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Ancient Greek Linguistics

New Approaches, Insights, Perspectives

Ed. by Logozzo, Felicia / Poccetti, Paolo

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November 2017
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Word order, adverb’s scope and focus

Martínez, Rafael / Yamuza, Emilia Ruiz


This paper presents the outlines of a quantitative study of modality and focus adverbs in ancient Greek. The analysis proposed accounts for the correlation of the (multifunctional) adverb’s position and its function, while it also examines the adverb’s position relative to its scope. The study focuses on the adverbs μάλιστα, ‘mostly’ and ἴσως, ‘perhaps’, both deemed to be focus-sensitive. The corpus includes 323 instances of μάλιστα in Thucydides’ work, and 193 instances of ἴσως, namely 10 in Thucydides, 118 in Xenophon and 65 in Polybius. The analysis shows that the adverbs behave in quite opposite ways, but according to the same principles. The adverb μάλιστα has five different functionally productive uses: as conjunctive adverb, predicate adjunct, approximator, particularizer and sentence adjunct. The position of the adverb contributes to the identification of the adverb’s function, but not to the identification of its scope. As for ἴσως, the function as modality adverb is highly dominant (90%). A tendency has been observed for the adverb to immediately precede its focus, thus contributing to its identification. This behavior is explained with reference to a general principle for adverb’s position to indicate function, when the adverb is poly-functional, and to signal other categories, such as scope, once it becomes mono-functional.

Citation Information

Rafael Martínez, Emilia Ruiz Yamuza (2017). Word order, adverb’s scope and focus. In Felicia Logozzo, Paolo Poccetti (Eds.), Ancient Greek Linguistics: New Approaches, Insights, Perspectives (pp. 581–596). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110551754-593

Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110551754

Online ISBN: 9783110551754

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/BostonGet Permission

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