Hypotaxis

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Hypotaxis is the grammatical arrangement of functionally similar but "unequal" constructs (from Greek hypo- "beneath", and taxis "arrangement"), i.e., constructs playing an unequal role in a sentence.

A common example of syntactic expression of hypotaxis is subordination in a complex sentence.[1] Another example is observed in premodification. In the phrase "inexpensive composite materials", "composite" modifies "materials" while "inexpensive" modifies the complex head "composite materials", rather than "composite" or "materials". In this example the phrase units are hierarchically structured, rather than being on the same level, as compared to the example "Cockroaches love warm, damp, dark places." Notice the syntactic difference; hypotactic modifiers cannot be separated by commas.

A classical example of verbal hypotaxis, unobservable in English, is the Greek phrase Molon labe.

Keats’sOde to a Nightingale” has an example of hypotaxis in the second stanza: “O, for a draught of vintage! That hath been/ Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth, / Tasting of Flora and the country green” (1. 11-13). The “draught of vintage” is modified by the clauses in the successive lines. [2]

In Blake’s poem “The Clod and the Pebble,” the phrase “So sang a little Clod of Clay,/ Trodden with the cattle’s feet” (l. 5-6) is an example of hypotaxis: Line 6 modifies the “Clod of Clay” in line 5. [3]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Stanley Fish, How to Write a Sentence p 51 ISBN 978-0-06-184054-8
  2. ^ Stephen Greenblatt et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, volume D, 9th edition (Norton, 2012)
  3. ^ Stephen Greenblatt et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, volume D, 9th edition (Norton, 2012)