Pinkster, Harm (1942-) [1990], Latin Syntax and Semantics [info], xii, 320 p.: ill.; 24 cm. [word count] [Pinkster].

Next Sub2Sect

11.1.1 States of affairs and `Aktionsart'

In crosssection 2.4. we have encountered `dynamic' and `non-dynamic' states of affairs. Examples are (1) and (2), respectively (cf. (48) and (55) in crosssection 2.4.):

(1) the boy got a book

(2) the boy had a book

(1) describes a change (the transition from a state of `not-having' to one of `having'); (2), on the other hand, describes a state. With the aid of the distinction `dynamic' (example (1)) vs. `non-dynamic' (example (2)) we indicate how the state of affairs expressed by the nuclear predication evolves in time.

In reality, a finer distinction can be made within the category of dynamic states of affairs, viz. between `terminative' and `non-terminative' states of affairs, cf. (3)–(4):

(3) the boy wrote a book

(4) the boy read a book

[1a] (3) concerns an action which, unless it is interrupted, naturally results in a finished book (a book in this example is often called an `effected Object'). In (4) the action can be finished, just as in (3), but does not involve a natural end product. The difference between (3) and (4) can be brought to light by adding

-- 215 --

Time Adjuncts. `In three hours' can be added to (3), `for three hours' cannot; this does not apply to (4).

(3') the boy wrote a book in three hours/* for three hours

(4') the boy read a book? in three hours [2]/for three hours

The category of terminative states of affairs can be subdivided into `momentaneous' and `non-momentaneous' states of affairs, see (5) and (3), respectively:

(5) the boy found a book

(3) the boy wrote a book

Whereas (3) can be interrupted, (5) cannot:

(5') *the boy stopped finding a book

(3") the boy stopped writing a book [3]

These distinctions between types of states of affairs can be schematized as in figure 11.1: [4]

Latin examples of the distinctions made here are:

(6) duodequadraginta annos tyrannus Syracusanorum fuit Dionysius, cum … (`D. had been ruler of S. for 38 years, when …', Cic. Tusc. 5.57) [(a): –dyn.]

(7) cum iam tot horas de uno genere … dicam (`Now that I have been speaking about one subject for so many hours already', Cic. Ver. 5.159) [(b):-term.]

-- 216 --

(8) ut una hora … reo … spem … praeciderem (`That within one hour I robbed the accused of the hope …', Cic. Ver. 1.20) [(c):-mom.]

(9) ipse … Tarraconem paucis diebus pervenit (`He himself reached T. in a few days', Caes. Civ. 2.21.4) [(d): + mom.]

In all honesty I should remark that it is not always easy to distinguish between non-dynamic and non-terminative states of affairs in Latin. In English the difference appears from the fact that non-dynamic states of affairs cannot very well be used in the progressive (* I was having a book), whereas to read a book does allow this construction. Furthermore, adverbs indicating the tempo (e. g. celeriter (`rapidly') or another aspect of the manner in which the action takes place (e. g. diligenter (`diligently') cannot very well be added to non-dynamic states of affairs. Yet, these are not absolute rules.

In Latin linguistics little attention has been devoted to the classification of states of affairs on the basis of well-defined criteria (but see note 4). The grammars (e. g. Sz. 303 ff.) do offer a more or less intuitive subdivision of verbs (rather than states of affairs!) into verbs with an `imperfective' `Aktionsart' and verbs with a perfective `Aktionsart'. [5] In this connection, `imperfective' roughly coincides with non-dynamic and non-terminative in figure 11.1, i. e. the division largely coincides with the addibility of Time-during-which Adjuncts and Time-within-which Adjuncts, respectively. An important difference between the approach of Sz. (and others) and that outlined above lies in the fact that the former concerns the Aktionsart of verbs and the latter that of states of affairs. In crosssection 3.1. (p. 26) it has already been pointed out that the addibility of Adjuncts like those mentioned here does not merely depend on the meaning of the verb, but also on properties of the arguments required by the verb. See (3') and (10), with a singular and a plural Object, respectively:

(3') *the boy wrote a book for three hours

(10) the boy wrote rhymes for three hours

Another significant factor is negation. In states of affairs with the verb venire (`to come', with or without a Direction Adjunct) we do not as a rule find Duration Adjuncts, but see (11):

(11) Philippus nullus usquam nec nuntius ab eo per aliquot horas veniebat (`P. was nowhere in sight, and for several hours no messenger arrived from him', Liv. 32.35.2)

While `to come from someone to something' is terminative, `not to come' is, in turn, non-dynamic and thus allows a Duration Adjunct. The verb alone, therefore, is not a satisfactory starting-point.

In Latin morphology there are means to create verbs on the basis of a verbal stem (e.g. derivation); the resulting verbs differ from the verbum simplex in meaning and, together with the arguments they govern, indicate a different state of affairs. Examples are the formation of so-called inchoatives from

-- 217 --

non-dynamic verbs by means of the infix -sc- (e. g. calere → calescere (`to be/become warm')), and the formation of causatives by means of composition with facere (e.g. calere → calefacere (`to be/make warm')). These verbs occur in different states of affairs: non-dynamic (calere) vs. terminative (calescere, calefacere). Similar differences may be seen between active and passive. A fourth example is offered by compounds formed by means of a preverbial prefix, e.g. edere → comedere (`to eat/to consume'), suere → consuere (`to sew/to stitch together'). Preverbial prefixes often turn a one-place verb (or a two-place verb with a `reduced' one-place counterpart, see p. 8) into a two-place verb (or a non-reducible two-place verb) (in traditional terms: they turn intransitives into transitives). This is often accompanied by a difference in the type of state of affairs of the nuclear predication in which these verbs occur (non-dynamic → terminative) (see Sz. 287; 304). [6]

Much attention has been devoted in Latin linguistics to the distinction between the so-called perfective (i.e. terminative) and imperfective (i.e. non-dynamic and non-terminative) verbs, without, however, producing many reliable results. Sz. (303), for instance, remarks that of the so-called `perfective' verbs (i. e. terminative states of affairs) the imperfect as a rule does not occur and that, if it does occur, such an imperfect is to be interpreted as iterative or as `conative'. I return to this in crosssection on p. 227. Generally speaking, it has been observed that verbs of certain semantic classes predominantly occur in certain tenses. This is, of course, correlated with the fact that owing to their meaning verbs are especially suited for certain contexts: verbs meaning `to consider', for instance, often (but not always) present background information to certain main actions and in narrative texts, therefore, often occur in the imperfect (see crosssection [7] See (12):

(12) sic primum existimabam … Simul et verebar … Itaque … eram, … exquirebam … cognoscebam … revertebar … explicabam … exspectabam … erat in animo. Cum haec agerem, repente ad me venit Heraclius (`First I thought … At the same time I was afraid … So I was …, I enquired …, I tried to find out …, I returned to …, I explained …, I expect ed …, I was planning … While I was busy with all this, suddenly H. came to me', Cic. Ver. 4.136–7)

Next Sub2Sect

Pinkster, Harm (1942-) [1990], Latin Syntax and Semantics [info], xii, 320 p.: ill.; 24 cm. [word count] [Pinkster].
Powered by PhiloLogic