I have noticed in Greek grammars that varying descriptions of the syntactic relationship of elements placed side-by-side (with no conjunction) have been alternately described as either A) (asyndetically) coordinated or B) juxtaposed. I am wondering which category apposition falls into. Some classifications at the more theoretical linguistics level of what apposition is in general present even more options:

A panoramic view of the theories of apposition reveals the liberality that is needed if one aims at covering such a heterogeneous range of structures. Thus, apposition has been seen as a juxtaposition of coreferential NPs (Fries 1952; Roberts 1966; Bogacki 1973), as a dependency structure (Poutsma 1904; Curme 1947; Hadlich 1973), as coordination (Hockett 1958; Allerton 1979; Brown & Miller 1980), or as a third kind of syntactic relationship defined in various ways, but different from coordination and subordination (Hockett 1955; Sopher 1971; Delorme & Dougherty 1972; Bitea 1977; Koktov´a 1985; Taylor 2002: 235ff.).

[Source: Juan Carlos Acuña, Aspects of the grammar of close apposition and the structure of the noun phrase, pg. 454.]

My curiosity was piqued when I learned from The Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek (pg. 708) that a cluster of multiple adjectives modifying the same substantive with no conjunctions present may in some cases be considered juxtaposition (in a way it distinguishes from coordination), in a way that looked to me to be somewhat similar to apposition (though typically apposition is limited to nouns and NPs). It says that if multiple modifiers are juxtaposed then the first one modifies the other ones in sequence. But it also includes the possibility that the adjectives may be (asyndetically) coordinated and look the exact same as a case of juxtaposition, leaving the judgment up to the reader.

The relevant excerpt is below:

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My overall question though is whether it is proper to say something like:

"There are multiple ways that grammatical elements of a sentence in Greek may be juxtaposed, and apposition is one of them. I.e. apposition is one (though not the only) form of juxtaposition."

Or is it less than certain that apposition is best classified as juxtaposition and may rather be conceived as some kind of paratactic asyndeton, meaning it is (asyndetic) coordination rather than juxtaposition. If apposition is spoken of as "coordination" by some Greek linguists, that would be of interest to me. Since The Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek draws a distinction between juxtaposition and coordination I think the question is relevant.

1 Answer 1


I believe that co-ordinated and juxtaposition with respect to Greek grammar refer to specific grammatical structures, including order. So, for example, co-ordination implies the presence of intervening "coordinating particles". The word juxtaposition generally implies a contrast of some type.

Apposition, however, is simply "a noun added to another noun or to a pronoun to describe or define it" (Smyth's Greek Grammar, Section 916). Apposition does not imply any particular structure or order.

In the field of linguistics, juxtaposition is generally considered to be distinct from apposition. For example, to quote "Adjective Attribution" by Michael Riessler, Language Science Press, 2016, p. 29:

Juxtaposition can be defined as an unmarked sequence of phrase constituents in which one constituent is syntactically subordinated to the other. It has to be distinguished from APPOSITION. The latter term is usually used to denote an appositional construction of two noun phrases...where neither constituent is syntactically subordinated.

So, I do not see how apposition can be considered to be a type of juxtaposition.

  • Several linguistics dictionaries call apposition 'juxtaposition'. For example, the Oxford Companion to the English Language says: "Two consecutive, juxtaposed nouns or noun phrases are in apposition when they refer to the same person or thing, and when either can be omitted without seriously changing the meaning or the grammar of a sentence". While we are considering Greek, I also have a Greek grammar which speaks of the apposition two accusatives as being juxtaposed. Sep 23, 2022 at 3:31
  • Further, the Cambridge Dictionary of Linguistics by Keith Brown and John Miller defines apposition as: "A relation between two phrases, especially noun phrases, in which the two phrases are simply juxtaposed. The second noun phrase refers to the same entity as the first one and merely adds extra information." Sep 23, 2022 at 3:32

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