Semantic and syntactic demarcations of Classical Greek object cases: An object(ive) study

AJ Murphy, Stanley Dubinsky, Mark Beck


In Classical Greek, many verbs take direct objects marked with genitive (GEN) or dative (DAT), rather than accusative (ACC) case. Traditional grammars (Smyth 1956, Boas et al. 2019) fail to offer principled descriptions or accounts of the distribution of ACC, GEN, DAT object case for transitive verbs. This paper analyzes a corpus involving case-assigning transitive verbs, and examines Luraghi's 2010 Transitivity Hierarchy in this context. We find that, while her ranking of verbs' transitivity is correct, the features used to determine the hierarchy are not. Our study demonstrates a highly significant correlation between a verb's level of transitivity (as indicated by the case marking on its object) and the Proto-role Properties of Change of State and subject Volitionality (Dowty 1991).


syntax; semantics; Classical Greek; case marking

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Copyright (c) 2020 AJ Murphy, Stanley Dubinsky, Mark Beck

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