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Diachronica i8: (io11), . uoi 1o.1o,,/dia.i8..

iss o1,oii, / i-iss 1,o,1 John Benjamins Publishing Company
Greek Prepositions: From antiquity to the present. By Pietro Bortone.
Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2010. Pp. xvi, 345.
Reviewed by Panayiotis A. Pappas (Simon Fraser University)
. Introduction
Even though Greek is one of the worlds better-studied languages, there are very
few works that examine the development of a particular construction throughout
the entire history of the language. For this reason alone, Bortones excellent trea-
tise on prepositions from Ancient to Modern Greek is a welcome contribution to
our knowledge of the language, one that complements Luraghis (2003) equally
important study of prepositions in Ancient Greek. What is more, B frames the
analysis of the Greek facts with a detailed examination of prepositions, postposi-
tions and cases in a set of typologically diverse languages, and a thoughtful discus-
sion regarding the provenance of such elements. Te result is a very impressive
piece of scholarly work that showcases both philological and linguistic analysis at
its best.
. Synopsis
Te book comprises two parts: in part I (pp. 1106), B provides an impressive
account of how prepositions function in general (ch. 1), the range of meanings
that they cover (ch. 2), and the paths along which they tend to evolve (ch. 3);
part II (pp. 107301) surveys the development of prepositions in Ancient (ch. 4),
Hellenistic (ch. 5), Medieval (ch. 6) and Modern Greek (ch. 7). Te book ends
with a brief epilogue on its major ndings (pp. 302303). Te index (pp. 337345)
includes a subject section, a very brief section on Hebrew items, and an extensive
one on Greek terms.
In Chapter 1, B explores several important theoretical issues concerning prep-
ositions, namely their relationship to postpositions and the usefulness of the term
adposition, the distinction between adpositions and cases, as well as the combina-
tion of adpositions with cases and prepositions with other prepositions. Te most
important claims made are the following: B maintains that there is very little func-
tional distinction between cases and adpositions. Even though he acknowledges
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that for some languages (e.g., Russian) certain systematic diferences can be ob-
served, these are not universal. B very thoroughly examines evidence from a wide
variety of languages (Hebrew, Estonian, Greek, Turkish and others) showing that
the distinction is not always easy to make. In particular, B demonstrates that in
several languages there are case markers that function as phrasal afxes (as in the
English [John and Judy]s Juice Bar), that in some languages prepositions can mark
several elements in a phrase (i.e., they can be repeated) and that prepositions can
function as object-markers (e.g., per in Italian, or eT in Hebrew), while in other
languages cases can mark features beside case (e.g., in Turkish the accusative sufx
[i] also marks deniteness). B goes on to claim that when adpositions are used
together with cases in order to express particular meanings, the two (adposition
and case) form a single synsemantic expression, i.e., they constitute a discontinu-
ous morpheme. Te ultimate goal of this line of thinking is to provide support
to the argument that complex prepositions (constructions that comprise perhaps
two prepositions, such as into or even include a noun, such as with regard to)
are part of this expanded grammatical component (casescomplex prepositions).
Tis position is important to the author since Modern Greek has retained very few
of the Ancient Greek simplex prepositions and uses instead these complex con-
structions (e.g., pano: apo up from, above), and he, for obvious reasons, wants
to include them in the discussion. Te argumentation, however, is not forced. B
examines both the semantic and syntactic properties of these constructions fo-
cusing on Greek at this point and clearly shows that while some constructions
should be analyzed as adverb + prepositional phrase, in other instances we have an
intransitive preposition followed by a prepositional phrase. A very good example
of this is the string mesa se which depending on the context can be read either as
inside, in (adverb + PP) or as inside (intransitive P + PP).
Chapter 2 tackles the challenging and wide-ranging issue of prepositional se-
mantics. B begins by establishing the fact that both cases and adpositions are poly-
semous, and makes the case that the array of meanings that can be associated with
an adposition is not an accidental result but the product of semantic contiguity.
Tus, in terms of abstract meanings B shows the relationship between locative and
comitative uses of adpositions, comitative and instrumental, and instrumental and
manner. He also argues successfully that there is a continuum of related meanings
from static location to direct object mediated by motion-to and indirect object.
