How different is the syntax of English (in the last three centuries) from those of ancient Greek or katharevousa?

By: | Post date: 2017-01-07 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, English, Linguistics, Modern Greek

The “last three centuries” gives me pause.

Syntactically, there have been changes from Ancient Greek to Modern Greek, and in fact Katharevousa is closer to Modern than Ancient Greek, though it did pick up nesting articles inside articles (“the of the meeting chairperson”). But in the big picture typologically, they’re all pretty similar:

  • free (pragmatically determined) word order, unlike English
  • head–modifier, like English (although Ancient Greek is SOV, Modern is SVO)
  • subordinating and clause-chaining, to an even greater extent than English (more parataxis in Demotic)

There was a lot of calquing of expressions into Katharevousa, but it wasn’t from English, it was from French. There is some translationese from English now entering the language of the press. Otherwise, there has not been significant syntactic influence.

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