autonomous syntax

Dave Washburn dwashbur at
Sun Feb 7 13:14:08 EST 1999

Randall wrote:
> shalom david,
> some of the resolution between autonomous syntax and discourse studies can
> be found in an article I mentioned to you:
> 1995    Buth,  "Functional Grammar, Hebrew and Aramaic: an Integrated,
> Textlinguistic Approach to Syntax," in Walter R. Bodine, ed., Discourse
> Analysis of Biblical Literature, What It Is and What It Offers  Atlanta:
> Scholars' Press, 77-102.

I haven't been able to get hold of the book yet - for my fellow 
bookworms, Dove Books lists this one at $24.99, or you can go to and have them special-order it for $44.99...hmm, 
that's a tough one...

> The article does not use the complex notational protocols of Functional
> Grammar (therefore is user friendly) but it does show how a generative
> grammar must define and label pragmatic rules within its clause- generating
> template/s if it is going to realistically generate acceptable output.
> psychological adequacy and pragmatic adequacy are two additional tests that
> Functional Grammar accepts on itself. 

I'm familiar with functional grammar...I'm also very familiar with Walt 
Bodine's thoughts on syntax and semantics.  Besides his 
comments in "Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew" (Eisenbrauns), I've 
talked with him at length about it.  

> However, it is still close to the 'autonomy' principle because the grammar
> can only label where a pragmatic rule has been invoked, or what structural
> change it causes, it does not interpret the rule or rely on pragmatic
> information, nor can it do so. It can point out a pragmatic placement rule
> -- for the decoder to interpret.

It does sound interesting, and this description makes it sound as 
though we may not be as far apart as we think we are.  Which 
model of TG grammar do you refer to?

> So it  integrates aspects of textlinguistics into a generative grammar, and
> does so in a way that a biblical interpreter can be helped in unscrambling
> texts and identifying more precisely what is going on at any one point and
> what needs to be interpreted.
> you will also find some help on your question:
> >"What is there about these forms that makes them able to produce
> well-formed clauses in these 
> >sorts of contexts?" 
> some of the answer comes from an iconic principle played off of the
> sequential system and paralleled in verbless clause patterns. 
> see, 1994  Buth, "Contextualizing Constituent as Topic, Non-sequential
> Background and Dramatic Pause:  Hebrew and Aramaic Evidence" in Function
> and Expression in Functional Grammar, ed. Elisabeth Engberg-Pedersen,
> Lisbeth Falster Jakobsen, and Lone Schack Rasmussen. Berlin: de Gruyter,
> 215-231.

This one may be difficult to get my hands on out here, but I'll try.

> also, 1999 Buth, Word Order in the Verbless Clause: A Generative-Functional
> Approach" in Cynthia Miller, ed., Verbless Clause in Biblical Hebrew.
> Eisenbraun's, 75-104.

Looks like good stuff.  In the latter, do you interact with Andersen's 
book on verbless clauses much?

Dave Washburn
A Bible that's falling apart means a life that isn't.

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