Bernard D. Frischer
Dept. of Classics
University of California
405 Hilgard Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1417
Five Greek texts by two authors writing in Greek turned out to be anomalous, fitting firmly into the Latin group. Four of the texts were written by Cassius Dio; the fifth is the Greek translation of the Emperor Augustus' Res Gestae, a bilingual version of which survives, and whose original is known to have been written in Latin.
In considering the results, including the anomalous texts, the study showed that native language did not necessarily have an effect on a writer's placement of the direct object; nor did the language of an important literary or historical source. Native Greek authors writing in Latin respected Latin word order; Romans writing in Greek generally conformed to Greek practice.
The study suggested that some but not all explanations for the data are linguistic. On the linguistic level, it was the greater consistency of Latin SOV word-order that helped the Latin pattern to prevail over the more flexible Greek positioning of the verb and direct object. This was true not only for Roman authors writing Latin with a Greek source before them (like Aulus Gellius or Cicero) but also for a Greek author like Ammianus Marcellinus writing in Latin. It was evidently normally easy for both Greeks and Romans to recognize and to respect the tendency of Latin to place the verb at the end of the clause. On the other hand, in the interesting case of the Greek translation of the Res Gestae and other official documents, where the Roman chancellery's habit of translating Latin into Greek through quasi-relexification was seen, the study proposed an explanation based either on Roman scrupulosity in legal matters or on a sociological factor of linguistic hegemony. Finally, in the case of Cassius Dio there was seen the operation of a psycholinguistic or sociolinguistic cause for word-order transference: Dio's conscious or unconscious presentation of himself as a Roman.
The data sets used by Frischer et al. list for each text sample the number of direct objects that occur before the governing verb in main clauses (MCB) and other clauses (OB) as well as the number of direct objects that occur after the governing verb in main clauses (MCA) and other clauses (OA). In most cases the total number of direct objects is 100. There are a few samples where only 99 sentences were examined, the data have been rescaled to have a total of 100. Frischer et al. (1999) treat the number of clauses in each of the categories as separate, independent random variables. Quantitative linguists and stylometricians may not be aware of a well-known problem that affects the "standard" statistical analysis of compositional data, that is, when dealing with data that adds up to a known total. This presentation aims to explain the problem, present one approach that succeeds in solving it; and apply this approach to such statistical techniques such as principal components analysis, cluster analysis and discriminant analysis. The conclusions of Frischer et al. (1999) will be re-examined.
Logcontrast principal components analysis and logcontrast cluster analysis broadly confirm the results from the crude analysis and add refinements; the Graecian nature of Varro's word-ordering and the highlighting of genre differences with Tacitus appear to merit further investigation. In addition, some Greek texts of Plutarch and Marcus Aurelius appear more Latinate than had been previously noticed.
Discriminant analysis results in these Greek texts being classed as Latinate, while Tacitus' Agricola is classified as Graecian. In addition, the texts by Cassius Dio and the Greek version of the Res Gestae are classed as Latinate.
Further work is currently being undertaken on other works by Varro which appears to indicate that his word-order straddles the Greek-Latin boundary. This will be reported in detail at the conference.