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Reference: Goldberg, Donna., (1997). Studies in the language of Menander. Dphil. University of Oxford.Citable link to this page:


Studies in the language of Menander

Abstract: In my investigation of the use of the perfect (part I) and of hyperbaton (part II) Iaddress a cross-section of syntactical questions which reflect elements of the languageof drama, of New Comedy, of the end of the classical period, of verse, and of aconversational register in a literary dialogue form at times naturalistic, and at othersconventional, rhetorical, or formulaic.1. I describe the use of the perfect indicative in Menander from various anglesincluding a survey of the perfects found in Menander from verbs which were notpreviously attested in the perfect (1.7); the notion of innovation is challenged in theface of the accident of attestation and the different genres of the different sources, andI refer to the general problems of studying a dead language. In the following section Idescribe the typical use of perfects by grammatical categories (2.1), and extra-grammatical categories including discourse mode, sentence-type and non-hypotacticdependence (2.2), and lexical criteria (2.3). In the taxonomy of my description and inmy analysis I apply the principle that verbal categories and their morphologicalmanifestations are fluid and complex rather than discrete. For example, in myattempt to understand the use of the temporal value of the perfect I take into accountcompositional elements such as the use of adverbs (2.1.5); for mood, I try to illustratethe illocutionary wealth of the perfect indicative (2.2.2) and relate this to the relativeabsence of non-indicative perfect forms (2.1.3) as well as to the frequency of perfectsin dialogue mode (2.2.1). The principle of the integration of categories, grammaticaland metagrammatical, is seen in the correlation between the low incidence of perfectsin subordinate clauses (4) and the exposure of other mechanisms for dependence(2.2.3) which are a particularly salient feature of the dialogue mode: dependence maybe logical, or communicational ('stimulus and response' 2.2.3b). Along with (2.2.3),and hypotactic subordination (4), I also consider the transitivity of the perfect (3), notonly an exercise in description, but in order to argue that in Menander's time (andgenre etc.) perfects are less often transitively used than not; I show that examples withdirect objects display weak transitivity (3.2.1, 3.2.4). A relatively weak transitive usesupports (although is not synonymous with) the argument that these are not'resultative' perfects in the sense that they approach aorists. My primary aim is todescribe the workings of the perfect and its syntactic environment in Menander, andnot to enter into the controversy over the chronology of the resultative perfect.However, evidence points to Menander's retaining a classical use of the perfect quitedistinct from the aorist: the perfect is not used as a narrative tense (5), and when it isfound in narrative passages it either exits the narrative frame or serves as a border oras a rhetorical or structural 'signpost'. In (5) I also discuss some narrative patternswhich are typical of New Comedy, and the consistent use of perfects in direct speechwithin a past setting.2. Greek word order is 'free but not arbitrary', to quote Marouzeau. One of the lessarbitrary features is the tendency for certain modifiers to be adjacent to their headnoun. In part III examine the separation of four modifiers from the substantives theymodify: numerals (2). indefinites (3), possessives (4) and the demonstrative OUTOC(5). I move from the inherently most closely cohering (numerals) to the most loosely(demonstratives are often interpreted as being in an appositive or predicative ratherthan an attributive relation). The enclitic forms, especially of possessives (4.3), aremore closely studied since they are also used in later classical Greek as an alternativeto the dative forms of the enclitic pronouns in the 'sympathetic' function. In suchcases (as with 'loose' demonstratives) the affiliation of the genitive enclitic must bereassessed. As an exercise in description, and in the principle of cumulative evidence,I try to interpret the effect created by the use of hyperbaton in terms of degrees ofnuance, emotion, and disruption to the sentence. The nature of the interveningelement and the structure of the rest of the sentence are important factors. InMenander's genre certain contexts recur, and certain nuances, tones and attitudes tendto be emphasized.

Type of Award:Dphil Level of Award:Doctoral Awarding Institution: University of Oxford Notes:The digital copy of this thesis has been made available thanks to the generosity of Dr Leonard Polonsky

Bibliographic Details

Issue Date: 1997Identifiers

Urn: uuid:e99b7013-b37b-4f59-b8ab-b726febe22d1

Source identifier: 602335679 Item Description

Type: Thesis;

Language: eng Subjects: Language Tiny URL: td:602335679


Author: Goldberg, Donna. - institutionUniversity of Oxford facultyFaculty of Literae Humaniores - - - - Bibliographic Details Issue Date:



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