Syntax

The many syntactic studies have been chiefly concerned with determining the function of morphological elements and categories, such as the uses of the various case forms, especially where they differ from the Greek. The space allotted does not permit summaries of the results; on the whole the functions of grammatical classes and categories in Gothic are in accordance with those of the other Indo-European languages, and equivalent to those in the other Germanic languages.

Because of the literal translation, the word order of our texts is for the most part that of the Greek original. Citing the order of sentence constituents or the structure of nominal and verbal groups merely provides a description of these structures in Biblical Greek. Only deviations from the Greek can be used to determine the native order, especially when they accord with the patterning of other early Germanic texts, such as the runic inscriptions. We therefore examine such deviations to determine the native syntax, also for its information on the syntax of Proto-Germanic.

These deviations indicate that Gothic retained many patterns of Object-Verb (OV) syntax. In OV languages, e.g. Japanese, Turkish, governing elements occupy the same position with regard to the element governed as does the principal governing element, the verb. Accordingly adpositions follow nouns as postpositions, rather than precede them as prepositions. And in the comparison of inequality construction, the adjective follows the standard rather than precedes it, as in English. Because they are equivalent to objects, complements (object clauses), and also adverbial clauses, precede the principal clause. Moreover, nominal modifiers, such as relative clauses, genitives and adjectives, precede nouns. Residues of OV patterns in a VO language inform us of the previous structure of the language.

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