Syntactic word order in herodotus
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The purpose of the thesis is to determine whether Greek word order is free in terms of syntax. The word order of most natural languages is subject to two formal syntactic restrictions which are referred to here as the typological constraint (requiring modifiers to consistently precede or follow their heads), and the syntactic integrity constraint (requiring modifiers to be united with and not split off from their heads). Although the typological constraint is not really observed in Greek certain statistical tendencies or norms can be identified. Some modifiers mostly but not always precede their heads; others mostly but not always follow their heads; others again precede and follow their heads with almost equal frequency. The behaviour of the three classes is explained by what is called in the text a theory of polarities. This theory claims that the various classes of modifiers are attracted with varying degrees of force towards the front of the sentence, the back of the sentence, or both front and back, in which case the two tendencies cancel each other out. Where several modifiers are attached to a single head their relative placement is determined by numerical subscripts based on the frequency with which they precede or follow their heads. The order so established is treated as a conventional order. When it is violated the violation is attributed to special intervention by the author. The argument then turns to breaches of the syntactic integrity constraint which are also explained by the theory of polarities. Next the mechanism of fronting is investigated with a review of recent work. Finally it is concluded that word order in Herodotus I is free in the abstract but restricted by conventions in the concrete. Some of the conventions identified are not confined to Greek but are found also in other languages.