[B-Greek] Mapping Language changes

Glendon Gross gross at xinetd.ath.cx
Wed Jun 25 00:29:33 EDT 2003

While I don't know the answer to the question Carl raises, I can't help
wondering if anyone has done a study based on radiocarbon dating of actual
manuscripts, by correlating the frequency of words used with actual dates
of manuscripts.  I am aware that BDAG seems to be universally accepted as an
authority regarding the statistical occurrences of words in various texts,
but I wonder if Walter Bauer gave any thought to the progressive
morphology of the words, as a function of the dates of his primary
sources.  I must admit this is one area in which I can see the usefulness
of computers as a tool to facilitate the management of the volume of
statistical comparisons that would be necessary to produce a database that
would be able to show us the frequency of any Greek word's usage as a
function of time.  No doubt this would be in the realm of the
lexicographer.  It is definitely outside my area of expertise.  I wonder
if anyone has used statistical methods to calculate the standard deviation
of word forms in a given manuscript?

Would there be any possible benefit in trying to go back to the primary
sources in order to attempt to express the relative frequency of
individual Greek words as a function of time, or is this an area which is
already "sown up" by the canon of accepted references on the subject?


Glendon Gross
Amateur Greek Student

On Tue, 24 Jun 2003, Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 07:48:04 -0400
> From: Carl W. Conrad <cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu>
> To: Biblical Greek <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Cc: Wieland Willker <willker at chemie.uni-bremen.de>
> Subject: [B-Greek] Mapping Language changes
> ==============
> From: "B J BOLAND" <berean at onetel.net.uk>
> To: <b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Subject: Mapping Language changes
> Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 10:29:19 +0100
> The recent correspondence on the tenses of GINOMAI makes me wonder if there
> have any studies in identifying the changes to the Greek language in place,
> time and social class during the second sophistic [about 50-250] and up to
> the time of interest of this list -what is that?. Is there enough known to
> be enable to date and/or locate their writers? Are the following changes of
> value in helping to provide answers? :Word order, spelling changes due to
> phonetic changes- shift from pitch to stress, rise of fricatives, Vocabulary
> changes-synonyms , Grammatical changes- decline of the optative and dative
> rise of the subjunctive? How much do we know?
> Brian J Boland
> Yorkshire UK
> berean at onetel.net.uk
> ===============
> The above has not yet come through yet as an ordinary list-distributed
> message, perhaps because it was improperly addressed, but inasmuch as a
> copy came to me and I think it a matter of considerable importance, I am
> forwarding it and upping the ante because I've been corresponding
> specifically with Sylvie Chabert d' Hyères on this subject recently and
> don't know where we can look for definitive answers.
> The problem concerns several different aspects of linguistic change--not
> just pronunciation and orthography but morphology. For instance, I've noted
> in working through the text of Mark's gospel in Codex Bezae such anomalies
> as an aorist HLQOSAN for HLQON (I've certainly seen HLQAN in NA27/UBS but
> never HLQOSAN) and alpha-conjugated imperfects such as EICAN and EICOSAN
> (cf. the already standard Attic -MI-verb imperfect forms ETIQESAN and
> EDIDOSAN). I've repeatedly called attention in this forum to concurrent
> "competing" morphoparadigms and constructions in the Hellenistic period
> (especially MHN/SO/TO and -QH- middle-passives, but also hINA substantive
> clauses concurrent and competing with articular-infinitive constructions
> and other types of substantive clauses. While there's been frequent
> discussion on B-Greek of phonetic changes especially as they affect
> misunderstood forms (e.g. LEGETAI as 2nd pl.indic. for LEGETE), I'm
> wondering whether there's been a compilation of relative dates for earliest
> appearance/frequent appearance/standard usage of alternative phonology,
> orthography, morphoparadigm, syntactic construction, etc. Geofrrey Horrocks
> in his work on the Greek language and its users calls attention to these
> changes with reference to characteristic documents of progressive
> chronological eras, and long ago George Thomson did this in much more
> sketchy terms. There are also several useful summaries of changes from
> classical Attic to NT Koine, although I think this is a matter on which
> there continues to be considerable confusion. I'm wondering whether anyone
> on this list is cognizant of a detailed accounting of these changes in the
> language, particularly during the centuries in which the Greek Bible was
> being composed and transmitted as individual documents or groups of
> documents. It is certainly true, as Brian mentions above and as I noted in
> a message yesterday, that the so-called "Second-Sophistic" and its
> "Atticist" influence retarded the completion of several changes which had
> begun to take place three centuries or more earlier. I know that we can
> surely not pinpoint absolute dates for the inception and completion of
> linguistic changes, but I wonder whether there's any sufficiently-detailed
> account of the range of time over which concurrent forms continued to
> compete before one emerged victorious (e.g. -A- conjugation of indicative
> past-tense forms).
> My impression is that our standard texts of the GNT tend to standardize
> orthography and morphology too, to some extent. But those who work
> professionally with MSS must know a good deal about these processes of
> change as they are reflected in the work of scribes of the different eras.
> Are there any standard useful reference works dealing with these matters?
> Wieland? Others?
> --
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
> 1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
> cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
> WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/
> ---
> B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
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