Prepositional systems in biblical Greek, Gothic, Classical Armenian, and Old Church Slavic
Thomason, Olga Alexandrovna
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This study investigates the systems of prepositions in Biblical Greek, Gothic, Classical Armenian and Old Church Slavic based on data collected from the New Testament text of the canonical Gospels in each language. The first part of the study focuses on the inventory of prepositions in each of the languages mentioned. It provides an exhaustive overview of the prepositional systems examining the division of semantic space in them. The second part of this investigation is a comparative study of the overall systems of prepositions in all four languages. It observes similarities and differences between prepositional systems examined in the first part. The prepositional systems of the languages mentioned have approximately the same range of semantic functions. Each system includes proper and improper prepositional phrases that regularly alternate with each other as well as with nominal ones. The semantics of most prepositions in each of the languages under consideration are closely connected with spatial notions. This is especially common for improper prepositions. Although it is customary for a proper prepositional phrase to be dominant in a certain semantic field, we find instances in all four languages where a construction with an improper preposition prevails. Numerous notions are expressed by a variety of phrases, but there are instances where a concept is indicated only by one construction. The comparative analysis of the translations of the New Testament from Biblical Greek into Gothic, Classical Armenian, and Old Church Slavic shows that there are no absolute prepositional equivalents in these languages, but different types of correspondences can be established. Constructions that become regular counterparts often share origins and/or primary semantic functions or have approximately the same semantic loads. Many correspondences seem unsystematic or occur only once. The translation of Greek proper, improper, and nominal phrases varies among prepositional and nominal constructions, free adverbs, and even conjunctions or clausal structures. The range of semantic functions that a certain preposition may have does not influence the number of counterparts it may have. Rephrasing is also an important factor affecting translation. The frequency and semantic load of several correspondences differs among the gospels.