Preliminary Abstracts for 2011 Thematic Session on Discourse Markers

‘Therefore’ or ‘Wherefore’: What’s the Difference? (Stephen Levinsohn, SIL International)

This paper argues that the inferential connectives of New Testament Greek are best differentiated not ‘according to emphasis’ (Westfall), but in terms of the unique constraint on interpretation (Blakemore) that each conveys. Oun constrains what follows to be interpreted as an advancement of a theme line, whether the current one or an earlier one that is being resumed following intervening material (+Development). This constraint applies even to passages in which some have assigned an adversative ‘sense’ to oun. Ara is marked as +Consequence, so ara oun is +Consequence +Development. In contrast, dio constrains what follows to be interpreted as inferential material that does not advance the theme line (unmarked for development). When dia touto is used anaphorically, it constrains what follows to be related inferentially to a specific referent (+Specific). When hoste introduces an independent clause or sentence, it constrains it to be interpreted as the conclusion of a section or sub-section (+Conclusion). The differences between oun, dio and dia touto are illustrated with reference to Rom 15. Consideration of 2 Cor 4:16-5:21 then allows contrasts with ara and hoste to be added. The paper concludes with suggestions as to the constraints associated with other inferential connectives (toigarnun, toinun, dioper, plus dioti in Acts 13:35 and 20:26, together with hothen in non-locative contexts).

Now and Then: Clarifying the Role of Temporal Adverbs as Discourse Markers (Steve Runge, Logos Bible Software)

Conjunctions and temporal adverbs contribute significantly to the shaping of a discourse. Although conjunctions nearly always serve as discourse markers, the same cannot be said of temporal adverbs. Blakemore (2002:178) suggests that only a subset of temporal adverbs function as discourse markers, those which are not part of the propositional form, i.e. which are conceptually separate from the main proposition. However there is a tendency to treat temporal adverbs monolithically, e.g. as though NUN and TOTE always mark transitions in the discourse. This paper outlines principles for determining whether or not a temporal adverb is functioning as a marker within the discourse. The principles will be applied to NUN and TOTE and tested using representative examples from the Greek New Testament and Apostolic Fathers.

The Genitive Absolute in Discourse: more than a change of subject (Margaret Sim, SIL International)

For generations of scholars the genitive absolute in Classical and Koine Greek has been a well attested literary device parallel to the ‘ablative absolute’ in Latin. It effects cohesion in discourse and has been viewed as giving background information as well as indicating a change of subject or ‘switch reference’. This paper disputes the latter as being the predominant function of this participial construction and discusses its role in the New Testament, Xenophon and the papyri with reference to a modern theory of cognition which claims to give principles for the way in which humans communicate with one another.

The Discourse Function of DE in 2 Timothy (Ray Van Neste, Union University)

The meaning and function DE has been extensively discussed by both traditional and discourse linguists. According to traditional analysis DE has both a copulative and an adversative use. More recently Levinsohn and Heckert have argued that the basic function of DE is to mark new developments in a discourse (thus encompassing the two different uses discussed by traditional grammarians). It will be useful to examine the function of DE throughout one complete discourse. Since 2 Timothy contains the widest range of uses of DE in the Pastoral Epistles (including the only occurrences of certain constructions in the PE), 2 Timothy will provide a useful setting for this investigation. While Heckert’s analysis focused on the Pastoral Epistles, his treatment was necessarily selective, and was handled thematically by various functions. Thus, this paper will analyze the function of every occurrence of DE in 2 Timothy in order to further examine the discourse function of DE and to test the interpretive value of Levinsohn and Heckert’s understanding of DE.


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