Boxwood - Displaying the Syntactic Structure of a Sentence

*Important: this notebook does not display properly in GitHub, so please read it in nbviewer instead, using this link.

The greeksyntax package for Jupyter now supports Boxwood diagrams to display the syntactic structure of a sentence. Let's open a database and take a look at Matthew 1:20, take a look at it using Boxwood, and compare that to an interlinear display.

In [1]:
from greeksyntax.lowfat import *
q = lowfat("nestle1904lowfat")
Database 'nestle1904lowfat' was opened in 40.15 ms.

In [2]:
q.find(milestone("Matt.1.20"))

Matt.1.20!1 ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου κατ’ ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ λέγων Ἰωσὴφ υἱὸς Δαυείδ, μὴ φοβηθῇς παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν τὴν γυναῖκά σου, τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ Πνεύματός ἐστιν Ἁγίου· τέξεται δὲ υἱὸν καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν· αὐτὸς γὰρ σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν.

You can wave your mouse above any word in the output shown above to see morphological information and an English gloss. You can also generate an interlinear - we will do that later. But before we do that, be aware that interlinears have some drawbacks. As Barry Hofstetter likes to put it:

There is not too much concerning which I am dogmatic. A few theological issues and the fact that interlinears are the spawn of the devil. They are the linguistic equivalent of brain eating zombies. They are the dark side, the power of which you don't want to experience...

The problem with interlinears is that they do not represent the syntactic structure of a Greek sentence at all. Instead, the associate each word of the text with an English gloss and rely on your ability to connect English words to create meaning. But the meaning of a Greek sentence cannot be accurately conveyed using English glosses. Syntax diagrams do a much better job of that.

There are many kinds of syntax diagrams, the greeksyntax package for Jupyter supports Boxwood, a format designed to be simple and to avoid distracting readers with lots of overhead. You can use the q.boxwood() method to display a sentence in this format:

In [3]:
q.boxwood(milestone("Matt.1.20"))
Matt.1.20

ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου κατ’ ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ λέγων Ἰωσὴφ υἱὸς Δαυείδ, μὴ φοβηθῇς παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν τὴν γυναῖκά σου, τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ Πνεύματός ἐστιν Ἁγίου· τέξεται δὲ υἱὸν καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν· αὐτὸς γὰρ σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν.

δὲ ταῦτα αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου κατ’ ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ λέγων Ἰωσὴφ υἱὸς Δαυείδ, μὴ φοβηθῇς παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν τὴν γυναῖκά σου, γὰρ τὸ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ Πνεύματός Ἁγίου· ἐστιν δὲ τέξεται υἱὸν καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν· γὰρ αὐτὸς σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν.

This display uses hierarchy and grouping to show the structure of the sentence. Compare that to an interlinear for the same sentence:

In [4]:
q.interlinear(milestone("Matt.1.20"))
ταῦτα These things pron : οὗτος plural neuter accusative
δὲ now conj : δέ
αὐτοῦ of him pron : αὐτός singular masculine genitive
ἐνθυμηθέντος having pondered verb : ἐνθυμέομαι singular masculine genitive aorist passive participle
ἰδοὺ behold verb : ὁράω singular aorist middle imperative
ἄγγελος an angel noun : ἄγγελος singular masculine nominative
Κυρίου of [the] Lord noun : κύριος singular masculine genitive
κατ’ in prep : κατά
ὄναρ a dream noun : ὄναρ singular neuter accusative
ἐφάνη appeared verb : φαίνω singular aorist passive indicative
αὐτῷ to him pron : αὐτός singular masculine dative
λέγων saying verb : λέγω singular masculine nominative present active participle
Ἰωσὴφ Joseph noun : Ἰωσήφ singular masculine vocative
υἱὸς son noun : υἱός singular masculine nominative
Δαυείδ, of David noun : Δαυίδ singular masculine genitive
μὴ not adv : μή
φοβηθῇς you should fear verb : φοβέω singular aorist passive subjunctive
παραλαβεῖν to receive verb : παραλαμβάνω aorist active infinitive
Μαρίαν Mary noun : Μαρία singular feminine accusative
τὴν [as] the det : ὁ singular feminine accusative
γυναῖκά wife noun : γυνή singular feminine accusative
σου, of you pron : σύ singular genitive
τὸ that det : ὁ singular neuter nominative
γὰρ for conj : γάρ
ἐν in prep : ἐν
αὐτῇ her pron : αὐτός singular feminine dative
γεννηθὲν having been conceived verb : γεννάω singular neuter nominative aorist passive participle
ἐκ from prep : ἐκ
Πνεύματός [the] Spirit noun : πνεῦμα singular neuter genitive
ἐστιν is verb : εἰμί singular present active indicative
Ἁγίου· Holy adj : ἅγιος singular neuter genitive
τέξεται She will bear verb : τίκτω singular future middle indicative
δὲ then conj : δέ
υἱὸν a son noun : υἱός singular masculine accusative
καὶ and conj : καί
καλέσεις you will call verb : καλέω singular future active indicative
τὸ the det : ὁ singular neuter accusative
ὄνομα name noun : ὄνομα singular neuter accusative
αὐτοῦ of Him pron : αὐτός singular masculine genitive
Ἰησοῦν· Jesus noun : Ἰησοῦς singular masculine accusative
αὐτὸς He pron : αὐτός singular masculine nominative
γὰρ for conj : γάρ
σώσει will save verb : σῴζω singular future active indicative
τὸν the det : ὁ singular masculine accusative
λαὸν people noun : λαός singular masculine accusative
αὐτοῦ of Him pron : αὐτός singular masculine genitive
ἀπὸ from prep : ἀπό
τῶν the det : ὁ plural feminine genitive
ἁμαρτιῶν sins noun : ἁμαρτία plural feminine genitive
αὐτῶν. of them pron : αὐτός plural masculine genitive

This display gives no real clue about the overall organization of the Greek sentence. It can be helpful for vocabulary and parsing, but not for understanding sentence structure.