendoff, & Pike).

Volume 1, Clause Structure:

Chapter #1: Parts-of-speech systems by Paul Schachter & Timothy Shopen

Chapter #2: Word Order by Matthew S. Dryer

Chapter #3: The major functions of the noun phrase by Avery D. Andrews

Chapter #4: Clause types by Matthew S. Dryer

Chapter #5: Speech-act distinctions in grammar by Ekkehard Konig and Peter Siemund

Chapter #6: Passive in the world’s languages by Edward L. Keenan and Matthew S. Dryer

Chapter #7: A typology of information packaging in the clause by William A. Foley

Volume 2, Complex Constructions:

Chapter #1: Coordination by Martin Haspelmath

Chapter #2: Complementation by Michael Noonan

Chapter #3: Noun phrase structure by Matthew S. Dryer

Chapter #4: Relative clauses by Avery D. Andrews

Chapter #5: Adverbial clauses by Sandra A. Thompson, Robert E. Longacre and Shin Ja J. Hwang

Chapter #6: Discourse structure by Elise Karkkainen, Marja-Leena Sorjonen, and Marja-Liisa Helasvuo

Chapter #7: Sentences as combinations of clauses by Robert E. Longacre

Volume 3, Grammatical Categories and the Lexicon:

Chapter #1: Typological distinctions in word-formation by Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald

Chapter #2: :Lexical typologies by Leonard Talmy

Chapter #3: Inflectional morphology by Balthasar Bickel and Johanna Nichols

Chapter #4: Gender and noun classes by Greville G. Corbett

Chapter #5: Aspect, tense, mood by Alan Timberlake

Chapter #6: Lexical nominalization by Bernard Comrie and Sandra A. Thompson

The average length of each chapter is roughly 70 pages — almost the size of an MA thesis and the whole set is 1436 pages total. And to be honest, if anyone was looking for a thesis or dissertation topic on Greek grammar (or the grammar of any language), they really just need to open up one of these volumes, pick a chapter and write on on that topic.

But this is the main question of this post:

If you were editing a three volume set of essays on Hellenistic Greek grammar subjects, what topics would you add? What topics would you remove? Who would write them?

3 thoughts on “Imagining Greek Grammar Books of the Future

  1. I would also add a chapter on articles. There is such a large degree of variation from one language to another on the presence/absence of articles and the number of them for the languages that have them. How should this impact the discussion of DP, for example. Can DP be a universal category if some language have no article? How can we more clearly delineate the role(s) of the Greek article?

    1. The articles don’t deal with more theoretical questions like that. There’s more Greenberg than Chomsky, you could say, so they’re dealing with more concrete issues of typology and less linguistic theory. With that said, the article does get a nice, though, short discussion in the “Noun Phrase Structure” chapter in vol. 2.

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