[B-Greek] hO QEOS in ROM. 1:28

Steve Runge srunge at logos.com
Thu May 15 10:59:08 EDT 2008


It is very common to use a full noun phrase to encode a change in roles from subject to non-subject. In non-speech contexts, the default expectation created by minimal encoding of participants is continuity, subjects as subjects, non-subjects as non-subjects. When there is a change in roles of the participants that are involved in the clause, the default expectation is that the minimal amount of encoding would be used to unambiguously signal the change. This often means using a noun phrase (NP) for only one of the participants, normally the new subject. It is also common to use a NP when there is a change in initiators/agents. The line between it being motivated by disambiguation (default function) versus some marked function is rather fuzzy. I tend to err on the side of construing such cases as the writer avoiding ambiguity.

The glaring exception to this principle of using a NP to encode role changes concerns change from speaker to non-speaker. In these cases, the default expectation is that minimal reference signals a switch of roles, rather than continuity of roles.

I think that Vasile has a point. There is a change in God's role from non-subject in the KAQWS clause to the subject in the main clause. Note that QEOS has not been the subject/agent for several clauses. 

If QEOS had been the subject of the KAQWS clause, the NP would clearly have been redundant in the main clause. With a change in role from non-subject to subject (which represents a change in initiators) it is very common to encode the change using a NP instead of zero anaphora. The rationale for this would most likely be to avoid ambiguity. If the NP had been omitted in the main clause, one would be left to assume that God is the subject. Changes in initiators are not typically under encoded, more encoding seems preferred. 

You would need to look for other instances where the subject of the main clause is involved in a non-subject role in a subordinate clause. Based on then encoding found in these other examples, you would be able to make a judgment about whether Rom 1:28 represents overencodng or not.

As far as markedness is concerned (assuming the main clause NP really is superfluous), the most common effect achieved is segmenting of the text into a new unit. This principle manifests is manifested in English by the 'rule' to not start a new paragraph with a pronominal reference.

There is a good overview of encoding principles provided in Dooley and Levinsohn's "Analyzing Discourse", pp. 56 ff. It is freely available on the web at: http://tinyurl.com/4zp9e2

Steve Runge

Steven Runge, DLitt (Biblical Languages)
Logos Research Systems, Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Elizabeth Kline
Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 10:05 PM
To: Vasile Stancu
Cc: 'greek B-Greek'
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] hO QEOS in ROM. 1:28


On May 14, 2008, at 6:47 AM, Vasile Stancu wrote:

> When I first read it (the passage under discussion), I simply had the 
> impression that the author felt that hO QEOS was necessary ...

Yes, but necessary for what reason? Assuming with Fitzmyer that a full noun phrase is not required to identify the subject of PAREDWKEN, then I am suggesting we look elsewhere to explain the presence of hO QEOS.

Elizabeth Kline

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