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Thread: Searching for syntax and word order in BW10

  1. #1

    Default Searching for syntax and word order in BW10

    Is there a way in BW10 to search for word order?... which sentences have subject-verb-object... or verb-subject-object... or subject-object-verb? It seems like it would need to search by syntactical usage, not just case... and I'm not aware of BW10 searches being capable of syntax. But OTOH, BW10 has elaborate sentence diagrams, so is there some way to search through those for all the usages of SVO or VSO or SOV?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004


    Short answer: there is no searchable syntactical database in BW.
    Longer answer: What do you expect to gain from such searches? What language do you want to search?
    In English, word order is much more important than in Hebrew and Greek, since most English nouns no longer have case endings. So English translations increasingly keep standard English S-V-O order. Otherwise we sound like Yoda.
    But in Greek, the word order does not matter as much. Case determines what the subject and/or object are. And verb forms add redundancy, so you can double check that your subject is singular if the verb is singular, etc. Word order might give a clue as to what part of the sentence is stressed, but not always (Word order in the book of Hebrews baffled me for years).
    In Hebrew, it is possible for suffixes (not separate words) to be the objects. But suffixes can also be "subjects" of infinitives. In fact, in Hebrew one word can be an entire sentence (e.g. "I love you" would be the 1st person singular form of the verb with the 2nd person singular [or plural] suffix). So I am not sure how accurate or useful a syntactical search would be. Some exegetes make a big deal about "chiasm" in which the order of subject and object are reversed in subsequent clauses (or even paragraphs). I do not see that chiasm makes much difference in meaning, but some commentaries chart them. Also there are sentences which are subject-verb-predicate nominative, but in Hebrew often the subject comes last, and in Greek the subject of such sentences is more likely to have the article, and the predicate not have an article, but this is not always the case. Assigning syntax to such sentences is more subjective than just recognizing cases.
    Mark Eddy

  3. #3


    I'm curious to see which NT books tend to use which word orders more often... whether VSO (verb-subject-object)... or SOV... or SVO.
    The first is more typical of biblical Hebrew, the second Latin, and the third English.

    I've wondered what really is the normal pattern in Greek... usually it's said to be VSO... but I'm curious to search and see if that pattern has been influenced by the LXX or other factors.

    C H Turner had a fascinating study 100y ago in which he found dozens of places where Mark tends to exhibit a Latin order... and Mt & Lk tend to avoid that.

    But I'd love to figure out how to do these kinds of searches to see these trends and patterns... in NT books, LXX, Josephus, etc.

    I've been playing around with the Graphical Search Engine now... any advice using the GSE is welcome...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2022


    I seem to recall learning formal names for different choices of word ordering in a sentence, but I can't find any such resources online. For example, there were distinct terms to refer to sentences constructed like "He threw the ball to the dog" versus "To the dog he threw the ball" and so on. I seem to recall 20+ constructions, and I would greatly appreciate a resource describing these different constructions.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2023


    if you are really looking for words, then full text search is a good option and will have much better performance.

    basket random

  6. #6


    Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that there is a way to search for specific word order patterns such as SVO, VSO, or SOV in BibleWorks 10. The search function is primarily based on lexical and grammatical criteria, rather than syntactical criteria. While the sentence diagrams in BibleWorks 10 can be helpful for echatrandom analyzing the structure of a given sentence, they are not currently searchable or filterable by specific word order patterns.
    Last edited by HanogThamers; 03-22-2023 at 07:33 AM.

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