Te import of these semantic continua for the author is that they provide an initial
clue that the fundamental meaning of adpositions, from which all other meanings
derive, is spatial. B provides a discussion of this localistic hypothesis, which in its
strongest version applies to all semantics, tracing diferent formulations of it in
early grammarians, linguists and philosophers, and exploring its connection with
Cognitive Linguistics. In that framework, language is not seen as a distinct faculty
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but is rather based on the general attributes of human cognition (especially deixis)
and is afected by the way in which our bodies interact with our environment. Met-
aphor plays a central role in the development of abstract meanings from concrete
ones, and for this reason, B devotes a signicant part of this chapter discussing the
types of adpositional usage that develop from spatial sources. First he shows that in
many languages both cases and adpositions that have a local sense are also used as
temporal markers (for example, Ancient Greek comitative syn, can also be used to
denote contemporaneous events), but can also evolve to carry aspectual meanings
(e.g., the Finnish partitive, which appears as a marker of the imperfective). Te two
other metaphorical extensions of adpositional spatial meanings that B discusses
are the extension of locative expressions to signify possession and existence. For
B, all this is evidence that the spatial sense is the primary sense of adpositions,
from which slight but successive metaphorical shifs produce expanding spheres
of polysemy. Although he acknowledges the existence of counterexamples (for ex-
ample, in Turkish, both neye to what and nede from what can mean why?),
B maintains that these are not evidence of the arbitrary nature of polysemy but
rather the result of divergent structuring of meaning chains (p. 77). As is the case
with analogy, one can use the localistic hypothesis to identify the motivations that
have led to the production of an array of metaphorical extensions, but not to pre-
dict the path along which these will develop in the future. In closing the chapter,
B proposes that since it is impossible to observe the beginning of a language, our
best chance to conrm or disprove the localistic hypothesis is over the history of a
language as new prepositions are created, and that Greek, whose history is perhaps
the best documented, afords us a unique opportunity for such an investigation.
Chapter 3 briey discusses how cases develop from adpositions and then fo-
cuses on the linguistic sources of prepositions. We learn that while in Indo-Eu-
ropean languages in general, verbal derivatives and participles in particular have
been the most common source of prepositions, this has not been the case in Greek
because its participles have to be inected. Nouns are the most likely ancestor of
Greek prepositions, a fact corroborated by the existence of case-endings on sev-
eral prepositions. B goes on to demonstrate how the development of a noun into a
preposition takes place via the adverbial use of the former. Te chapter concludes
with a presentation of Svorous (1986) classication of types of nouns that develop
into prepositions: body parts, environmental terms (sky, eld, etc.) and object
parts (top, bottom, etc.), in decreasing order of frequency. B seems to be trying
to provide further support for the localistic hypothesis, by showing that preposi-
tions with abstract meanings originally had a concrete one (e.g., kho:ris without
ultimately derives from kho:ros space), but he also acknowledges that there are a
few prepositions which stem from nouns with abstract meanings, such as kharin
for satisfaction of .
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Chapter 4, which begins the in-depth discussion of prepositions in Greek,
covers the Ancient period, presenting rst facts about the case system and prepo-
sitional system of Classical (Attic) Greek, then a comparative description of these
components in Homeric Greek. Tese early sections discuss the diferences be-
tween proper and improper prepositions, between prepositions and prexes,
the evidence that Classical Greek prepositions were adverbs in Homeric Greek, as
well as the limited and archaizing usage of postpositions (anastrophe). Te main
thrust of the chapter, though, comes in 4.114.12, in which B discusses the main
features of preposition usage in Classical Greek and the diachronic trends that
become evident from its comparison with Homeric. In addition to providing a
nuanced description of this usage, augmented by helpful visual depictions, B also
demonstrates that the Greek prepositional system, has already begun to shrink, as
cases merge, and the subtle distinctions between comparable prepositions begin to
disappear. Tese trends provide indirect support for the localistic hypothesis since
the meanings that are fading out are predominantly the spatial ones, and there is
no evidence of prepositions with abstract meanings recapturing (or gaining new)
spatial denotations.
Te Hellenistic (Koin) period is discussed in Chapter 5. B has made the deci-
sion to use the Gospel of Mark as his main source, and so spends the opening pages
of this chapter defending the greekness of Biblical Greek. With that out of the way,
he turns his attention to the pattern of usage (meanings and constructions) focus-
ing on the aspects that difer from Classical Greek. Te important developments
are the continuing weakening of cases (the dative is close to disappearing, and
even the accusative is losing its spatial sense), and the increased use of preposi-
tions, although B warns that the former is not necessarily the cause of the latter.
Many classical prepositions are falling out of use: syn with, amphi about, eks
from, eis in are losing ground to their classical competitors meta, peri, apo and
en respectively. Other classical prepositions such as hyper above and hypo be-
low are replaced by new compound creations epano: apo and hypokato: apo. B
observes that these new improper prepositions tend to have only spatial meaning
while the outgoing proper ones are restricted to non-spatial abstract meanings.
