The syntax of Greek

  • 0. Archaic Greek 4. Adverbials
  • 1. Word classes and flexions 5. Word order
  • 2. Nominal and pronominal morphosyntax 6. Sentence syntax
  • 3. Verbal morphosyntax 7. References

0. Archaic Greek

Archaic Greek is essentially represented at the beginning of the first millennium BCE by the poems of Homer and Hesiod (in the following paper, I will write Homer in reference to both these authors). Nevertheless, the decipherment of the clay tablets in Linear B made available written documents from the second millennium BCE. Despite the use of a syllabic writing system unsuited to the Greek language and the limited genre of these texts, Mycenaean documents provide some information about syntax. On the other hand, archaic alphabetical inscriptions (the oldest dated from the end of the eighth century BCE), being rare in that period and belonging to various dialects, do not furnish an available corpus for syntactic investigation.

Word classes and flexions

Like all ancient Indo European (IE) languages, Ancient Greek is flexional. Part of the vocabulary is invariable (infinitives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, particles, exclamations). But nouns, pronouns, adjectives and verbs are flexional. A flexional ending in nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and participles indicates case, number, and gender, and in finite verbs person, number, tense, voice, and mood. (For more details, see Garcia Ramon, this handbook.) That is still true today in Modern Greek. Nominal endings are present in every word of an appositive and subject predicative noun phrase.

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