R. W. Moore, Comparative Greek and Latin Syntax. London: G. Bell & Sons, 1934. Reprint Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, 1999. Pp. xiii + 224, incl. an index. ISBN 1-85399-598-3. UKú12.95.
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
This book is a paperback reissue in the Advanced Language Series of a rather unique work that was first published in 1934. As is made clear in the author's preface, the book was essentially devised as a didactic tool, intended to prepare university level students for various examinations of both Latin and Greek. As is stated on the back cover, quoting the preface (p. viii), three main thrusts underlie its methodology: 'The first critical -- to explain usages and the labels and theories attached to them as thoroughly as possible; the second historical -- to explain the process by which the languages developed and changed; the third broadly psychological -- how did the working of speakers' or writers' thoughts make them express themselves and even vary 'normal' usages?' Most notably, the third feature must have seemed innovative at the time the book was first published, especially for an introductory manual. The historical aspect is not very thoroughly elaborated and is only present in as much as it makes a unified presentation of the grammatical facts of both languages possible; some loose references to Sanskrit are made.
Two introductory paragraphs, on the notions 'subject' and 'predicate' (pp. 1f.) and on the 'parts of speech' (pp. 2f.) respectively, open the book. The following seven chapters then make up the book itself, each dealing with traditional topics in the syntax of the classical languages, without aiming at completeness nor systematicity as a grammar.
(1) 'Nouns and Prepositions' (pp. 4-60). This chapter, mainly on the uses of the cases, is organised from an historical point of view, taking the eight Proto-Indo-European cases (i.e. including locative and instrumental) as a starting point and discussing Latin and Greek usage in terms of how both languages deal with the (supposed) semantic functions of the (supposed) Indo-European cases. Thus, for example, under the heading 'instrumental of means', a certain use of the Greek dative and of the Latin ablative are described and under the heading 'locative', Greek datives, Latin ablatives, as well as various prepositional constructions in both languages are subsumed. The categories and classifications (mainly semantic) are -- here as elsewhere -- mainly those of traditional school grammar. An interesting attempt at theorising is made for the accusative, the function of which is defined as the 'Grand Limiting Case'; all uses of this case are -- in a sometimes rather contrived manner -- classified as either 'external' or 'internal' with respect to the verb.
(2) 'Pronouns' (pp. 61-67). This short chapter deals mainly with some well-known issues concerning the article in Ancient Greek. The final paragraph of the chapter mentions some 'peculiarities' concerning the use of the personal pronouns in both languages.
(3) 'Verbs' (pp. 68-94). This chapter contains the traditional three main subdivisions, respectively on the voices, the tenses, and the moods. The part on the voices is adequate but very short and hardly illustrated. The part on the tenses is less adequate: the starting point for this issue is synthetically presented as a table (paragraph 120 p. 71, 'The Ideal Requirements') with horizontally the 'Time-Order' (Past, Present, Future), and vertically the 'Kind of Action' (Progressive, Completed, Indefinite); in this table the Latin, Greek and English tenses are distributed, despite the (morphologically) quite different internal organisation of the tense systems of these three languages; the 'explanations' of more specific usages of the tenses in Latin and Greek then refer to this classification; no attempt at a historical reconstruction can be found here. The part concerning the moods (including infinitive and participle) has similar defects to those of the previous part.
(4) 'The Sentence'(pp. 95-150). The first part of this chapter (pp. 95-101) deals with Jussive usages in the simple sentence, followed by two paragraphs on the issue of parataxis and syntaxis. The third part (pp. 102-50) is concerned with the compound sentence; it proposes a more or less traditional meaning-based typology of dependent clauses (final, consecutive, definite relative and temporal, causal, concessive, conditional, indefinite relative and temporal, and modal clauses, object clauses, object clauses of fear), as well as an account of oratio obliqua.
(5) 'A)/n and ken' (pp. 151-57). This short chapter deals with the syntax of the Greek 'modal particle'. Obviously, as in the chapter on the article, there is no room for comparison with Latin here.
(6) 'The Negatives' (pp. 158-64). Here, the differences in use between ou) and mh/ in Greek, and non and ne in Latin are explained, as well as the use of the different kinds of combinations of negatives in both languages. (7) 'Attraction and Assimilation' (pp. 175-80). This chapter successively deals with attraction of gender, of case, of moods, and with anacoluthon.
Finally, the book contains some 'Examples for Exercise' (pp. 181-216) and a (well made) index rerum (pp. 219-24).
No attempt at a systematic presentation as a grammar is made, as can be seen from the summary here above. The descriptive framework is in the style of the period: syntactic notions are defined in terms of semantic notions, which in their turn are -- at least nominally -- rooted in psychology or logic. The methodological claims stated in the author's preface do not seem to affect the descriptive categories, which are essentially those of traditional school grammar. Despite the claim of being 'critical' (cf. supra), the explanations that are proposed are just expounded, hardly ever problematised. All these features are of course characteristic for a manual with the purely didactic aim of teaching students how to 'explain' both Latin and Greek usages as they occur in texts. In fact, rather than an insightful and scientific comparison between both syntactic systems, the book is a conflation of a Latin and a Greek school grammar in one volume.
The comparative presentation has the overall effect of stressing the parallels between both languages, rather than the differences, for example in the chapter on the nouns, where no comparison is made between both case systems as such. Apart from obvious methodological objections, it is debatable whether this is even didactically an adequate procedure.
Comparative syntax, in the usual sense of the word 'comparative' (i.e. involving the reconstruction of the syntax of a proto-language), is a difficult enterprise: the reconstruction of the syntax of Proto-Indo-European cannot but be derivative from the reconstruction of morphology, and, as can be seen in any recent study on the comparative grammar of Indo- European, even the reconstruction of the morphological categories of PIE is a much debated question. Thus, most modern comparative grammars do not go beyond the reconstruction of morphology. The reissue of this book may serve as a reminder of the interest that a methodologically adequate monograph on the comparative syntax of Latin and Greek, which takes into account contemporary developments in linguistics (the reconstruction of PIE morphology, language typology . . .), might have for the present day scholar and student.
As a manual, the book has the merit of offering (relatively) thorough and ample explanations of quite traditional issues and of being pleasantly and clearly written.