Te analysis of Medieval Greek in Chapter 6 follows a similar pattern, al-
though the topics discussed are more wide-ranging. B begins with the necessary
discussion of the linguistic situation of medieval times in the Greek-speaking
world, highlighting the inuence of archaizing Greek and the mixing of styles that
this inuence produced, and using it to support the choice of sources that he in-
cludes in his corpus. From there, he covers a plethora of topics, including (a) the
recession of cases and the establishment of the accusative as the case of PPs in
Medieval Greek, (b) the semantic merger among several prepositional construc-
tions and the phonetic merger of others, (c) the creation of the novel prepositions
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konta and mazi, and (d) the changes of dia to gia and eis to se. Te main thrust of
this is that the system of prepositions in Medieval Greek is becoming poorer both
in its inventory and the range of meanings it could cover. Tis sets the stage for the
investigation of the forms that are used to replenish the system, these being novel
compounds of erstwhile adverbs with prepositions, as long as these are synseman-
tic, i.e., the adverb and the preposition do not contribute separately to the meaning
of the construction. B then presents an analysis of the usage of such improper
prepositions focusing on whether they have spatial or non-spatial denotations and
compares this pattern to that of the older prepositions that they are replacing. His
main ndings, in accordance with his localistic conjecture, is that the new addi-
tions to the repertoire of prepositions have predominantly spatial meanings, while
the old prepositions have lost most or all of their spatial senses (p. 237).
Te book concludes with a lengthy discussion of the usage of prepositions in
Modern Greek (ch. 7), which for B means the current standard and not the period
of the language from the 18th century onwards. Afer examining certain similari-
ties of prepositional meaning among Balkan languages, which B deems to be ac-
cidental, he presents a thorough description of the three remaining cases (accusa-
tive, genitive and nominative) in Modern Greek, which now have mostly abstract
denotations. Moving on to the usage of prepositions, B engages in the debate over
the nature of compound constructions such as pano: apo, convincingly showing
that there are syntactic and semantic arguments for considering these as preposi-
tions and not strings of adverb + preposition. Te remainder of the chapter is a
meticulous analysis of compound and simplex preposition usage presented mostly
as a list of relevant examples but with ample discussion in the footnotes. B also
includes the results of a very clever judgment test that helps clarify the contrasting
denotations of comparable compound constructions (e.g., mprosta se and mprosta
apo in front of ). Te chapter concludes with a list of simplex prepositions that
have been more or less productively revived during the Katharevousa (purist/ar-
chaizing) phase of Modern Greek.
. Critique
. Content
As a volume of classical philology and particularly as a contribution to the history
of the Greek language, Bs work has very few aws. His mastery of Greek at every
stage of the language is beyond doubt, and he uses it expertly in order to esh
out the nuances of diferent constructions. Tis book will certainly become an
invaluable companion for classicists and scholars of Greek, but also an important
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resource for advanced learners of Modern Greek who seek to perfect their grasp
of the prepositional system. Te rst part, which discusses prepositions in gen-
eral, amasses an impressive array of facts from such a typologically diverse set of
languages that it allows the reader to form a coherent picture of the function and
meaning of cases and adpositions and the relationship between the two. Within
this picture, the Greek data do acquire increased signicance, and, as the author
promises, they speak to a larger theoretical issue, namely the validity of the local-
istic hypothesis.
Overall the volume is very well-written, with lucid and precise language that is
a joy to read especially when one considers how challenging the subject is. Te
rst three chapters are a tour de force of classical and linguistic erudition, and a
testament to Bs skill at synthesis. Tere are a few indulgences, to be sure. 6.12 on
the putative connection between Medieval Greek prepositions and their Latin or
Balkan Sprachbund counterparts does not contribute to the discussion and actual-
ly disrupts the ow of the discussion on the emergence of novel compound prepo-
sitions. Te decision to echo Brndals (1940) position that Greek prepositions
were decisive for the development of Western philosophy, since this was based on
Greek and on the nuances that Greek prepositions express (p. 147, fn 67), and the
statement that Even studies of living languages are increasingly based on corpora,
something traditionally abhorred in generative grammar (p. 199, fn 6) are two
unexpected false notes in an otherwise well-arranged whole.
A more serious concern is that the central thesis of the book, namely that the
development of prepositions in Greek supports the localistic hypothesis, is pro-
moted so much that the eventual discussion of the evidence, which in several cases
is not overwhelming, feels anticlimactic. An example of this can be seen in Chap-
ter 5 during the discussion of the meanings of proper and improper preposi-
tions in Marks gospel. On the basis of his tabulations, B maintains that improper
prepositions have mostly a spatial meaning, while proper ones are losing their
spatial meanings and are restricted to non-spatial, abstract senses. Te problem is
that, as B acknowledges, the numbers that conrm the rst observation are very
small (41 tokens distributed among 18 types), while the numbers argue against
the second observation: only 10 of the 26 types listed show more non-spatial uses.
B remarks in a cursory manner that the exceptions are prepositions that have not
been replaced yet by a novel improper preposition, but a more thorough explana-
tion is needed. And if the gospel of Mark provides only 41 tokens of improper
prepositional phrases, why not expand the search to other documents from the
Hellenistic Period? Equally surprising is the decision to tabulate newer Medieval
prepositions in a corpus of seven texts (cf. Tables 6.1 and 6.2) but older ones in two
only (Tables 6.4, 6.5).
