Classification of semantic role in Mark 3:33

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Aug 22 2015 3:16 AM

This is a similar query to the one at but I thought it best to start a new thread to discuss it.

Danove classifies "who" and "of me" in Mark 3:33 as Patient and Benefactive respectively

But Logos tags "my mother and my brothers" as Experiencer

Any comments on this specific case - and the handling of the complexities of clauses containing εἰμί in general - would be appreciated

Thanks, Graham 

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Jimmy Parks | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 31 2015 2:30 PM

This is an excelent question, and it deals with some differences in the analysis done by Danove and that done by us.

Danove states, about ειμι:

"Within the method of analysis, this verb is distinct from other verbs in that it is deemed to have no autonomous existence and, of itself, to require no arguments. Instead its function is to extend verbal status to non-verbal predicators by (1) indicating particular syntactic information concerning person, tense, and mood and (2) coinstantiating the arguments, if any, of an associated non-verbal predicator."

This statement shows that Danove does not find ειμι to have any semantic constraints on the number or type of arguments which occur in clauses containing the verb. He claims that ειμι is a verb that presents verbal information in clauses with non-verbal predicators. He then goes on to say that when a non-verbal predicator does not posses an argument which instantiates a semantic role (Agent, Experiencer, Patient, etc) "a new first argument characterized by the Patient semantic function is introduced, thereby granting the complex predicator one more argument than its constituent non-verbal component, and the first and second required arguments of the non-verbal predicator receive syntactic designation as the second and third arguments."

This means that ειμι clauses which do not have an element which instantiates an semantic role are automatically assigned a Patient role. 

Our internal analysis did not follow Danove in many of these theoretical assumptions, which our data makes clear. 

We only classify 122 instance of ειμι with a Patient semantic role. In all of these instances the verb presents an existential semantic value. The clause presents some entity as existing. In this sense the entity is a patient; it is acted upon by a force outside of itself. This is itself a departure from Danove's analysis, because we see the verb ειμι as contributing the semantic value in these instances.

Mark 3:33 is an example of ειμι acting as a linking verb or copula. In these cases, ειμι still contributes a semantic value. The semantic value is one of an existing state between the subject noun phrase and the predicate noun phrase/adjective phrase/prepositional phrase/etc. In these instances we see the ειμι as representing the presence of a state rather than the representation of unspecified forces. 

So we analyze the ειμι as representing an existing state in Mk 3:33 rather than representing an entity as undergoing some particular force/event which is derived from a noun phrase (as in Danove's example). 

I'm sorry for the confusion about this. Let me know if this is an adequate explanation for your question. 


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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 31 2015 3:10 PM

Hi Jimmy

This is very helpful and provides some really useful insight.

Appreciated, Graham

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