And the three-hares problem.
I’ve mentioned wordpress in the title because on a whim I thought I’d try a link to a wordpress blog while I was looking for a picture for the three-hares problem. And there they are in the picture – all hairy [Are you sure about that? –ed.] and problematic. And lo and behold! the wordpress blog was accessible, though perhaps not unto the seventh generation. I note, on the other hand, that livejournal blogs are still off the menu.
Anyway, that’s not why we’re here today. I worked my way through the Greek exam from Durham University which I found while searching, I think, for Dikaiopolis, who features in JACT Reading Greek. I didn’t attempt the thing under exam conditions, but it was, in my view, a fairly easy exam. To get back to Dikaiopolis, though, he’s the main character in Aristophanes’ play Acharnians, which is a satire on the Peloponnesian War. Dikaiopolis concludes a private peace treaty with Sparta. I assume that the JACT text is based on the play, but is actually artificial Classical Greek prose. The passage in the exam was fairly simple, I thought.
For some reason this got me wondering about predicative adjectives. For those of you who missed the memo, a predicative adjective is the complement of a verb such as be, become, seem, appear, turn etc. as well as a few which take a direct object and an adjectival complement such as turn (e.g. The chemical turned the water green) and paint (e.g. They painted their house white). And Classical Greek was fairly similar.
One difference is that εἶναι “to be” may be omitted and the adjective may occur before or after its NP (e.g. καλὴ ἡ γυνή or ἡ γυνὴ καλή “The woman is beautiful”). It’s not really the same as Chinese in which adjectives are stative verbs, but the two languages do bear a superficial similarity on this point. On the other hand, Greek goes well beyond paint-verbs. A common pattern I’ve noticed on this occasion (of reacquainting myself with Classical Greek, that is) is the fronting of predicative adjectives. Morwood (2001:125) has this example:
ἀθάνατον τὴν περὶ αὑτῶν μνήμην καταλείψουσιν “They will leave behind a memory of themselves (that will be) immortal.”
If you wanted to be really prosaic about it, you could translate it as “Immortal will be the memory of themselves that they will leave behind”, although this sort of translation won’t necessarily work with more complex sentences or, indeed, even some simple ones. For example, Weir Smyth (1920:257, §915) has
μετεώρους ἐξεκόμισαν τὰς ἁμάξας “They lifted the wagons and carried them out.”
(Xenophon, Anabasis 1.5.8)
which more literally is “They carried out the wagons (which had been) raised”.
I assume that this fronting is emphatic, although that sentence from Xenophon hardly seems to demand that the adjective should be emphasised (“Raised were the wagons which they carried out” – O noble exercise in vehicular logistics!). But I’m not sure whether such adjectives are performing a limiting or non-limiting function, or whether they can do either. As far as I can find in Weir Smyth, there’s nothing about this.
As for what can be modified, Weir Smyth (1920:275ff., §1040ff.) mentions the usual verbs (be, become etc.) as well as active verbs which take a preposition.
νόμους ἔθεσθε ἐπ’ ἀδήλοις τοῖς ἀδικήσουσι “You have enacted laws with regard to offenders who are unknown.”
I’m not really certain what Weir Smyth actually means because the verb is transitive and has an adverbial adjunct which, itself, contains a predicative adjective. Or perhaps he’s referring to the participle, ἀδικήσουσι “those who offend; offenders”. On the other hand, that’s dative because of the preposition ἐπί.
In other instances, an adjective of time, place or order of succession is used where English would use an adverbial expression instead (e.g. κατέβαινον σκοταῖοι “they descended in the dark”). Adjectives of degree and manner are used in the same way (e.g. φέρονται οἱ λίθοι πολλοί “The stones are thrown in great numbers”, Xenophon, Anabasis 4.7.7).
Although I’m unsure of the exact details because I’m not a syntactian, the adjective either remains in situ (e.g. φέρονται οἱ λίθοι πολλοί) or gets raised (e.g. μετεώρους ἐξεκόμισαν τὰς ἁμάξας). This would also apply to my original examples, καλὴ ἡ γυνή and ἡ γυνὴ καλή. I don’t know whether there are sentences of the type ἐξεκόμισαν μετεώρους τὰς ἁμάξας, but presumably it’s possible. It would also seem that the adjective cannot be raised outside of a preposition, although in the example above, it’s behaving like a conjunction. There’s probably some principle in syntactic theory which would explain this. I just don’t happen to know what it is.
And finally, what about attributive adjectives, or more exactly, the construction ἡ γυνὴ ἡ καλή “the beautiful woman”? One DP/NP or two? Have to be two, but I don’t know what the structure is above that.