[B-Greek] Semantics

cwestf5155 at aol.com cwestf5155 at aol.com
Sun Oct 14 13:54:30 EDT 2007


I didn't mean to endorse or defend Fanning's theories or linguistic work. You must guess that I don't find his theory of verbal aspect convincing. I meant to say that he has some students who are interested in linguistics (to avoid the appearance of arrogantly claiming to be the only show in town), and I do endorse him as one who combines the academic with integrity and the pastoral care of his students.


 The discussion on register isn't limited to SFL, though in some circles it is carried on under the rubric of "genre."? Frame theory is easily placed within the concept of register, though some would possibly insist on a vocabulary adjustment.? Register is, simply put, the variety of language according to use in situation and culture. Frame semantics refers to how a word activates or evokes a frame of semantic knowledge or a bundle of associations such as sports terminology, restaurant or commercial transaction--in register, that's the situation--it's really a direct correlation.? But register is way broader.? I did a paper on how Frame theory relates to the Messianic themes in the General Epistles, Hebrews and Revelation which was recently published, but I used the term "scenario" instead of frame--just a frivolous preference. I didn't specifically fit it into the broader theory of register, but that's where it belongs.

A more lengthy response to your other comments:

In addition to S. Dik, H. Dik and Givon (whom we "all" interact with), we read Halliday, Sinclair and Hoey as a starting point.? The English School of Linguistics or Hallidayan Linguistics or SFL is definitely mainstream though not American.? It is followed more in England and Australia than in linguistic departments in the States (California being a possible exception). We tend to distance ourselves from Chomsky, which sets us at odds with American linguistics.? 

Therefore, I think you find us confusing because we have adopted SFL theory and vocabulary as a point of departure (which? seems to be unfamiliar to you), but we do interact with the field in general, particularly in our areas of interest. My interest is discourse analysis, so I read broadly in DA (not just SFL, which is scarce pickings) and attempt to incorporate the various findings and strengths into SFL structure and terminology. Sometimes we suggest adjustments to the SFL theories in view of the findings.? Certainly we extend the theory on the basis of research. SFL is particularly friendly to corpus linguistics, which is definitely the way forward for grammatical theory.? 

The strength of adopting a school with its terminology is that it cuts down the confusion of the diversity and allows conversation to take place with less confusion--but we do stick to linguistic terminology rather than borrow BS terminology from Literary or Rhetorical Criticism.  That is a methodological strength, but not so good for accessibility for the NT scholar "on the street."  

Your point about producing influential textbooks is well-taken.? We're working on it. Porter, Reed and O'Donnell are releasing their first year grammar. I'm working on an "idiot's guide" to discourse analysis with two students--hopefully that is accessible, though it won't wear its sources on its sleeve.? There needs to be more.? Meanwhile, many are earning stripes in the trenches, working on methodology and detailed analysis. 

Cindy Westfall
Assistant Professor, McMaster Divinity College


-----Original Message-----
From: Elizabeth Kline <kline_dekooning at earthlink.net>
To: greek B-Greek <B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Sun, 14 Oct 2007 10:31 am
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Semantics

On Oct 14, 2007, at 7:20 AM, cwestf5155 at aol.com wrote:

> Students who are interested in pursuing this kind of research  
> unfortunately have only a few other options in North America where  
> supervisors can offer full encouragement and informed support  
> (Carson and Fanning do, for instance).

Fanning was a co-editor with D.Bock of the book where Bock's  
treatment of lexical semantics was presented. I am aware that there  
are numerous linguists doing research in NT Greek. However, the  
authors of the text books rule the world. A textbook published in  
2006 which ignores the work done in semantics over the last half  
century and makes vague allusions to a linguistic framework  
established by a man who died in 1913 (Saussure) -- if this book is  
aggressively marketed and becomes a standard work in the seminaries,  
all the discussions in SBL groups and SIL/UBS workshops isn't going  
to make a whole lot of difference to the rank and file students of NT  
greek. The most widely used NT greek textbooks over the last decade  
are linguistics free zones, unpolluted by any ideas about language  
from the 20th century or later.

In reference to SFL, I not sure that "register" and frame theory have  
much in common. SFL is a very different approach. I have read Porter,  
Reed and several others but SFL is still somewhat mystifying. When I  
here the word functional, I think of S.Dik, T.Givon and H.Dik. This  
is one of the reasons the NT greek textbook authors feel free to  
write off linguistics as a lost cause. There is a lot of theoretical  
diversity in linguistics and the text book authors like to deal in  
certainties, things that can be stated with unqualified authority.

thank you for posting,

Elizabeth Kline

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