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Unavoidably, the book does not address some interesting linguistic aspects
of this history, which I bring up, not as direct criticism of Bs work, but more as
indications of where future research may be directed. For example, in Chapter 7,
B mentions that the accusative case can be used in a variety of senses in Modern
Greek, such as spatial or temporal extension, the goal of an act or even location.
Several of these uses were also available in Ancient Greek, but B does not tell us
whether this is evidence of direct continuation, or if these uses re-emerge from
parallel prepositional constructions; the discussion of cases for Hellenistic and
Medieval Greek is not as extensive and does not allow the reader to answer these
questions either. Another issue is the dialectal evidence that is utilized in the dis-
cussion, which is at best eclectic. B correctly claims in several places that the Greek
languages long and almost uninterrupted written tradition provides us with the
unique opportunity to study the development of linguistic patterns. However, a
rich tradition of dialectal documentation, which Greek also has, can be equally
enlightening, since the various paths that linguistic changes may follow can reveal
important information about the constraints within which such changes oper-
ate, as Condoravdi & Kiparsky (2001), Revithiadou (2006), and Chatzikyriakidis
(2010) have demonstrated concerning the phenomenon of clitic placement. B in
fact includes two dialectal texts in his examination of Medieval Greek (the Cy-
priot Assizes and Machairas), but does not examine whether there are any difer-
ences in prepositional usage in these as compared to texts from the mainland of
the Byzantine Empire. Tus, dialectal evidence (which stretches back to the 11th
century), as well as evidence from the early period of Modern Greek (16501900)
may present fruitful directions for future research on this topic. Finally, given the
multitude of uses and senses that are available for prepositions in Modern Greek,
a corpus study of these constructions (in the National Hellenic Corpus, or the
Corpus of Greek Texts) would also be most useful as it would help us determine
not only which senses are possible but which senses are the most prevalent. It is in
fact quite ironic that while B utilizes such textual evidence for Ancient, Hellenistic
and Medieval Greek, he does not do the same for the current stage of the language
even though such information is, more or less, easily available.
. Format
Te book is well edited and there are only a few typographical errors, of which
only one afects the comprehension of the text, on p. 262, line 7, where the reader
is referred to examples (7.29) and (7.30) on p. 257, but it seems that the actual ref-
erents are schemata (i) through (iv) on p. 261. An understandable, but unfortunate
editorial decision was to not include interlinear glosses (ILGs) for the Greek ex-
amples (and many Hebrew ones as well). Te decision is understandable because
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there are so many examples, especially in the last chapter, that the inclusion of
ILGs for every one of them would have made for a very clumsy presentation; but
it is also unfortunate because it constrains the target audience of the book. Greek
specialists will nd this book very useful. However, linguists who are interested
in prepositions but do not have a background in Greek will not be able to extract
relevant information without the aid of a reference grammar. While this may be
cumbersome but feasible for Ancient and Modern Greek for which several excel-
lent grammars exist, it is indeed impossible for Medieval Greek because there is
no such grammar yet, although David Holton and Geofrey Horrocks are leading
a project at Cambridge, which should soon be publishing a comprehensive gram-
mar of the language of this period. Tis is indeed a pity because it may limit the
scholarly impact of this truly excellent work.
Brndal, Viggo. 1940. Prpositionernes eori: Indledning til en rationel Betydningslre. Kben-
havn: Kbenhavns Universitet.
Chatzikyriakidis, Stergios. 2010. Clitics in 4 Dialects of Modern Greek: A dynamic account. PhD
dissertation, Kings College, London.
Condoravdi, Cleo & Paul Kiparsky. 2001. Clitics and clause structure. Journal of Greek Linguis-
tics 2.140.
Goutsos, Dionysis. 2003. Hellenic corpus: Design and implementation. [Soma Elinikon Ki-
menon: sxediasmos ke ilopiisi]. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference of Greek
Linguistics, University of Crete, September 1821 2003 ed. by Georgia Katsimali, Alexis
Kalokerinos, Elena Anagnostopoulou, & Ioanna Kappa. http://www.philology.uoc.gr/
conferences/6thICGL/gr.htm (accessed Feb 15 2011). ILSP.
Hellenic National Corpus (HNC). Institute for Language and Speech Processing. http://hnc.ilsp.
gr, (accessed March 4 2011).
Luraghi, Silvia. 2003. On the meaning of prepositions and cases: e expression of semantic roles
in Ancient Greek. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Revithiadou, Anthi. 2006. Prosodic lters on syntax: An interface account of second position
clitics. Lingua 116.79111.
Reviewers address
Panayiotis A. Pappas
Department of Linguistics
Simon Fraser University
BUv.vv BC Canada V5A 1S6