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How to search for πετρος when it is the speaker?

Joe Weaks

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Is this something the Syntax module is suited for?


I want to find all the places a name/noun is designated as the speaker of some speech.

Places like, "And Peter replied,…"


I don't know the Syntax usage at all.

This is the best I can guess in a simple text search:


which seems pretty lame and limited.

Are there tags for words that indicate this is a speaker?
Do I need to do a complex search for this?


This is my first attempt at putting together a Complex Search. There a better way?


Edited by Joe Weaks
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Sorry to have designed a lame and limited tool (ahem), but our syntactic database was tightly designed for syntactic relationships. "Speaker" is not a syntactic role, but a pragmatic/discourse role. 


Perhaps someday we will include additional layers of information, but most of the additional layers move into ever increasing subjectivity, which I intentionally set up the syntax project to avoid (as best as possible).


The initial search you set up would get positive hits, but clearly not all of them since there are other verbs introducing speech (ok, that's a flat out guess since I've forgotten most of my Greek; there are multiple speech verb in Hebrew, though). What you may want to do is identify Peter=Subject, Predicate = Verb, and Complement Clause = direct speech (that is an option we did create).


Below is how I built your search for Hebrew using Yhwh as the subject of a clause with a direct speech complement. Flip it all and try it in Greek.


* edit: btw, my first comment should be read humorously ...*


Edited by Robert Holmstedt
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I recreated your search for my GNT search.



This is inadequate, missing several hits. Some of those details are causing hits to be missed.

The only hits this finds in Matthew are 16:22 and 26:69.


My simpler search also finds:

14:28, 15:15, 16:16, 17:4, 18:21, 19:27, 26:33, and 26:35



Far be it for me to even pretend to know what I'm doing here, but isn't this a better result?


It seems ashame that both these searches will find ocurrences where Petros and the Speech Complement Clause are not in the same clause if their clauses each belong to a larger clause, as in Matt 26:69.


"Matt. 26:69 Ὁ δὲ Πέτροἐκάθητο ἔξω ἐν τῇ αὐλῇ· καὶ προσῆλθεαὐτῷ μία παιδίσκἠλέγουσἀ καὶ σὺ ἦσθα μετὰ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ Γαλιλαίου."


"Matt. 26:69   Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.”"

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Sometimes the easiest thing to do is pull up the syntax graph of a prototypical verse and try to recreate that for your search. This isn't going to be perfect. But, it's usually where I start.

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First, a technical note. You're using depth wrong. The search I created with depth =0 was a strictly "tight" search to find "someone" as the syntactic subject of a clause that has a direct speech (i.e., quote) as the verbal complement. By increasing the depth to 2 (not even just 1), you'll get hits further down in the clause that may not have that "someone" as the subject. That is why your search resulted in "shame".


Second, a deeper problem is that when there is a sequence of verbs like "Peter answered and said

", my tight search won't identify these at hits. And this is absolutely correct, since it very strict syntactic terms "Peter" is not the syntactic subject of "said". Rather, the syntactic subject is a null anaphor connecting back to Peter as the discourse agent. (At least, this is how it works in the Hebrew database; I know Marco made some principled decisions to depart from our pattern early on and looking at the Greek NT database, it appears that he does not include null subjects but rather connects "answered" and "said" in the same predicate). Due to the "double" nature of such predicates in the Greek database, I ran my search and simply dropped the Pred=verb and the results were all the proper hits. You also listed 16:16 and 22, but neither of those are correct, since in v. 22 there is not speech verb, but rather a follow up quotation introduced by "saying..." and in v. 16 Peter is not the subject, Simon is (and Peter is tagged as an appositive -- not sure I agree with this approach, but that's neither here nor there). Finally, 26:69 is irrelevant.


*edit: by the way, simply adding Simon along with Peter as the lexical item in the subject column catches a few more, incl. 16:16.*


The point of much of this is that the user of the syntax databases must learn to think syntactically. Whether you're using ours, or ETCBC or the Andersen-Forbes database (which I hope will come out in Accordance this year), one cannot simply jump in without figuring out the backbone of the design and expect to get perfect results.


My search:


Edited by Robert Holmstedt
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Thanks for bouncing back with more help, Robert. (I love your sense of humor, btw.)


For the record, I wasn't using depth incorrectly, I had ignored it, hehe. Depth 2 is the default. I now understand what it accomplishes.

I like the search I'm using, which is the same as your latest I think, with a change in depth. I don't care if the speaker is a null anaphor for a Peter, because I still want to capture it.

Casting a wide net allows me to then read through and discern. Way better than trying to get a search that only catches the fish you want, but ends up leaving stuff out.

I'll admit, I don't do discourse analysis. I don't think in terms of your Syntactic terminologies. I think morphologically in terms of search.

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But you code, right? The logic of our syntax hierarchy isn't so different from the logical hierarchy in coding (so far as I've seen in trying to help my 12-yr-old learn to code).


FWIW, I tend to search numerous variations to catch all the fish and then throw the stinkers out.


Glad someone likes my sense of humour. Life is too dry without a drink in hand and a chuckle on the lips. (Apologies to any Mennonites reading that; I have fully embraced the benefits of Catholicism.)

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Robert, you said, "one can not simply jump in without figuring out the backbone of the design..."


What is the best way to go about doing this in your opinion? I've read through your document you made. You mentioned AF, they have quite the explanation of the backbone to their database. 


Is using the database and your document the best one can get presently? Any future plans for further explanation? 



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AF didn't release their "Hebrew Grammar Visualized" until 5 years after they released their database in Logos. So, assuming I finish Isaiah this summer, that gives me until 2022! Currently, the draft manual is the best resource. Next year John Cook and I will have an article out on the features of the database in a journal volume that includes the same topics discussed for the ETCBC and AF databases -- so it'll be a good comparative resource. Beyond that, many of the grammar projects that Cook and I are working on utilize the database and also reflect our linguistic framework. In the meantime, one might usefully read the manual, search the database, and also have one of my Baylor Hebrew Handbook volumes in hand, since I explain the grammar of each verse clause-by-clause. Though I've changed my positions on a few verses here and there over they years, my body of research is highly consistent. It simply takes patience and perseverance, since deep language study/analysis is not a simple thing, no matter how you slice it.

Edited by Robert Holmstedt
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and, just as


Life is too dry without a drink in hand


, also a drink in one hand and the syntax manual, etc. in the other . . .

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